Unicomp Spacesaver M-Thoughts and Initial Impressions

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by bunnspecial, Jul 14, 2016.

  1. bunnspecial macrumors 603

    bunnspecial

    Joined:
    May 3, 2014
    Location:
    Kentucky
    #1
    I've been a long-time fan of the Model M keyboard, and for about a year have been using a 1991 vintage IBM as the keyboard on my office computer-a Mac Pro-via a USB-PS2 adapter. Since I have an office to myself, the noise isn't a problem, and if you like a mechanical keyboard a buckling spring-IMO-is hard to beat(your mileage and preference may vary). During college basketball season, I also like to use a newer University of Kentucky special edition Model M from Unicomp(I've done this for several years, but complaints from co-workers about the noise limited its desk time, plus the fact that I work for the arch rival university :) ).

    Although the older "traditional" 101 key model Ms have served me well, they have their shortcomings as a Mac keyboard, especially if you are a heavy user of keyboard shortcuts(I am). I remapped the keys on mine so that that the "Alt" key acts as the command key and the "Control" key acts as the "Alt/Option" key in OS X. Since these are my most used modifier keys and the "alt" in particular is in the same location as the ⌘ key on an Apple keyboard, my fingers naturally fall there. Even so, the 101 key layout leave the Mac user a bit deficient.

    With that in mind, Unicomp has created the "Spacesaver M." As the name would somewhat imply, this is built on the smaller "Spacesaver" frame, which is physically smaller than the Model M. Although it's still a large keyboard by many modern measures, it's about 2" narrower than the full size model M. The space reduction is achieved by eliminating the ridges around the keyboard.

    More important to Mac users, though, the Spacesaver M is tailored to work out of the box as a Mac keyboard. It contains the command, option, and control keys in their correct location. It has a media eject key(not that important really unless you're using a Classic Mac Pro or something else with an optical drive) and a full complement of F1-F15 function keys. The function keys are sub-labeled with OS X specific functions-i.e. screen brightness, volume, iTunes controls, dashboard. The OS X specific functions are normally accessed by holding down the "Function" key, although the board offers a "function lock" that is toggled by holding down function and shift. Also, the keyboard is USB, so there's no need for adapters. On initially plugging it in, you will be prompted by keyboard set-up to press the buttons next to the shift keys, but beyond this it works perfectly.

    Unicomp has three color combinations available. I opted for "Black/Brilliant white", which I have to say is quite striking in person. Black and beige or beige/beige are also available. This is not a keyboard you buy for aesthetics, though-it is purely about function.

    Unicomp is a company that is somewhat near and dear to my heart, as they are the surviving remnants of IBM keyboard division in Lexington, Kentucky. All of their products are made in Lexington. You can-if you're so inclined-walk into the factory and buy items directly from them(although they are not set up for POS, so you will need to order ahead of time). Since I didn't have time to drive to Lexington, I opted to have it shipped and by virtue of my location it was in my hands in less than 24 hours.

    The keyboard types very much like my old Model M, although I have to say that the "click-clack" is somewhat muted. I don't notice a tactile difference-just a very small difference in sound that you'd likely only pick up with them side by side.

    Also, the keyboard is lighter and-as much as it pains me to say it-the finish is not QUITE as nice as my old M. The keys show some casting flash and the bottoms are uneven on some keys. This is my major criticism, and doesn't affect the functionality. If you're not looking at the keys(which you shouldn't be :) ) you won't notice this. Mine is a fairly "fresh" product, with a manufacture date of 6/8/16.

    If you are in the market for a mechanical keyboard, this really is a great entry point as new it's the least expensive of the common options. I hesitate to even call it entry level-I've used a variety of them, and although most have nicer fit and finish ultimately I prefer the buckling spring.

    In any case, I wanted to post this as it's a keyboard I've been threatening to buy for years and am very happy to have one in my hands.
     
  2. bunnspecial thread starter macrumors 603

    bunnspecial

    Joined:
    May 3, 2014
    Location:
    Kentucky

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