Unicomp Mini M / New Model M Tenkeyless

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apb

24 Mar 2021, 01:06

Anyone here other than Chyros buy/get the Unicomp Model M TKL? I hear some people on the west coast of the US are due to get theirs tomorrow.

Also, I doesn't seem like Unicomp has any plans to make any beige/pearl ones and it seems to be the consensus that beige/pearl is a better color scheme than the black and grey. Would it be viable to organize a group buy/indiegogo/kickstarter to get them to do a limited run? It seems like they'd only have to change the plastic of the case, the lock light bank sticker, and maybe print a few caps differently on a beige set which they already have tooling for. Thoughts? I don't know how one would go about organizing one of these things so that's why I'm asking here.

Thanks in advance. Sorry if I'm shitting up the board, I searched the index and it yielded nothing.

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clickykeyboards

24 Mar 2021, 01:41

I received my 2021 Unicomp Mini M earlier this week and I think www.pckeyboard.com did a fine job at the $121 price point. A modernization of the vintage IBM space saving keyboard (SSK).

At this price point it will certainly be competitive against all the hundreds of Cherry MX tenkeyless keyboards.

I have already removed the original Unicomp gray key caps that it came with it and I have made it my own with white lettering-on-black key caps from a vintage 1995 IBM model M13 (13H6705).

https://www.facebook.com/ClickyKeyboards/photos


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depletedvespene

24 Mar 2021, 01:43

clickykeyboards wrote:
24 Mar 2021, 01:41
IBM industrial SSK IBM SSK Unicomp Mini M 6.jpg
Great looking, indeed.

motoko

24 Mar 2021, 01:55

Looks cool with black keys!

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depletedvespene

24 Mar 2021, 02:02

At this point, I think the only way that look might be topped would be with Ellipse's black-on-dark-gray caps.

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apb

24 Mar 2021, 04:45

clickykeyboards wrote:
24 Mar 2021, 01:41
I have already removed the original Unicomp gray key caps that it came with it and I have made it my own with white lettering-on-black key caps from a vintage 1995 IBM model M13 (13H6705).
My god, that is gorgeous. It's a shame I can't afford an M13 to cannibalize for caps. I hope to get a Mini M at some point. I won't get the two tone caps because I don't like how they look. How does the space bar work with the M13 keycap set?

Rayndalf

24 Mar 2021, 05:45

The only M13s I have are NOS Lexmark and have trackpoints (no clue why I bought 2). Where there M13s without trackpoints?

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webwit
Wild Duck

24 Mar 2021, 08:24

Rayndalf wrote:
24 Mar 2021, 05:45
The only M13s I have are NOS Lexmark and have trackpoints (no clue why I bought 2). Where there M13s without trackpoints?
The little-known Model M. :mrgreen:

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apb

24 Mar 2021, 08:49

webwit wrote:
24 Mar 2021, 08:24
The little-known Model M.
Shame they're made in Mexico.

Dikkus

24 Mar 2021, 09:10

apb wrote:
24 Mar 2021, 08:49
webwit wrote:
24 Mar 2021, 08:24
The little-known Model M.
Shame they're made in Mexico.
I believe that Chyros concluded that the M13's made in the Mexican plant were up to snuff with the other Model M's at the time insofar as manufacturing quality was concerned.

Though the keycaps are still pad printed, so unfortunately even though they look quite nice they'll eventually wear off with use. A shame since they look so good.

Rayndalf

24 Mar 2021, 09:31

webwit wrote:
24 Mar 2021, 08:24
Rayndalf wrote:
24 Mar 2021, 05:45
The only M13s I have are NOS Lexmark and have trackpoints (no clue why I bought 2). Where there M13s without trackpoints?
The little-known Model M. :mrgreen:
So those are also designated M13? That's funny, I guess that's what I get for never owning a proper Model M :oops:

I swear I've seen others use the "M13" designation to denote fullsize Ms with trackpoints, but my only buckling spring boards are 2 F XTs and 2 Lexmark made trackpoint Ms. I really should have read the Lexmark pamphlet in the box a little more carefully but I was too busy focusing on the pictures of the split ergo M (whatever it's called) and the brackets used to hang printouts next to computer monitors for transcription :lol:

Reminds me I need to scan it so others can laugh at it too.

The PCjr keyboard sure would have been something if it had buckling springs.

User avatar
Muirium
µ

24 Mar 2021, 09:33

Are all Model M white on black caps just pad printed? It makes sense—they’re hardly going to be doubleshot—but is disappointing. You can either keep them looking great, or use them, not both!

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apb

24 Mar 2021, 09:37

Dikkus wrote:
24 Mar 2021, 09:10
up to snuff insofar as manufacturing quality was concerned.
yeah I don't doubt that but it would be cool if it was made in the USA or England. I have a Maxiswitch M with trackpoint and it seems to be fine. I actually prefer that the trackpoint has very little give relative to the Unicomp ones.
Dikkus wrote:
24 Mar 2021, 09:10
the keycaps are still pad printed
from what I see, the Model M keycaps look complex and probably wouldn't take well to doubleshot molding. It would be fairly difficult to do and would cost a ridiculous amount. from what I understand, you can't dye sub a lighter color onto a dark surface. damn shame. lasering equipment would cost a bunch, too

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Muirium
µ

24 Mar 2021, 09:39

IBMs were made in Greenock, Scotland by the way! 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿

Reverse dye sub is a thing. Another boutique thing, so be it. Laser is probably the best they could do at scale.

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apb

24 Mar 2021, 09:47

I'd be happy getting blanks and sticking them on there but I don't know if they make black spacebars or black modifier keys

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Muirium
µ

24 Mar 2021, 09:49

They do. Full black sets.

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apb

24 Mar 2021, 09:52

time to whip out the white paint markers and stencil on legends!

they don't seem to have black as a choice on their complete keyset page but they sell all of the necessary bits separately.

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clickykeyboards

24 Mar 2021, 14:27

After a few days of real-world use the key feel and the key sounds of the 2021 Unicomp mini M certainly feels and sounds different than older IBM Model M keyboards. Qualitatively a higher pitched and lighter touch in the 2021.. but hard to emperically quantify without more audio and force measurement tools. Certainly the reduced weight and mass differences in the 2021 versus the baseline 1987 model M keyboards is a contributing factor. May not be a critical factor for the average user.

As the 12-month warranty nears its end, I plan to do a screw mod to remove the melted plastic rivets and replace with M2 x 6mm screws.

...but (like a brand new car) I do want to drive it around the track in real-world conditions for a few months before I bring it into the workshop to tear it down to look at the internals.

There are observable differences in the hardness of the keyboard case and the case texture is smooth versus textured. I suspect the plastics formulation (polycarbonate/acyrlonitrile-butadinene-styreme (PC-ABS) blend) is a factor.
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"We cannot see the future so every decision is a risk, only time will tell if it was a risk worth taking."

Time will tell to see how well this 2021 variant measures against the long historical lineage of IBM model M keyboards.
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sharktastica

24 Mar 2021, 14:38

Dikkus wrote:
24 Mar 2021, 09:10
I believe that Chyros concluded that the M13's made in the Mexican plant were up to snuff with the other Model M's at the time insofar as manufacturing quality was concerned.

Though the keycaps are still pad printed, so unfortunately even though they look quite nice they'll eventually wear off with use. A shame since they look so good.
Owner of a 1995 beige Lexmark, 1997 black Maxi Switch, and 2004 beige Unicomp M13 here. Quality-wise, they are all about the same even down to the sound (although the Unicomp has a FSR-based pointing stick instead of TrackPoint).
apb wrote:
24 Mar 2021, 01:06
Anyone here other than Chyros buy/get the Unicomp Model M TKL? I hear some people on the west coast of the US are due to get theirs tomorrow.
Me! Well, a slightly less developed prototype compared to Chyros' but more or less the final experience minus a few faults they've since corrected.
protomini_v_ssk.jpg
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apb wrote:
24 Mar 2021, 01:06
Also, I doesn't seem like Unicomp has any plans to make any beige/pearl ones and it seems to be the consensus that beige/pearl is a better color scheme than the black and grey. Would it be viable to organize a group buy/indiegogo/kickstarter to get them to do a limited run?
My 'pragmatic guess' as to why; why is catering to hard-to-satisfy vintage folk worth the effort over mass-market ambitions? They said before that beige doesn't sell well, despite the consensus on DT. They wouldn't blatantly ignore an opportunity.

That said, I think a funded limited run would be an interesting idea. I would like a beige one too.
Last edited by sharktastica on 24 Mar 2021, 14:48, edited 3 times in total.

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Muirium
µ

24 Mar 2021, 14:40

clickykeyboards wrote:
24 Mar 2021, 14:27
After a few days of real-world use the key feel and the key sounds of the 2021 Unicomp mini M certainly feels and sounds different than older IBM Model M keyboards…
Is yours the final production version?

How well does it show up on host computers? Especially different OSes like Linux, Mac and iPad. I ask because Chyros says Unicomp is using a multi USB device report (to support higher rollover) which can be bad news. Some keyboards which did this in the past wind up doing daft things like failing to send uppercase characters when you press one shift key instead of the other. Ugh! And he says he has to unplug/replug his prototype model on every restart. As someone who routinely sleeps their computer this would drive me berserk.

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sharktastica

24 Mar 2021, 14:45

clickykeyboards wrote:
24 Mar 2021, 14:27
IMG_1960.JPG
Seems they've also plugged another issue I found during my testing. The controller board on my prototype could move around a lot when trying to plug or disconnect a USB cable in/out. Seems they've modified the guide 'stalks' on yours to prevent it (mine, below, are just straight by comparison). Curious, how stable is the USB port now?
protomini_controller.jpg
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Muirium
µ

24 Mar 2021, 15:07

Is that a USB A port, on the peripheral end, not the host? You need a USB A to A cable to use this?

If so… weird! Typically, USB B or micro / mini goes on the device end. USB C has obviated this, but that's no USB C.

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XMIT
[ XMIT ]

24 Mar 2021, 15:16

Dikkus wrote:
24 Mar 2021, 09:10
Though the keycaps are still pad printed, so unfortunately even though they look quite nice they'll eventually wear off with use. A shame since they look so good.
I don't know why they cheapened out here, or continue to use "pad printing wears off" as an excuse to not make these.

It's a well known fact by Asian keyboard manufacturers that you can use a UV-curing epoxy over printed legends to prevent them from wearing off. Plenty of keyboards ship with this option. It's considered "expensive" (at least for bargain basement keyboards) and is relatively uncommon.

I would prefer to see reverse dyesub on Model M caps one day.

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Palatino

24 Mar 2021, 15:34

apb wrote:
24 Mar 2021, 01:06
Anyone here other than Chyros buy/get the Unicomp Model M TKL? I hear some people on the west coast of the US are due to get theirs tomorrow.

Also, I doesn't seem like Unicomp has any plans to make any beige/pearl ones and it seems to be the consensus that beige/pearl is a better color scheme than the black and grey. Would it be viable to organize a group buy/indiegogo/kickstarter to get them to do a limited run? It seems like they'd only have to change the plastic of the case, the lock light bank sticker, and maybe print a few caps differently on a beige set which they already have tooling for. Thoughts? I don't know how one would go about organizing one of these things so that's why I'm asking here.

Thanks in advance. Sorry if I'm shitting up the board, I searched the index and it yielded nothing.
I'd definitely buy a new mini Model M if it had a beige/pearl/grey case, so add my name to any petition! The black isn't for me.

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XMIT
[ XMIT ]

24 Mar 2021, 15:36

Oh, and, Unicomp's Web site seems to be unable to take orders at the moment. There are some issues with their UPS integration. A friend mentioned this last night and I thought it was localized to them until I saw the same failure this morning. Unicomp are aware of the issue and presumably looking into it.
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Palatino

24 Mar 2021, 15:41

And you'll have no luck at this shop that I just cycled past, either. Just full of crisps and magazines - not a keyboard in sight. I've a good mind to sue under the Trade Descriptions Act.
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Muirium
µ

24 Mar 2021, 15:57

Dunno about the mags, but vintage SSKs tend to be full of crisps, among other things. So they're almost there.

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Thorogrimm

24 Mar 2021, 19:55

This is bizarre, I was actually looking at the Mini M's last night and I decided I might get one in future. For me, I'd rather wait until I can get my hands on one with ISO layout.
What I would like to know is how the quality compares with the NEW Model M? I've heard about their renewal of tooling or something like that, and I've heard that in the past Unicomp Model M's can be a mixed bag with various manufacturing flaws. Such as plastic defects from the molds, faulty switches etc.
Would I be getting anything better in terms of consistant quality from the Mini M, or is it too early?

micmil

24 Mar 2021, 23:41

Thorogrimm wrote:
24 Mar 2021, 19:55
This is bizarre, I was actually looking at the Mini M's last night and I decided I might get one in future. For me, I'd rather wait until I can get my hands on one with ISO layout.
What I would like to know is how the quality compares with the NEW Model M? I've heard about their renewal of tooling or something like that, and I've heard that in the past Unicomp Model M's can be a mixed bag with various manufacturing flaws. Such as plastic defects from the molds, faulty switches etc.
Would I be getting anything better in terms of consistant quality from the Mini M, or is it too early?
The New Model M and Mini M aren't just renewals, they're completely new tooling.

Please keep in mind that when people slag the Unicomp models they're comparing a current production model $100 keyboard to something that was built thirty-five years ago and cost three times that amount back then. Things have changed. If you want the amazingest amazing to ever amazing then find a NOS Model M and pay accordingly. If, however, you compare the newer keyboards to current production in the same price range... yeah, they're hard to complain about.

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Thorogrimm

24 Mar 2021, 23:53

micmil wrote:
24 Mar 2021, 23:41
Thorogrimm wrote:
24 Mar 2021, 19:55
This is bizarre, I was actually looking at the Mini M's last night and I decided I might get one in future. For me, I'd rather wait until I can get my hands on one with ISO layout.
What I would like to know is how the quality compares with the NEW Model M? I've heard about their renewal of tooling or something like that, and I've heard that in the past Unicomp Model M's can be a mixed bag with various manufacturing flaws. Such as plastic defects from the molds, faulty switches etc.
Would I be getting anything better in terms of consistant quality from the Mini M, or is it too early?
The New Model M and Mini M aren't just renewals, they're completely new tooling.

Please keep in mind that when people slag the Unicomp models they're comparing a current production model $100 keyboard to something that was built thirty-five years ago and cost three times that amount back then. Things have changed. If you want the amazingest amazing to ever amazing then find a NOS Model M and pay accordingly. If, however, you compare the newer keyboards to current production in the same price range... yeah, they're hard to complain about.
True. As long as they can stand up against the modern day keyboard market then I'd be more than pleased to shell out £100~ for a Unicomp New Model M or Mini M. I've always wanted to try one for myself and I've been looking for my endgame keyboard for a while--something that will keep me happy and last me for years to come. Luckily if I decide to get one, I don't have to pay the ridiculous shipping costs that come with buying them directly from Unicomp. If anyone in the UK is interested, here's the link https://www.keyboardco.com/category.asp?sr=Model+M

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