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Old Jan 23, 2013, 03:28 AM   #1
kylera
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What is it like to use a mechanical keyboard?

My current keyboard is breaking down so I am in the market for a new keyboard. I do a lot of translating so something durable and comfortable is key, and I've often seen good reviews of various models around the Net. However, to current owners, what's the experience like? Do you encounter any pains or whatnot?
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Old Jan 23, 2013, 05:11 AM   #2
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It's a lot stiffer. I have an ooollld IBM Model M A/T mechanical keyboard that I have had for a very long time and like very much (using adapters of course!). In fact, companies still make those keyboards retrofitted for USB.

I like the tactile feedback, the sound, the feel, etc. Feels like using an electric typewriter. However, ironically (as it's a complete opposite!), I find myself using my Apple wireless keyboard more and more. The chiclet keyboard Apple uses is really growing on me. I understand why people like it.

If there are any stores near you that sell electric typewriters and have them on display (most OfficeMax stores near me do, can't tell ya why, but they do). That's about what it feels like. Go type a couple paragraphs on one of those and see what you think. It's a ballpark anyway, each keyboard is different.

I don't know what keyboards you are looking at, but look around eBay for an IBM Model M. Yes, it's beige and ugly, yes it's big and heavy, yes it's 20+ years old and yes it has one of those old long coiled cords! But, they are invincible, and the typing experience on one of those is INCREDIBLE. There are adapters available to adapter whatever version (PS/2 or the old AT) you have down to USB.
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Old Jan 23, 2013, 05:42 AM   #3
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I much prefer mechanical, and there's no pain at all. Much more satisfying to type on with the tactile feedback. The only drawback is the higher cost. Everything else about them I much prefer.

I'm using a Matias Tactile Pro http://www.matias.ca/tactilepro3/
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Old Jan 23, 2013, 05:52 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by el-John-o;16709860...
I like the tactile feedback, the sound, the feel, etc...
Couldn't agree more. I loved the old IBM keyboards from a quarter-century ago. There was something uniquely satisfying about the feel and sound of all those little micro switches clicking away as you typed. They were beautifully and solidly engineered devices.
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Old Jan 23, 2013, 09:06 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by kylera View Post
My current keyboard is breaking down so I am in the market for a new keyboard. I do a lot of translating so something durable and comfortable is key, and I've often seen good reviews of various models around the Net. However, to current owners, what's the experience like? Do you encounter any pains or whatnot?
A few months ago, I switched from the Mac Chicklet keyboard to a DAS mechanical and love it. I wouldn't recommend it if you live with someone in a small space because the noise can drive them nuts, but in my case my office is in the basement and all our bedrooms are on the second floor (it wasn't until we moved to our new house this year that I finally upgraded). I love the feedback from it. One item of note, the mechanical keyboards I have used are all thicker than many of the "normal" keyboards and thus if you type with your palms resting on the desk, you will probably need a palm rest. I know I know, this isn't the proper way to type and will cause carpel tunnel syndrome, but it's the way I have typed 20+ years and I'm not going to change my ways now!
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Old Jan 23, 2013, 09:16 AM   #6
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Thank you for your posts so far. The general gist I am getting is that it seems very subjective - everyone has mentioned how it is satisfying to type on it.

I am not in any way trying to diss on mechanical keyboards - I have never used one and just am looking for factors that could make one more appealing than the Microsoft wireless keyboard I am using right now. I don't have access to any shops that have them or electric typewriters on display, and I don't want to make a blind leap in faith if possible.
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Old Jan 23, 2013, 09:31 AM   #7
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Have you a Costco near by? An older store not one opened in the last day 5 years? If you do then pop in. The as400 system they use has a 24 f key mechanical keyboard on it. If you ask someone if you could bash a few keys on a logged off system they should let you. Either that or stand near one in use.

At work I wouldn't use anything but mechanical the feedback stops your hands aching and mentally that positive click registrars a positive key press.

At home I'm a wireless apple keyboard man. Love the keyboard actually have 2 brand new spares just incase apple gets fruity and changes it.
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Old Jan 23, 2013, 10:21 AM   #8
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Using a mechanical keyboard is so much better. It's just so much more ergonomic, especially when compared to the Apple keyboard. It also feels so much nicer than, say, Microsoft keyboards. I highly recommend you give one a try.

Personally, I use a Kinesis Advantage. It's very expensive but it's the best and doesn't give me wrist pains (and allows me to type a lot faster).
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Old Jan 23, 2013, 02:53 PM   #9
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I would definitely suggest trying it, or buying it from someone with a good return policy.

You probably already know that what makes a mechanical keyboard mechanical is that each and every key has a mechanical 'switch' underneath it, as opposed to a soft 'button' soldered to a logic board, along with a light spring. That means that, better or worse, it is going to be very DIFFERENT.

However, more people like them than don't like them. So, if you buy from someone with a decent return policy, you might be okay.

Also, though they are uglier, the old mechanical keyboards from the 80's and 90's are always on eBay. They are extraordinarily well built so there should be no concerns about longevity. You'll need to adapt them, which is only a couple bucks. Most of them use the old 6 pin A/T or use PS/2. If you really fall in love with the old keyboards, there are kits to modify them to be USB keyboards. I've even seen someone modify one of the old IBM's to be a bluetooth keyboard!
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Old Jan 23, 2013, 10:09 PM   #10
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I find typing to be a lot more comfortable. I have a Filco that I think is the best keyboard I ever had. It takes a bit of getting used to as there's more key travel than a chiclet style keyboard.

You should also research switches as there are a few different kind that all have a different feel. Some are more click than others, some are softer, some feel mushier.

Here's a good place to start http://mechanicalkeyboards.com
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Old Jan 25, 2013, 04:07 AM   #11
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I love the white apple pro wired keyboard. I bought five of them in a lot on ebay a while back so they should last me a bit!
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Old Oct 26, 2013, 12:26 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by kylera View Post
Thank you for your posts so far. The general gist I am getting is that it seems very subjective - everyone has mentioned how it is satisfying to type on it.

I am not in any way trying to diss on mechanical keyboards - I have never used one and just am looking for factors that could make one more appealing than the Microsoft wireless keyboard I am using right now. I don't have access to any shops that have them or electric typewriters on display, and I don't want to make a blind leap in faith if possible.
I know it's an old thread, but did you ever settle on an alternate keyboard? If not, the big old clear, Apple Pro Extended keyboard (with the black keycaps) is a real old workhorse. I picked up a couple at a local computer re-seller for about $5 U.S. a piece. Check e-Bray.

The "feel" also depends on how large/small your hands & fingers are, what you're used to typing on and what kind of tactile "feel" you like in a keyboard. Me, I like to feel something "clickey" under my fingers when I press a key - the newer "chicklet" type keyboards don't really give me enough tactile feedback to let me know that I'm really typing when I'm looking at the screen while typing. Of course, way back when, I learned to touch-type in highschool and rarely, even with the advent of multi-keypress characters do I ever have to look at a keyboard as I type.
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Old Oct 26, 2013, 01:03 PM   #13
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Mechanical keyboards are loud to type on. Like, really loud. It's almost inappropriate to use one with a Mac, in my opinion. You have this sexy little computer than makes almost no noise, and you want to a get a clickity-clackity keyboard that annoys every other person in the room with you? Makes no sense.
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Old Oct 26, 2013, 02:29 PM   #14
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I love the white apple pro wired keyboard.
Agreed. I love typing on mine.
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Old Oct 27, 2013, 10:45 AM   #15
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Mechanical keyboards are loud to type on. Like, really loud. It's almost inappropriate to use one with a Mac, in my opinion. You have this sexy little computer than makes almost no noise, and you want to a get a clickity-clackity keyboard that annoys every other person in the room with you? Makes no sense.
Maybe that's why Matias came up with the Quiet Pro mechanical keyboard. It's just barely louder than a MacBook Pro keyboard, yet it's a world of difference to type on.

OP: I summed up some keyboards last month, maybe you find something to your liking. There are also more experiences with both mechanical and chiclet keyboard for Mac in that thread that might help you.

Edit: This thread is old. And all Apple Keyboards up to the ones that precede the chiclet-style are great.

Last edited by Giuly; Nov 23, 2014 at 01:50 PM.
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Old Oct 27, 2013, 04:30 PM   #16
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I miss my old IBM mechanical keyboard. I don't think having a mechanical keyboard would go over very well with my neighbors because I type a lot. I am also an angry typer so it makes it that much louder.
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Old Oct 27, 2013, 05:44 PM   #17
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Mechanical keyboards are loud to type on. Like, really loud. It's almost inappropriate to use one with a Mac, in my opinion. You have this sexy little computer than makes almost no noise, and you want to a get a clickity-clackity keyboard that annoys every other person in the room with you? Makes no sense.
This is just none sense. I love the looks of my Macs but in the end I own them to do work and make a living. If I can type faster and more accurately I will make more money. Clearly you own your mac solely for vanity at which I say enjoy your expensive Facebook machine...
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Old Oct 27, 2013, 09:23 PM   #18
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This is just none sense. I love the looks of my Macs but in the end I own them to do work and make a living. If I can type faster and more accurately I will make more money. Clearly you own your mac solely for vanity at which I say enjoy your expensive Facebook machine...
What? It has nothing to do with looks. My problem with mechanical keyboard is how loud the damn things are.

Also, you type faster and more accurately on mechanical merely because you're used to those old school keyboards. Muscle memory can be retrained, gramps.
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Old Oct 27, 2013, 09:33 PM   #19
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I love my Tactile Pro, but, yes, it can get noisy...
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Old Oct 27, 2013, 09:52 PM   #20
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What? It has nothing to do with looks. My problem with mechanical keyboard is how loud the damn things are.

Also, you type faster and more accurately on mechanical merely because you're used to those old school keyboards. Muscle memory can be retrained, gramps.
Bull. I'm actually 32. Tactile feedback is key to any typist. You clearly don't know what the french toast you are talking about. Read any mechanical keyboard review and you will understand. Don't call someone "gramps" when the real issue is you are completely uninformed.

To help you with your ignor.... lack of knowledge:

http://www.pcworld.com/article/24093...u_switch_.html

http://lifehacker.com/how-to-choose-...-you-511140347

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2415290,00.asp

I could go on and on.....

Again. I do work with my computers. "loudness" and "ugliness" doesn't matter to me. Making less mistakes matters a heck of a lot.
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Old Oct 28, 2013, 12:19 AM   #21
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Again. I do work with my computers. "loudness" and "ugliness" doesn't matter to me. Making less mistakes matters a heck of a lot.
In the spirit of correctness... that would be "fewer mistakes".

/Jim

sorry... I just could not resist given the context. I am generally not the grammar police.
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Old Oct 28, 2013, 01:55 AM   #22
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I have mechanical kbs but very often I think it's more of a habit/hype rather than actual improvement.

Don't get me wrong, I love my cherry blacks to death and would never consider anything else. But it has something to do with using PC since the late 80s where mechanical k/b dominated the market.

And once you get used to the feedback from the keys, it's hard to go type on anything else as you feel weird in the key travel distance.

For someone who never really typed on mechanicals, the added travel distance on them doesn't necessary make them type better/faster. My little cousin is in his late teen and he types 80+ WPM (which I consider very fast) and he never used a mechanical. He came to my place the other day to do some work and couldn't type anywhere near his usual speed.
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Old Oct 28, 2013, 08:41 AM   #23
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I type more frequently on my on my Apple Wireless Pro Keyboard and use my Tactile Pro only when I have lots of typing to do. When I switch to the Tactile Pro, I'm noticeably faster.
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Old Oct 28, 2013, 08:42 AM   #24
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In the spirit of correctness... that would be "fewer mistakes".

/Jim

sorry... I just could not resist given the context. I am generally not the grammar police.
I'm a coder by nature, those are the mistakes I am discussing. Even though I am the son of an English Major, grammar was never my thing.
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Old Oct 28, 2013, 09:16 AM   #25
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