Keyboards

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jyoung8607

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Funny, the IBM Model M keyboard attached to my desktop PC never closes. :p
The one true keyboard, preach it!

I learned to type in grade school on IBM PC/PCjr with Model Ms and it was always my favorite. I've had three of the Unicomp licensed versions in my adult life and loved them. Biggest problem is conference calls, have to be careful to mute toggle when not speaking. Otherwise I start hearing "JFC who is that doing all the angry typing" and then I end up having to give them the Unicomp story and sales pitch. :o

That said, as of last year, I'm running a Das Keyboard Professional with Cherry MX Blue switches. Nice modern design and amenities, not identical but very much in the Model M tactile/acoustic spirit. I definitely recommend it if you're looking for a step up.
 
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Uwe

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Split from the Shiny New Forum Software! thread, in part because it digresses from the topic, and in part so I could practice and get more comfortable with doing that sort of thing using the new forum software.

Anyway, what makes Das Keyboard worth $70 more than a Unicomp?

I had a Unicomp die on me last year -- after ~9 years in service, so it didn't owe me anything. Since the only spare I had in stock was the absolute lowest-end OEM Dell that was just horrible to use, I took a quick look on Amazon to see what I could get as a replacement real quick. Much to my surprise, mechanical keyboards seem to be making a come-back. There are quite a few available now, but most of them are aimed at gamers, and those tend to be pricey enough that they make the Unicomp keyboards look like a bargain! Many also come with unwanted/useless (at least to me) bling like RGB back-lighting.

The one reasonably priced exception I found was the Logitech K840 so I ordered one. The keys actually have a pretty decent feel to them, but I couldn't get used to the totally different form-factor of the housing. It turns out the palm of my left hand uses the corner of the keyboard's housing as a spatial frame of reference, and the Ctrl key is a poor substitute for that. :eek:

Anyway, I ended up ordering another Unicomp, and I think I'll be using them for the rest of my days. :cool:
 
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siLc

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I've used a Corsair K70 with MX Brown switches for close to 5 years and its been great. Its tactile and clicky but not noisy like MX Blue. Previously had some budget mechanical option with MX Red-like linear switches and didn't like it. At work I have a generic Dell keyboard.
 
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I have to admit I use a Microsoft wireless keyboard and mouse combo :facepalm:
 
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Hawkeye9723

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I have a Corsair K95 with CHERRY MX Speed switches. I like it because you can program in different lighting effects for different applications. My standard lighting pattern is having the letters and numbers red. The Functions keys blue. Caps, Num and Scroll Lock are Orange. The rest of the keys are green, and when I type the key will change to white while it's pressed.
 
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...but if you touch-type isn't all of that wasted? 🤔
I've tried several times over the years to learn to touch-type but with all the DIY etc. my fingers aren't supple enough to span the keyboard, so it's actually slower and less accurate than my two fingers per hand 'hunt and peck' style :D
 
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I've tried several times over the years to learn to touch-type but with all the DIY etc. my fingers aren't supple enough to span the keyboard, so it's actually slower and less accurate than my two fingers per hand 'hunt and peck' style :D
If you spend long enough in IT jobs, it becomes second nature to type by touch, even if not doing it the 'official' way.
That said, due to a medical condition I largely have to type one-handed now (and with the wrong hand), so I'm spending more time looking at the keyboard than I used to...
 
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Hawkeye9723

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I like having the keyboard lights change for certain programs. For games, I can have it only light the keys that are used in that game. I found that Diablo 3 has a setting to use the corsair API to change this as well when you play. Really cool to see the keyboard glow gold when you kill an enemy and a rare item drops.
 
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Uwe

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If you spend long enough in IT jobs, it becomes second nature to type by touch, even if not doing it the 'official' way.
Yep. For my entire working life, I've made my living in front of a computer. I've never typed the "official" way, but I sure don't need to look at or see the keyboard (provided it's a keyboard my hands and fingers are familiar with).

-Uwe-
 
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PetrolDave

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Yep. For my entire working life, I've made my living in front of a computer. I've never typed the "official" way, but I sure don't need to look at or see the keyboard (provided it's a keyboard my hands and fingers are familiar with).
Same here, I started typing while still at school (in 1971 IIRC when we had a Teletype link to the local university running at 110baud - so next year will be my typing "Golden Anniversary").

I rarely look at the keyboard but I for sure don't touch-type as my hands are in constant motion over the keyboard!
 
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jyoung8607

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I had a Unicomp die on me last year -- after ~9 years in service, so it didn't owe me anything.
I've owned three. First one was PS/2 and had no Windows key, but I fell back in love with the Model M style for the time I used it, so when PS/2 stopped really being a thing, I got a second one with USB and a Windows key. It gave me good service for many years until it fell victim to a beverage incident. Ordered a third one right away, but it had an intermittent sticky/repeating key on arrival. Not that they wouldn't have exchanged it for me, and whatever it was sort of worked its way out over time, I still have it, but it was kind of a trigger to see what else was out there.

Much to my surprise, mechanical keyboards seem to be making a come-back.
Indeed they are. If you look into it, the popular thing is the variety of Cherry MX switches named by color, that give different typing behaviors and feels. Great stuff, great feel, very very good rep. I think they're even serviceable/replaceable, not sure. Also they're German, if you're into that sort of thing. ;) Lots of keyboard manufacturers have been incorporating them, to the point it's become almost a defacto vocabulary for expressing a keyboard's feel, its tactile response.

Think of it like... you probably don't buy shoes on Amazon, right? You can see them fine, but you need to try them on and see how they feel and walk in them a bit before buying. Same for keyboards. It's a personal decision of taste and comfort in a tool you use all day every day, and the type of guy who has a Unicomp keyboard is a guy who's particular about his keyboard. So either you had to buy in person, touch and feel first, or kind of guess and hope online. But now the gaming keyboard vendors tell you "We use Cherry MX switches, choose from [Blue|Brown|Green]" and then you're like "Oh, I've typed on Cherry MX Blue and I know how that feels", or at least you may have read reviews and have a sense of what you're looking for, so it actually helps the decision process quite a lot.

The Cherry MX Blue are known for being a very Model M like feel and sound. If you're a Unicomp guy, you'll feel at home with these. It's got that trademark buckling spring sort of action, nice long travel and the progressive resistance until you hit that breakover point, and of course it's loud AF. Not having them both in front of me at the moment to A/B test, I'd say it's got about the same travel, maybe 10-20% less on resistance and sound level. I still love my Unicomp, but if you put a gun to my head and made me pick right now, I think I'd take the Cherry MX Blue purely because it's just a tiny bit less fatiguing if you're doing truly constant typing all day.

Anyway, what makes Das Keyboard worth $70 more than a Unicomp?
The built-in two-port USB 3.0 hub appealed to me. I've designed my workspace so I have a lot of free space around me, both the work surface and underneath so I can swivel my chair around freely to other tasks and devices around me. My PC is several feet away from my keyboard and monitor with extended cabling and a hidden USB hub to connect things. It works for me, except I did have to get out of my chair on the occasions I wanted to plug in a USB this-or-that device. Now I can just stick it right in the back of my keyboard.

The media controls also appealed to me. I get a lot of use from the dedicated hardware volume and mute controls. There's a few ways of doing that (programmable wheel on my mouse, or a knob on powered speakers, etc) but long story short, having it on the keyboard worked for my various use cases. I get some use out of the hardware play/pause/track buttons as well. I sometimes play music while I'm working, and it's nice to not have to hunt down the right tab or window if I need to pause real quick for a phone call. I'm not sure how the character mapping works, but things like Spotify and other Windows media apps, including Chrome if media is playing (Youtube, Google Play Music) seem to tie into the modern Windows 10 native media API when they're active, and the keyboard keys do their thing with whichever app is foreground on that API, no setup or drivers or anything, just seems to work.

Das Keyboard make a variant with RGB lighting, but I don't have it, I didn't really see the value in it. Others may get some value, and that's fine for them.

The one reasonably priced exception I found was the Logitech K840 so I ordered one. The keys actually have a pretty decent feel to them, but I couldn't get used to the totally different form-factor of the housing. It turns out the palm of my left hand uses the corner of the keyboard's housing as a spatial frame of reference, and the Ctrl key is a poor substitute for that. :eek:
Everyone types a little different just like everyone writes a little different. My typing stance/style is mostly correct from a traditional or official perspective, with one major glitch. I'm screwed if I sit down at a Microsoft Natural Keyboard because I learned to strike "B" with my right index finger. :o I never really felt any positive ergonomic vibes from those things anyway.
 
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Uwe

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It gave me good service for many years until it fell victim to a beverage incident.
Hah! My wife has killed several Unicomps that way, usually with wine. She's not as particular about keyboards as I am and I've stopped buying them for her. :D
 
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Hah! My wife has killed several Unicomps that way, usually with wine. She's not as particular about keyboards as I am and I've stopped buying them for her. :D
LOL, gotta cut 'em off at some point, just like my daughter is cut off from the Volkswagen Dad Extended Warranty program.

"killed several Unicomps... usually with wine", though... this is interesting. What manner of shenanigans are going down at this workstation? I've never see her here, is she in drunken arguments with strangers on the Internet somewhere else? Pwning n00bs in Call of Duty? Female Hunter S. Thompson writing the next great American novel?
 
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Uwe

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What manner of shenanigans are going down at this workstation?
Frustration with VCDS-Lite users who refuse to accept that they're not gonna get an activation unless they buy a license!


-Uwe-
 
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