Cannot decide between Cherry MX Blue and Brown!

Which mechanical switch is better for me?

Cherry MX Brown
13
50%
Cherry MX Blue
13
50%
 
Total votes: 26

PoisonHeadcrab

02 Feb 2014, 17:41

So I want to buy myself a nice, new mechanical keyboard, and after thorough research (which also led me to this forum) I decided on the Ducky Shine 3 with Blue LED's and a German ISO layout.




I've been using a Corsair Vengeance K90 with Red switches for more than a year, and I can't say I didn't like them, especially considering I have only used rubber dome keyboards before. However, I always fancied the Browns (Buying the Corsair with Reds was somewhat of a compromise) so at first, the choice for my new keyboard was quite sure.
I code and have to write often, especially for school and soon university, however I also game a lot, mostly but not exclusively FPS. Bottom line is, I want something that is best for typing work and overall computer use but is also well suited for gaming, without being too biased towards it.

Something with more tactility than the reds surely must be better for me! Yet the more I read up on the topic the more I become torn between the Brown and the Blue switch. Here's why:

It seems the Brown switch is a lot more similar to the Red than the Blue one, as it's basically a Red switch with a small bump in it's action compared to the different Blue mechanism with an additional moving part. It's supposed to be an in-between kind of thing between the Red and Blue switch, yet I heard some people say they somewhat fail at it, being "the worst of both worlds". Having used the Red switch I definitely want something that feels different. Will a small bump be enough?

On the other side I'm reluctant about getting the Blue switch over the Brown one, because it's supposedly far inferior for gaming, especially considering it's not as easy to double-tap with the reset point being further away from actuation. (On the other hand, e.g. Razer Blackwidow uses them, a board that is directed/marketed specifically at gamers, so maybe that's not entirely true?).

Furthermore, as far as sound goes, I currently wouldn't have any problem using this keyboard at home, though it could be an issue for others when I'm on Skype (which I'm often), although no one had any problems with my Red switches so far.
Myself, while I'm certain the clicky noise would add me comfort in writing long texts or maybe coding, I could imagine it bugging me in other uses such as gaming.

I want to buy a keyboard that will serve me for a very long time, and fulfill all my needs, so I won't have to buy another keyboard for the time being.
Overall I fear the Blue switches might take away some versatility and all-round suitability, because of the reasons listed above. On the other hand, I imagine I would appreciate a switch that feels more "mechanical" and tactile, and fear I might be disappointed by the Browns there, which in turn would likely make me buy another keyboard with Blue switches at some point.

Of course I thought about trying the switches out for myself beforehand, however I live in Switzerland, where the trend of mechanical keboards seems yet to have arrived. None of the local stores offer any opportunity to try the switches. I could get that switch tester from CoolerMaster (which is sold in the EU) but I'd have to pay another 20€ shipping and taxes on top of it's price, which is of course, ridiculous.
I know, which switch is better for you is almost entirely personal preference, however not having any chance to test either one before purchase gives me no other choice than to base my decision on research and advice from you guys.





Alright, that may have been a little too much writing for my little dilemma. But I'm planning on keeping this keyboard for years, and while keycaps are easily replaced, switches are there forever, that is why I really want to get this decision right.

What do you think would ultimately be the better choice? Do Blues really offer enough versatility? Or is Brown the better switch overall? Any kind of input is appreciated! :D
Also, don't be shy to comment on my decision to buy the Ducky Shine 3 (for 150€ including shipping and taxes), even though I'm rather sure of that.

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kint

02 Feb 2014, 18:08

your post doesn't bode well. If you plan to keep the keyboard for years you should try the switches beforehand.
If you decide on one switch by recommendation of the board, then go out and buy a expensive keyboard that'll hold up for years, then recveive it, pay taxes and duty, and then find out you dislike the switches...
By that path you'll pay the taxes you want to avoid twice. And even the more expensive ones as the product you'll buy wil likely be a higher priced one. Go buy a switch tester is my recommodation, or participate in a switch tester round.
OTOH, it is best to try out the switches in the board you are going to use, with the keycaps you are going to use them with...
Personally: MX browns are dirty reds. If you want the tactility of a random rubberdome you'll have to go at least with clears. And then: If you are fine with reds now, you likely bottom out on a keypress, which means a tactile switch is also rather pointless. Clicky is just for your ear training so you'll know whether you have pressed a key. But it drowns in the bottom out noise of a keycap, especially if you arer a heavy typist.

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Muirium
µ

02 Feb 2014, 19:10

The Ducky Shine 3 is a fine keyboard. I'm rather fond of mine, as reviewed here:

http://deskthority.net/news-reviews-f4/ ... t7130.html

I made a few sound comparison recordings which are in the review, using my fancy microphone, a fixed environment, and authentic typing. So you should get as close an apples-to-apples comparison between my own reds (in the Ducky), greens (which sound the same as blues) and my monstrous IBMs! I thoroughly enjoy typing on all those keyboards, actually. But there's quite a difference.

+1 for the suggestion that you try a switch sampler first. I was mightily surprised by MX brown when I first tried it. Like Kint, it feels like "dirty reds" to me, but you are right that it's entirely subjective. I love to hammer away on buckling springs, after all, so I don't like the subtle bump in browns. Clears are much more to my taste. Although Topre is so much nicer for tactility without a click…

As for blues and gaming: what you've heard about is called hysteresis. All MX switches activate at the same point in their travel: 2 mm down the full 4 mm. They all have the same contact mechanism. But blues (and whites and greens) have a collar on the slider which slams down to make the click. That extra moving part must return to its home position before you can register a second key press. This is the source of delay. I hear it can be quite unbearable for button mashers, but it's imperceptible in typing, so I've found; even quick stuff like cursor movement.

Besides switches, what have you thought about changing this time? You're right that caps aren't "for life" the way that switches are (unless you want hours of quality time with a soldering iron) but so too is layout. Typing this on my SSK, I can tell you all about the art of Tenkeyless. Although, like switches and everything else, it's not for everyone!

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matt3o
-[°_°]-

02 Feb 2014, 19:28

PoisonHeadcrab wrote:Having used the Red switch I definitely want something that feels different. Will a small bump be enough?
No. it won't.
PoisonHeadcrab wrote:On the other side I'm reluctant about getting the Blue switch over the Brown one, because it's supposedly far inferior for gaming
True.
PoisonHeadcrab wrote:with the reset point being further away from actuation.
False.
PoisonHeadcrab wrote:I want to buy a keyboard that will serve me for a very long time, and fulfill all my needs, so I won't have to buy another keyboard for the time being.
get a Topre. There's no midway between a MX Red and a MX Blue. Maybe the topre is the closest to such a thing.
PoisonHeadcrab wrote:Of course I thought about trying the switches out for myself beforehand, however I live in Switzerland, where the trend of mechanical keboards seems yet to have arrived.
I live in Italy where the trend never arrived, but this is not stopping me :D

The truth is that nobody can tell you how you'll like a switch. You have to try it yourself on a full keyboard (a switch tester is not enough).
Muirium wrote:But blues (and whites and greens) have a collar on the slider which slams down to make the click. That extra moving part must return to its home position before you can register a second key press.
Sorry, Muir, I have to correct this. The "clicky" part of an MX is purely for audible/tactile feedback gratification. It has little to do with the actual switch actuation point. You can pass the click point and keep pressing/releasing the key few mm. The key will be registered and you get no click at all, ie: the slider does not come back to the rest position (I use that all the times especially for the arrow keys).

That being said... blues are not good for frenetic WASD gaming.

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kvad

02 Feb 2014, 19:36

I've got one MX Brown keyboard, and one blue - and the dilemmas you state still persist. I enjoy far more to type on the blue, but as you said, the noise makes it less versatile - so the brown remain my main keyboard for now. If I'm in a video conference, I can type almost silently on the browns if I'm a little careful.
I'd say if you value convenience primarily - stick with brown, if you want the most satisfaction, then blue.

Have not tried clears yet (apart from a single loose switch) - but they do seem like a good middle ground. Without trying it yourself though, it's very hard to say. Despite Topre also being very nice, perhaps we should just leave it out of this so as not to make it even more complicated? : )

damieng

02 Feb 2014, 19:55

I find brown just not tactile enough. Blue certainly are but they are loud.

I'd really recommend trying a few keyboards in person if you can - I settled on MX Clears which I feel are more tactile than blue but quieter too.

[)amien

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kint

02 Feb 2014, 20:39

The tactility of Mx brown is as pathetic as the clickiness of MX blue. In both cases you have to carefully and deliberately press one key slowly to recognise that it's there. As soon as you type away it becomes a washy side effect of the typing, hardly related to the single keypress. Whilst the click is processed by another sense, therefore has a (small) feedback effect, (it sure is entertaining) the tactility of the browns just vanishes and becomes a scratchy mass alongside keywobble and bottom out clack. Nothing that enhanced my typing, as clears did. Both is better on white ALPS, imo, but they bring along with other issues... :roll:

Findecanor

02 Feb 2014, 21:49

matt3o wrote:get a Topre. There's no midway between a MX Red and a MX Blue. Maybe the topre is the closest to such a thing.
Really? I would say that a MX Brown is the midway between Red and Blue... but of course this is mostly subjective.
Topre Realforce are really good keyboards otherwise.

I have used MX Browns and Blues a lot in the past four years, but have settled on MX Clears. They are harder and because of that louder than MX Browns, but more tactile than them. Blues are tactile in a different way.

PoisonHeadcrab

02 Feb 2014, 22:47

Muirium wrote: Besides switches, what have you thought about changing this time? You're right that caps aren't "for life" the way that switches are (unless you want hours of quality time with a soldering iron) but so too is layout. Typing this on my SSK, I can tell you all about the art of Tenkeyless. Although, like switches and everything else, it's not for everyone!
First of all thanks for the fast and elaborate reply! :)

I did indeed consider getting the Ducky Shine 3 in a TKL Layout, however decided against it because I'm used to fullsize models anyways and I imagine it does remove some versatility (I'd rather just not have those situations where I need a numpad for one reason or the other, but it's missing!). Furthermore, the online store in Germany where I can get the Duckys for a reasonable price, offers the Tenkeyless versions for the exact same price as the Full Sized ones, which is a little off putting.

I do see the advantages in a TKL Layout however, apart from it also looking a little more classy. If I had to buy a second board right now, it would probably be Tenkeyless, as I wouldn't be scared of giving up the numpad. ;)

I was also unsure of the LED Backlighting at first, though aforementioned store doesn't give me much choice regarding that matter anyways - so blue it is. If I had the choice I'd probably go with red or white, which ergonomically makes a little more sense - I'm not sure the higher shipping and taxes, as well as UK Layout would be worth it.


As far as the switch is concerned, sounds like Clear might just be what I was looking for. A shame it's not available on the Shine 3. As if that wasn't enough, in Europe, there hardly seems to be a board with Clears in sight.
I guess I'll probably have to go with the Browns then, which sounds like the better choice for me in that situation.

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scottc

02 Feb 2014, 23:01

In my humble (and probably controversial) opinion, MX brown just feel like MX reds with a bit of dirt stuck on them. It's all personal taste, though. Have you considered trying a switch tester set?

PoisonHeadcrab

02 Feb 2014, 23:38

scottc wrote:In my humble (and probably controversial) opinion, MX brown just feel like MX reds with a bit of dirt stuck on them. It's all personal taste, though. Have you considered trying a switch tester set?
Like I said, I certainly considered it, but those tester sets are somehow really tough to find here in Europe, while the ones I found would cost me close to 50$ including shipping and taxes. And I don't know of any store around where I live that would showcase any mechanical keyboards to try them out.

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Daniel Beardsmore

02 Feb 2014, 23:38

matt3o wrote:
PoisonHeadcrab wrote:with the reset point being further away from actuation.
False.
True. Strangely enough, Cherry specifically marketed the clicky switches based on this characteristic, which they referred to as "movement differential" (we know this as hysteresis). That's what the little bump ("cam", as they call it) on the slider is for: it indicates that the switch has movement differential (why they did that, is another mystery). I don't honestly know whether the click sound was intentional or not.

The end result is that there's a difference of just over 0.5 mm between the operating point and the reset point, which is virtually absent from the switch variants without movement differential (the linear and tactile switches).

If you're not sure, press a switch really slowly until it clicks and actuates, then ease up: you have to release it some distance before it resets. You're right that you can continue to press and release it without a click — I do not know why only the clicky versions get hysteresis.

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scottc

03 Feb 2014, 00:04

PoisonHeadcrab wrote:
scottc wrote:In my humble (and probably controversial) opinion, MX brown just feel like MX reds with a bit of dirt stuck on them. It's all personal taste, though. Have you considered trying a switch tester set?
Like I said, I certainly considered it, but those tester sets are somehow really tough to find here in Europe, while the ones I found would cost me close to 50$ including shipping and taxes. And I don't know of any store around where I live that would showcase any mechanical keyboards to try them out.
Why not just buy one of each of brown/blue from 7bit?

Edit: Sorry, I didn't actually read through all of the OP and just skimmed it and missed that part because, well, as you said yourself: "that may have been a little too much writing for my little dilemma." :P

drexel

03 Feb 2014, 07:20

I've never used reds but I have used both browns and blues and can tell you that I wish I had known the bumps in browns would be so insubstantial before I had bought them. They have their place and function, but that is most certainly not tactile feedback for normal typing anywhere above about 60wpm. That being said, I really don't think I would enjoy blues for gaming at all since I find "doubletapping" a key significantly harder with them however many people have testified that they were just fine. Overall I think everyone would agree that blues are much more of an improvement over browns for typing (taking into account you want something much different from reds) than they are a downgrade from browns for gaming.

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Muirium
µ

03 Feb 2014, 09:54

PoisonHeadcrab wrote: First of all thanks for the fast and elaborate reply! :)
Fast and elaborate: that's me!
PoisonHeadcrab wrote:I did indeed consider getting the Ducky Shine 3 in a TKL Layout, however decided against it because I'm used to fullsize models anyways and I imagine it does remove some versatility (I'd rather just not have those situations where I need a numpad for one reason or the other, but it's missing!). Furthermore, the online store in Germany where I can get the Duckys for a reasonable price, offers the Tenkeyless versions for the exact same price as the Full Sized ones, which is a little off putting.
Same price is a fair price. You should see how much more a TKL Model M SSK costs than a full size Model M. Typically 3 to 4 times as much, but sometimes people go crazy. Back in the day, they were sold for the same price. So less people bought the SSK when they were produced, making them much more valuable years later on.
PoisonHeadcrab wrote:I do see the advantages in a TKL Layout however, apart from it also looking a little more classy. If I had to buy a second board right now, it would probably be Tenkeyless, as I wouldn't be scared of giving up the numpad. ;)
The SSK has an integrated numpad (press Shift + Num Lock to enter the mode and the square of keys around I produce numbers instead) and so does my custom keyboard, but the Ducky does not. Naturally, although I hardly use a real numpad on a full size board, I wind up needing one a few times a week on the Ducky! But it's not so bad, I'm just punching in a few digits. While a numpad is in the way of my mouse for hours on end.
PoisonHeadcrab wrote:I was also unsure of the LED Backlighting at first, though aforementioned store doesn't give me much choice regarding that matter anyways - so blue it is. If I had the choice I'd probably go with red or white, which ergonomically makes a little more sense - I'm not sure the higher shipping and taxes, as well as UK Layout would be worth it.
Blue backlighting is pretty horrible. You can turn it off, of course, but blue LEDs are so damn bright I find them incompatible with night use entirely, even on lowest setting. The yellow LEDs in my Shine 3 are okay, but then to truly use them you have to put up with mediocre caps. Nice thick caps are opaque and will block the lighting except for a leak around the edges.
As you might gather, around here almost everyone is anti-backlight anyway. I don't dislike lighting, but I think the compromises in caps aren't worth it at the moment. You either have a great feeling keyboard or you have backlights. Not both.
PoisonHeadcrab wrote:As far as the switch is concerned, sounds like Clear might just be what I was looking for. A shame it's not available on the Shine 3. As if that wasn't enough, in Europe, there hardly seems to be a board with Clears in sight.
Clears. Europe. Ducky. TKL. 99 Euros.
Image
The "Black Mamba". German layout any good for you? They're engraved, so they're a bit hard to see, but the material and feel is good.
Image
PBT caps are a pretty good upgrade from the Shine 3's default.

Item #2 here: also available in blues, browns and reds. Teraset are highly recommended.
http://deskthority.net/marketplace-f11/ ... ml#p144115

And if you really want an upgrade path in caps, Round 5 is the same profile as these, and the Black Mamba is the same body style, but smart black instead of yellow:
Image

As for full size, Ducky has a Premier model coming out right about now which comes with its own set of high end caps. These have legends you can see much easier, as they're dye sub. I believe there's two colour schemes coming. This one is Cream Cheese and Green:
Image
I can vouch for their thick PBTs, and the space bar. As someone pointed out earlier, caps change the feel just as much as switches can.
Image
https://www.teraset.net/ducky.php#5

Teraset gets all the new stuff ASAP, and they ship good and quick too. The only downside to them is their shipping is expensive as they're based in Finland. I'd consider getting a couple of things at once if you do. Like the Black Mamba and a set of thick PBT dye sub caps to go on it.

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Kurk

03 Feb 2014, 12:57

All that bashing of MX Browns :(
In my opinion, they are the best Cherry switches because they combine a low activation force with a subtle tactility.
I find the the tactile bump very noticeable even when typing fast, you just have to get used to it. Surely, if you're forcefully bottoming out all the time on light switches then Browns certainly are not for you. People that enjoy MX Greens need a totally different, more in-your-face implementation of tactility.
MX Blues are OK but the hysteresis is really annoying for double activation (real-ly an-noying).
If you ask me: Browns>Blues.

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Muirium
µ

03 Feb 2014, 13:03

And this is why it is vital to try before you buy.

Or maybe just buy cheaply, for experiment's sake:
http://deskthority.net/marketplace-f11/ ... t7327.html

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tlt

03 Feb 2014, 13:04

I like MX browns as well. They might not feel great when trying just a switch but I think the typing experience is great.

PoisonHeadcrab

03 Feb 2014, 19:38

Muirium wrote: Clears. Europe. Ducky. TKL. 99 Euros.
That is an amazing offer! It seems to be expired now, so that would mean ~120 euros (with swiss VAT) + shipping for me, which is still something I will definitely consider. Teraset indeed seems to have quite a nice selection, I guess I wasn't that thorough in my searches after all.

I already had my eyes set on those Round 5 keycaps, they look really nice, although I still haven't understood exactly by whom and how they are being provided and shipped.

But first I'll keep trying to find some shops (or tester kits) to try the switches out, I guess it's a good idea to try out at least one of them out before I make any purchase.

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kint

03 Feb 2014, 19:56

PoisonHeadcrab wrote:...I already had my eyes set on those Round 5 keycaps, they look really nice, although I still haven't understood exactly by whom and how they are being provided and shipped....
It is a group buy, so one member (7bit) worked out the sets, options, colours and all, build a script for ordering and administration (7bot) and when everything is good to go he will give the whole order to the production company (Signature plastics). The bulk order will then get shipped to 7bit who will drown in a few thousand keycaps until they are sorted according to the orders and then shipped out to the buyers.
So you give the order prehand, pay forward, they then get produced and after sorting are shipped to you.

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Muirium
µ

03 Feb 2014, 20:09

Yup. Signature Plastics is a quality outfit. One of the leading caps manufacturers in the world, and easily the best for doing group buys because of their (comparatively) low minimum order quantity. Round 5 was meant to close already, but got delayed to the end of February. So if you do want to make an order, you have a few weeks! (And then get to wait for months and months like the rest of us…)

Email ducky@teraset.net about that Black Mamba. They've listed it a few months in a row now, and could be happy to let you buy it for the 99 Euro price. Worth a shot! And ask about those dye sub caps of theirs, just on the chance they have something you like.

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matt3o
-[°_°]-

03 Feb 2014, 21:01

SP MOQ is 1 :)

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Muirium
µ

03 Feb 2014, 21:02

Oh boy, Greek alphas here we come!

Amusing to see the MX brown vote coming in during daylight. I'm sure it was 100% to the blues last night when I voted. Night owls like it clicky!

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matt3o
-[°_°]-

03 Feb 2014, 21:05

one 1u custom key would cost you around $53 :)

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Muirium
µ

03 Feb 2014, 21:07

Grr. When are mechanical keyboards ever going to catch on in Greece? Those guys don't know how lucky they are:
Image

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vometia
irritant

22 Feb 2014, 17:23

This topic has been interesting reading; not least because I took delivery of a Cherry MX sampler thingy today. Buckling springs will always be my "thing", for the record, this is really an exercise in finding a decent keyboard for my other half, who wants something tenkeyless and a feel not unlike her poor over-used laptop! I may yet get her a compact ML-based keyboard, which she seems to like, but I still want to look at MX keyboards as they're probably better quality and have far more choice.

I'd imagined that I'd like the blues, with browns closely following; and that I wouldn't like blacks or reds. Based on the sampler (which I know isn't going to be an accurate representation of an actual keyboard) it seems that the opposite is true: the blues just feel a bit tinny and annoying compared to buckling springs (I know this is heresy! I might get used to them if I had to) and I agree with the comments saying browns feel like reds with grit in them. The real surprise is that I thought I'd hate the blacks and reds, but they feel really good. The only question is which one: the reds feel just slightly too light and the blacks just slightly too heavy (yes, I'm aware that I'm saying that as a habitual M user) but I guess the main concern is the actuation point: the reason that's a concern is I remember using a Philips terminal many years ago where the actuation point was absolutely absurd and caused no end of typos. I forget the model number offhand, P2701 seems to stick in my mind if anyone knows what on earth it was: it appeared in the early '90s and was a VT200 compatible thing.

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Muirium
µ

22 Feb 2014, 17:30

Activation on MX is half way down (2mm of the 4mm total travel) for the entire family. A bit higher than buckling spring (which feels like 75% of the way down to me) but nothing dramatic. Indeed, I quite like Topre too, which fire closer to the top. Adjusting between them is no problem to me.

What do you think of greens then? Or clears?

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vometia
irritant

22 Feb 2014, 18:00

Muirium wrote:Activation on MX is half way down (2mm of the 4mm total travel) for the entire family. A bit higher than buckling spring (which feels like 75% of the way down to me) but nothing dramatic. Indeed, I quite like Topre too, which fire closer to the top. Adjusting between them is no problem to me.

What do you think of greens then? Or clears?
Thank you! She was wondering about the actuation point but we couldn't find it easily. That sounds more sane than the Philips thing I was talking about, though it was many years ago and my memory isn't great.

My sampler didn't have the greens or clears, sadly: I would've liked to have given them a try. I suspect I might like the greens more than the blues: I don't have the most delicate keypress. But I'm kind of hoping she chooses the reds; they've gained a certain infamy in my mind, but I'm wondering if it's entirely deserved and the individual keyswitch is really nice.

Oh, and I forgot to say in my last post, that retro-styled blue-and-grey keyboard a few posts back looks incredible! :)

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Muirium
µ

22 Feb 2014, 18:39

Thanks. That's the power of fancy caps.

Reds are certainly a different kettle of fish than buckling spring. If you like long reads, I wrote about that exact comparison here:

http://deskthority.net/news-reviews-f4/ ... t7130.html

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vometia
irritant

23 Feb 2014, 12:07

Muirium wrote:Thanks. That's the power of fancy caps.

Reds are certainly a different kettle of fish than buckling spring. If you like long reads, I wrote about that exact comparison here:

http://deskthority.net/news-reviews-f4/ ... t7130.html
Thanks: an interesting read. If I go down the cherry route myself (my other half may be weighing up her options for some time!) it's looking like reds are definitely the ones for me after all, assuming they're not too light.

You'd think that having an SSK as my usual keyboard, I wouldn't have such a bad case of keyboard envy, but I guess that's why so many of us are here. :D Especially looking at those posts and thinking "ooh, look at all the pretty colours!" It's a shame that the same variety of keycaps isn't available for buckling spring keyboards, but can't have everything I suppose.

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