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One of my hobbies is finding the perfect keyboard. In my mind, that’s an open-ended goal. Nothing is perfect, so there will always be something better. As such, I find myself changing out keyboards every few months when something exciting new comes along. One can acclimate to even the worst keyboard, like this water-proof flexible keyboard I rocked for a few months. As far as keyboards go it was extremely difficult to type on, but after getting the swing it wasn’t horrific. Ever since then I’ve been trying out new keyboards.
I fell in love with the Apple Macintosh Chiclet keyboard for awhile and picked one up for my Windows PC. Unfortunately the key mapping is slightly off and despite it’s super comfortable typing I eventually replaced it. My old work had a cheap-Monoprice keyboard that, as a cheap keyboard, it’s easily one of the best keyboards I’ve used. For a membrane keyboard the key’s have a noticeable clicky feeling to them. I ended up buying one for myself to use at home.
Finally at my favorite flea market I found a fantastic deal on a legit Fujitsu mechanical keyboard:
Once you get acquainted with the clickyness of a mechanical keyboard, it’s hard to go back. This keyboard had the perfect mechanical keys in my opinion – they weren’t too stiff to push and still had a noticeably solid click. The only problem with this keyboard was the lack of a Windows/Start key. Normally I use short-cuts like Start+R for Run, or Start+Up/Down/Left/Right for positioning windows on my multi-monitors. Without a start-key I felt gimped.
Unfortunately, like an idiot, I ended up spilling some Rockstar energy drink on the numpad portion of this keyboard. I was able to fix it mostly by cleaning out the switches with rubbing alcohol+q-tips and giving it some WD40 lubricant, but it just wasn’t the same. Besides, I was feeling the birthday blues and decided some shopping therapy was in order.
I picked up a Poseidon Z mechanical gaming keyboard:
The box it came in:
I wasn’t in the mood for waiting on shipping or cross comparing online, so I went to a local store to browse. This was basically the cheapest mechanical keyboard that I could find in a retail store. Being the cheapest though, it is still an excellent keyboard.
The keys themselves use
When it comes to switches on mechanical keyboards, there’s two main manufacturers, ALPS and Cherry. Actually there’s a lot more, but those are the two that are spoken about most frequently. Cherry color codes their switches, and each switch style has a unique feeling. Check this sweet link for a more-than-you-need-to-know guide on switches, including a bunch of animations: http://www.daskeyboard.com/blog/mechanical-keyboard-guide/
When I purchased this keyboard I was expecting it to have Cherry Blue switches inside. I didn’t realize till afterward that they are actually Kailh Blue switches. Because Cherry’s patents expired, Kailh can legally clone Cherry switches. Kailh uses the same color scheme as Cherry, and reviews only suggest that the Kailh Blues feel like Cherry Blues. Because Kailh is a clone manufacturer from Taiwain the quality might not be as high as the reputable Cherry brand. The Kailh keys are relatively new to the game, so there isn’t much info on them as far as longevity. Early reports are favorable, however.
The Kailh Blues do feel really good, but they are a tad bit stiffer than I’d like. My previous keyboard, the Fujitsu, had ALPS keys. I don’t know much about ALPS or if there was a specific type, but they were a little less firm to push. Though this keyboard has stiffer keys I got used to it after a few days. It does feel like my hands are getting more of work out, but it hasn’t impeded me or slowed me down in anyway. I wonder if I will feel it after long coding sessions.
Start Button Toggle
A toggle button is located on the top-right of the keyboard. This simply enables / disables the Windows Start button from working. If you’re a gamer, you’ll know why. If not, it’s handy to disable the start button when in computer games because often the start button will cause the game to minimize. If you’re in the middle of a critical gaming session it can be disastrous to minimize the game unexpectedly. With this toggle, you can disable the start button. Though I don’t game much on my PC these days I’ll make use of this when the time comes. For the most part though, like I mentioned above, I need the start key so I’ll be leaving it enabled.
Though there are cheaper mechanical keyboards online, that aren’t gaming specific, it’s not likely that they would have light-up keys. I keep odd hours, so some days I’m awake during the daylight, and other days, like today I pull all nighters. With the lights off it can be difficult to see your keyboard so I highly value the light up keys. I typically type without looking at the keyboard, but some things like symbols/special characters I have to look down to find. Having a lit keyboard makes this a snap at night.
The keyboard has a FN key, and when combined with F11 and F12 it can adjust the brightness of the keys. There are five states: 0ff, on, brighter, even brigther, and brighest.
My only complaint is that the keys alternate functions aren’t as brightly lit as the main key function itself. I suppose this was done on purpose, but it sometimes makes the alternate functions difficult to read. It’s easier to see the alternate functions lit up if the keyboards brightness is set to max, but I usually keep it at the lowest setting just above “off,” because I feel like it’s too glaring on the brighter settings.
The more expensive version of this keyboard has multi-color LEDs and I assume some way to dial in the color. The basic model that I have only comes in blue. Sigh, I’d have to spend like another $60 to get a teal-backlit keyboard.
Keys keyboard weights a lot, and that’s a good thing. It feels nice and secure on my desktop and doesn’t float around after typing on it for awhile. It also has nice grippy rubber feet, so it’s not going anywhere.
Though I never plan on settling down on any particular keyboard for good, this one will probably last me a very long time. This article was written on it, and every minute of it felt great. I like the back-lit keys for working in the dark, and of course I love the mechanical actuation feeling. Though the keys are a bit stiffer than I’m used to, this is my first
July 12, 2015 at 10:54 am | Technology Reviews
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