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Your Favorite Keyboard?


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I ran across a video from a YouTube channel I enjoy watching talking about a keyboard I loved, and is probably my all time favorite, the classic IBM Model M.

IBM_Model_M.jpg.2160066661100b81aa57bae9b9f25483.jpg

While I do like my very modern Corsair Cherry MX RGB nonsense, I genuinely miss having a Model M. Well, there is a "modern" Model M, and an open source kit to "upgrade" an original Model M and also give it USB connectivity, and to fix the modern versions issue. Wendell explains it all really well, but it's something I am actually interested in, and am considering ordering myself a Unicomp "New Model M".

 

Am I the only one interested in such things?

What was, or is, your favorite keyboard of all time, or do you have a few different ones you like? Is it a modern marvel, or something from the past you wish you still had?

As I said above, the classic well known Model M is mine. In a more modern context, I loved the Logitech G15, it's ample extra keys, and it's LCD screen + software.

g15.jpg.c0d176f0dc3424aeeff3df22819a25a6.jpg

 

I geek out over the weirdest things. 😆

Edited by Strider
2AM Typos
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My keyboard: https://ultimatehackingkeyboard.com/ (mine are not backlit as that is a more recent development)

image.thumb.png.e0d5c6ab44ead2f22bc32859d5afde73.png

I bought two of them when they were listed on Crowd Supply. One for home and one for the office. They were late by about 12 to 18 months I think. The modules (small three key cluster that attaches to the left half and the thumb track ball that attaches to the right) were 4 to 4.5 years late. But I'm still glad I did it. They were very communicative the whole time and I did get everything I ordered. I can set them arbitrarily far apart. I can join them (but why would I?) I can adjust all corners to get the tilt / tent / whatever I want. And I never have to take my hands off home row to grab a mouse.

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Neat.  What do the three keys on the LH attached module do?  Are they custom assignable?  Also... no cursor keys?

My favorite keyboard was a Dell Quietkey from (I think) the early '90s.  I used it well into the modern era, with a PS/2 > USB adapter. Alas, I spilled a drink on it about two years ago and fried part of the traces inside.

These days my favorite is a relatively inexpensive Logitech K120 with 'half height' keys. 

Edited by John Chow Seymour
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My favorite right now is the Logitech G915 TKL (Tactile Switches):

image.thumb.png.3187cedae9dfb91699a4ebca1cc9211b.png

I never thought a keyboard could make such a great difference. But it does! I now sometimes look forward to typing on it...

But of course the IBM Model M is unmatched...

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@Scott Robison That looks like a pretty wicked keyboard, and I absolutely love the modular design and customization options. It looks like you get what you pay for. I have always been a huge supporter of modular designs and electronics being designed with future repair or upgrades in mind, and being made to make that process as easy as possible. Probably why I fully support the current move in the modern tech space for "right to repair". Sadly, I have tried split and ergo boards, and my wrists hate them. Sucks, becasue I like the concept, I just can't use them long without pain quickly developing.

@John Chow Seymour I remember Dell's Model M clone Quietkey, I never used one personally, but I know people who have used later models and loved it. I thought Dell was still making them in one for or another? I recall seeing them a couple years back being reviewed, but I can't remember now. Also, there is nothing wrong with the Logitech K120, a simple keyboard that gets the job done and does not break the bank in the process. It's also much better than the countless other "cheap" boards in that price range. I have always been a fan of the Logitech HID devices, I love my Hero G502 mouse, and like I said above, the G15 Keyboard comes in a very close second to the Model M for me.

@AndyMt Logitech! I was actually looking getting a new G Series keyboard before I got the Corsair K70 Lux I am using now. Truth be told, I got the K70 for free, it was sent to me by Newegg to test and review back when it came out, and I just fell in love with it over time.  Like the G915 (at least I think it does), it has and all metal frame, the fact the keycaps are not recessed into the frame (makes for super easy cleaning), and I like the built in USB connection.

On a side note, I do reviews for Newegg as part of an invite-only program they call "EggXpert", I have been for several years now, I think it started in 2012, 2013, I can't recall exactly. At the time I was an active contributor to their reviews and YouTube team. So they put in a word for me when the program was launched. Been doing it ever since. Anyway, they send you hardware to review, you run it through it's paces, and post it on their site. You're not paid for it, but you do get to keep the hardware for yourself. So if you're ever browsing Newegg, and see a little Newegg logo with what looks like a graduation cap on it, that's an EggXpert review, so they make it known.  It also says so right under that icon. So that's where the K70 came from. lol

Edited by Strider
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Of the keyboards I've personally used, my favorite layout was the original Steel Series APEX, and my favorite in terms keyboard feel was the APEX M800, essentially a larger keyed mechanical switch version of the previous, but with certain changes to the layout to bring down costs that I didn't agree with.  I also came to like (aspects of) the Sharp X68000 keyboard layout, as well.

My ideal layout would be a mix of the best parts  of the Steel Series APEX (Especially the macro keys and  double-wide space bar) and Sharp X68000 keyboards (especially the Arrow Key and upper function key keybank), with mechanical witches.  If money was not an issue, I would call either Steel Series (because they made the original) or Unicomp (because I live relatively close to them) and commission that layout (with new labels for the Windows and space bar rank Print Screen keys) for the my Hibana Main Sequence project.

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3 hours ago, Strider said:

before I got the Corsair K70 Lux I am using now.

The K70 TKL variant was on my shortlist, but unfortunateley at the time it wasn't availabe in a Swiss-German layout. It's media keys have a much better feel as the G915 ones.

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I've got an IBM Model M 101 with  both the PS/2 and old AT plugs cables. It's my favourite PC keyboard. On my MAC it's a Apple aluminium A1243.
 

While I prefer the Model M with it's key ergonomics and satisfying sound, the Apple flattop keys and low noise is the main one I use these days (guess why 🙃

I do hope the X16's keyboard becomes my favourite soon. 

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6 hours ago, John Chow Seymour said:

Neat.  What do the three keys on the LH attached module do?  Are they custom assignable?  Also... no cursor keys?

My favorite keyboard was a Dell Quietkey from (I think) the early '90s.  I used it well into the modern era, with a PS/2 > USB adapter. Alas, I spilled a drink on it about two years ago and fried part of the traces inside.

These days my favorite is a relatively inexpensive Logitech K120 with 'half height' keys. 

It is a fully reprogrammable. It comes with an agent that allows you to define each key in four different layers, main keyboard or the three key cluster, so arrow keys are IJKL with a MOD layer shift state, and a MOUSE layer shift state even allows IJKL to be used in place of a mouse. Plus there is a FN layer. It is awesome.

I haven't actually defined custom keys for the three key cluster as I've only had it for a few weeks. I can have multiple keyboard layouts too for custom app layouts, though I don't do that (yet).

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5 hours ago, Strider said:

That looks like a pretty wicked keyboard, and I absolutely love the modular design and customization options. It looks like you get what you pay for. I have always been a huge supporter of modular designs and electronics being designed with future repair or upgrades in mind, and being made to make that process as easy as possible. Probably why I fully support the current move in the modern tech space for "right to repair". Sadly, I have tried split and ergo boards, and my wrists hate them. Sucks, becasue I like the concept, I just can't use them long without pain quickly developing.

I understand. The advantage for me is that I have infinite adjustability. I can space them arbitrarily far apart. I can elevate the back, the front, or either side of each half to customize it for what my wrists can best handle.

But I admit, it is a pricey thing to buy to see if you can make it work for you.

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Although my current favorite keyboard is a Logitech K120, that company also makes the worst keyboard I have ever used: the K380.

This is the wireless (Bluetooth) keyboard that can switch which device it's connected to; I bought it because it solved a problem I had at the time (lots of computers with small desk space). The connectivity and switching aspect worked great, but the keyboard itself was awful to type on. It would often log two key presses even though I felt like I only pressed it once - on any key.  This lead to a lot of doubled letters or unexpected confirmations (if it logged the 'return' key twice when I only intended once).  I thought it was faulty so I returned it, got another one of the same model, and had the same problem.

I'm assuming the problem lies in the way the keys are made (they're very flat and have a shallow travel distance), but I guess it could be a glitch in the bluetooth connectivity, for all I know. 

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43 minutes ago, John Chow Seymour said:

Although my current favorite keyboard is a Logitech K120, that company also makes the worst keyboard I have ever used: the K380.

This is the wireless (Bluetooth) keyboard that can switch which device it's connected to; I bought it because it solved a problem I had at the time (lots of computers with small desk space). The connectivity and switching aspect worked great, but the keyboard itself was awful to type on. It would often log two key presses even though I felt like I only pressed it once - on any key.  This lead to a lot of doubled letters or unexpected confirmations (if it logged the 'return' key twice when I only intended once).  I thought it was faulty so I returned it, got another one of the same model, and had the same problem.

I'm assuming the problem lies in the way the keys are made (they're very flat and have a shallow travel distance), but I guess it could be a glitch in the bluetooth connectivity, for all I know. 

Or just lousy debouncing.

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I know there are other threads about Cherry MX keyswitch types but speaking of the IBM, is there a 'color' switch that most closely resembles the classic?

I remember the clang/click of the IBM keyboard and used to like it; I believe (but could be off) that they 3270 terminals had something like that and some keyclick audio tone to boot.  That was college in the mid 80's for me; alot has happen since then so maybe I'm remembering it incorrectly.

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It turned out I don't have particular favorite keyboard. At least yet.

But I have one that gives me joy. )
Some time ago I needed a good keyboard and nouse fit for my kitchen all-in-one PC. It needed to be wireless, compact and with design to fit in kitchen place. I found Logitech MK240 keyboard and mouse wireless combo set, immediately liked it, and it fitted in perfectly.

Now it is used every day by all family for entartainment or work, and it looks very nice as well.

image.png.1977ea16b4c97259c8941c5f35ee1142.png

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My "worst keyboards" are anything with chiclet style keys, my big old fingers just hate them, I like full size keycaps and lots of travel. So it's not that they're "bad", they just don't work for me as a daily driver. For light use they are OK, such as my HTPC and Raspberry Pi.

Though, I did buy a keyboard for one of my sons many years back that they just had to have, and it had nothing but issues. It was a Saitek Cyborg, and he wanted it becasue it looked cool I guess...

416qqQ-UDFL._AC_SX450_.jpg.be552a3fb37db4689d409b64ce59cb1b.jpg

On the surface it looks like it would not be all that bad, lots of programmable function keys, metal coated WASD/Space/Arrows (though it still wore off quickly, it was more like metallic paint). The "touch" buttons along the top rarely worked properly, the software was crap, and the extra function keys were not like standard keys, they press down and to the side, and were just awkward as heck to use becasue of that and their location. Thankfully, this was his and I rarely had to touch it, just when called to troubleshoot something.

One other theme I have is everything I use on a daily basis must be wired, I have a genuine dislike of wireless HID devices and batteries. Though I obviously use them for HTPC and the Pi on the go, they don't get used that much so it's no big deal. I don't even own any wireless controllers, except the ones that came with the Nintendo DS. Other than I hate having to use batteries, I have had a lot of bad experiences with them in the past, so I think I just gave up on them in general. I now consider wired a "feature", and not a "con". lol

 

Edited by Strider
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On 9/16/2021 at 10:13 PM, EMwhite said:

I know there are other threads about Cherry MX keyswitch types but speaking of the IBM, is there a 'color' switch that most closely resembles the classic?

I remember the clang/click of the IBM keyboard and used to like it; I believe (but could be off) that they 3270 terminals had something like that and some keyclick audio tone to boot.  That was college in the mid 80's for me; alot has happen since then so maybe I'm remembering it incorrectly.

I totally forgot to respond to your question. Been a very long week. 😴

The most common consensus, and mine as well, is the MX Blue most closely compares to the Model M feel.

Though it's important to note that a Model M and a modern MX Blue will still sound different, simply because they, and the boards themselves, are designed completely different, and thus resonate differently. The Model M has a deeper sound, it sounds "heavier", if that makes sense. Many modern switch keyboards sound more "hollow", it's a crisper sound. Both are "clicky", but the pitch is different. That buckling spring sound is just so unique, as is the sound of the key bottoming out. Completely different designs.

Still, they feel very similar, and you can see why in the examples below, and can see where the clicky sound comes from and how they bottom out differently.

Hope that helps!

keyb-buckling-spring-animation.gif.09eb2578363a1b80b37e22375110d2f3.gif  pevtupd4d2w61.gif.23f223d8a83c53dc58f3fbab4fbf1612.gif

 

Edited by Strider
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Wow that spring action is madness.

I built two MX based keyboards.  One with cheap-o black based on Kevin’s BOM for the PET replacement keyboard and one with Brown which is nice enough but ho-hum.

Will live a little next time and go with that recommendation, thanks.

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On 9/18/2021 at 10:33 AM, EMwhite said:

Wow that spring action is madness.

I built two MX based keyboards.  One with cheap-o black based on Kevin’s BOM for the PET replacement keyboard and one with Brown which is nice enough but ho-hum.

Will live a little next time and go with that recommendation, thanks.

Yeah, I’ve learned that brown and black make for terrible keyboards…. I love a good Blue switch, but I can’t use those at the office, thanks to how noisy they are. So I keep the Blue switch keyboards at home, and I buy reds for the office. 

Edited by TomXP411
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I have browns, they're great and you can use them around people.

I bought one of these https://www.aliexpress.com/item/33006060286.html?spm=a2g0s.9042311.0.0.6de84c4deCTALI and love it, apart from whatever is on the board which doesn't read some of the control buttons quickly enough! (I seem to always end up with an 's' when trying to hit ctrl-s) Oh, and it's not exactly well made, the layers don't exactly line up.

Would be nice to get a better version. I looked at the Ultimate Hackers Keyboard above, but I _need_ function and navigation keys, as well as ANSI support. There doesn't seem to be much available in the not-at-all-niche 'UK 75% split' category.

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My favorite keyboard is not my favorite keyboard ... that it, the keyboard I am happiest that I bought is not the keyboard I most enjoy typing on, it is my folding bluetooth keyboard, which lets me type on my tablet without using the !@#$%^& onscreen touch keyboard.

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@TomXP411 @Yazwho Cherry MX Red and Brown are my favorites for home use simply because they are quieter, but MX Blue is still my favorite. The K70 I have now is MX Red, luckily it's the one they sent for review, so it don't annoy my wife as much. lol

To make my keyboard even quieter, I picked up these, and surprisingly it does help if you have a heavy hand like me. A simple solution to stop the keys from bottoming out and making them a bit quieter.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01N75JL0F/

keyring.jpg.6cc599e911c72fe3e57daabe8c17e97d.jpg

@BruceMcF I...hate...on screen keyboards! I need physical buttons, of any type.

I had small folding Bluetooth board that I ended up giving to one of my kids, I used it with my tablet as well, but no longer needed it since I really don't my tablet for anything much anymore.

Though I do have this board I use as a backup for servicing or travel if necessary. Not the most comfortable to type on in the long term by any means, but it gets the job done.

https://www.amazon.com/Sungwoo-Foldable-Silicone-Keyboard-Waterproof/dp/B0179N39KS/

foldingkey.jpg.266d2df4344c5fc015e154cec02be6d7.jpg

 

Lastly, I have yet another I use for my Pi's daily driver. Another cheap backlit board from Amazon.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07RN5T3W4/

rii.jpg.9d4771b22079e17f7a3e0e09631ae7c3.jpg

Shockingly, for the price, it's a good little lightweight board. Membrane so it's pretty quiet. I got it on a lighting deal for $8.99 at the time. I really like it.

You can never have too many keyboards! 😆

Edited by Strider
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I've currently got a Cooler Master Masterkeys MK750 with Cherry MX brown switches.  I'm pretty satisfied with it, it's my first mechanical keyboard.  I was kind of afraid to get keys that were too loud, but after having some experience with a mechanical keyboard and watching a bunch of videos on blue keys I kind of want to try buying some blue keys for it and see how I like it.

Edited by Ender
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2 hours ago, Strider said:

To make my keyboard even quieter, I picked up these, and surprisingly it does help if you have a heavy hand like me. A simple solution to stop the keys from bottoming out and making them a bit quieter.

Yes O-rings are very useful. I use them on my KinesisGaming keyboard (with red switches) at work, and the thing is almost as quiet as the factory Dell keyboards provided by the office. 

 

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1 hour ago, Scott Robison said:

I'm curious why brown is not looked at kindly. I chose those when I ordered my UHK units and have been pretty satisfied with them. They aren't the best in the world, but they're solid and not so loud that I can't use them in an office.

Let's start with: I have a heavy hand on the keyboard. I learned on a mechanical typewriter and an IBM Selectric. However, I didn't own any mechanical keyboards for a long time, and my first real mechanical keyboard was a Razer, back in 2009 or 2010. It was terrible. I was constantly hitting the wrong key, and I couldn't type on it at all. Yet people kept talking about how great mechanical keyboards were. The keys were just... "sloppy" is the best way to describe them. 

Fast forward a few years, and I bought a KinesisGaming keyboard, because ergonomics and it was fully programmable. After using it for a few days, I realized that I'd been missing out: the Kinesis keyboard was a completely different experience than the Razer. The keys were precise, I wasn't constantly bumping the wrong keys, and the keyboard did exactly what I told it to. So I bought two more: one for my work at home desk and one for the office. My two home keyboards have blue keyswitches (and that's what I got in my WASD keyboard, as well), and I love them. As I mentioned, I got a keyboard with red switches for the office, and while the keyboard is quieter, it still needs enough force to actuate that I don't find myself constantly hitting the wrong keys. 

I should point out that I try to get genuine Cherry switches. The Gateron and no-name red switches are not the same... like that Razer, they are a bit sloppier and have some of the same issues. I bought some cheap keyboards recently and have the same problems I did with the Razer and G13. So in retrospect, my problem with the Razer and Logitech G13 may have been the imitation non-Cherry switches... which is why I pay the extra few bucks now to make sure I get good keyswitches. 

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