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.
I brought mine from AusPCMarket who have local stock and it arrived in a couple of working days without an issue, otherwise buy direct from Das Keyboards.
As a side note, the IBM Model M has removal key caps – I’m really tempted to track down and order some custom keycaps so that I can have a custom picture or colour pattern on my keyboards – eg http://www.fentek-ind.com/images/SNAPCAPS.jpg
Only issue is that the “special” keys – eg space bar, tab, enter, shift, etc don’t appear to have any custom caps available.
You can also order some variants of key caps straight from Das Keyboard via AusPCMarket. You can even get Penguin keys!
I love my Das Keyboard Professional Silent! I love the weight, and they feel so solid. You know it’s going to be one of those devices that will be around until you can no longer plug it into anything (and it’s USB, so that’s going to be a long time). It feels so good to type on. Nothing like those awful rubber membrane keyboards.
Speaking of longtivity, my IBM Model Ms are all PS/2 and I’ve added a USB adaptor to each of them to keep them useful – I’m sure one day I’ll end up adding yet another converter from USB to whateverthefuckcomesnextsb :-)
Actually the biggest barrier to longevity will be the uptake of tablets…. if we stop using laptops/desktops in favour of more portable devices in the next 5-10 years, may be stuck needing to figure out a way to connect our awesome USB keyboards to them, especially since not all the tablets coming out offer USB host….
I’ll never use a bluetooth keyboard for anything serious, I just don’t trust the security of the connection enough to be broadcasting all my passwords and other details through the air, but sadly I’m in the minority, most consumers are happy to go wireless which is going to lead to more and more portable devices only offering bluetooth connectivity for input devices.
I loves me my MS Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000. I requested (and got) the same model at work as well. Say what you will about MS software, but this keyboard in particular is nice and works really well. I can type quickly and for hours on end on the thing.
I used to use a cheaper clone of those, they’re actually quite effective from an ergonomics POV :-)
“…I certainly have the loudest keyboard in the office…”
I would so rage at you if I were working in the same office as you….. I like my quiet!
I hate loud typists, and unnecessary noise! :(
Yeah you’re not the only one – I’ve ended up applying an O-Ring mod to the keyboard to reduce the volume of noise it makes – see https://www.jethrocarr.com/2013/09/12/o-ring-mod/