With the recent move to Sydney, I’ve had to leave my beloved IBM Model M keyboards back in New Zealand – sadly they’re a bit heavy and large to effectively pack into my luggage without sacrificing some much needed clothes.
Even if I was to bring them over here to Australia with me, the Model M’s are too loud for me to use in a shared office environment – my Model M was previously banned from my last employers office after they could hear it through two walls and down a phone at the other end….
Instead I’ve brought a Das Keyboard Ultimate Silent. I’ve been a fan of the Das Keyboard idea for a while – just like the IBM Model M they’re traditional clicky mechanical keyboards, but have modern features such as USB, lighter bodies and (love them or hate them) Windows keys that are useful for both Windows and MacOS users.
Das Keyboards come in both labelled (Professional) and unlabelled (Ultimate) revisions, and the option of either standard loud clicky keys or the “silent” model – considering I’m working in a shared office space, I elected to go for the silent edition.
I’ve been using the Ultimate Silent for about two months now, general impressions are:
- It’s an excellent keyboard that’s well worth the $150 AUD price tag. I’ve had heaps of comments from co-workers on how great it feels to type on, command line power geeks can’t be wrong. ;-)
- The keys still have the tactile feedback of a mechanical clicky keyboard. Whilst the responsive spring-back is a little more subdued than on the Model Ms, it still delivers a very nice feel.
- The blank keys are AWESOME. People who try to use my computer are always really put off at first, however if you’re a touch typist it won’t take long to get used to it.
- It’s not exactly silent -“quieter” is a more accurate term, I certainly have the loudest keyboard in the office, but it’s nowhere near as loud as an actual Model M is. The sound is more a subdued tap as the keys hit the bottom of the keyboard when typing, rather than the audible click of a traditional clicky keyboard.
- My colleagues are a pretty good bunch of people since they haven’t murdered me for loudly typing and stretching the “silent” label to the limits. ;-)
- I have occasional issues with finding a particular symbol key (things like ^ or &), but I can touch type almost any of the 104 keys on it without an issue.
Personally I’ll keep using the IBM Model Ms as my personal keyboard, they’re great quality keyboards and I love the fact I can keep using something designed in 1980s (mine were manufactured in 1994) on my computer for possible the rest of my life, but I’d be very content with using a Das Keyboard personally as well as professionally if I didn’t already have the Model M.
It always amazes me how often geeks will spend huge money on their computers and then neglect the keyboard or buy something that features lots of flashy lights and special keys, but ignore the most important requirement of good typing ergonomics and performance.
I haven’t tried the clicky version of the Das Keyboard myself so I can’t really compare it – I expect you’d find that the clicky version has a even nicer feedback (like the Model M) but the silent is the better investment if you work near anyone else.