Tell me about your experience with dome boards

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Lynx_Carpathica

16 Mar 2019, 16:39

Hi, I was wondering about your experiences regarding rubber dome keyboards. Wich one did you like, and hate the most? why do you like/don't like them?

My experience with them:
I can tolerate them qute well, in fact, I like some of them. I've got an IBM SK-8820 (iso layout), and it feels pretty dan good. Smooth enough, quite tactile, and not too mushy. I don't really like BTC dome with slider, since it's too tactile for me, and hurts my fingers.
Haven't been able to try topre yet. But I've used some pretty crappy domes over my life as well. Some of them had serous binding issues, along with stabilizer problems.

Regarding build quality, It is on my desk. I don't carry arond them, and as long as it doesn't bend while typing, i'm fine with it.

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fohat
Elder Messenger

16 Mar 2019, 17:39

At work I use an IBM KB-8923 because it is in a place where it might sometimes be vulnerable to dirt and physical damage, as well as the fact that other people also use it occasionally.

It was the replacement for the Model M in the mid-1990s, and it is quite sturdy and reasonably satisfying to type on regularly.

Findecanor

16 Mar 2019, 21:27

I could never stand a mushy board, and tactility is always important.
That is why I for many years used only Key Tronic rubber domes. It was only after I've got into this hobby for a while that I learned that Key Tronic had also made some mushy boards.
What once "sealed the deal" for me using mechanical keyboards was that using stiff domes at work started hurting my fingers. I have noticed that Topre could do that to me as well.

I think one reason why so many people prefer low-profile scissor/domes is precisely that they tend not to be mushy.

I find it disconcerting when I bottom out hard and loud on some mechanical keyboards. It feels like I could break something — and that could limit me!
That is one point for rubber dome: It does not feel like it matters how intensely I pound the keys.

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lhutton

17 Mar 2019, 05:53

I have a soft spot for NMB dome with slider and some of the (Silitek maybe?) domes sold under the Dell and WYSE label in the late 90s. They tend to be tactile but not noisy. I've got a couple of old Packard Bell boards (BTC dome and slider) as well. A good keyboard is a good keyboard in my book.

I'm not terribly particular about the exact mechanism as long as the typing feel is good and is durable. I rather like Cherry MX Blues too, even the sound.

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Tias

17 Mar 2019, 10:42

I have a Compaq board with NMB dome with slider and the keyfeel is quite solid imo with decent tactility and weighting. The board itself is quite hefty and sturdy for a rubber dome board. I use it at work from time to time.

As a daily driver I use a 88U with 45g switches and it is the perfect switch and board for me. I personally like relatively quiet and light tactile switches, so 45g Topre is just right. Furthermore the build quality of Realforce boards are excellent. A major problem with Topre boards is of course their price tag.
Findecanor wrote:
16 Mar 2019, 21:27
I could never stand a mushy board, and tactility is always important.
That is why I for many years used only Key Tronic rubber domes. It was only after I've got into this hobby for a while that I learned that Key Tronic had also made some mushy boards.
I remember a co-worker using a Keytronic rubber dome board a few years ago, and from what recall the keyfeel was pretty decent. I don't remember what board it was though. Any particular Keytronic boards you guys could recommend?

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Chyros

17 Mar 2019, 14:35

Tias wrote:
17 Mar 2019, 10:42
I have a Compaq board with NMB dome with slider and the keyfeel is quite solid imo with decent tactility and weighting. The board itself is quite hefty and sturdy for a rubber dome board. I use it at work from time to time.

As a daily driver I use a 88U with 45g switches and it is the perfect switch and board for me. I personally like relatively quiet and light tactile switches, so 45g Topre is just right. Furthermore the build quality of Realforce boards are excellent. A major problem with Topre boards is of course their price tag.
Findecanor wrote:
16 Mar 2019, 21:27
I could never stand a mushy board, and tactility is always important.
That is why I for many years used only Key Tronic rubber domes. It was only after I've got into this hobby for a while that I learned that Key Tronic had also made some mushy boards.
I remember a co-worker using a Keytronic rubber dome board a few years ago, and from what recall the keyfeel was pretty decent. I don't remember what board it was though. Any particular Keytronic boards you guys could recommend?
The ErgoForce really stood out for me. All their other RD boards that I tried were very mediocre.

Findecanor

17 Mar 2019, 15:22

Chyros wrote:
17 Mar 2019, 14:35
Tias wrote:
17 Mar 2019, 10:42
Any particular Keytronic boards you guys could recommend?
The ErgoForce really stood out for me. All their other RD boards that I tried were very mediocre.
It is the best one to buy. It has variable weighting; possibly the first key board that had it. It is always labelled "ErgoForce" and always feels nice so you can't go wrong. There were others with uniform weighting that otherwise look the same, but could be either good or mushy — and you can't always tell without testing.
Key Tronic also made smaller keyboards with nice domes, but which have otherwise cheap all-plastic construction.

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Tias

17 Mar 2019, 21:18

Findecanor wrote:
17 Mar 2019, 15:22
Chyros wrote:
17 Mar 2019, 14:35
Tias wrote:
17 Mar 2019, 10:42
Any particular Keytronic boards you guys could recommend?
The ErgoForce really stood out for me. All their other RD boards that I tried were very mediocre.
It is the best one to buy. It has variable weighting; possibly the first key board that had it. It is always labelled "ErgoForce" and always feels nice so you can't go wrong. There were others with uniform weighting that otherwise look the same, but could be either good or mushy — and you can't always tell without testing.
Key Tronic also made smaller keyboards with nice domes, but which have otherwise cheap all-plastic construction.
The ErgoForce or the Das Mk1 seems like a interesting rubber dome board, would be nice to try one at some point. As I mentioned I perfer Topre as my main switch but I also enjoy using dampened tactile Alps, MX Blacks and good rubber dome boards. The ErgoForce would be a nice contrast to the above mentioned switch types.

Does the ErgoForce boards have a high failure rate in general?

keyboard Kultist

31 Mar 2019, 19:14

Once I accidentally got an Acer 6511 thinking it was a 6311, and found to be not bad at all.

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daedalus
Buckler Of Springs

31 Mar 2019, 19:20

I like Honeywell rubber domes, which I first experienced on the DEC LK4xx series. Recently I bought a Honeywell 101WN keyboard, like this (not my picture):

Image

While it is unmistakably a rubber dome, it has a distinctive thock, and tactility that would rival tactile Cherry or Alps switches. I wouldn't compare it with Topre, it's not quite as smooth as a Topre, but it makes up with tactility.

One thing about dome keyboards is that go mushy with age. If you want to buy a vintage dome keyboard, you are best buying a NIB one.
Last edited by daedalus on 31 Mar 2019, 20:26, edited 1 time in total.

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snot

31 Mar 2019, 19:59

daedalus wrote:
31 Mar 2019, 19:20
While it is unmistakably a rubber dome, it has a distinctive thock, and tactility that would rival tactile Cherry or Alps switches. I wouldn't compare it with Topre, it's not quite as smooth as a Topre, but it makes up with tactility.

One thing about dome keyboards is that go mushy with age. If you want to buy a vintage dome keyboard, you are best buying a NIB one.
Can confirm I got a basically new Honeywell 101WN and the tactility is really nice for a dome board. I am also pretty sure that all the keycaps are dyesub PBT with exception to the ABS spacebar.

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abrahamstechnology

31 Mar 2019, 20:31

The only thing any of them are good for is dremeling out the insides and making a sleeper mech.

samuelcable

31 Mar 2019, 20:34

45g topre is the best domes ive tried. I tried Scorpius dome with slider and it felt absolutely awful. BTC dome with slider felt decent but not as good as topre as well. 55g topre is a tad too heavy and tactile for me, and 30g topre is nice but not something i'd daily drive. 45 is the absolute best.

I should mention ive also tried OG bke domes and BKE redux as well and both felt like absolutely shit to me. way too tactile in both examples

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ingmar

01 Apr 2019, 08:08

For the longst time, I used the various cheap rubber domes that came with a new computer. Sure, I noticed they weren't as good as the "old" keyboards we had in the computer lab in school, but I didn't think there was much you could do about it. One day I found an old dumped model M and made it work. Life has never been the same again :)

These days I use a salvaged vintage Datacomp DFK191 with complicated white Alps and nice double shots as my daily driver. I used an IBM SpaceSaver TrackPoint (Model KPH0035) for quite a while. When it comes to rubber domes, I can tolerate most IBM ones. (And probably others, but I'm really not trying.)

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Obscure

23 May 2019, 01:12

I started off all my searching for the perfect board - which finally made me landing here - with an old keytronic rubberdome (do not know the model). The problem was the right shift key stopping dead when pressed off-center (as I always do with this key). After one year of experience, I did the whole circle and am back at the starting point... I have got a keytronic ergoforce KT2001PS2GR. It has an other case than the "DAS I" The case looks like the honeywell above, but with 105 ISO de layout. The stiff space bar reminds me of the XT-83. I do not like it, but you will get used to it.

I also have got a keytronic E03643GR-501-C. It also has a different case than the "DAS I". The keys are the same quality as of the ergoforce but all keys have the same weighting (abt. 50 g, I think). To be honest - I prefer this board to most with MX switches...
They are just as tactile as I like it. I sometimes miss a key on the ergoforce because I do not really bottom out - just going over the tactile bump. The different weighting is somehow irritating for me. I don't miss a key on the other one and I can type pretty fast on it.

A college of mine is looking for a new daily driver (coming from a crappy stock HP-FUJ-DEL board) and this keytronic is a serious candidate to start with.

I got a DUCKY with MX browns for another college's birthday (rather because of the fancy color-scheme). She is an experienced typist and did not encounter any advantage to her former stock fujitsu, furthermore she complained about the increased hight. I won't do such mistake again...

Spearra

23 May 2019, 07:51

The most "balanced" rubber dome (over membrane) keyboard I ever used is the "Perixx PX-1900". It is THE golden standard I use for a keyboard to be my everyday driver. Above average build quality, spill resistant, full 3.8 mm travel, contoured keycaps, etc. Plus it wasn't $80+ (USD) like most of all the other high quality scissor switch keyboards on the market.

As for Topre, the clones are nice. For actual genuine Topre boards they're much better for customization instead of the clones. Especially when trying to install BKE Redux Domes. Much easier to put in my BKE Extremes into a Topre board than it does a Topre clone. Besides that, the feel is very similar.

There's this random rubber dome keyboard that I bought just for the shits and giggles. The "I-Rocks Crystal". I got it for $20 (USD) because the features got me curious. "POM sliders, PBT keycaps", etc. It isn't compatible with Macs though, but for the short amount of feel testing with it, it was pretty damn good quality for $20! It weighed about 980 grams too. Working on getting a Thinkpad so I'm not limited by this Mac OS. When I do eventually get a Thinkpad, I'll have to give that I-Rocks Crystal a second testing phase because for what it was, it felt like a slightly lower quality Topre clone. IN TERMS OF FEEL, NOT mechanism!

Overall I don't hate them. It doesn't matter what materials a keyboard is made of. If its WELL DONE, materials are irrelevant in my eyes. IBM Model M; Unicomps for example, use membranes but despite this, they're legendary.
Topre obviously uses rubber domes yet those are also legendary in their own right.

PS: I'd rather use that PX-1900 than use a shitty mechanical keyboard.

Jaki1122

23 May 2019, 15:52

The worst rubber dome keyboard I've typed on is probably the one my university has in its so-called IT labs. It was one like this: http://i.imgur.com/9h0FlzV.jpg It felt like real crap and I really hated the very little noise it make. Another one I really hated was a cheap Microsoft keyboard, all keys were quite scratchy and you could feel how the dumb thing bend when pressing most of the keys on the middle of the keyboard.
The one I liked the most was a pretty old Acer, maybe because it had quite heavy keys and it was pretty tactile. Sadly, the main board failed, so it no longer works, and I never bothered to fix it. Before I get myself a proper keyboard, I had a genius KB-100X. Alongside my laptop's keyboard, this is the one I used the most. It was not bad to type on (well now getting used to a mechanical one, I'll change my mind for sure), however it was quite plain which make it hard for me to find the keys without looking (I touch type). Eventually it got my hands tired.

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SneakyRobb

24 May 2019, 03:06

I have used and enjoyed many rubber dome keyboards. I often use a capacitive topre board at home for gaming. The sound is quite dampened and the solid frame of the type heaven is quite pleasing to use. I find myself annoyed at various clicky switches if I am playing a game where I am constantly pressing 1 button to change a camera angle over and over again.

I have no problem with rubber dome keyboards and in general think they are great.

For my work I mostly use a Thinkpad T60 modded with the 51NB T70 motherboard. I found a NIB NMB keyboard which is the best keyboard for that model. It uses scissors and rubber domes. This keyboard is quite excellent for a keyboard that is about 4mm thick and the domes are very tactile.

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MafiaButter

24 May 2019, 05:51

One of the most interesting cases of rubber domes that I've used are whatever domes are in the Cherry G86 keyboards -- My work has these at the registers; when I first tried them I was frankly taken aback at just how damn nice they are. First and foremost, they're REALLY smooth. To such an astonishing degree that the tactility almost feels detatched from any sort of friction, sort of like how the voice you use in your head is definitely a voice but not necessarily attached to any sort of vocal signature, if that makes any sense. I mean to say that I can't understate how smooth these felt; they felt smoother than the lubed capacitive buckling springs on my Model F. Second, the tactility is really snappy but not annoyingly huge like on a lot of other snappy domes. Perfect feeling, at what felt like ~55g actuation. Thirdly, the noise they make is rather interesting and pleasant. They're completely silent during the travel and bottom out, but upon return they give a giant, wooden sounding thock. That's the only noise the switch makes. Definitely worth some research if you don't know about them. If it weren't for the standard rubber dome problems (Actuation point, lifespan, etc) and the expected mushiness I'd say these are miles nicer than Topre, for one.

Here's some typing on a board with what seems to be the same switches: https://youtu.be/Qekhizjb3Hs

HungerMechanic

26 May 2019, 03:23

I got into mechanical keyboards primarily because it was getting harder to pick up a decent rubber dome off-the-shelf.

For years, I had something that looked like the Honeywell rubber dome pictured above. I don't remember the model number, but it had distinct, removable keycaps, and was generally inoffensive.

But I spilled coffee on it one day, and it had to go. And when I went to pick up a new keyboard, there was a stack of Logitech K120s...which were terrible. They feel as bad as they look.

So I remembered how Lenovo had taken over IBM, and should be able to produce a decent keyboard, right? After all, the banks here seemingly use them. But the Lenovo rubber dome was terrible as well.

I got tired of looking and shopping, so I just went out and bought a Filco Majestouch 2. That was around 2016.

So my experience with rubber domes is that well-made rubber-domes are perfectly usable for office work, although mechanical keyboards beat their pants off for gaming.

But some rubber domes are just terrible, way worse than most low-end mechanicals. I hate the K120, and I really hate those thin, flimsy Microsoft keyboards that you get for like $10, and typically come with the computer.

It was these kinds of keyboards, the $10 standard black Microsoft rubber dome, that made me realize that manufacturers simply saw keyboards as an area to cut costs. And perhaps it had gone too far.

Recently, I have been trying new-to-me rubber domes and scissor-switch keyboards, to see how they compare to mechanicals.

In particular, I have found the Kensington Keyboard for Life to be very good value. It feels pretty okay for a $20 membrane keyboard, and has a powerful warrantee. So, obviously the manufacturer is confident in it.


So you could say I've found over time that there is a good deal of variance in build quality and key feel of rubber dome/scissor-switch keyboards, simply because of the huge number of manufacturers, and the diversity of price points. They have wildly varying degrees of tactility. The good ones are appropriate for office work. But they cannot compete with mechanicals for gaming.

Rubber domes also get worse over time, and many people replace them after 1-2 years. But a mechanical keyboard can keep on ticking for a very long time.

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