Das Keyboard Model S review (Cherry MX Blue)

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15 Jun 2019, 13:23

Today we look at a more modern offering from Das than the original one I reviewed a while ago; the Model S! Considering the marketing pages on Das' website, this thing better be good - hope you enjoy the video! :)


15 Jun 2019, 15:26

Regarding the "Model S" issue at the beginning: it's not "wheel-less", it's that Das III didn't have a wheel at all, and Model S is still Das III essentially.

As you know, the first Das was a rebranded Key Tronic, the second a rebranded Cherry G80… and the then came the third in late 2000s: initially Costar-made (CST104) Ultimate and Pro with the glossy finish and protrusion due to a hub on the top right (quite a stupid placement, if you have a right-handed mouse). They eventually added a model with "multimedia keys" (via Fn key) and changed manufacturer to something other than Costar and, well, worse.

It's ironic that while Metadot's advertising for Das Keyboard targeted typists and they even organized typing competitions, early revisions of Das III Ultimate had a firmware bug that resulted in mangled keystroke sequences when typing actually fast.

Das IV switched to Greetech MX clones and aluminium case cover and introduced the wheel and a tenkeyless model.

…and now the 5Q generation has been a complete clusterfuck. Crowdfunding campaign and its aftermath weren't handled well, though more importantly, the idea of a "cloud-connected" keyboard was orwellian to begin with, but then they topped it by banning people who mentioned alternative open-source firmware in their forums.

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15 Jun 2019, 21:41

^ what davkol said about the S being a III. I've got a couple of Model S boards from around ~8-10 years ago that I've beat up pretty well. Both were mostly used in my lab and work. One's a Mac board and the other is the PC version without the media keys. The Model S is basically an old product and doesn't hold up as well compared to what's out there now in the new keyboard world. Back before the mechanical revival they were one of the few options around if you didn't want to fool with the hit or miss world of older boards. Now it seems they resorted to just even more marketing wank ....

Key caps are definitely a weak point as you say, they are cheap, the legends will be gone in a couple of months and they feel like garbage once they shine up. Whatever white ink or paint they use in the laser ablated legends comes off easily. A few months ago I cleaned up and restored my Das S for PC and started using it again. I also added a set of Maxkey SA keycaps as the old ones were done for. I had let it sit a while but now I'm back to daily driving it and giving the IBMs a break and it's not bad. I'm a Linux SA/programmer by trade and did computational physics back in the day so as you can imagine I type a lot. The mechanical bits and pieces of the Das held up well but their finishing parts (case/keycaps) were pretty rough after a while. My Mac Das S has what looks to to be essentially clearcoat failure despite being cleaned and kept in good repair, just heavily used. I do like Cherry Blue switches so that never bothered me. I feel like their lightness makes them less fatiguing the type on compared to a Unicomp or IBM. But that is a highly subjective thing!

I wasn't aware they charged $119 for them now. I want to say I got mine in the $70-90 range new way back in the early 2010s. Maybe that was on sale or something? I can't remember but I don't think I would have spent that much on a USB Cherry board. I haven't kept up with Das outside of the 5Q shenanigans in the news.

Das is still trying to ride on their reputation for being one the few "new" mechanical keyboards you could easily buy many years ago. Seems they've gone the way of Apple and are charging a price premium for a not particularly special piece of kit. If I stumbled across one used in the thrift store for a few dollars I'd certainly grab it but they aren't worth their price tag new these days IMO. $119 for a Model S these days is madness.
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