Hako Royal True switches - first impressions/mini review

Spearra

09 Apr 2019, 05:51

The only reason I'm posting this is because there is very little information on these switches.

Some background of these switches, Hako Royals are a collaboration between InputClub and NovelKeys. InputClub made, well, the Hako switch. Which is a highly divisive switch even by keyboard community standards. The original Hako switch essentially had a very light preload but after the rounded tactile bump, the post bump weight would be in the 90g(or so) range. So a mechanical switch built to prevent bottom outing super hard essentially. One of the traits that made the original Hako switch so damn divisive was that the tactile bump was LOW. Like to the point that some Cherry MX Brown users thought it was weak! One of the reviews for the original Hako switch said it best: "Its a niche within a niche".
And probably still within an additional niche further. Though I did notice that a lot of the people who did like the original Hako switch, tended to stick with them. By that I mean, first impressions of the original Hakos are "meh" to even "bad", but the longer you use them, the more they start to grow on you.

But that's the original Hako switch. What about the Hako Royal?
This is where it gets weird really fast. I've used BKE Extremes daily for a time, but they got misaligned and I do not have the patience to realign them in the Topre clone I was using (because Topre clones to not line up nicely with BKEs).
The reason I bring up BKE Extremes is because, the Hako Royals (in my particular case, I got the "True" variant), the tactile bump is smooth and rounded, but not quite rubber dome feeling. However the rounded weighting DOES resemble the weighting of a BKE Extreme dome! So it is basically the uncanny valley as far as feeling and weightings are concerned.

What the Hako Royals essentially are, are Hako switches, but with a Royal's thicker leaf instead. So while the tactility is substantial, it is WAAY more rounded feeling than say, BOX Navies. The bottom out weight obviously is jarring being how it is in the 90g range, since it is still a Hako switch build. But its way more comfortable than outright bottoming out I reckon.

The Hako Royal True switches also had the "negative to positive experience" that people with the original Hako switches have reported. At first the phrase "This ain't it boss!" echoed in my head. But I kept using them. And yes they have grown on me. The reset point is pretty short between actuation too. So for gaming in say osu!, there won't be a huge amount of hysteresis to get in the way. For typing, yes, I can confirm, even with my barbarian fingers, that yes, it does actively resist bottoming out and its damn effective!
It kind of reminds me of those insanely old IBM Thinkpad Butterfly keyboards. No rubber dome has ever matched those trampolines of rubber on those Butterfly keyboards!
While the Hako Royals due resemble the "progressively stiffer" feeling as you get closer to bottoming out, it won't "trampoline" your fingers like the IBM Butterfly keyboards of yore would. If someone ever made rubber domes that felt like that, and allowed them to be implemented into Topre boards like a BKE dome, that would be great. Highly unlikely, but a mad lad can dream can't he?

Overall, if you're looking for a switch solely to make sure you don't bottom out every two seconds (Cherry MX Brown I'm looking at you!), and without having to hold yourself back from typing as hard and fast as you want. These are the switches for you. Again, while they half resemble rubber domes like BKE Extremes, the other half doesn't. So these aren't a replacement for BKE Extremes and by that same extension, not Topre either. Just like how the original Hako switches carved a niche within a niche (within a niche), the Hako Royals did more a less the same. But with much more tactility unlike the original Hakos. Be it without the bottoming like say, actual BOX Royals which are either actuated and bottomed out, or not actuated at all.

I do think that the Hako Royal Trues are pretty comfortable to type on. Its a nice compromise between actual tactility, and without bottoming out every two seconds. One huge grip I have about modern HEAVILY TACTILE switches is that, you will bottom out, and you will bottom out hard. I loved those BKE Extremes to death, but just like BOX Royals, it might as well not even have travel since its basically binary at that point.
The Hako Royal Trues DO have tactility, and some damn good tactility at that as well as the actuation force being very reasonable and comfortable. Adding to the comfort is the bottoming out weighting of the spring. While a little jarring at first, encountering the bottom out weighting of the spring is much more comfortable than clacking hard via bottoming out.

One quirk I would like to mention though before I go to play typing.com for another 10 minutes, the springs of the Hako Royal Trues slightly ping a little bit. Enough that it can be heard from a sitting position, but it ain't a Model F in terms of pinging! So while you won't bottom out often on this switch, do keep in mind that it isn't completely silent either. The upstroke, much like Topre's, isn't exactly quiet either! Actually that's basically exactly how the sound plays out. Almost non existent actuation sound, but loud as fuck upstroke + minor pinging.
Anyway,
so if you want a tactile switch, but without a obscenely borderline overpowering tactile event into bottom out combo, but still have the tactile event be noticeable, give 'em a shot! Again, take your time with them. They aren't exactly 1:1 comparable to any particular switch at the moment. The closest thing to these things are Holy Pandas. Which isn't exactly, well, available 99% of the time.

Here's where to buy them:
https://novelkeys.xyz/products/hako-royal-switches
its $5.50 (USD) for a pack of 10 switches. So don't worry it ain't $5 per switch!

Random Optional Tangent (You can ignore this if you want):
I finally get to see how comfortable a mechanical keyboard is without bottoming out AND without holding back anymore! So you don't have to compromise the feel of the switch with say, rubber o-rings. It just innately is comfortable. That's the best way I could describe it, it just feels comfortable and usable right out of the box if that makes any sense! Too many switches you have to adapt to IT rather than, you know, making your life easier out of the box. IE the whole point of mechanical switches in comparison to default rubber dome over membrane keyboards. Tbh I blame Cherry MX Brown for scarring off the people who use regular rubber domes over membrane office keyboards. MX Brown isn't comparable to what they were using but people keep acting like its the most direct mechanical switch to a rubber dome. A sub $6 (USD) Dell keyboard might be mushy, but it still has tactility to speak of. That and its a rubber dome keyboard so bottoming out is at least cushioned. Okay my tangent is over. Off to go play osu!/type some more!

PS: The keyboard I used to try these out is the "Drakken Prothero Spektrum". Its a full sized switch-modular keyboard that is slightly lighter than a Unicomp EnduraPro. In other words, awfully heavy. It also DOESN'T have a floating switch design! Its large AF and the stock stabilizers aren't genuine Cherry though! However, the stabilizers aren't permanently attached and can easily be removed. I might have to try that in the future as that is the only real "objective" complaint I have of the Drakken Prothero Spektrum. Besides that, its a pretty good, durable, and reliable keyboard to test switches that don't have fixing pins!

User avatar
Telstar

12 Apr 2019, 23:08

First of all thanks for the review.

I cannot make myself to like any Hako switch. It must be due to their particular force curves. Or because I like to bottom out.
The violet is the best of the bunch, but I still prefer other tactiles.

hariseldon

Yesterday, 00:33

First off, thanks for the review, I've been wondering about these. I'll have to try them.

@Telstar - May I inquire as to what tactile switches you've gravitated to?

So far I've tried kailh box orange, box brown, pro plum, mx brown, aliaz, greetech brown, hako clear true violet. The best I've found so far is hako violet, but I'm sure I can do better.

I want strong, distinct tactility. A clicky switch without the click for office work. I want the tactility to be sharp but still smooth, closer to the middle of the stroke than the beginning so there is some pre-travel (i think, but I'm open to either), bottom-out force to be higher enough than actuation force so there is some bounce-back, and I want to bottom-out but not too aggressively. I prefer a light to medium spring.

I've been considering zeal v1/v2, holy pandas, and hako trues. What are your go-to tactile??

cheers

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