50 posts
Keyboards for the hand made heros?
Edited by itzjac on Reason: Initial post
Hi,

Not sure if the topic of the title would fit in this section of the forum, feel free to delete it if that's the case. I prefer to hear the opinion of real handmade heros: colleagues that really type code and not just play games or are IT managers.

My ideal keyboard has a US layout, bit ENTER key, compact. Whether mechanical or not, is really not important, I also know that the less pressure we use the better for our posture, which makes mechanical a worse choice for me. I had some health and posture issues and I got recommended to avoid the mechanical ones.

These two are my winners so far

Topre Realforce
HyperX

Share your personal preference and why, it would be also nice to know what is Mr. Muratori's personal preference :)

I believe I can get great feedback in this community.

Cheers!
Miguel Lechón
78 posts / 2 projects
Keyboards for the hand made heros?
I think you'll enjoy the Jeff and Casey show on keyboards.

My personal choice is the IBM M4-1, the standalone version of the IBM L40sx laptop keyboard. The M4 has short key travel and it's soft but not mushy. Key weight varies depending on the manufacturer (unicomp, lexmark, keytronic) and year of production. I have a newish black lexmark which is on the soft side and an older white keytronic with a firmer touch. The trackpoint is not good by today's standards, but it's easy to ignore. The thing I would change about them is the placement of the right alt key, which should be one key to the left to fall under the right thumb when the right index finger is on the 'j' key.

I've used other mechanical keyboards in the past (topre, cherry blue and brown) and a few thinkpads (2002 and 2010 models) and I still prefer the M4. The one's on ebay right now are a bit expensive, but you can get one for around $30-$60 from time to time.

50 posts
Keyboards for the hand made heros?
Thanks for sharing the podcast, I was sure Casey had covered this ... there ya go.

M4, that's an interesting choice, maybe am lucky and I get one of those.
50 posts
Keyboards for the hand made heros?
Edited by itzjac on
Is there a second episode on the keyboard topic? I think a lot of time was spent talking about the "magical" Daskeyboard 5.
Maybe soon there will another update.

78 posts
None
Keyboards for the hand made heros?
Edited by Mór on
IBM Model M and F keyboards are my favorites, however a super rare keyboard I've been wanting to try is the DataHand, but sadly the company closed its doors back in 2008. The last new ones came up for sale a couple of years back, for a paltry \$2500 a piece. The reason people pay so much for them, is there are so few of them and they say the keyboard saves their careers from RSI. If you watch the movie Contact with Jodie Foster, you will see a pair on the chair inside the ball spaceship. They are the future that was lost.

Siew Yi Liang
7 posts
Keyboards for the hand made heros?
Edited by Siew Yi Liang on
I swear by split mechanical keyboards. I'm currently using a Keyboardio (If you like ergonomic layouts, I'd recommend it. If you want a standard layout, I'd recommend a Mistel Baracco instead) Some of those I've used over the years are below:

## Matias Ergo Pro

My first time trying split and ergonomic keyboards.

### Pros

+ Great design of the modifier keys being a lot bigger so that you can palm them.
+ Wrist rests were super comfy.

### Cons

- Matias ALPS switches were terrible in terms of feel and chatter issues (although
the latter is now supposed to be resolves in the current generation of switches.)
- Build quality was highly suspect.
- Keyboard design was extremely large and had a ton of macro buttons that were
just fluff and completely pointless for serious typists.
- Connector for the two halves was finnicky sometimes and resulted in interrmitent
failure.
- Screw-design for the tenting mount, along with the wrist rests, was really subpar
and resulted in the wrist rests coming off at the most inopportune times.

My first time attempting to use a columnar matrix layout, along with thumb modifier

### Pros

+ Bowl-shaped design

### Cons

- Too high
- Thumb cluster is designed too oddly for me to get used to it.
- Non-mechanical Fn keys (the second version has now fixed the mechanical part, but
the size of the Fn keys are too small for me to like using them.)
- Key stems felt flimsy and even though they were using Cherry MX switches, build
quality didn't feel very robust.

## Mistel Baracco

### Pros

- Durable and reliable (daily driver at home and at work for 2+ years), build quality is excellent
- On-keyboard bindings and memory, no bullshit with additonal software or drivers in order to customize bindings.
- Cool RGB LED effects that are actually useful
- Compact and yet insanely usable (60% form factor is actually more convenient and ergonomic than having
separate Fn keys and arrow keys.)
- Actual PBT keycaps.
- USB cable connector for connecting both halves and also for connection to computer.
- Fairly low power requirements, even with crazy LED lighting mode.
- Cherry MX switches
- Comes with keycap puller and contrast keycap for Enter key.
- Relatively cheap for a mechanical keyboard, let alone a split one.
- Uses standard keycaps, so you can customize to your heart's content.

### Cons

- Basically none. For a standard layout, this _is_ the perfect keyboard. If I wasn't switching to a Keyboardio,
I would be using this as my keyboard, no question about it.
- No ability to tent. This is by far the biggest annoyance with the keyboard. If only they'd designed it with
tenting ability from the outset, it would have been perfect.
- No built in wrist rests, nor any mounts for one.

## Ultimate Hacking Keyboard

### Pros

- Similar pros to the Mistel in terms of the 60% layout, except that it's slightly bigger overall.
- In-built tenting and wrist rests (though the design is kind of weird and raises the keyboard slightly)
- Both halves can actually lock together in a more robust manner than the Mistel.

### Cons

- Inferior to the Mistel in almost every other way.
- Switches are Kalih, and definitely do not feel like Cherry at all, despite the claims to the contrary.
- Build quality is not good. Case design is not great, and the cabling design is weird (way more troublesome
to plug/unplug the keyboard)
- No LED backlighting.
- To date, there are _still_ problems with the firmware.
- Configuration cannot be done via the keyboard alone, it has to be via the UHK Agent app, which is slow and tedious.
- I already have issues on my backer unit in terms of the connection getting dropped when the keyboard is jiggled around.
- ABS keycaps and non standard sizes.
- Having suffered delays for so many years, I'm skeptical they will deliver on their promises for the additional add-ons.

## Keyboardio

### Pros

- Layout is the best I've seen so far for a non-standard layout. That's literally the only reason the premium price
is worth paying for this keyboard, IMHO.
- Custom-profile sculpted keycaps do feel nice.
- LED lighting is pretty nice.
- For me, it would have been nice to have had _some_ onboard customization features, but allowing you to customize via
compiling the firmware and flashing the Arduino-compatible chip directly is fine by me.

### Cons

- Keyboard is too thick to the point where it becomes an ergonimic concern.
- Tenting stands are so high they are basically useless; I had to fashion tenting stands myself out of bits and bobs.
- ABS keycaps
- Matias switches are horrific even when I was using them on my Ergo Pro, and even 3 years on, they still feel just as crummy.
- The wood enclosures look terrible IMHO, and honestly don't feel as high-quality as quoted on the site. I'd rather have
stainless steel or plastic and have a heavier keyboard that feels more weighted and won't suffer from warping issues.
- Even though it's a 60% layout, it's still big and takes up a lot of desk real estate that is totally unnecesary.
- No options for custom keycaps available, and they seem to be having a lot of QC and supplier issues.
- You will _definitely_ take a while to get used to the layout, more so than the Kinesis Advantage. But I'm pretty much back to my
original typing speed and now have a lot less Emacs pinky issues, so there is that.
Neo Ar
165 posts / 1 project
riscy.tv host
Keyboards for the hand made heros?
sonictk

## Mistel Baracco

### Pros

- On-keyboard bindings and memory, no bullshit with additonal software or drivers in order to customize bindings.
- Cherry MX switches
- Relatively cheap for a mechanical keyboard, let alone a split one.
- Uses standard keycaps, so you can customize to your heart's content.

### Cons
- No ability to tent. This is by far the biggest annoyance with the keyboard. If only they'd designed it with
tenting ability from the outset, it would have been perfect.
- No built in wrist rests, nor any mounts for one.

## Ultimate Hacking Keyboard

### Pros

- Similar pros to the Mistel in terms of the 60% layout, except that it's slightly bigger overall.
- Both halves can actually lock together in a more robust manner than the Mistel.

### Cons

- Inferior to the Mistel in almost every other way.
- Switches are Kalih, and definitely do not feel like Cherry at all, despite the claims to the contrary.
- Build quality is not good. Case design is not great, and the cabling design is weird (way more troublesome
to plug/unplug the keyboard)
- To date, there are _still_ problems with the firmware.
- I already have issues on my backer unit in terms of the connection getting dropped when the keyboard is jiggled around.
- ABS keycaps and non standard sizes.
- Having suffered delays for so many years, I'm skeptical they will deliver on their promises for the additional add-ons.

This was interesting to me as I am using the UHK with my work machine and haven't looked at alternatives :) I really like the sound of the Mistel in terms of not needing software to do custom bindings, how does that work? I've never tried Cherry switches vs Kalih switches, I got the brown switches with my UHK and they feel great to me (perhaps a case of blissful ignorance!) The build quality of mine seems great other than the cabling design, I didn't like that either! I haven't encountered problems with the firmware (though I'm not trying to do anything fancy either). Also I don't have any problems with the connection dropping, is yours an early/prototype model or the same as the batches they are shipping out to backers these days? Regarding the delays, I think they took the time they needed to make a quality product rather than shipping something inferior early. They were very transparent about the development process in the backer updates which were pretty interesting to read IMHO.

UHK Unboxing & First Impressions

Stream Highlight - UHK + Milton = <3
Siew Yi Liang
7 posts
Keyboards for the hand made heros?
Edited by Siew Yi Liang on
miotatsu

This was interesting to me as I am using the UHK with my work machine and haven't looked at alternatives :) I really like the sound of the Mistel in terms of not needing software to do custom bindings, how does that work? I've never tried Cherry switches vs Kalih switches, I got the brown switches with my UHK and they feel great to me (perhaps a case of blissful ignorance!) The build quality of mine seems great other than the cabling design, I didn't like that either! I haven't encountered problems with the firmware (though I'm not trying to do anything fancy either). Also I don't have any problems with the connection dropping, is yours an early/prototype model or the same as the batches they are shipping out to backers these days? Regarding the delays, I think they took the time they needed to make a quality product rather than shipping something inferior early. They were very transparent about the development process in the backer updates which were pretty interesting to read IMHO.

UHK Unboxing & First Impressions

Stream Highlight - UHK + Milton = <3

Through hitting a bunch of fixed key-bindings. There's a Pn and Fn key that you hit in combinations to get a rudimentary re-binding interface (the LEDs light up in different colours and patterns to indicate what re-binding mode you're in). You get 3 layers of bindings to customize. It's cumbersome and I always have to refer to the quick reference card to remember the exact steps to take, but I'll take it any day over software chicanery. Plus, the firmware actually works 100% fine without any updates. (Remember when the UHK shipped without Caps Lock LED functionality out of the box? Fun times...)

https://photos.app.goo.gl/gPPXngZiMhxHyxcFA

I got one of the early backer models that were sent out (the blog post that mentioned the case buckling and slightly crushed shipment was mine :)) Right now I have an issue where when I switch my desk from a sitting to a standing position, the LED display flickers and one of the halves loses connection. I contacted Lazlo about it, but after a bit of back-and-forth I'm not really satisfied with the resolution (basically update firmware, which didn't solve the issue), and combined with the other issues I've had with it already (key chatter, solved by increasing the delay in the firmware to incredibly high levels), it's honestly not up to the Mistel, which came perfectly fine out of the box and has remained so for the past 2 years. The build quality is also definitely not the same as the Mistel; the case plastic is of a cheaper quality and isn't molded as precisely. Believe me, I was surprised too considering the Mistel is from a Taiwanese company; I was incredibly pleased when it turned out to be _the_ best keyboard with a standard-ish layout so far I've ever had the pleasure of using.

A big problem with the UHK is that if you try to use Agent over a KVM (which is pretty much essential if you're working in VFX across multiple workstations), it freezes and can't actually flash the keyboard, which makes it a royal PITA when you want to edit settings. That's why I much preferred using the Mistel at work since I could just re-bind stuff in a pinch very quickly if I needed to do something. About the only thing I missed were being able to control the mouse using the keyboard with the Mistel (but now I can do so using the Keyboardio).

Kalih vs Cherry will come down to a matter of taste (I prefer Cherry MX blues compared to Kalih blues), but the post claiming that both felt the same and that you couldn't tell the difference was just ridiculous and really rubbed me the wrong way. If they had just come out and said Kalih is waaaay cheaper compared to the Cherries, that would have been a lot more understandable.

Also, to be clear, I'm not begrudging them the delays; I've been following them since day 1 as well and I know it's been a long and frustrating road for everyone involved. That doesn't change my opinion that the Mistel is a clear winner in terms of quality compared to the UHK.
Gus Waldo
10 posts
Keyboards for the hand made heros?
I've got a topre realforce. it's sublime.