Suggestions for new keyboard?
March 11, 2008 6:16 PM   Subscribe

I need a new keyboard...suggestions?

My old, cheap "Trust Compact Keyboard KB-1120" recently went all HAL on me and started typing messages by itself (ok, after I spilt a drink on it).

Now I was close to buying another from, but I stopped myself.

What other options are out there?

Das Keyboard looks cool, and would be pretty interesting to use, but it says that it clicks... now it struck me that might get annoying...wouldn't you want a silent keyboard? What are your thoughts on this?

Next I looked at the Saitek Eclipse II. This lights up! How cool is that? But is it a bit garish? And will I really use it? On the plus side, it says it's quiet and it seems solid, although it looks like it might take up quite a lot of space on my desk.

I don't do any gaming anymore, so I'm not really interested in a G15. And wireless? Well I've never felt the need for it and it seems like an extra hassle to have to change the battery, but like everything else I've mentioned in this post, I'm open to suggestions.

The only real caveats I have is that the keyboard should be available in the UK, and my budget is around £50, although less would be great!!

So let's hear your opinions please!
posted by edbyford to Computers & Internet (22 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know if you have similar problems with Carpal Tunnel that I do, but even if you don't, once you get used to one of these, you can't go wrong. I own two, one for my computer at home and for work. The wristrest is nice and padded. It's super comfy and well under your budget.
posted by booticon at 6:25 PM on March 11, 2008

Seconding booticon. They're incredibly comfortable if you can touch-type.
posted by svolix at 6:36 PM on March 11, 2008

I am a huge fan of the Happy Hacking keyboard. I have the original no-arrow-keys PS2 version, but the newer model has arrow keys and USB. Good solid full-size keys, delicious small footprint. Yum! I've used mine every day since 2002. After 6 years the paint is kind of fading off the keys but the key action feels like new.
posted by mindsound at 6:36 PM on March 11, 2008

Sounds like you're using a PC; but I would suggest that you look into a wireless keyboard.

I'm currently using one of the newish Apple Wireless Keyboards - it's got an aluminimum casing and white plastic keys, and no number pad. I previously used a similar keyboard (i.e. without the number pad), but now I don't think I could go back to using a wired keyboard. The freedom of having an untethered keyboard is quite satisfying.

YMMV, of course; one of the chief complaints about this particular keyboard is the lack of a number pad. As I'm a college student studying mainly political science and theory, I don't suffer from the lack as much as someone who works with numbers frequently.

As for batteries: I use 3 rechargable AA-sized, and they last me approximately 2-3 months per charge; not much of a hassle, really. Comparable to using a digital camera or recharging a mobile phone.

Another thing: eBay is useful. I got my keyboard for about £40 (RRP £80 I think).

One advantage the (decidedly cool) Das Keyboard has over others is that the paint isn't going to fade from the keys. I think the clickyness' attractiveness/annoyance factor would vary from individual to individual.
posted by WalterMitty at 6:38 PM on March 11, 2008

I hate clickiness, but some people really like that "feel".

As soon as I saw them, I thought I would hate the new Apple keyboards... they just look like horrible chiclet IBM PCjr disasters... but wow they're nice after about an hour of practice. Silky smooth, silent... and I'm fast fast FAST with them now.

Too bad they're not backlit like the laptops.
posted by rokusan at 6:48 PM on March 11, 2008

No keyboard question should go by without mentioning the original IBM Type M. They can still be had used for relatively cheap (my wife bought me 8 on ebay as a birthday present one year for about $70 total). I'm typing this to you on one manufactured in 1984. They are the perfect keyboard. I may appear to have an unreasonable bias in the matter, but that's only because I'm right. They click, but the sound in musical. :)
posted by roue at 7:36 PM on March 11, 2008

The Saitek Eclipse I is my favorite keyboard. It is fairly silent, and I love how the keys respond, though that is a matter of personal preference. I broke my first one by spilling hot liquid on it, and I immediately went out and got another one. The lighting up is cool, but you can turn it off if you want, and it isn't really that garish. I would highly recommend the first eclipse.
posted by Carillon at 7:38 PM on March 11, 2008

I'm with Roue. I still like buckling spring technology. A company makes brand new keyboards with the same technology at the IBM Type M and they're available here. I can personally recommend this model in black -- USB, buckling spring, and I heavy enough to be used as a weapon!
posted by sharkfu at 7:45 PM on March 11, 2008

Type M and an original Saitek Eclipse owner.

The Type M is absolutely indestructible, but it is noisy and you will either love or hate the action of the keys.

The Saitek is OK. The build quality, while not bad, is nowhere near the Type M. I find myself making more typos on the Eclipse because the key action feels kind of "spongy". Frequently, I'll hit a key but not press it down far enough for the press to register.

Having said that, I still use the Eclipse over the Type M specifically because of the backlighting. It's one of those things (like an aluminum mouse pad) that I never thought would be that big of a deal until I actually used it for a while. I'm hooked now.
posted by doowod at 8:31 PM on March 11, 2008

I own three keyboards now that I love. They all look stylish and give me absolutely no wrist trouble (which was the reason I had to buy new keyboards for work and home in the first place).

1. A Kensington SlimType keyboard
2. A wired aluminum Apple keyboard
3. A basic Dell USB keyboard

I'd recommend all three with no hesitation.
posted by limeonaire at 9:04 PM on March 11, 2008

The IBM "Model M" (I've never heard the term "Type M" used to refer to them, that's odd that so many others have!) is the finest widely-available keyboard on Earth. There have been other similarly good keyboards, but none are so readily available for a pittance. Anyone who doesn't own a Model M owes it to themselves to pick one up.
posted by majick at 9:05 PM on March 11, 2008

(And none of those three is noisy; all three work with PCs as far as I know.)
posted by limeonaire at 9:05 PM on March 11, 2008

Oh, and:

"...wouldn't you want a silent keyboard? What are your thoughts on this?"

HELL NO. Squishy keyboards are obnoxious. How can anyone stand using them with the mushy tactile feedback? Why would anyone want a silent keyboard? The sound of those cannons going off is how you know you're typing!
posted by majick at 9:08 PM on March 11, 2008

I hear good things about the Saitek Eclipse I, but my Eclipse II's build quality was poor. After six months of use, the T and E keys would no longer work, and the A key would sometimes not register a keypress. I haven't bothered to take apart the keyboard to see what's wrong with it; I just switched back to a $10 Logitech and kept hammering.
posted by suckerpunch at 9:15 PM on March 11, 2008

It maybe difficult to get ahold on one outside of japan but Filco keyboards are the best keyboards i ever lay my hands on.
They're an excellent middleground between the clicking keyboards and the silent one.
It was mentionned previously here.
posted by SageLeVoid at 9:27 PM on March 11, 2008

While I have the utmost respect for the Model M, those damned things are noisy as hell. Which is all-kinds of fantastic when you're on a roll, but if you're suffering from writer's block, lemme tell you, the lack of sound will be deafening. No thanks.

I recently picked up one of these from Keytronic. The angle of the keyboard is awesome, and the key action is very similar to the Model M, except that at the very last moment before the key makes the normal CLICK, MOTHERFUCKER sound that the Model M is famous for, this keyboard suddenly gets all quiet. It's a nice compromise. And it's built like a tank.

I hate ergonomic keyboards because I always felt the B-split was a personal choice that shouldn't be forced by the keyboard companies. Most good typists know that true speed comes from alternating the hands. If the option is between alternating between two hands, or forcing one hand to do more typing duty, alternating hands wins, every time.

Take, for example, the word "basketball." If you type this properly, the left hand has to do the first 3 letters, then letters 5-8, while the right hand has the fourth letter and the last two, which are the same letter. Typing this the "traditional" way is far less efficient than swapping the B-hand. Then it's "right-left-left-right-left-left-right-left-right-right."
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:51 PM on March 11, 2008

So, just to update, I'm on a PC, and it seems like a matter of personal preference about the clicking :)

So is every Saitek Eclipse owner of the opinion that the Mk. 1 is good, Mk. 2 bad?
posted by edbyford at 1:49 AM on March 12, 2008

Also I read that the illumination on the Eclipse is not consistent (each key is not same brightness as every other key). Is this true? Does it matter? Thanks for all your help!
posted by edbyford at 1:58 AM on March 12, 2008

I just wanted to chime in and say my Saitek EclipseII is fine. The build quality is great and it works great.
posted by Mach5 at 6:01 AM on March 12, 2008

My previous keyboard was a Saitek Eclipse 1,.... I retired it for a Das Keyboard.

The reason I bought the Saitek Eclipse was mostly for the backlighting because I do a lot of low-light / nighttime work, and the backlighting really came in handy. I really had no negatives to say about the Saitek Eclipse 1, it was a good reliable keyboard.

I bought the Das Keyboard mostly because I hoped the lack of key identification would force me to become a better typer. (it definitely has). Upon the first couple days of usage, I was really concerned that the "clicky" sound would drive me crazy, but over time you get used to it, and as others have said, as your typing gets better, the clicky sound starts to "flow" and be somewhat soothing. Its a solidly built keyboard. I've come to really like it. (especially for long bouts of typing or chatroom interaction)
posted by jmnugent at 7:41 AM on March 12, 2008

Except for the blank letters (which you can duplicate yourself with a can of Krylon fusion if you really want to) the Das Keyboard appears to be a rebranded $30 Keytronic E03600, with the identical varied resistance on the keys.

The Microsoft Natural is okay for its price, but if you're used to touch-typing numbers, their bizarro decision to put 6 on the left will screw you up.

Having gone Kinesis, I won't go back, though it'd bust your price limit.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 7:58 AM on March 12, 2008

Just one note about Apple's keyboard, the recent super thin model, both wired and wireless versions. There is a slight hardware delay on the Caps Lock key, requiring the key to be pressed a little bit longer than normal to turn Caps Lock on. For most typists this isn't an issue at all and I suppose someone somewhere thinks preventing accidental caps was a worthwhile thing to include at the hardware level.

But if you happen to remap the Caps Lock to something else, most likely Control, and you're a fast touch typist the delay cripples the functionality of the key; ie. hitting (Caps) Control + T will just print a t, not register as a Control + T.

A minor issue to be sure but frustrating for remappers and it puts the new Apple keyboard low on my list of potential replacements.
posted by 6550 at 10:06 AM on March 12, 2008

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