I stumbled upon Noppoo Choc Mini and a fellow called attarian. Attarian is apparently a French guy living in China. I told him, that I really appreciate what he and some other guys, like qtan, are doing when importing these funky Asian devices to Europe without ripping us off. Anyway, he told me that the PBT Noppoos with Cherry MX blue switches had ran out in January. Same response from qtan at GeekHack. I tried finding one for a week or two but then made a decision to go with the POM keycap version...
Noppoo Choc Mini, with black POM keycaps and Cherry MX blue switches arrived at the end of May, conveniently during my holiday in Turkey and ready to be pulled straight into action at my startup’s new office. Doing business with attarian was a very good experience. Great seller!
Packaging. Clearly lower end. The cardboard box has some wrinkles on corners and I remember seeing the exact same in another review as well. The painting on the box is quite shallow or translucent. Engrish sales pitch on the box gives a nice exotic touch. It claims to be designed in US. Riiight...
There are no accessories. I understood that it was the seller, attarian, who threw in the keycap puller. So it’s just the keyboard in the box with a warranty card, which is in Chinese of course.
The appearance of the Noppoo Choc Mini, just like the name and just like the packaging, is a bit.. Toyish,I’d say. For example, there are side prints in different colors like red and turquoise and the top-side of the case bends very easily. The keyboard is very light. It is surprisingly light actually, around half a kilo. In a nutshell; it won’t do as a close combat weapon.
Feature wise, it is pretty close being excellent but...
- Cable is soldered in place, but it’ll do and it’s long.
- The 84-key US layout is almost perfect! Media keys are there behind Fn, which is nice extra and numpad as well but I’ve never bothered to use it. I use numpad only with a full-size keyboard.
- I wonder why they didn’t add a Stop button into media keys …?
- The biggest issue with the layout is the positioning of Home and End. Noppoo really went wrong with them. Home and End are put behind Fn key and instead, Pause and Delete are there in addition to Page Up and Page Down. Pause and Delete instead of Home and End... Come on! But gradually my fingers learned to dig up Home and End.
- Supposedly (= haven’t tested) has NKRO via USB. Noppoo achieves this via “a very clever hack” of emulating a USB hub on the board’s controller. This meant sacrificing support for Mac OS X systems. Bad decision. I claim that the number of (potential) customers actually making any benefit of NKRO over 6KRO is much lower than the number of Mac OS X users. Then again, Mac OS X users can get a couple of adapters to workaround it, which probably means dropping down to 6KRO.
- The feet underneath the keyboard are pretty much useless. Shake, rattle, roll. But this isn’t a problem for me. I don’t use the feet that lift the keyboard and it doesn’t move away on the desk either because I don’t lean on it nor do I hammer it.
All right, enough! How about those keycaps and switches that got me into this mess? Solid Gold! I’m telling you, Noppoo sets the new standards for keycap thickness and texture. And at this price! Noppoo’s POM keycaps destroy my Ducky and Filco. POM keycaps feel very nice. They feel something in between ABS and PBT, leaning towards the PBT.
Typing on Noppoo is terrific. Despite the compactness, it doesn’t feel cramped. Due to the keycap thickness and maybe due to the lower keycap profile as well, the clicking sound is slightly lower pitched and thicker than my Ducky’s. Occasional clacking sound when bottoming down is likewise very pleasing. All in all, typing is firm. Firmer than on Ducky or Filco.
Fun fact: I managed to find out that this company is probably the OEM of the board http://www.sunsky-online.com/base/doc!v ... de=aboutUs Discovered it via Alibaba a month ago...
Was my quest reaching its end? Had I found The One? Then I heard that attarian received a batch of Noppoo Choc Mini Whites, with Cherry MX browns and PBT keycaps. Then there are the boards with ALPS... And that’s a whole other story!