Mechanical Keyboards

sphen

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 12, 2022
Messages
871
Reaction score
757
Credits
10,429
There was a thread in Linux Hints about the caps lock key. In my style of hijacking other threads with related but not relevant historical observations, I hijacked the thread and turned it into a discussion of mechanical keyboards. Here is the quote from that post.
I type a lot and I type fast. The feel of my everyday use keyboard is important to me. I prefer those expensive mechanical "clacky" keyboards for their feel, accuracy, speed, and implied long term reliability. In theory, those expensive keyboards should outlast all of us, based on their MTBF claims. In practice, some brands hold up well and others do not.

Matias Tactile Pro, Not Recommended:
I have had six of them fail, most within a year. None lived to three years. I bought three (home, work, lab/offsite/spare). Matias replaced all three under warranty as they failed, but refused to honor the warranty for the replacements, even when the replacements failed within their warranty period of the originally purchased keyboard. Honestly, after those next three failed, I felt that I had tried enough. The feel of those keyboards is exceptional, but it does not matter if you know that one or more keys are likely to fail within a year. These are pricey keyboards, and I do not think of them as "disposable."

Matias Quiet Pro, Okay But I Don't Love the Feel:
I bought a Quiet Pro during the Tactile Pro debacle. Mushy keys. Some people may like them. I still wonder if it has not failed because it is better or because I don't like it and do not use it much.

Das Keyboard 5Q, Software Sucks but Keyboard Pretty Good:
Das Keyboard could have had a monster hit on its hands with this keyboard if they had only released their software as open source. Instead, the crude, buggy, CPU-hog code has languished in proprietary hell with a mandatory internet authentication to use it. Key feel is not perfect, but pretty good. Keyboard good, software bad.

There are many great, reliable mechanical keyboards on the market. I have yet to find the perfect one. I am happy enough with the Das Keyboard 5Q. (The current version is "5QS".) I like its backlighting and feel, but do not like the software. For that reason, I cannot recommend it to others.

Others replied, but I felt it might be better to start an independent thread about mechanical keyboards in general.

My everyday keyboard is a Das Keyboard 5Q, which I do not recommend, but only because of the software. The keyboard itself is pretty good. Since that post, I went to the Das Keyboard website and wanted to share two things that I found there:
  • Das Keyboard changed supported operating systems from "Linux" to "Ubuntu". (They also support Windows and Mac.) This is the first time I have seen "Ubuntu" listed as its own operating system without a "Linux" qualifier. I am used to seeing things like "Linux (Ubuntu)" or "Linux: Ubuntu" or lists that also show RedHat and others. I have seen other websites offer "Linux" drivers for "deb" or "rpm".
  • I found a reference to an old but helpful "Mechanical Keyboard Guide" web page with good summary descriptions of keyboard types, how they work, and what different keyboard properties mean and why they are important.

So, here is a thread about mechanical keyboards, so I can stop hijacking the Caps Lock hint thread.
 


I think the best that I have used would have been an IBM, no idea if still available, (I tend to prefer small form factor keyboards).
 
I'm using one of these has real springs and just keeps on working plus no battery's to change.

https://i5.walmartimages.com/asr/85817831-81e5-46e2-b20e-aec0bb41b2ec_1.f473792e798f09efe9d6697b17781696.jpeg
 
I am happy with my Launch Heavy. Launch Keyboards I was never a keyboard snob, but I can not imagine going back to a standard keyboard. The keyboard is programable and it brings USB ports to the front of my desk which is the only thing really missing from my Thelio! ;)

The Launch was a little on the pricey side, but it supports a company that is Linux focused.

Bob
 
IMG-2122.jpg

And if this thread is like others where I have posted a pic of my keyboard, it will be ever so politely (or otherwise) ignored.

I am fine with that.

This keyboard cost $0. The "hold me together tape" cost more than that. It has a tea towel taped to the back to raise it .... which makes it comfortable to use, and substitutes for the legs etc which came as standard (now broken/removed)

It reminds me of a pair of shoes....the 'sole' has worn out before the upper.

It has been in my possession for around 8 years....maybe 9

mechanical?....no
It has a membrane to ward off spills...which works, btw

cleaning...the air hose from my workshop compressor.

Brand?. Kensington
 
Does anyone know a great backlit mechanical keyboard with a software-driven individually controlled backlight (on/off, brightness, color) on each key? With good and hopefully open source software to drive it?

That Das Keyboard 5Q (now "5QS") does that, but the software really sucks. I like the weather and CPU activity apps the best, but there are many others, and you can easily write your own or modify theirs in Javascript. Unfortunately, the implementation is awful and buggy, and it sucks CPU, even when idle. The software is closed source and the keyboard requires internet authentication to run the software. I dislike that connectivity and authentication requirement intensely.

I want the same thing, but with accessible, useable software, preferably open source. Has anyone made a keyboard like that with good software?
 
I have a Keychron K8 Pro, that allows you to control the layout and remap keys via any VIA and QMK software. It’s both Bluetooth and cable, supports switching across 3 devices and has built in macOS / all the rest switch. Linux? 100% supported by default.
 
I have a Keychron K8 Pro, that allows you to control the layout and remap keys via any VIA and QMK software. It’s both Bluetooth and cable, supports switching across 3 devices and has built in macOS / all the rest switch. Linux? 100% supported by default.
I will give it a look. Now that you've shared "VIA" and "QMK", I'll look to see if alternative keyboards run them too. Thanks!
 
Oh yeah, that’s a set of standards that are pushing hard. Indeed, all the input modules (keyboard, numpads, HUD displays, DJ mixer plates,…) of the Framework 16 laptop are to be QMK via an embedded microcontroller.

I’m sure many keyboards, especially those “custom” ones, have those.
 
I am happy with my Launch Heavy. Launch Keyboards I was never a keyboard snob, but I can not imagine going back to a standard keyboard. The keyboard is programable and it brings USB ports to the front of my desk which is the only thing really missing from my Thelio! ;)

The Launch was a little on the pricey side, but it supports a company that is Linux focused.

Bob

Starting at $199.00 wow out of my price range.
 
View attachment 15933
And if this thread is like others where I have posted a pic of my keyboard, it will be ever so politely (or otherwise) ignored.

I am fine with that.

This keyboard cost $0. The "hold me together tape" cost more than that. It has a tea towel taped to the back to raise it .... which makes it comfortable to use, and substitutes for the legs etc which came as standard (now broken/removed)

It reminds me of a pair of shoes....the 'sole' has worn out before the upper.

It has been in my possession for around 8 years....maybe 9

mechanical?....no
It has a membrane to ward off spills...which works, btw

cleaning...the air hose from my workshop compressor.

Brand?. Kensington
As long as it works who cares what it looks like.
 
Woah! $199 for a keyboard - most of my computers have cost considerably less........ :D
 
Woah! $199 for a keyboard - most of my computers have cost considerably less........ :D
I paid around $150 per keyboard, but obviously more than one. During my working career I kept three keyboards - one for the office, one for the home office, and a spare that was used for long offsite assignments, labs, etc. I still spend much time on computer keyboards, and the cost of good ones that last for many years is worth it to me. It is a matter of personal opinion. I am happy with @Condobloke's budget solution if he is happy with it.

I never scrimped on a desk chair either. I have had the same expensive desk chair for twelve years. It is very well-designed and comfortable. Considering the time spent in it, it was worth the cost. The right chair is more important that the right keyboard, in my opinion.

I pay attention to the ergonomics. It is one of those "do it once, get it right, and don't think about it for a long time" tasks. I have a small old thrift-shop footstool under my desk and have adjusted the chair (height, arms, back, etc.), desk surface, keyboard position, and mouse position to be correct according to current ergonomic thinking, which is still evolving. I am not perfect - I still use traditional keyboard designs and sit at a desk. One of my children prefers a desk that can be raised or lowered, so it can be used in a sitting or standing position.

When you buy something long term and you look at the cost, divide that cost or the extra premium by the amount of time you will use it. Professionals choose professional tools for a reason, despite the higher cost. The cost of expensive keyboards, a good chair, and arranging a safe, comfortable work area for long term comfort and health, when spread out over years of hard, reliable use are totally worth the expense to me.

(Expensive does not always mean "more ergonomic". Sometimes it only means "stylish" or "fashionable." Shopping for the best value is important to me, but others have different priorities.)

Start with the ergonomics, which are cheap and easy. Take a few minutes out to learn a little about how to improve the ergonomics of your work area. Make sure your working arrangements are properly correct, positioned, safe, and supportive. Rearrange and improvise with what you have on hand. Raise or lower the chair and make sure the feet are properly supported. Examine keyboard, mouse, and display positions. Elbows should be square. A few minutes of time investment here may pay off handsomely in the long term. You never know - your partner may give you an extra kiss at the end of your workday after you stop snapping at them, whining about your aching joints. ;-)
 
I never scrimped on a desk chair either.

^ THIS

I've bought cars for less than I paid for my office chair.

I do kind of wish I'd taken my chair from work when I sold it, but I wasn't thinking about that at the time. It was an old stenographer's chair from a state auction. I had the matching desk. They were awesome.
 
I've bought cars for less than I paid for my office chair.
True, but you could use that chair as soon as it was assembled. If the car cost less than that chair, it might not have arrived in the same ready-to-run condition. :p
 
If the car cost less than that chair, it might not have arrived in the same ready-to-run condition.

I'm pretty old and spent many years fairly poor. So, a $1000 car was likely a pretty good car for me.

I spent a combined sixteen years in the military and in college.

Anyhow, today I can afford a nice car and keyboard. I was looking at the K70 (Corsair) earlier today. It looks like a solid choice. I might have to test it out as it has pretty good reviews and a big online store has a discount on them.
 
This is the type I use.
Manufactured by Steelcase.

https://a.1stdibscdn.com/archivesE/upload/9218/319/XXX_9218_1348329788_1.jpg


Hope it's not considered off topic but it has been mentioned in several of the above posts.
 
Last edited:


Top