A little love for Unicomp

User avatar
hellothere

19 Aug 2020, 01:27

Because they need it.

A week-ish ago, I ordered a bunch of parts. I think the most expensive was a full Model M 101 keyset, which was all of $25. They issued me a partial refund because they found a cheaper shipping option. I didn't ask for it or anything. Hey, nice extra $11 in my pocket.

A month-ish ago, I ordered a full Model M 122 keyset and I was expecting to be charged a bit more because of the extra keys. Nope.

Regardless of whether you think Unicomp keyboards are inferior to IBM- or Lexmark-made Model Ms, you can't fault Unicomp's customer service. (Well, maybe you can, but I can't.)

User avatar
fohat
Elder Messenger

19 Aug 2020, 03:08

hellothere wrote:
19 Aug 2020, 01:27

you can't fault Unicomp's customer service
True. Too bad that I made most of my purchases from them a few years ago when their QC was down.

User avatar
JP!

19 Aug 2020, 04:22

fohat wrote:
19 Aug 2020, 03:08
True. Too bad that I made most of my purchases from them a few years ago when their QC was down.
Same. I bought an APL keyset with very faded legends. Fortunately the non APL specific keys were pretty good. Looking at their new set with blue legends I am half tempted to order some stuff I don't really need.

User avatar
ddrfraser1

19 Aug 2020, 06:42

Yeah they’ve always done me right. There have been several times I’ve forgotten to add some thing to an order either right after ordering it or even after it arrived. In each case they’ve either thrown it in for free or covered the cost of shipping. It’s little things like a keycap or a sticker but still, I love these guys.

On a side note, I kind of love in an endearing way how convoluted their website is. You really have to know what to look for and how to get around. There have been so many times I’ve been like “what?! I didn’t know you could order ‘that’ from unicomp, Awesome!” For example, I figured out how to order WoB caps, nos industrial cases and a Japanese keyset. Pretty cool stuff!

User avatar
sharktastica

19 Aug 2020, 15:31

JP! wrote:
19 Aug 2020, 04:22
fohat wrote:
19 Aug 2020, 03:08
True. Too bad that I made most of my purchases from them a few years ago when their QC was down.
Same. I bought an APL keyset with very faded legends. Fortunately the non APL specific keys were pretty good. Looking at their new set with blue legends I am half tempted to order some stuff I don't really need.
If you're curious, this is what their APL set is now like. I'm pretty happy.
DSC04927.JPG
DSC04927.JPG (617.77 KiB) Viewed 1245 times

User avatar
JP!

19 Aug 2020, 17:48

sharktastica wrote:
19 Aug 2020, 15:31
If you're curious, this is what their APL set is now like. I'm pretty happy.
Yeah I've seen lots of pictures of their new stuff and it all looks great. Here is a sample of their older stuff

apl2.JPG
apl2.JPG (33.79 KiB) Viewed 1223 times
.

User avatar
sharktastica

19 Aug 2020, 18:06

JP! wrote:
19 Aug 2020, 17:48
sharktastica wrote:
19 Aug 2020, 15:31
If you're curious, this is what their APL set is now like. I'm pretty happy.
Yeah I've seen lots of pictures of their new stuff and it all looks great. Here is a sample of their older stuff


apl2.JPG.
Damn, that's depressing.

User avatar
Touch_It

19 Aug 2020, 23:21

Hot take. My 2015 Unicomp M feels better than any of my IBM model M's. I'd buy more from them if I could. That being said, their new cases are definitely more creaky than OG IBM cases. That kinda makes me sad.

I'm sure its been discussed, but is it different plastic?

User avatar
hellothere

20 Aug 2020, 00:13

Oddly, I was reading up on that, yesterday. A couple of folks said that late Lexmark and Unicomp use an ABS blend.

kmnov2017

20 Aug 2020, 00:15

Touch_It wrote:
19 Aug 2020, 23:21
Hot take. My 2015 Unicomp M feels better than any of my IBM model M's. I'd buy more from them if I could. That being said, their new cases are definitely more creaky than OG IBM cases. That kinda makes me sad.

I'm sure its been discussed, but is it different plastic?
The best model M I tried was a 2002 unicomp ....

User avatar
niceguyeddie

20 Aug 2020, 00:56

I am a fan of their work/dedication and their customer support as well. I think they are often selling themselves under value, but on the other hand they can't afford to be confident due to some issues in QC (mainly in the past). If they would improve in QC, they could charge a little bit more while delivering a flawless product. As of now they charge a decent price for a decent product. That's my two cents.

User avatar
hellothere

20 Aug 2020, 01:15

kmnov2017 wrote:
20 Aug 2020, 00:15
Touch_It wrote:
19 Aug 2020, 23:21
Hot take. My 2015 Unicomp M feels better than any of my IBM model M's. I'd buy more from them if I could. That being said, their new cases are definitely more creaky than OG IBM cases. That kinda makes me sad.

I'm sure its been discussed, but is it different plastic?
The best model M I tried was a 2002 unicomp ....
No! Not another Unicomp vs. Lexmark vs. IBM thread!

User avatar
fohat
Elder Messenger

20 Aug 2020, 02:34

kmnov2017 wrote:
20 Aug 2020, 00:15

The best model M I tried was a 2002 unicomp ....
I have one from about that time, and it is really nice. Has Windows keys if that is important to you.

gianni

20 Aug 2020, 11:53

Why in these times they still use their proprietary firmware instead of an open source one? It's incredible that the new ssk is being delayed by such trivialities.

User avatar
zrrion

20 Aug 2020, 18:06

i suspect their enterprise clients have demands that they have to do X Y and Z regarding stuff like that, likely for security reasons

gianni

20 Aug 2020, 20:36

zrrion wrote:
20 Aug 2020, 18:06
i suspect their enterprise clients have demands that they have to do X Y and Z regarding stuff like that, likely for security reasons
Maybe, but still you can use qmk and at the same time prevent users from overwriting it (you just need to release the code since it's open source).

User avatar
hellothere

20 Aug 2020, 20:52

fohat wrote:
20 Aug 2020, 02:34
kmnov2017 wrote:
20 Aug 2020, 00:15

The best model M I tried was a 2002 unicomp ....
I have one from about that time, and it is really nice. Has Windows keys if that is important to you.
FWIW, if I decide to keep my Model F, I'd replace the F9 or F10 (these keys are to the left of the alt key), I'd replace one with a Windows key ($0.30 from Unicomp) and replace the other with a 1U red C key ($0.80) and remap them to CTRL and Windows, respectively, using Sharp Keys. I do use the Windows key all the time.

IMO, if you * need * a brand new keyboard, I'd direct you to Unicomp. Inexpensive, it'll last, and it has a warranty. It's also cheaper that a, "It needs nothing. Includes Soarer's Converter!" Model M. Additionally, when I'm talking Model M, I'd have to specify that you'd have to check to make sure it doesn't have rubber domes. At that point, people's eyes generally glaze over and they either buy the first Model M they see on ebay or they buy a Cherry/Cherry clone blue switch gamer keyboard.

Coeus

24 Aug 2020, 22:54

hellothere wrote:
20 Aug 2020, 20:52
IMO, if you * need * a brand new keyboard, I'd direct you to Unicomp. Inexpensive, it'll last, and it has a warranty. It's also cheaper that a, "It needs nothing. Includes Soarer's Converter!" Model M. Additionally, when I'm talking Model M, I'd have to specify that you'd have to check to make sure it doesn't have rubber domes...
I didn't realised they did a rubber dome version of the Model M or is that just sharks on eBay misdecribing things? I know IBM did enhanced-layout rubber done keyboards - I also have a KB-7953 which is quite for a rubber dome - it is a bit more tactile than usual. I do have an almost identical one that is much more squidgy, though. I assume this is something than happens with age/use?

User avatar
hellothere

24 Aug 2020, 22:58

IBM Model M Rubber Dome Review from Chyros. There are earlier IBM Model Ms, as well, but I keep forgetting the name.

User avatar
sharktastica

24 Aug 2020, 23:02

Coeus wrote:
24 Aug 2020, 22:54
I didn't realised they did a rubber dome version of the Model M?
They're called Quiet Touch Model Ms. For standard shaped (Enhanced Keyboard) Model Ms, they are mostly confined to part numbers 71Gxxxx during the Lexmark era, although M2s with Quiet Touch (sometimes coming with an extended border attachment) exist too and I believe all of Unicomp's current lineup can be ordered with Quiet Touch domes as an option.

One possible way to identify them is that they can yellow, like 1995 Lexmark 71G4644:
20191214 SNKB-M1995EQ101.jpg
20191214 SNKB-M1995EQ101.jpg (1.13 MiB) Viewed 811 times
Edit: fixed broken sentence.
Last edited by sharktastica on 25 Aug 2020, 00:20, edited 2 times in total.

User avatar
sharktastica

24 Aug 2020, 23:14

kmnov2017 wrote:
20 Aug 2020, 00:15
The best model M I tried was a 2002 unicomp ....
I have a 2004 P/N 18P7970 M13 (made by Unicomp for IBM) and it's amongst my best Model Ms. It's quite 'delicious'.

User avatar
hellothere

24 Aug 2020, 23:25

sharktastica wrote:
24 Aug 2020, 23:02
They're called Quiet Touch Model Ms.
Thank you!
You way to identify them sometimes is that they can yellow. My 1995 Lexmark 71G4644 was yellowed:
20191214 SNKB-M1995EQ101.jpg
I know that it would mean that I'd have to find a source to support this comment, but I remember someone said that Lexmarks and/or Unicomps use a different plastic blend than IBM, thus they can yellow. I have a 199x Lexmark somewhere under some packaging material that has very light yellow "streaking" on the bottom of the case that doesn't come off even with a Magic Eraser.

User avatar
fohat
Elder Messenger

25 Aug 2020, 02:22

Coeus wrote:
24 Aug 2020, 22:54

I know IBM did enhanced-layout rubber done keyboards - I also have a KB-7953
The 8923 came before the 7953 and is a bit more sturdy and classically styled. It came in both black and beige and with and without a trackpoint.

Model Ms and M2s with rubber domes have part numbers beginning with "7"

User avatar
Tritian

25 Aug 2020, 05:51

For my F77 when it arrives, I ordered a single unit "Numpad 0 with Ins subtext" and they actually did it. Cost me $0.80. My 3270 and APL sets look great also, pictured below.

Image

The feel of the caps are pretty damn on par with my genuine Model M keycaps from 1990, however the stems have slgihtly more play. They sound a little bit more rattily perhaps, but virtually the same. I've been told with a little lube on those stems, it will sound better than ever, so I may go in that direction.

Coeus

25 Aug 2020, 15:54

hellothere wrote:
24 Aug 2020, 23:25
I know that it would mean that I'd have to find a source to support this comment, but I remember someone said that Lexmarks and/or Unicomps use a different plastic blend than IBM, thus they can yellow...
One of the nice things about my Model F is the lack of yellowing despite being made in 1981 so around 39 years old. I think is generally accepted that yellowing of once white plastic is down to brominated ABS with the bromine being added as a fire retardant.

What I don't know is whether older, white plastic that has not yellowed must therefore be something other than ABS or whether it just pre-dates fire regulations and is therefore non-brominated ABS.

User avatar
hellothere

25 Aug 2020, 21:28

While I like the look of the APL caps, I don't think I'd like to use them IRL: I don't touch type, so I think the caps would be a little distracting.

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