Originally the high-end keyboard roundup was just three keyboards, but Das Keyboard caught wind of it and wanted to throw their famously blank keyboard into the mix. The one I got my hands on is actually printed, but I do like the idea of the blank one. I’ve only had it for a day so a full review isn’t really in order, but I’ve typed out a few posts on it and that’s enough to have some impressions. More pictures and such through the link.
So what makes the Das Keyboard (I know “the das” is redundant, but what can I do?) high-end? As you can see, there are no special keys, no media controls, no touch-sensitive panels. Well, this is a pretty good explanation of what the Das Keyboard and the SteelSeries 7Ghave going for it. Your $30-$50 keyboards have the cheapest, least durable, and least tactile key detection method. Laptop keyboards and the Razer Lycosa (from what I can tell) use the scissor-switch version, which adds some resistance and durability. The best method is the mechanical switch, which allows not only for a much better tactile response and far greater durability, but also is easier to wire for detecting multiple keydowns. The Das Keyboard allows for 12 keys down at a time, which I think makes you pretty safe considering you only have 10 fingers. The mechanical switches also increase the cost of the keyboard substantially, since there are many individual sensors instead of a sort of printed sheet of them.
The mechanical action is satisfying, although there is a sort of a learning curve (as with any new keyboard) as to how much force you need to hit the key with. You don’t need to push it down all the way, unlike some keyboards that only send a signal at the terminus of the key’s travel. In addition to that action, there is also an artificial click that they’ve added in that essentially tells you “that’s far enough.” I’m still getting used to it, but it’s good to have that feedback since if you don’t hear the click, you most likely didn’t hit the key.
There are two USB 2.0 ports on the right side of the keyboard, which is nice if you need them, but aside from a slick finish and nice LED lock indicators, that’s pretty much the extent of this keyboard’s features. The original draw for hte Das Keyboard was the fact that it was completely blank. Now that’s pretty badass and probably makes you a better typist after a few weeks of errors, but in order to expand their market reach they’ve come up with a printed version as well which is identical but for the letters on the keys. The build quality is great and it feels very solid, heavier than the trim Lycosa but not nearly as heavy as the 7G.
Like the SteelSeries, this keyboard is not about frills, it’s about reliability, durability, and comfort. It’s not a gaming keyboard (there’s no audio jacks in it, for instance, or special treatment given to WASD), it’s a typing keyboard. If you type on your Dell or whatever’s default keyboard, you should give yourself the opportunity to try out one of these things, or any mechanical-action based keyboard if you can so that you know what the difference is. If your main computer is a laptop you might consider one of these as a backup keyboard since extensive typing on laptop keyboards can be pretty tiring. And if you’re looking for a straightforward keyboard that will last forever, this is a great option. You can get a good deal on them right now if you preorder the new version, it’ll set you back $100 instead of $130. Still expensive, but if you’re into it, now is the time to lay down the cash.