- 1 Switches I've owned
- 1.1 Acer
- 1.2 Alps
- 1.3 Cherry
- 1.4 Datanetics and The Keyboard Company/Apple APD
- 1.5 Fujitsu
- 1.6 IBM
- 1.7 SMK
- 2 Rankings of keyswitches that I like
Switches I've owned
I figured a quick summary of my opinions on various keyswitches I've owned would be a useful thing, so I'm dropping it here.
I think these are supposed to be an Alpsish clone, but use a membrane? It almost feels like an Alps white/Cherry MX blue hybrid. Sloppy, but better to type on than Alps CM simplified whites, plate springs, or supermembranes. Not as good as taxi yellows, though, nor are they as good as MX blues (although they're smoother tactility than blues).
Simplified white (both real and clone)
Way too damn sloppy, not all that smooth, LOUD. Do not want.
Real complicated cream damped
Meh. Tactility isn't really there, not very smooth, not very precise. Very quiet, though.
Real complicated taxi yellow
Decently high force (feels like about 65-70 cN), precise, smooth, relatively quiet, with a stiff tactile bump at the top of the travel. Pretty nice to type on, definitely my favorite Alps (and the only Alps I actually like).
Low force, but also low tactility, and the tactile point moves around depending on how quickly you strike the key. Sound is fine, but they just feel horrible IMO.
Supermembrane (Buckling spring with follower)
Nice force, not enough tactility especially at high speed, and the Supermembrane boards seem to be in desperate need of a bolt mod. Not impressed at all.
Surprisingly not bad. The force is about right, travel is decent for the type of switch it is, and the tactility is far better than MX browns.
A bit sloppy, but not anywhere near as bad as, say, simplified white Alps CM (my opinion on this has changed, and I think part of that was the late Forward clones). Tactile bump is a bit of a hard stop, actually. I don't like how the hysteresis behaves (mind you, I like IBM switches), and they feel cheap and rattly, but their tactile force is about right. I'd say, out of current production switches, this is my #2 switch (hah, not any more). I'd probably put it behind IBM beam spring and Alps real complicated taxi yellows, though, and definitely behind capacitive buckling spring, if old switches are included, so it ends up way down the list, but it's still on the list - if I needed a new keyboard in a layout that Unicomp didn't do, I'd get it in MX blue. (Now I'm not sure.)
Datanetics and The Keyboard Company/Apple APD
Technically, TKC was an unrelated company to Datanetics, but it effectively functioned as a spinoff. TKC was formed to supply keyboards to Apple, and eventually became Apple's Accessory Products Division. No relation to the modern-day The Keyboard Company.
Wow. This thing is downright atrocious. I think it's supposed to be a tactile switch, but the design absolutely sucks, and actually starts jamming up. I'd rather type on a worn out AppleDesign board. That's how atrocious this is.
Not anywhere near tactile enough (less tactile than MX browns, it could pass for linear), not tolerant of off-center hits, and stiffer than I like.
A bit more preload than I'd like, and a bit less tactility and travel than I'd like, but all in all, a good lowish force tactile switch. Horrendously expensive, mind you.
Buckling spring (capacitive)
My favorite switch. Very highly tactile, very low preload, very smooth, and razor-sharp precise. Peak force is a bit higher than I like, though. Noise is high, but not horribly high like a lot of the white Alps boards.
Buckling spring (membrane)
This one actually depends on when it was made. Early ones suck, way too high force, but it's a Model M, you know it's a smooth, fairly precise switch. I like current production ones, though, due to the lowered peak force. They're all highly tactile, but not as much so as capacitive buckling spring, and they've all got fairly high preload. And, they can get quite loud, but generally not quite as bad as a Model F (I use my Unicomp in an office environment, and people don't complain).
Alright, this isn't strictly a switch in the keyboard sense, so I can't rank it... but it's my favorite key feel period. 70 cN force, ZERO preload, a more rounded and meatier version of the MX blue "bump" for tactility, and because the keyboard state is restored under external power, when you get past the tactile point, the key actually feels like it's almost being pulled out from under your finger. Downright amazing. Not sure how practical it is to make a computer keyboard that feels like that (because the post-tactile feel is dictated by a motorized element), but I sure want to try to replicate it somehow.
Not sure what all types there are, this is a white tactile+clicky switch, round stem. Reminds me of a Cherry MX blue, but smoother, less sloppy, and unfortunately, too short travel and too late actuation - it's nearly bottomed out at actuation. Still, a nice feeling switch.
Rankings of keyswitches that I like
Selectric has to be excluded due to not being a keyswitch per se. :( Current production stuff is bolded. The general rule is, if I like it better than a decent membrane-switched rubber dome board, it makes the list.