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Thread: Trying to find the "perfect" keyboard

  1. #1

    Trying to find the "perfect" keyboard

    I'm looking for a new full-size keyboard, but have a hard time finding the "perfect" one. The one I'm currently using works, but has a few flaws: it's too loud (for me and possibly also my neighbours (I can wear earplugs, but my neighbours probably don't want to bother)), has a broken ctrl keycap (I moved it to the right, which I seldom use, but it's still annoying), and it lacks any kind of backlight for the occasional dark gaming sessions (I can barely get on without it, but it always takes a bit of guessing for keys other than the wasd).

    I have looked at -- and discarded -- lots of different keyboards, read reviews, and watched numerous videos, but I'm still undecided. The two I have sort of narrowed it down to are the Logitech g413 and the Ducky Shine 7 (or possibly the Ducky One 2):
    ___The Logitech keyboard has the more discreet lighting with most -- if not all -- of the light shining through the keycap cutout (instead of below or around the keycap), and that is all I want and need. The backlights come in either white or red, which is all I need. Most non-aficionados seem to like it for both gaming and typing, although the real keyboard enthusiasts instead hate it for its Romer-G switches and recommend getting something else -- like for example a Ducky keyboard.
    ___The Ducky keyboard is the more durable (using PBS plastic (instead of ABS) for the keycaps), which I like, because I plan on keeping it for a while. It also uses the more traditional MX switches (of any colour). The only problem with it is the offensive backlight. I would have to tone it down quite a bit, setting a static colour and lowering the brightness, which gives me the feeling I'm going to pay premium for features I neither want nor need. The advantage of RGB is that I can pick whatever static colour I want (as opposed to the Ducky One 2, which comes only in either white or blue (I prefer red)).
    ___Both keyboards are also easily obtainable in Sweden. The US market for keyboards is a lot more diverse, but ordering (anything) from the US is always a bit of a gamble, because of the import taxes, so keeping it within the EU (or UK) is safest.

    Pretty much all backlit keyboards I've looked at (except the Logitech) insist on doing lots of fancy RGB effects, lighting up the keyboard like some damn amusement park, which I don't care for; all I need is a faint light limited to the keycap character cutout, allowing me to see where the key is also in the dark and tell it apart from the others.

    I have gamed and typed on both membrane and mechanical (my current keyboard (replacing the broken membranes on my old laptop) has MX blacks), and, for me, both has worked just fine, so I'm not too concerned about that. The keys being durable and relatively quiet are more important (no matter the type of switch). I like membranes for how quiet they are, but, from my experience, they are much less durable, so, for that reason, I'm going to stick to mechanical (most probably MX reds, because they seem to be relatively quiet).

    Keyboards I have discarded (because of inferior build quality, offensive backlighting, unavailability, or missing numpad) include Razer Ornata/Cynosa, a couple of Steelseries and Logitech ones, the Wooting Two (might be worth putting up with some less optimal backlighting for the analogue switches, though), MK Fission, Glorious etc...

    TL;DR:
    Three alternatives: Logitech g413, Ducky (Shine 7 or One 2), or a yet unknown keyboard. What I wish for is a mix of the unobtrusive lighting of the Logitech and the build quality of the Ducky (plus that it needs to be as quiet as possible). That third alternative still eludes me, though. If I cannot find it, I will probably go for either of the Ducky keyboards (with MX reds) and tone down the lighting as much as I can without losing the guiding light I want. I think I can live with a heavily toned down amusement park, because the Ducky keyboard seems like a good choice otherwise.
    ___I'm open to suggestions if anyone has them.

    (Although I do prefer darker colours in general, a possible fourth alternative could be to get an all-white (off-black) keyboard without backlighting and hope that it would reflect enough light from my monitor to guide me in the dark. I do have an ancient grey keyboard that I could test (to see how much more light a lighter colour reflects (compared to black) and if it's enough) before buying anything. It would clash with everything else that is black, but it is at least something to consider.)
    Last edited by qolelis; 4th Jun 2019 at 10:48.

  2. #2
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Ireland
    I have the Logitech G110, which I bought in late 2010 and is still going strong.

    All-black keyboard with minimal backlight (though some of my most-used keycaps - e.g. WASD, Ctrl/Alt - have worn away over the years, obscuring the lettering and letting some more light through.)

    Full keyboard with a proper UK layout (anything else really bothers me), it also has a built-in soundcard (which is very handy to plug headphones into) and a really nice volume "scroller" which I love.

    Downside is that it has a lot of fancy programmable "G keys" on the left-hand side, which take up a lot of space and don't really do anything useful. Oh, and it's 9 years old and you'll have a hard time finding one these days.


    I mention this because I had vaguely looked at some of the more recent Logitech keyboards at some point and got the impression that none of them were as good as this one is. They don't have as nice a layout or the extras that I like, and I seem to recall reading that the build quality wasn't as good in the newer ones either. But do take this with a pinch of salt, as it's only vague memories of things I read other people say on the Internet.
    I do like this keyboard, though.

  3. #3
    Maybe I should go back to my '80s Key Tronic keyboard... I tried it out today and it still works. Quiet and slightly more visible in the dark too. True Swedish layout, which is nice, and something I don't see much of these days (instead it's "Nordic" layout). Four of the keys have peeled just a little, but that's all. Pretty big, though, and typing on it would take some getting used to. The keys are very distinct, but feel odd; something to do with the force it takes to press them, perhaps. The spacebar is the opposite and instead kind of mushy. Also no windows key, which I've gotten used to now.

    Agreed, the big brands seem to not build for things to last as long any more, spending too much effort on pointless features, and the internet agrees as well: I've read numerous reviews from end-users with keycaps or leds breaking after only a couple of months, which is also what happened to me in regards to the ctrl keycap; after a week, it broke -- and that was on a keyboard that advertised itself as being the "tank of keyboards" (or whatever "manly" thing they thought "gamers" wanted them to compared it too). They might be sturdy in general, but the smaller details often lack in that regard. One might even say that this is intentional: they skimp out on the details not only to lower the manufacturing cost, but also to make the product appear cheaper, and then they can sell replacement parts, so the product won't really be any cheaper and might even be more expensive, in the long run, than if they hadn't skimped out to begin with. There's also a problem with professional reviewers: they can seldom test for longevity -- even if they could be trusted otherwise -- so one has to rely on end-users in that case.

    About the G110: not really my thing with all the extra keys (media keys etc...) even if I could maybe put up with such if it's good otherwise. I have discarded a couple already (because of media keys, dials, macro keys, and whatnot). They do look nice on paper, but, in the end, I wouldn't use them. I am even a bit on the fence with the numpad, but I used it extensively in DromEd (because the shortcuts were already there) and Blender uses it too (although these shortcuts could of course be replaced). Full-size isn't the only option, though; Getting a separate numpad could work too. Then I could also move it to the left and wouldn't have to move my left hand all across the keyboard to use it -- nor lift my right hand off the mouse other than for typing. Not requiring full-size could open me up to more possibilities. Combining a left-handed numpad with modifier keys could be awkward, though.

    My old laptop keyboard has (static red) backlighting and it actually feels like more than a gimmick and even useful. Ideally, I should learn how to cope without it, but I'm not there yet.

  4. #4
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Ireland
    Media keys are handy for one thing: they work even in games which otherwise block global hotkeys. If I forget to pause my music before starting a game, my usual global hotkeys won't work unless I alt-tab out, but the media play/pause key still works.

    I can see how the mass of macro keys would be a turn-off, though.

  5. #5
    I could perhaps get into the habit of using media keys, but I want my keyboard to be as small and clean as possible, so I try to shave off as much as I can and things I don't or won't use are the first to go. The numpad almost met with the same fate this time, but I finally decided to keep it in. I still think the ultimate, in order to reduce hand-travel, would have been to get either a left-handed keyboard or a TKL with a separate numpad placed to the left (especially for wasd/mouse + 0-9), but the keyboard I liked the most came only as a right-handed full-size, and I have never felt that having a numpad was a huge disadvantage, so the compromise felt acceptable. Had the TKL alternative been the same as the full-size in every other regard, though, then I would probably have chosen that instead.

    I chose between the full-size Ducky Shine 7 (with RGB) and the tenkeyless Ducky One 2 (RGB version). The price difference was neglectable, so no extra incentive in that regard to choose the latter and risk losing a convenience.
    ___RGB has the advantage of allowing me to tweak the backlight colour exactly to my liking -- even if I'm not going to use any of its many other features. The Ducky keyboards with fixed backlight hue came only in blue or white, and blue is too aggressive, while white is too white, so, wanting something else, I had to go the RGB route (settling with white was not a compromise I was willing to make).

    I did also briefly consider one of those mice with a button grid and move functionality from the numpad to it, but decided against it.

    So, now it's time to stop thinking and reading about keyboards for a while and fully commit to my choice. The TKL adventure could have been an interesting one, but that feeling will eventually go away, and I will try to utilize the numpad more now that I've decided to keep it.

    ***

    The term "tenkeyless" is not the most accurate, by the way, but apparently that is what the 80%s are called.

  6. #6
    Still Subjective
    Registered: Dec 1999
    Location: Idiocy will never die
    I've an original Microsoft Ergonomic ksyboard, and I always liked it.

    It's no longer as comfy as I felt for some reason and as I type this on a Mac Air (2017) keyboard I find it far, far nicer to type on.

    I'd like to replace my MS keyboard with something more traditional. Something simple. Any suggestions?

    I've actually looked at the Surface and Surface Ergonomic keyboards. Anyone any experience with them? I know I know, ergonomic again, but it looks less of a radical position change.
    Last edited by SubJeff; 16th Jun 2019 at 06:41.

  7. #7
    For me it's Dell KM713. Flat, wireless, very robust, yet lightweight and portable. I'll be buying the same or similar model if this one ever breaks.

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