Unicomp New Model M exploration & review

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sharktastica

18 Feb 2021, 19:25

For the first major review type of article on my website, I'm having a look at Unicomp's New Model M that launched around this time a year ago! As you'll see, it's not perfect, but overall it's a nice piece of hardware and shows an overall positive development from the company.

The review itself: https://sharktastica.co.uk/articles/newm_review
Complimentary typing demo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYO0NMA4VSY

To note: a follow-up revision is planned, featuring more factual/technical information and weight measurements. I'll drop an update in this thread once it's ready. I was supposed to write and finish the review a few weeks ago, but IRL stuff was/is consistently consuming my time. And given this is my first attempt at such a written piece, I would appreciate any feedback you may have!

Some photos for your curiosity:
newm_aesthetic.jpg
newm_aesthetic.jpg (1.24 MiB) Viewed 499 times
newm_full_view.jpg
newm_full_view.jpg (1.1 MiB) Viewed 499 times
newm_profile.jpg
newm_profile.jpg (922.72 KiB) Viewed 499 times
newm_peg.jpg
newm_peg.jpg (1 MiB) Viewed 499 times
newm_keycap_comp.jpg
newm_keycap_comp.jpg (789.15 KiB) Viewed 499 times
newm_inside_artifacts.jpg
newm_inside_artifacts.jpg (694.03 KiB) Viewed 499 times

feltel

19 Feb 2021, 14:49

Thanks for your in-depth review. I think I have to get one sooner or later to add it to my growing collection of Model Ms. Two problems I'll face. Get one here in continental europe (with german layout in my case) and the blue lock lights. The first one is a real problem as buying it in US is a no go due to high shipping cost and taxes. Summing it up I would end in the 150 - 200 EUR region which is way too much. The second concern is easily fixable with heating up the soldering iron. Blue lock lights are a no-go. They have to be green. Period. :twisted:

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sharktastica

19 Feb 2021, 15:48

feltel wrote:
19 Feb 2021, 14:49
Thanks for your in-depth review. I think I have to get one sooner or later to add it to my growing collection of Model Ms. Two problems I'll face. Get one here in continental europe (with german layout in my case) and the blue lock lights. The first one is a real problem as buying it in US is a no go due to high shipping cost and taxes. Summing it up I would end in the 150 - 200 EUR region which is way too much. The second concern is easily fixable with heating up the soldering iron. Blue lock lights are a no-go. They have to be green. Period. :twisted:
Until late 2019, Unicomp had a German reseller... The Keyboard Company (the UK reseller) will ship mainland, but I doubt it will save you much other than reaching the lower end of your 150€-200€ scale at least. Especially after Brexit (wasn't my choice).

stormcrash

20 Feb 2021, 20:08

Awesome review. I'm really hoping they do bring out a Pearl color option (even better if it has green LEDs) and would buy one in a heartbeat if they do. Interesting that the blemishes on the bottom case align with the rivet dimples, I've never checked on other boards to see if that's where they are, I had assumed they were witness swirls from the injection molding nozzles.

That said I don't think that problem is unique to Unicomp, though the black color makes it stand out more, as I've looked at the bottom of IBM and Lexmark Ms and seen similar slight imperfections/witness marks from the molding process. I somewhat suspect the bottom case blemish has been there all along but over time has gotten lumped in as "just another Unicomp visual quality failure"

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sharktastica

20 Feb 2021, 20:36

stormcrash wrote:
20 Feb 2021, 20:08
Awesome review. I'm really hoping they do bring out a Pearl color option (even better if it has green LEDs) and would buy one in a heartbeat if they do. Interesting that the blemishes on the bottom case align with the rivet dimples, I've never checked on other boards to see if that's where they are, I had assumed they were witness swirls from the injection molding nozzles.

That said I don't think that problem is unique to Unicomp, though the black color makes it stand out more, as I've looked at the bottom of IBM and Lexmark Ms and seen similar slight imperfections/witness marks from the molding process. I somewhat suspect the bottom case blemish has been there all along but over time has gotten lumped in as "just another Unicomp visual quality failure"
Thanks!

Indeed. As I alluded to in the review, in particular, some early 122-key Model Ms show this sort of 'artefact' too. Likely, the glossy plastic plays a part in its prominence in this case. As such, I don't believe it's a Unicomp-unique issue and it's on the back.
Image

grasshopper

25 Feb 2021, 12:31

Thanks for doing the review.

Do you think it might be possible to fit the inner frame from a Classic Unicomp Model M into one of the New Model M cases? I'm OK with doing some light modifications such as drilling new mounting holes.

The reason I ask is because I own a Classic Unicomp Model M which is fine except that the case is broken. I don't necessarily want to but a replacement 'Classic' case from Unicomp because of all the moulding artifacts it would have. However, it occurs to be that I could potentially fit the inner frame of my 'Classic' keyboard into one of the new cases.

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sharktastica

25 Feb 2021, 12:37

grasshopper wrote:
25 Feb 2021, 12:31
Thanks for doing the review.

Do you think it might be possible to fit the inner frame from a Classic Unicomp Model M into one of the New Model M cases? I'm OK with doing some light modifications such as drilling new mounting holes.

The reason I ask is because I own a Classic Unicomp Model M which is fine except that the case is broken. I don't necessarily want to but a replacement 'Classic' case from Unicomp because of all the moulding artifacts it would have. However, it occurs to be that I could potentially fit the inner frame of my 'Classic' keyboard into one of the new cases.
Sure. Once I've finished doing my Mini M review, I plan to revisit the New M to do additional measurements and I'll include that as one of things I'll try.

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lhutton

Yesterday, 02:21

Probably more in depth than my review, it's nice to see the Mini M finally in the wild too. My 2018 UltraClassic came with two piece key caps and IMO that makes the majority of the typing feel difference between it and my 2020 New M. The New M is a bit smoother, especially in the lower keys around the space bar.

Don't tell anyone but I think I mostly prefer the typing feel of the single piece caps. :) I've got a vintage Dell branded M with single piece caps that one of my favorites too. Seems like there's less slop in the motion.

stormcrash

Today, 02:37

I don't think there's any shame in liking the one piece key caps. IBM used single piece caps on a lot of M variants after all, including old SSKs

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