Keyboard Review Template: Introducing the KeebScore™

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XMIT
[ XMIT ]

03 Dec 2019, 21:21

When I acquire a new keyboard, and want to share it with everyone, it's handy to have a consistent way to do so. Enter: the KeebScore™. This is my template for grading keyboards on roughly a scale of 0 to 100.

Like any rating system it has its flaws! Perhaps some items are not weighed correctly against one another. Or, perhaps I'm missing some important aspects. Ah well. Perhaps we'll have another KeebScore™ in the future.

KeebScore™ 1.0:

Packaging:
2 listing of contents
2 picture of the keyboard
2 rattle/shake test - is keyboard secured?
2 reusability
2 sturdiness
10 Total

Unboxing:
2 box has tamper evidence mechanism
2 box can be opened without tools
2 keyboard is wrapped within packaging
2 keyboard can be accessed without complicated disassembly procedure
2 keyboard arrives undamaged
10 Total

What's Included? / Accessories
2 USB Cable
4 Spare Key Caps: Esc, WASD, Control/Caps Lock, macOS
2 Key Cap Puller
2 Paper Manual
10 Total

Design
- Cable, Routing, Management
- Build Quality: Twist Test
2 Minimal deflection when keyboard is twisted.
2 Minimal rattle when keyboard is shaken
2 Cable is detachable
2 Cable guides are included
2 Cable is strain relieved
10 Total

Key Caps
2 Key caps require about 1kg of force to remove, not too loose or tight
2 Printing: 0 pad print or laser, 1 double shot ABS, 2 dye sub or double shot PBT
2 Legends: consistency in font, glyph closure
2 Material: 0 ABS, 1 POM, 2 PBT
2 Thickness: 0 super thin, 1 moderate, 2 thick
10 Total

Key Switches
2 Scratchiness: 0 scratchy, 1 acceptable, 2 quite smooth
2 Tactility: 0 none, 1 vague, 2 pronounced
2 Wobble: 0 none, 1 okay, 2 exceptional
2 Off center press: 0 binds, 1 harder, 2 perfect
2 Tactility to actuation: 0 after, 1 before, 2 simultaneous
10 Total

Key Layout
2 Spacing of regions: 0 zero u, 1 0.25 u, 2 0.5 u
2 Layout: 0 weird and unusable, 1 mostly normal, 2 PS/2
2 Modifiers: 0 non-uniform or bumpy, 1 no Windows key, 2 normal 3+3 or 3+4
2 rows and profiling: 0 flat or weird, 1 Cherry/OEM, 2 good Spherical
2 Overall usability (subjective)
10 Total

Typing Experience
2 Full NKRO
2 Key feel (subjective)
2 Key sound (subjective)
2 Fatigue (subjective)
2 How much I like it - would I daily it?
10 Total

Customization
2 Stabilizers: 0 proprietary or glued in, 1 costar, 2 cherry
2 Microcontroller: 0 soldered on, 1 firmware upgrades, 2 daughterboard
2 Ease of opening: 0 case cracker or other difficulty, 1 screws, 2 tool free
2 Ecosystem of aftermarket and spare parts: 0 proprietary, 1 alps, 2 cherry/topre
2 Switch replacement: 0 difficult, 1 soldering, 2 clips
10 Total

Discretionary
10 Total

Total Score: 100

Special Bonuses:
+10 Capacitive or Hall sensing
+10 native macOS layout

Dealbreakers:
-10 chatter
-10 board damage on removing switches
-10 sharp edges on leading edge
-10 software mandatory to run keyboard

Phew! With that created, now I can go on to apply it to keyboards. Watch out for some exciting reviews coming soon, and let me know your thoughts! I may incorporate some feedback into KeebScore™ 1.1.

User avatar
SneakyRobb
THINK

03 Dec 2019, 22:04

Cant... resist....

keebichlorians off the charts.jpg
keebichlorians off the charts.jpg (55.8 KiB) Viewed 453 times

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SneakyRobb
THINK

03 Dec 2019, 22:29

That out of the way, I like this idea to a degree. I do like like having someone with experience having values like that. Reminds me of the "Whisky Bible." To me as long as its a single person doing the rating, it does give a good idea as to the general qualities.

I would like to keep the points total separate though. It does seem a bit weird that a keyboard could have super scratchy switches for instance and be super good otherwise. So maybe not necessarily weighed against each other, but as just separate.

So sort of like:

Separate Category x/10
Separate Category x/10
Separate Category x/10
---
total (for fun) x/100

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Muirium
µ

03 Dec 2019, 23:12

Keeb? Really?

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XMIT
[ XMIT ]

03 Dec 2019, 23:18

Muirium wrote:
03 Dec 2019, 23:12
Keeb? Really?
It's intentionally self deprecating. I can't stand the term "Keeb" either.

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Muirium
µ

03 Dec 2019, 23:30

Phew!

Although I actually really dislike the concept, some of the details you’ve laid out are right. Major points dropped for unreliability and proprietary software are spot on. I’d just make them bigger! And add a bunch of other things, like dropped points for: lousy LED backlighting and caps; smooshy Cherry stabilisers; GAMERFONT; stupid rapid fire functions etc.

A checklist is good. I just don’t like a full on reduction to a single dimensional score. It forces false equivalence. People will insist a 60 and a 58 are almost identical, even though two boards could reach them by very different paths. The weighting is the problem, because no weighting will do. You have to decide which things to emphasise as a reviewer, case by case.

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ZedTheMan

03 Dec 2019, 23:48

I think that lubrication of stabilizers should have some play, maybe as minor bonus points? That can really change the typing experience, in my view.

I'd also want to add in the presence of flip-out feet or other angle-adjusting mechanisms, and whether they are rubberized to hold the keyboard in place properly or not. This should probably go into the design category.

User avatar
XMIT
[ XMIT ]

04 Dec 2019, 00:15

Yeah that's a good point about leveling. There are all sorts of interesting solutions here. For now I'll just bundle it up under "Discretionary".

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XMIT
[ XMIT ]

04 Dec 2019, 00:17

Muirium wrote:
03 Dec 2019, 23:30
Although I actually really dislike the concept, some of the details you’ve laid out are right.
[...]
A checklist is good. I just don’t like a full on reduction to a single dimensional score. It forces false equivalence.
It's primarily a checklist. If it helps enforce some consistency across my reviews then it has achieved the intended goal.

The numbers are just for fun. But if something gets a zero it will merit special attention! :lol:

User avatar
SneakyRobb
THINK

04 Dec 2019, 01:57

XMIT wrote:
04 Dec 2019, 00:17
Muirium wrote:
03 Dec 2019, 23:30
Although I actually really dislike the concept, some of the details you’ve laid out are right.
[...]
A checklist is good. I just don’t like a full on reduction to a single dimensional score. It forces false equivalence.
It's primarily a checklist. If it helps enforce some consistency across my reviews then it has achieved the intended goal.

The numbers are just for fun. But if something gets a zero it will merit special attention! :lol:
That makes sense then. I like the checklist way of putting it. I thought the score had more import. So it does sound like a good system.

Althought it seems like keyboard sound only has one category. I would personally think it is a much larger thing. As Zed mentioned, there is lubrication. There could be squeaky stabs/rattley ones. Space bar sounds bad versus keys, undampened upstroke noise etc

Regardless, I look forward to your first KeebScore™ review.

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obfuscated

Yesterday, 00:59

Unsplit: -1000
Horizontally staggered: -1000
Flat: -10
No thumb keys: -50
MX mount: -100
Less than 2mm travel: -500

Troll off :)

User avatar
XMIT
[ XMIT ]

Yesterday, 04:17

First KeebScore™ review is up: the Realforce R2 PFU Limited Edition! viewtopic.php?f=2&t=23130

User avatar
ZedTheMan

Yesterday, 05:00

Great job! In practice, I am thinking that maybe too many points are going into the nitty gritty of packaging vs the other aspects of the experience, but perhaps this is simply because it isn't one of the factors that I care about very much.

User avatar
zrrion

Yesterday, 06:41

considering almost all the boards I own came as parts or without their box, I would have to leave off the Packaging/Unboxing/Accessories (IMO those should be left off anyway, I don't but things for the package, but for the contents)

User avatar
vvp

Yesterday, 11:20

obfuscated wrote:
Yesterday, 00:59
Unsplit: -1000
Horizontally staggered: -1000
Flat: -10
No thumb keys: -50
MX mount: -100
Less than 2mm travel: -500
+1
Ergonomics is completely missing for the KeebScore. It is a score which needs to be introduced so that we can somehow differentiate keyboards which are already almost the same anyways :-)

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XMIT
[ XMIT ]

Yesterday, 16:30

So, I tend to review new-in-box keyboards. As a collector I keep the boards in their original boxes. As a manufacturer I design packaging. So this is important to me.

As far as ergonomics go: I appreciate split and ortholinear keyboards but I personally can't use them. Standard ANSI is great for me. So, while I'll call out these things in the relevant reviews, most of the boards I review are just ANSI anyway. This is what the Discretionary section is for.

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Muirium
µ

Yesterday, 16:47

It's more of an XMITscore, you see…

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