Mechanical Keyboard - Any strong recommendations.?

Hi there.

I am considering moving to a mechanical keyboard for general typing.
The choice is extensive. Does anybody have any strong / experienced-based recommendations ?

Thanks

I’m a fan of the Kinesis Ergo keyboards and mice. I’m using their Advantage 2 with the ability to switch between QWERTY and Dvorak. I’m not using its macro abilities as thoroughly as I should, but I like having that option.

If their new Advantage 360 had been out, I might have purchased it instead.

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I still love my good old Keychron K2 (V2) with Gateron brown switches. Nothing special really, they’ve gone bonkers after that (in a positive way) with an endless variety of form factors, switch options, keys, programmability…

All of them ship “Mac ready” out of the box (with additional Windows keys if you need to use those) and can switch easily between multiple devices (using Bluetooth).

But without knowing your preferences it’s hard to recommend a specific model.

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I’ll strongly second the Keychron recommendation.

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I don’t like mechanical keyboards myself, but my husband does, and he swears by Cherry MX switches. They’re used in a number of different keyboard models, including their own. They’ll send you a sample kit to help you decide which switches you like best:

(Pro tip: If anyone else is routinely within hearing distance of your desk, you might want to check with them, too, especially if your preference leans toward the “clicky” side of the spectrum. Some of the Cherry switches are quite loud.)

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I’m not going to argue against anyone’s preference, but I find Cherry (MX) switches to be quite “scratchy” compared to most Cherry MX “clones” with the same characteristics (Gateron brown, blue, etc.). Can’t hurt to check as many brands as possible. Browns (tactical, but not clicky) in general are a good starting point for most typists. But who knows what the OP is looking for.

I also vote for Keychron, the „hot-swappable“ versions. With those you can swap the switches, try out which ones suit you most and easily replace a broken switch.
Consider your use cases before buying: Will you use it only on your desk or are you carrying it around?
(I actually have two, a larger, heavy one at my desk and a smaller lighter one for mobile use. I pair it with my iPhone. When I‘m actually typing and not editing I don’t need a large screen or a trackpad. All I need is the most comfortable keyboard I can get.)

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Plus one on the Keychron - and the UK team that sell it are incredibly helpful.

The keyboard is a real pleasure to type on and helps enormously with my general typing (in)accuracy.

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My preferred keyboard of all times has probably been the Das Keyboard 4C. Not as pleasant as the Olivetti keyboard of the IBM PS/2 era (probably based on Cherry MX blue), but very close.

Much more compact than the older keyboards, therefore easier to use with a trackpad on the side. The lack of a numeric keypad can be obviated with a script in Karabiner-Elements.

I have two of them: an Ultimate (with no silkscreened characters), and a German-layout one, that I bought after the Ultimate went out of production. Keycaps can be replace, so I could make this latter an Ultimate.

This model is no longer produced. Das Keyboard has now switched to Cherry MX brown clones, much softer than the MX blue clones from Greetech in mines. I recently had to fix one of mines, and replaced them with original Cherry MX blue switches. Touch and noise are very similar.

If enough people asked Das Keyboard to start producing it again, maybe this wonderful keyboard would come back to production again. It’s simple, solid, easy to maintain, undistracting. It’s really good.

Paolo

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What do you want your keyboard to do?

Any issues with carpal tunnel ?

  • Avoid key switches with heavier activation

  • Unicom which imitates the old IBM keyboards have a beautiful sound but a high activation factor

  • Split keyboards are can place the forearms at the correct angle

  • orthogonal keyboards are nice from a memory standpoint (the only direction is up and down and sideways, so no angular movement), but I don’t think it adds much to relieving hand pain in my experiencence
  • I like brown switches, soft enough, good click, without annoying anyone

How handy are you ?

  • There many DIY models

  • This is above my skill set

  • this is also a massive rabbit hole

Programming

  • What kind of layouts do you like to use?

  • Would you like to program keyboard shortcuts into different layers?

  • How hard do you want to work at programming?

  • I like the Moonlander - the method of programming fits with my brain

  • The ultimate Hacking keyboard is good as well

  • Many keyboards use OMK for modifying the keyboard, it seems harder and less intuitive. I have no experience with this.

Extras

  • LED lighting, seems silly,but very useful for letting me know which keyboard setup I am in and which keys I wan to highlight

  • Some keyboards will have added accessories, trackballs etc…

Costs

  • These can get expensive and addicting.
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Yep, backing up keychron here. The keys feel nice, and they’re extremely sturdy. Love them for macOS.

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Thanks for the recommendations and observations. For information, I write on Macs and 2-3,000 words a day. I have a residency coming up and heard that mechanical keyboards can help speed and accuracy and as I need to be filmed a little too it means the camera has a focus other than my face…

A writer on The Writers Routine Podcast in the UK recommended https://www.keyboardco.com/
I contacted them and have this arriving tomorrow.

Keychron K2 Pro

Very helpful and an equally good deal at the moment.

I will report back in a few weeks

Thanks again

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They can make a big difference in typing accuracy (it is personal taste whether it will), but be prepared for a period of acclimation—it might take a week or two. That can be necessary even when going from one type of mechanical switch to another, as some have a very light trigger while others require more force. When I first switched it took me by surprise how very little force was required to type. I was used to resting my fingers on the keys, and had to learn how to float much more lightly overall.

It can be satisfying once you reach that point where you fingers feel the tactile trigger point and know to stop pressing any further. That is where things can get much faster as you waste less time pushing the key down twice as far as you need to, or even further. My switches actuate at about 1/3 of the way. The rest is all dead space.

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Thanks, very useful.

The UK Keychron K2 Pro with Brown switches has been a game-changer for me.
I experienced what I expected; an initial decrease in typing speed and accuracy.
But after 2000 words, both picked up quickly and since then improved further and now found a level.

Pre Keychron 50/55 wpm
Early Keychron 45 wpm
Current 75 + wpm

I realise that these are not stunning speeds but as I mostly have to refer to reference material I am more than happy.

I can’t specifically quantify the accuracy but I know it has improved.
Most of my errors before were finger slips but with the positive key depression on the Keychron, these occur much less. I also expected a small amount of initial RSI but have experienced none at all.

Highly recommend.

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Thanks for the update! Brown switches (what I use as well) definitely do seem to be a good compromise for writers, between the complete lack of feedback “red” (or linear switches) give you, and the loud clickity clackity of blues. My first was in fact a blue, and I ended up not using it so much because my room at the time was primarily stone tile floors, stone walls and ceiling. It was like I was sitting inside of a popcorn machine all day!

Browns still let you know you are typing, and aren’t shy about it, but it’s not nearly so overwhelming.

RSI, for me if anything went down, but it took a bit for me to find the right approach. It was bad at the start and I had to take more frequent breaks to stretch. But once I got the ergonomics sorted, and my habits changed to have my hands over the keys and typing down, more instead of flat along them (laptop keyboard habits), I could type for much longer without feeling any tension.

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Good to hear from an early adopter !

Also this - ‘my hands over the keys and typing down, more instead of flat along them’

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