My keyboard search is over.

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Trev

24 Apr 2013, 07:01

Muirium wrote:Oh Trev, you just couldn't help opening back up Pandora's box! (When will people ever remember to leave her well alone?)
At least I didn't need to purchase any additional keyboards :)
Jmneuv wrote:I've seen some pics of differences between the sliders and housings (beyond the foam rings) of normal and silenced RFs which did seem to go towards reducing wobble, rattle, etc.
Did you notice any of that, Trev?
I haven't had them disassembled. The silenced Realforce switches feel smoother than the Type-S switches. Side-by-side, the HHKB seems like it should be faster to type on. It's somewhat more abrupt and snappy.

Another factor to consider is the possibility is that they use different plastics. On the HHKB, the entire case is ABS (including the plunger housings). The Realforce switch housings are constructed differently. Perhaps they're not ABS, or have better/smoother finishing if they are.

I've tried applying a very small amount of teflon lube to outside/bottom of a HHKB plunger, this made it feel similar to the RF. You can even hear a difference, it becomes slightly less scratchy.

As it stands now, it seems like my ideal keyboard would be a 60% format Realforce silent model. Until that happens, I'm happy to compromise and allow it to take up some mousing space. It would be nice to "fix" the windows bubble keys. How come Topre doesn't have a blank black key set for Realforce?

I really hope the Leopold model is built like an RF. It'll be interesting to hear the first reviews, especially since it has the ribbon cable connector to the controller. Hardware programmable!

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Muirium
µ

24 Apr 2013, 12:53

I suspect that domed Windows keys exist as a condition of licensing the Windows compatibility logo from Microsoft. Perhaps there's even a little kickback to sweeten the deal, but I wouldn't be surprised to find that manufacturers are just being conservative. Yes, we all know that USB is USB so of course it bloody works. But corporate buyers always want some ass cover.

The prime example is Filco's insistence in shipping front printed Ninja keyboards with a superfluous domed top printed Windows key, which its up to you to swap out for the supplied Ninja cap, using the suppled key puller!

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Trev

24 Apr 2013, 13:04

Muirium wrote:I suspect that domed Windows keys exist as a condition of licensing the Windows compatibility logo from Microsoft. Perhaps there's even a little kickback to sweeten the deal, but I wouldn't be surprised to find that manufacturers are just being conservative. Yes, we all know that USB is USB so of course it bloody works. But corporate buyers always want some ass cover.

The prime example is Filco's insistence in shipping front printed Ninja keyboards with a superfluous domed top printed Windows key, which its up to you to swap out for the supplied Ninja cap, using the suppled key puller!
That's all I'd expect. They could at least include alternate keys that didn't have a different shape and texture.

I know that there's licensing requirements, but most keyboards don't seem to have a raised bubble. Odd.

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mj45

25 Apr 2013, 03:52

Trev wrote:
Muirium wrote:I suspect that domed Windows keys exist as a condition of licensing the Windows compatibility logo from Microsoft. Perhaps there's even a little kickback to sweeten the deal, but I wouldn't be surprised to find that manufacturers are just being conservative. Yes, we all know that USB is USB so of course it bloody works. But corporate buyers always want some ass cover.

The prime example is Filco's insistence in shipping front printed Ninja keyboards with a superfluous domed top printed Windows key, which its up to you to swap out for the supplied Ninja cap, using the suppled key puller!
That's all I'd expect. They could at least include alternate keys that didn't have a different shape and texture.

I know that there's licensing requirements, but most keyboards don't seem to have a raised bubble. Odd.
Being a Mac user and not fond of the windows bubble keys I used some spare HHKB caps on my Realforce 87u. The keys are a perfect match.
Attachments
Realforce 87u-copy.jpg
HHKB keys on Realforce 87u
Realforce 87u-copy.jpg (140.33 KiB) Viewed 5676 times

User avatar
Trev

25 Apr 2013, 03:55

mj45 wrote:
Trev wrote:
Muirium wrote:I suspect that domed Windows keys exist as a condition of licensing the Windows compatibility logo from Microsoft. Perhaps there's even a little kickback to sweeten the deal, but I wouldn't be surprised to find that manufacturers are just being conservative. Yes, we all know that USB is USB so of course it bloody works. But corporate buyers always want some ass cover.

The prime example is Filco's insistence in shipping front printed Ninja keyboards with a superfluous domed top printed Windows key, which its up to you to swap out for the supplied Ninja cap, using the suppled key puller!
That's all I'd expect. They could at least include alternate keys that didn't have a different shape and texture.

I know that there's licensing requirements, but most keyboards don't seem to have a raised bubble. Odd.
Being a Mac user and not fond of the windows bubble keys I used some spare HHKB caps on my Realforce 87u. The keys are a perfect match.
That looks perfect! I'll fork out the cash for a hhkb black set when I'm less bitter about having to do so :)

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Muirium
µ

25 Apr 2013, 14:39

I can only think of one good reason (beyond forced branding) for the domes on Windows keys: warnings for PC users not to press them accidentally. They'll steal keyboard focus in an instant, shove you in a different context and ruin your game. No surprise disabling them is a common dip setting. The Win key is almost superfluous on Windows. (Or is it the only way to get to the Start menu on Windows 8? What a cluster…)

But its alter ego: Command, is as vital as Shift on the Mac. Anyone into shortcuts presses it all the time. That's why it's in the thumb position on either side of Space. Vital key! And that's why the Win key's daft bump annoys us all the more. We actually press it. A lot.

Mind, Command and Option have been on Mac keyboards since 1984. If PC keyboards never picked up the extra key around 1995, USB keyboards might not have been quite as universal when they took over. Alt = Option, but what for Command?

Don't even kid about Sys Req…

domin8r

25 Apr 2013, 16:13

Trev wrote:
Trev wrote:If I purchase any additional keyboards, they would only be for projects or experiments. I don't feel I can do any better than the HHKB for getting actual work done.
Time to update my "search is over, found the perfect keyboard" thread.
Perhaps I spoke too soon. I suppose some of you saw that coming? :)

I had recently loaned my Realforce 87U silent to a friend. He'd returned the RF, but I didn't do much testing or detailed comparison between it and the HHKB. I was too enamoured with having Topre switches in my favourite 60% form factor. I figured Topre is Topre, how different could they be? Unfortunately... quite different. These are entirely different beasts when you dig in to do proper side-by-side comparisons with real projects and work.

So, what do I think the RF does better?
- It's much quieter for typing due to the plate mounted switches and solid RF build. I like stealthy keyboards. The subtle thocking is more than sufficient.
- My typing is consistently faster (10-12wpm or so) on the RF. I can't entirely explain this. There's also improvements in typing SASS/CSS/JS/etc, which is what matters the most for me. I've never liked the variable weighting, but it also seems to work in my favour, most likely in tandem with the plate-mounting.
- Build quality. This is a big one. The RF feels like good value. I knew what I was getting in to with the HHKB being light and plastic-y, but it really does sound/feel cheap (hollow?) next to the silent RF. The HHKB acoustics could likely be improved by insulating some of that empty space inside the case.
- The black RF with dark slate grey keys looks completely badass.

I've now spent this week using the Realforce exclusively. It simply feels "better" to type on. The RF silent vs Type-S typing experience is quite different when you use both day-to-day.

The RF is far from perfect
- It's still way too big (takes up precious Photoshop-mousing territory, which I prefer to keep close to the keyboard)
- Has superfluous keys. What exactly is "pause/break" for? It doesn't work as expected, even in a terminal. I remap these 3 for volume control and mute.
- Ridiculous Windows bubble keys. Whoever thought this was a clever idea should be force-fed a generous quantity of bubble keys.

The HHKB is on Ebay. Perhaps I'll panic and cancel the auction before someone bids? We'll see. I can't see myself returning to HHKB-land, as alluring as it may be. A new HHKB would need to match the RF typing experience.

I rushed through this little forum update. Apologies if it sounds a bit scattered. I wanted to share my findings.

OO2 made an interesting suggestion:
If someone was adventurous enough, they could transplant the RF 87U internals and keys to the new Leopold. :)

Image
Image

Trev,

you have a HHKB AND a Realforce 87U.. Now you're just trying to make us jealous! :D

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Trev

26 Apr 2013, 03:38

domin8r wrote: Trev,

you have a HHKB AND a Realforce 87U.. Now you're just trying to make us jealous! :D
Only one can remain! Right now the RF is still winning. Typing continues to improve. There's commonly typed phrases I can type so quickly, it's really more like a keyboard fart. Just one quick & solid "thhhhhock". :D

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cookie

26 Apr 2013, 08:25

Hahahaha :D

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Muirium
µ

11 May 2013, 18:58

Hey Trev, seeing as you've dyed PBT: how much of a nightmare do you reckon it'd be to darken these guys down to blanks?
Image
Part of PBT's appeal is the texture. Seems a shame to paint it.

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Trev

12 May 2013, 05:12

Muirium wrote:Hey Trev, seeing as you've dyed PBT: how much of a nightmare do you reckon it'd be to darken these guys down to blanks?
Image
Part of PBT's appeal is the texture. Seems a shame to paint it.
4hrs of black dye will fix that right up ;)

If the key material has the same temperature tolerances as Topre, it'll be pretty easy. I'd use at least two packs of dye.

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Muirium
µ

12 May 2013, 13:05

Thanks. Great to hear it. Had my doubts about so deep a colour but could well be worth a shot.

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Trev

12 May 2013, 13:17

Muirium wrote:Thanks. Great to hear it. Had my doubts about so deep a colour but could well be worth a shot.
For some reason it completely slipped my mind that these aren't dye-subbed legends, sorry. I really have no idea how dye would take to that printing. Is it pad printed?

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matt3o
-[°_°]-

12 May 2013, 13:20

yeah don't think it would work.

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Muirium
µ

12 May 2013, 14:07

Hmm. Right enough, they'll be quite low end. They're either pad printed, or I guess even lasered.

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Muirium
µ

13 May 2013, 18:57

Okay, another question, Trev. What do you see in Keyboard Viewer when you press Function on your HHKB? I'm interested in how they implemented the custom layer. I don't have anything with such a layer to try out for myself.

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ne0phyte
Toast.

13 May 2013, 19:08

Nothing. The FN key doesn't emit a key code. The key is only visible to the controller.

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Muirium
µ

13 May 2013, 19:15

On the HHKB? Intey-resting. That's what I expected, as the HHKB goes a fair way to include the usual Mac shortcut keys (volume, eject…) inside its function layer. Good to get confirmation. Thanks.

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ne0phyte
Toast.

13 May 2013, 19:19

Yes, on the HHKB Pro 2.

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Trev

14 May 2013, 04:30

ne0phyte is of course correct. The fn key is simply an internal toggle.

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Muirium
µ

14 May 2013, 12:54

Thanks for checking. I use Fn on my Apple keyboards semi-regularly as a modifier on the cursor keys. Not as much as Option (vital!) or Command (which obviates Fn+Left/Right I think) but handy for Page Up/Down right on the arrow keys.

May have to break the habit. Or find another way to map Page Up/Down that's as handy.

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Hypersphere

07 Sep 2013, 00:21

Trev wrote: ...
As it stands now, it seems like my ideal keyboard would be a 60% format Realforce silent model.
...
I really hope the Leopold model is built like an RF. It'll be interesting to hear the first reviews, ...
Trev et al.,

After quite a journey through many keyboards and switch types, I have come to some similar conclusions:

1. Topre switches are the best; perhaps in the same league as IBM buckling springs.

2. The HHKB Pro 2 is an elegant-looking board, but its format is a bit too alien for my taste, and I really need dedicated arrow keys in the primary layer.

3. The 60+% format, like that of the Leopold FC660C is ideal, at least for me.

4. Unfortunately, although the Leopold FC660C was a rather nice try, it is not up to the standard of a Realforce.

5. RealForce is perhaps the best-quality keyboard maker for keyboards that are still being manufactured today.

6. The high-end 60+% keyboard niche needs some new healthy competition.

7. Realforce should produce a next-generation FC660C or HHKB Pro 2 alternative. This keyboard would have a 60+% form factor, a nearly standard layout in the main typing area like the FC660C, elegant styling like the HHKB Pro 2, plate-mounted Topre switches, Realforce build quality and reliability, and top-notch dye-sublimated PBT keycaps like those on the HHKB Pro 2 or the white and light gray RF 87u.

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Hypersphere

30 Sep 2013, 19:29

Trev wrote: My HHKB2 (Type-S) just arrived today. :)
...
So far the fn-arrows are easier than I expected. After only a few hours they haven't slowed me down like I expected. I still might dye them light blue or another colour, just so there's a slight visual cue in my peripheral vision.

I've adapted to the delete(backspace) quickly. It's actually closer and easier to reach than normal layouts. It's a good optimization for the long term, but perhaps not great if you're constantly switching to standard keyboards. I assume people adapt to both? (like driving on both sides of the roads in various countries). The only time I've messed up hitting backspace is when I use my left hand to hit it. An odd habit I've developed in certain situations cleaning up code with the mouse.

My spacebar is perfect. It's all thocks from every angle, no clicks or other rattling noises.

Enabling "Mac mode" with the dip switches was enough to get the volume keys and power button (fn-esc) sending the proper mac key codes. Very convenient.

If I purchase any additional keyboards, they would only be for projects or experiments. I don't feel I can do any better than the HHKB for getting actual work done.

My Realforce 87U (silent) will likely go up for sale here or on Ebay soon. It's also an awesome board, but I much prefer 60% layouts.
Trev et al.,

I thought I should update my previous post on this thread to let you know that I have finally opted for the HHKB Pro 2. I got the black version and put the white/gray keycaps on it. My fears about the layout and lack of dedicated arrow keys turned out to be ill-founded. I adapted almost immediately; it was as if the keyboard had been custom designed for me. I will not jinx my choice by declaring that my keyboard search is over, but thus far, the HHKB Pro 2 is my new daily driver. My review can be found here:

http://deskthority.net/news-reviews-f4/ ... t6553.html

Thanks for your posts, which helped push me in the direction of this delightful masterpiece of minimalism.

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dustinhxc

20 Nov 2013, 08:06

I love both looks but black (dark gray case) most and white keys most. nice spacebar picture :D

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hsu

29 Jul 2014, 20:45

Trev, Hypersphere, Muirium: are you still using the same keyboards? :)

I thought my preference for trying Topre was for a variable-weighting one, does anyone like those?

My rationale is that you could always use another one for gaming, since that activity is better done in long and vigorous sessions :D

I already gamed with Mx Browns - which aren't recommended - and haven't noticed any problem. So perhaps I'm not very sensitive about that.
But I do think my pinkie doesn't participate more in typing because its too weak.

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Muirium
µ

29 Jul 2014, 20:49

Go for ergo weighting then. It is Topre's own default, and I liked it when I borrowed 002's.

Here's my current, and only, Topre switch keyboard. The soon to be released CM NovaTouch:

Image
http://deskthority.net/topic8488.html

I'm exploiting its MX cap compatibility with extreme ruthlessness!

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cookie

29 Jul 2014, 23:04

And I totally envy you because of that!

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hsu

29 Jul 2014, 23:11

Why don't you recommend THAT instead? Those caps look BIUUUUTIFUL! (It this the one which will be over 400USD?)

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Nuum

29 Jul 2014, 23:26

The keyboard is as Cooler Master NovaTouch, the keycaps are from the Granite groupbuy.

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Hypersphere

29 Jul 2014, 23:43

@hsu: During the past couple of years, I have tried many different keyboards with various form factors, layouts, switch types, and keycaps. Here are the current results (although the search for the ideal keyboard is never quite finished):

1. Form factor: I tend to prefer 60%, but if the switches are good enough, I could use a TKL or even full size.

2. Layout: HHKB Pro 2. I like this layout so much that I reconfigure my other keyboards to this layout to the extent possible.

3. Switch type: IBM capacitive buckling spring ~ IBM beam spring > IBM membrane buckling spring ~ Topre 45g (haven't tried Topre 55g yet, but I anticipate that I would prefer it over the 45g) > Matias clicky > Alps blue > Alps brown > Alps white >>> Cherry mx.

4. Keycaps: dye-sub PBT >>> double-shot ABS.

Overall, my current favorite keyboards are the IBM Model F XT and the HHKB Pro 2. I rotate through my collection, and at the moment I am typing on my HHKB Pro 2 -- the one with the black case and gray/white dye-sub PBT keycaps.

The only improvements I might make to HHKB Pro 2 would be to get the Type-S and put 55g domes in it.

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