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Das Keyboard II: A Switch for the Better

timothy posted more than 8 years ago | from the black-like-a-springfield-xd-45 dept.

257

Last year, I reviewed the original Das Keyboard, the all-black, all-the-time keyboard from MetaDot, and found it disappointing. MetaDot was kind enough to pass on an example of their next generation keyboard for comparison. The upshot is that the new version is quite a bit better than the original: it's now equal in keyfeel to the best keyboards I could find at local superstores, which dampens my major complaint. It's still a cool-looking but questionably useful all-black, and is still more eye-candy than finger-food. Just the same, this unique product now bears more consideration. (Read on for the rest of my review.)

A switch of switches:

The packaging may be nothing special, but it's much more graphically appealing than the plain cardboard box in which my sample of the original Das Keyboard arrived -- it wouldn't even look out of place in an Apple store. I was happy to see Larry Ewing's iconic rendering of Tux on the outside of the box, too, alongside old-style MacOS (really! But it does also work fine with Mac OS X) and Windows XP icons. Considering that it's a USB keyboard, a pretty mature technology, there's no surprise that it's Linux compatible, but I still enjoying seeing a penguin on the box; I consider Ewing's penguin marketing genius. I wish more companies with products just as easily Linux compatible would take advantage of the freedom they have to advertise this.

Now, on to the keyboard itself: it's still black-all-black. The only labeling is the printed "Das Keyboard" in the upper left corner, and a sticker with the usual regulatory and manufacturing information on the underside ("Designed in Austin, TX"). And if it matters to you, the current iteration of the keyboard is made in the Czech Republic, rather than China as was the previous version.

However, Das Keyboard is no longer a dead ringer in for a black-painted classic IBM Model M board; the lines have been made a bit straighter overall, and there's now a slightly rebated edge on left and right sides where the Model M is straight. Viewed from the side, the "dish" of the keys is now quite a bit shallower than that of a Model M design as well. That sounds like bad news for those of us fixated on older keyboards for their superior hand-feel, but since we're not quite in the realm of IBM-style clackityclack keyswitches anyhow, that difference is fairly subtle. And there's one nice thing about the new board's design I'd like to see in more keyboards: the "F" and "J" home keys are more deeply cut than the rest of the keys on the keyboard (by something close to a millimeter); this makes it easy to get one's hands realigned in (on rather on) the dark.

Noise aside, the new Das Keyboard is now equipped with mechanical keyswitches (made by Cherry, as is the keyboard itself) rather than the typical membrane assembly found in most keyboards nowadays and one of the things I wasn't keen on in the original. It's a good change. The new version is actually fairly pleasant to type on, and for touch typists of moderate or greater proficiency, the unlabeled keys should be no problem. I'm still skeptical of the advantage of all-black keys to those trying to learn to type (or improving their speed), but the keyfeel is no longer a distracting liability, so I'd upgrade claims on that front from "silly hokum" to "an open question."

According to a company representative, the new key switches are rated for "50 million key strokes instead of 30 million key strokes"; I'm sure somewhere around keystroke 29 million I'll sigh with relief. Such numbers are pleasant to know about and hopefully reflect a reasonable methodology, but I suspect no keyboard's keycaps are going to last long enough to keep up. Still, the new keyswitches are far more responsive, and -- at least comparing the particular examples I have of the old and new versions -- far louder. It reminds me in fact of middle generations of the Dell "QuietKey" board (which were never quiet, despite the name). So if you must type around any light sleepers, perhaps you should treat them to some warm milk before bedtime. And though I prefer the slightly deeper dish of the old version, it's an easy trade for the new one's improvement in keyfeel.

Small bonus: the new one's USB cable is a few inches longer than the old. That's about all there is to say about the connection.

The long and short:

Das Keyboard is still not my ideal keyboard, and you pay a bit more than my budget deems reasonable for the novelty of a keyboard that looks like an ideal prop for the next misunderstood-teenage-hacker movie (about $80 from ThinkGeek). But I can type reliably on the new version, which I simply never managed to do on the old, so they're doing something right. Given the improved key response, I can even imagine buying into -- or at least reconsidering -- the claims of improved typing speed or confidence as a result; I've certainly surprised myself by tapping this out with less temptation to look at the keys than I usually have (and that's after quite a few years and a few thousand hours of at least desultory tapping at both computer keyboards and actual typewriters), so for one with more self-discipline than I have, the all-black keys might be useful enough to try out.

On a five-star scale then, where I'd probably probably give the old version only one, but I'd award this one two and a half stars.

For Bonus points:

The previous version of Das Keyboard was (except cosmetically) a clone of the Keytronic 3600 series; I'll shoot some subscription pages to the first reader to point (in the comments below) an otherwise identical keyboard, but with factory-labeled keys. Note: I don't know that such a thing exists, but have fun looking.

cancel ×

257 comments

+5 to ePeen (5, Informative)

metasecure (946666) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457365)

Since the article neglected to provide a picture, or link to the product website, click here - http://www.daskeyboard.com/ [daskeyboard.com] Call me stupid, but I just don't see what the big deal is. I guess it's analagous to something we have in Canada known as "French immersion" - they put you into a French school where no one speaks (or is allowed to speak) English and supposedly you'll learn French much faster. This allows you to learn touch-typing faster? Dubious. In my opinion, all it's good for is showing off to non-touch-typists and maybe increasing the size of your e-peen slightly.

Re:+5 to ePeen (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457408)

Two words: "geek points"

Re:+5 to ePeen (1)

Golias (176380) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457745)

Wouldn't a real geek simply use a solvent to take the letters off the cheap black Dell keyboard they "midnight requestitioned" from the office and save themselves $200 or so?

Re:+5 to ePeen (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15457781)

A real geek WEARS the letters off of his Model M.

For mine, MNSOP90[; are gone, only 93 more to go?

Re:+5 to ePeen (1)

Cal Paterson (881180) | more than 8 years ago | (#15458050)

M N S O P 9 0 [ ;
Heh. Sometimes it's easy to spot a lisper.

Re:+5 to ePeen (1)

saintp (595331) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457818)

Actually, I'm pretty sure a real geek would spray-paint their keyboard camoflage before a particularly grueling hack session.

Hack the planet!

Oops! (3, Funny)

op12 (830015) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457436)

From the site: "We have teamed up with Cherry to equipe the Das Keyboard with the best and longest lasting key switches in the industry."

Look out for that unlabled "pe" key! It must be right next to the "p" key.

Re:Oops! (3, Funny)

Ossifer (703813) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457509)

pe-key? No, the writer just spent too much time in the Canadian "French immersion" school...

Re:+5 to ePeen (1)

The Mad Debugger (952795) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457520)

Well, the all black keyboard would be great for some geek cred, especially 'round the office.. but I'm just not going to pay that kind of cash for it.

I've also fallen in love with the two extra USB ports on my Apple keyboard at home. I don't think I'd willingly buy another keyboard that doesn't have a built-in hub. It's just so darned handy.

Re:+5 to ePeen (1)

MBCook (132727) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457572)

I don't think it would help you learn to touch type, I think it would hurt. The only part I think it would help is after you have learned the key locations and to touch type but you look at your fingers because you don't "trust" yourself yet. Back in school I remember seeing many kids get to this stage in typing class. Many don't get past it. They just don't type enough to get over that hurdle. Something like this would help them.

That said, it's easier to just cheat. Why is IM so full of "LOLs" and "U R so cool. C U l8r."? Mostly it's because people either can't type at all or are not very vast so they take those kind of shortcuts.

Re:+5 to ePeen (1)

Andrzej Sawicki (921100) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457680)

Typing correctly without looking at your fingers also requires a certain sitting position, so don't blame it all on too little experience. It also depends on the situation, I think (I know it does in my case.)
That said, it's easier to just cheat. Why is IM so full of "LOLs" and "U R so cool. C U l8r."? Mostly it's because people either can't type at all or are not very vast so they take those kind of shortcuts.
It's called being lazy. Ain't we all? ;)

Re:+5 to ePeen (0, Offtopic)

JakusMinimus (49854) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457701)

That said, it's easier to just cheat. Why is IM so full of "LOLs" and "U R so cool. C U l8r."? Mostly it's because people either can't type at all or are not very vast so they take those kind of shortcuts.

yeah well, your mom is vast, LOL!

Re:+5 to ePeen (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457979)

I don't think it would help you learn to touch type, I think it would hurt.
My experience is that it neither helps nor hurts. I learned to touch type in pre-computer days, in a "typing lab" where none of the typewriters had labels on their keys. Then about a decade later I decided to brush up my skills on my own, using a regular typewriter and a practice book I got from the public library. Comparing the two experiences I have to say there was little or no difference. Then again, maybe the first time I got into the habit of not looking at the keyboard, something that might not have happened if I'd started out with labelled keys. I guess it's all about how much self-discipline you have.

Re:+5 to ePeen (3, Insightful)

hackstraw (262471) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457695)

Call me stupid, but I just don't see what the big deal is.

I don't either. I've designed and studied keyboards over the years and the best way to type faster is to type more accurately. 30 words per minute accurately is much faster then 100 words per minute inaccurately. These are estimates here, but they are based on my own measured speed.

The best thing to do to a keyboard to increase keying speed is to make the backspace much more difficult to use. Back "in the day" when people had to type on typewriters and they had things like carbon copies and whatnot where a single mistake meant that the whole thing had to be redone if there was an error, or it took considerable time and white out to correct the problem, people learned 1) to type correctly the first time and then 2) to type more quickly _with_ accuracy.

Sure you can use a split keyboard, a kenesis keyboard, a dvorak layout, or even a custom one, but until you get accuracy together nothing else will increase your speed or productivity.

Re:+5 to ePeen (2, Insightful)

enyo (814279) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457720)

I really do think that typing without printed letters on the keyboard helps to learn how to write good and fast. I also think that you do not have to buy a 'Das Keyboard' for that, but that you can remove the letters yourself if you want to.
1 year ago, I started learning dvorak, and since I didn't want to buy another keyboard for that, I just learned to write with this one, keeping a window open with the dvorak layout image, which is quite the same as having a keyboard without letters. I always used 10 fingers to type, and I always typed quite fast (8.3 characters/s), but for some letters I didn't use the right fingers, which forced me to deplace my hand, so that sometimes I lost the original position. That has always irritated me, and I always wanted to get rid of it, but I couldn't get over it. Since I started using dvorak, I have a perfect hand position, and I type every letter completely by the book, which _is_ an advantage.
The normal learning technique to type with 10 fingers and being able to type blind, is to cover the keyboard, so you don't see the letters -> forcing you to memorize the key by position, which immediately helps you gaining a control over your finger placements, and memorizing the letters by their positions, not by visualizing them.
So I think, that having a keyboard without letters printed on it, FORCES you to type correctly, and is indeed a very good help to aquire speed.

Re:+5 to ePeen (1)

Hannah E. Davis (870669) | more than 8 years ago | (#15458037)

It can also be used as a deterrent for non-touch-typists, particularly technologically illiterate relatives, who might want to use your computer.

My dad used to bring his own keyboard up to my room whenever he wanted to do something on my computer because the letters on my ultra-cheap keyboard had long since rubbed off, but if he hadn't had miscellaneous spare keyboards lying around, he would have been out of luck.

Link to keyboard (0, Redundant)

dogmatixpsych (786818) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457383)

Link to the keyboard. http://www.daskeyboard.com/ [daskeyboard.com]

I hate to do this (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15457481)

But it appears the slashdot editors don't find an article about a major Canadian politican having a pardody site removed from DNS and unregistered to be an important story. Most likely because said politician is from the Liberal party.

"My Office has had the website suspended through CIRA [Canadian Internet Registration Authority] and CDNS [Canadian Domain Name Services] and it will be down as soon as 6 p.m. I think the issue with the website has been dealt with. . . ."

I understand though, clearly if Bush or a repub had done the same then Slashdot would reject it as well.

Read more here [theglobeandmail.com]

This, my friends, is real censorship.

like this? (1)

B00yah (213676) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457395)

? [zbestoffer.com] is this what you're looking for tim?

Re:like this? (1)

Ant P. (974313) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457517)

I've got one in front of me. :) It's got mechanical switches. Noisy as hell but they never jam up unlike the 2-year-old Logitech one I had to replace. Also I think it's armour-plated or something since it weighs a ton.

What's up with this article? (4, Insightful)

Umbral Blot (737704) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457435)

It's nice to try new things once in a while, but the dark green bars with black lettering make for poor section dividers, not to mention that it usually makes sense to divide an article into relatively equal sections. Even weirder we have the quote: "On a five-star scale then, where I'd probably probably give the old version only one, but I'd award this one two and a half stars." The article title however implies that the new keyboard is better than the old one, which usually implies that it in some way is up to standards that the previous version wasn't However a 20% to a 50% approval is still failing, by any standard. A better title perhaps would have been: Das Keyboard II: Not Quite as Bad.

Re:What's up with this article? (1)

epine (68316) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457508)


On my monitor which has never had good gamma at the black levels I didn't even *see* the black text on the green bar until I read your comment. I've tried no end of adjustments but eventually I realized that any site worth reading does create this problem to begin with.

Re:What's up with this article? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15458083)

"I didn't even *see* the black text on the green bar"
-yah, me neither.

I just Ctrl-A in those cases of terrible design.

Re:What's up with this article? (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457541)

The section breaks are specially designed using dasKeyboard.css
Taco has invested many man hours judging the CSS competition, he'll be damned if hes gonna waste any entries.

Hmm.. Alternatives? (1)

kunwon1 (795332) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457465)

Anyone know of a similarly well-constructed keyboard -WITH- symbology?

Re:Hmm.. Alternatives? (1)

SoCalChris (573049) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457510)

The Customizer 101 from PCKeyboard.com [pckeyboard.com] is a remake of the old IBM keyboards. Available with or without the Windows key. I have one, it is by far one of the best keyboards I've ever seen.

Re:Hmm.. Alternatives? (1)

jonadab (583620) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457737)

Yeah, sure. Get an IBM Model M keyboard. They sell on ebay all the time for the kinds of prices that make the cost of shipping a major component of your total expenditure. And they *are* a good-quality keyboard.

If what you want is The Perfect Keyboard for Computer Geeks, then you'll want an Avant Stellar. It costs more, but it's fully remappable, supports macros, comes with a tool for changing the keytops, and all that sort of thing, plus it has the function keys in _both_ places (left side, like on an XT keyboard and top edge, like on the newer 101-key layout), so whichever place They Were Meant To Be in your opinion, there they are, and then you can use the others for extras or macro keys.

It's not black, though.

"Symbology?" (1)

Anaphiel (712680) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457742)

"I'm sure the word you were looking for was symbolism."

OK, so I guess that doesn't make sense in context but I couldn't resist.

Re:Hmm.. Alternatives? (Tactile Pro) (2, Informative)

Heynow (11107) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457956)

For the Mac there's http://www.matias.ca/tactilepro/ [matias.ca]

Space-saving Alternatives (1)

MS-06FZ (832329) | more than 8 years ago | (#15458041)

I'm presently using a Happy Hacking Lite 2 keyboard... I want to see what all the fuss is about with the clicky keyboards, but I don't want some 101-key beast, I like my keyboards small.

There's a HHKB pro model, of course, (and a blank-key variant! Sadly, without cursor keys) but I don't have a good understanding of how it differs in practical terms from the lites I have now... Anybody have experience with the HHKB Pro? Or have any other recommendations for 60-80 key keyboards with good mechanical feedback? Or should I get an old IBM keyboard and a hacksaw?

Seems more like a German Band's Name to me (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457468)

"Das Autobahn" or the like.

Too germanic.

No . . . das Kraftwerk. (3, Informative)

mmell (832646) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457708)

The album was "Autobahn".

Re:No . . . das Kraftwerk. (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457799)

Yea sorry. It has been some time since i watched.

Re:No . . . das Kraftwerk. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15457932)

The group is called "Kraftwerk", without the definite article.

Re:Seems more like a German Band's Name to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15458039)

It is indeed a combination of the German neuter definite article "Das" with the English word "Keyboard" (and the Roman numeral "II"). "Keyboard" is also used among German computer geeks and musicians. If you asked to be handed "das keyboard" in Germany, you'd get whatever computer or musical keyboard was nearby. I assume that they chose that name because Germany is associated with technological proficiency and minimalistic design. The proper German term however is "Die Tastatur", which is feminine and doesn't sound quite as minimalistic.

If you're not just concerned with "looking cool" (3, Informative)

bill_kress (99356) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457474)

This concept really works well. I used the same concept in the 80's.

To break yourself from looking at the keys, place a hand-towel or washcloth or something over your hands while you type.

It will take about 2 sessions and you'll be typing like a pro.

If you buy this product, the net result (over the alternative listed above) will be to simply annoy anyone else who uses your keyboard. If this is your goal, you NEED this product, but if you're not just doing it for appearances, go grab yourself a towel and have at it, you'll be cured in 2 days.

Re:If you're not just concerned with "looking cool (4, Funny)

geekoid (135745) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457539)

"To break yourself from looking at the keys, place a hand-towel or washcloth or something over your hands while you type."

Why can't I just wear gloves? ;)

ther are still no keymaps other than US (4, Funny)

ga53n (122179) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457666)

I asked about a german version of "Das Keyboard" v. 1, but still no luck with it. Well maybe they now will make versions for other keymaps as well.

Re:If you're not just concerned with "looking cool (1)

theskipper (461997) | more than 8 years ago | (#15458004)

Informative? That was +5 funny. Must have some Michael Jackson fans modding today...

Re:If you're not just concerned with "looking cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15457588)

Or really piss them off and switch to the Dvorak Layout and don't move your keycaps!

People say that security through obscurity doesn't work, but I've never had a problem with someone using my computer when I've got it in Dvorak. They get frustrated soooo fast.

Re:If you're not just concerned with "looking cool (1)

Ulrich Hobelmann (861309) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457762)

Well, to avoid that I always have the key-layout-switcher in my Mac's menubar. Helps them when I can switch back to "normal" layout.

But it's cool when they start typing and get all gibberish, and I say "I TOLD you I'm NOT using the normal layout." :)

Re:If you're not just concerned with "looking cool (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15457744)

go grab yourself a towel and have at it

So which hand should I type with??

Re:If you're not just concerned with "looking cool (1)

hackstraw (262471) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457758)

If you buy this product, the net result (over the alternative listed above) will be to simply annoy anyone else who uses your keyboard.

That is why I stick with the QUERTY keyboard vs Dvorak or another arrangement. Its standard, for good or bad.

I'm a good typer, but even today I have to "hunt and peck" for keys that I simply do not use that often. Especially when they are located in different places on my different keyboards. I'm talking things like volume, eject, or even some keyboards put common stuff in weird places like control, cap-locks (which should NOT be on a keyboard in 2006), the arrow keys, or some manufacturers (yes thats you Sun) dare to put the ~ and ` key on the right hand side. I mean they are all fairly arbitrary, but standardization is better then being "right".

Mechanical keyswitches? (2, Insightful)

croddy (659025) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457492)

So it's even more deafening than the last revision. Great. I'll stick with my quiet Logitech keyboard, thanks.

Re:Mechanical keyswitches? (2, Insightful)

(A)*(B)!0_- (888552) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457697)

Enjoy yourself.

I suppose, just like you, there are people that prefer McDonald's hamburgers over a perfectly cooked Kobe steak. Personally, I don't need one of these because I've still got a stockpile of Model M's to use.

Das Retarded (-1, Troll)

GeorgeMcBay (106610) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457518)

1. Take a $15 keyboard design.
2. Save money by not lettering the keyboards.
3. Sell it to losers that need something like this to prove how much more 'l33t' they are than everyone else for... Profit! (?)

Seriously.. anyone who buys a Das Keyboard (1 or 2) is a stupid, retarded loser that deserved all of the wedgies they got in high school. Period.

I can make my own "das keyboard" (1)

j2crux (969051) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457522)

I made my own, (granted its white) but it's called using alcohol, qtips, and some extra time.
(By the way, it's a great way to learn dvorak http://www.mwbrooks.com/dvorak/ [mwbrooks.com]

Re:I can make my own "das keyboard" (2, Funny)

DJCacophony (832334) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457591)

I tried it by soaking the key in acetone and ended up melting the key.

w00t! (5, Funny)

GillBates0 (664202) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457527)

OMG ALL the keys are spacebars! What could be better than this for programming in Whitespace [wikipedia.org] !!

What's your favorite? (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457529)

I have two favorite keyboards: the IBM Model M I'm using here at work, and the Happy Hacking Lite I have at home. I love the feel of the Model M, but don't like the location or spacing of the function keys (LALT-F5 and higher to switch to higher-numbered desktops) gets a little painful and awkward by the end of the day. The Happy Hacking board is wonderful, but I do occasional miss the extra keys (ever play Tux Racer when you have to chord arrow keys?).

Given that my boss says he'll buy me a nice keyboard within reason - everyone else seems to have those Microsoft Unnatural keyboards that I hate - what would you recommend as a happy medium between the two?

Re:What's your favorite? (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457583)

Take an old style IBM model M and whack it with an axe.
Not only will you reposition the offending function keys, but you will get the funky natural keyboard affect.

Job done.

*Also, with how sturdy those keyboards are, you will also need to invest in a new axe handle and sharpening stone.

Re:What's your favorite? (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457646)

I dropped the thing on my foot once and now my big toe makes this funny clicking sound whenever I flex it.

Sharpening stone? I don't know what they make ax heads out of where you live, but Sears doesn't sell the depleted uranium wedges your local store must carry.

Re:What's your favorite? (1)

Adam Hazzlebank (970369) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457727)

Cherry Click Keyboard. Cherry non-click suck.

Re:What's your favorite? (1)

Isaac-1 (233099) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457801)

Northgate Omni Key 101, similar feel to the IBM model M, but a bit quieter.

Ike

better than plastic (1)

dizplacer (953523) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457533)

i still like my duct tape keyboard [onestepsystems.com] better. as posted on the duct tape guys.com

Locks (2, Funny)

Jethro (14165) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457545)

So... do you have DEDs to indicate when you hit numlock, capslock and scrolllock?

Hotblack Desiato would love this... (5, Funny)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457550)

I believe it would complement the decor of his stunt ship: all black on black. Nice...

Re:Hotblack Desiato would love this... (3, Funny)

EvanED (569694) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457668)

And when you press caps lock, a black light lights up on a black background to let you know that it's on!

i wonder... (1)

joe 155 (937621) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457567)

... as someone who can't reliably touch type ( a rarity for /. I think) I wonder if this would actually help me. Not knowing where they keys are without looking is not my main problem though. My main problem is that I only really use 2 fingers to type which I'm pretty sure this couldn't help (I know, but I learned bad habits and now have just got quite quick at it this way)... so what it should say is that it "could have you typing at the same speed, only this time you'll be able to look at the screen whilst typing, so hopefully there will be fewer errors"

It's still ain't a Happy Hacking Keyboard... (3, Informative)

smug_lisp_weenie (824771) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457568)

If you're buying a keyboard with blank keys do yourself a favor and get the Happy Hacking blank keytop model [yahoo.net]

Das Keyboard contains a major conceptual flaw- What good is a keyboard with blank keys if you can't touch type on it? The Happy Hacking keyboard places ALL 101 KEYS within touch-typing range. I've been a happy customer of this keyboard for years- It has a fantastic key action, is very compact and allows for very fast programming if you learn to use it well.

Plus, if you're an emacs geek, it allows for perfect ctrl key placement that is perfect for emacs navigation.

Das Keyboard, on the other hand, looks like something a wussy vi user would type on!

:)

Re:It's still ain't a Happy Hacking Keyboard... (1)

iamdrscience (541136) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457740)

Plus, if you're an emacs geek, it allows for perfect ctrl key placement that is perfect for emacs navigation. Das Keyboard, on the other hand, looks like something a wussy vi user would type on!
Actually, I use vim and I've been considering the happy hacking keyboard partly because of the advantage it gives to a vim user. On the happy hacking keyboard the escape key is where the tilde key is on a normal keyboard, making it a little easier to hit.

Re:It's still ain't a Happy Hacking Keyboard... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15457863)

Did you just post a link to a $259 keyboard? Do you know how many blowjobs you can by for 259 dollars?

Re:It's still ain't a Happy Hacking Keyboard... (1)

secolactico (519805) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457934)

If you're buying a keyboard with blank keys do yourself a favor and get the Happy Hacking blank keytop model

I dunno if it's the same one you mean, but the keyboard you linked has only 60 keys and costs $250.00!! Definitely not for cheapos like me.

Re:It's still ain't a Happy Hacking Keyboard... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15457955)

Are you insane? That keyboard is "on sale" for $260 down from $270!! You can build a complete computer for not much more.

Ok, I'm sorry but... (2, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 8 years ago | (#15458001)

Between the name and the post, I just have to bite:

Why the FUCK would you pay $250 for a keybaord that is small and has no type on it? That is over double even the most advanced keyboards out there.

I really can't see any reason other than trying to show off. "Look, I'm so amazingly l33t I don't NEED other keys, I don't NEED text! I'm better than YOU."

Seriously, what's the point. If I wanted a small keyboard, I could get one, something like one of the USB keyboards for tablets. However if I wanted a good keyboard, which I do, for about $40-50 for any number of makers. A keyboard that has a design that's actually made to be good as per what you body needs, split, curved keys, an adjustable angle, etc. Plus it has lots of nice extra keys that have useful feautres like the ability to control my system volume and my media player so I can shuffle around music in games and such.

As for the letters on keys, who cares? If you can touch type you never see them so they don't matter. If you can't the lack of them will just annoy you. It's pretty obvious you don't save any money getting one, why bother?

Instead, get yourself a good ergonomic keyboard. Avoid getting RSI. While normal keyboards don't cause RSI, they do encorage bad typing style that can. Get a keyboard built to the natural curves of your hands and it works much better. It's even cheaper to do so.

However, I guess you can blow your money on this if you like, but you reallyu ought to realisticly consider why you like it. My guess is it's more the show than any actual usability benefit.

But does it... (2, Funny)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457579)

But does it let me run pharming macros for WoW?

It would make me nuts. (2, Interesting)

Sazarac (621648) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457582)

I think the blank key thing would eventually make me insane. I already flop around uselessly, stuck in paroxysms of hunt-n-peckery, after switching from my work keyboard (IBM P/N KB-0225) to my home keyboard (Eluminx Sapphire). The delete and right-ctrl keys are in different places, see... http://www.thinktechie.com/reviews/05-2003/eluminX /kb05.jpg [thinktechie.com]

However, I do dig the "clicky high-end mechanical switches". Anyone who's played a Kurzweil KX88 next to a cheapo Casio can agree with that.

Re:It would make me nuts. (1)

the arbiter (696473) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457963)

Give a Bosendorfer grand (or a Steinway, but the Bosendorfer is just that little bit better) a whirl and you'll be tossing that Kurzweil in the garbage :) Talk about "high-end mechanical switches"!

Can't resist replying to a musician's post. I'll go sit quietly again.

French version? (1)

ubergeek65536 (862868) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457589)

Cool but can you get a French version.

MCK-142 (1)

+_-repo-_+ (315890) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457608)

I got one of these a few years ago
http://www.monu-cad.com/keyboard.htm [monu-cad.com]

2 sets of function keys
the 24 programamble function keys are exactly what I was looking for.

Still at $150 I think it's a bit pricey but I haven't had a problem with it yet.

Re:MCK-142 (1)

random_amber (957056) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457725)

See now that's a sweet keyboard. It's way more ubernerd looking than das k.

Random_amber

Re:MCK-142 (1)

+_-repo-_+ (315890) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457789)

yeah, works nice for command line work. Just run a sort | uniq -c on your shell history file to figure out what commands you're typing all the time and get some nice little short cuts.

hit and miss reviews (0, Redundant)

thelost (808451) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457619)

I've always been slightly puzzled by the inclusion of reviews on slashdot as they are incredibly hit and miss in terms of content. This proves that, and just what the bleedin' hell is going with those horizontal dividers Timothy? They're hideous. 100 years in the CSS stylepolice dungeons.

I'll give your review a nice round 1 out of 5 Timothy, you get the one point for making the effort to write it and -4 for writing such appallingly bad print.

Re:hit and miss reviews (1)

Xugumad (39311) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457910)

> This proves that, and just what the bleedin' hell is going with those horizontal dividers Timothy? They're hideous. 100 years in the CSS stylepolice dungeons.

One first read of the article, I thought they were a rendering glitch!

I still like my Model M (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15457627)

I still like my Model M keyboard.

I have Das Keyboard (1)

MotorMachineMercenar (124135) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457641)

the original. I really like it. The only time the blank keys are a problem is when you're typing with one hand (haa haa) or hunt and peck; since it's more difficult to see which letters you are hitting you will make mistakes. That's why I prefer to always put my hand on the f or j buttons so I have tactile feedback.

A bit off-topic: I cleaned the keyboard and took the space bar off. I didn't manage to put it back correctly and now it's a bit "lazy." Any websites which describe in detail how to properly put the space bar back?

Re:I have Das Keyboard (1)

MotorMachineMercenar (124135) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457691)

Oh, one more thing: the really annoying thing about Das Keyboard is that it lacks a key between left shift and z. I don't remember if this is standard in the US, but it's an important key in most non-English layouts.

+5 for feel, -10 for noise (2, Insightful)

EvanED (569694) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457645)

Why can't people make a keyboard that has the feel of the old Model M without sounding like you're firing off a machine gun?

Re:+5 for feel, -10 for noise (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457973)

Because some like the noise to maintain an audible rythem when hacking away. Think of it as a metronome.

"Teamed up with"? (2, Informative)

mjg59 (864833) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457667)

It looks awfully like a recoloured Cherry G80-3000 [cherrycorp.com] . The LED design gives it away.

How many key strokes? (3, Funny)

nother_nix_hacker (596961) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457693)

Das Keyboard is rated up to 50 Million key strokes where as regular keyboards barely reach 10 to 15 Million strokes.


Wow, you could save a file in Emacs without having to swap keyoards halfway through! ;-)

Paint it ALL black (5, Funny)

Marge N. Lacoste (801569) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457700)

I see a Num Lock and I want it painted black /
No LEDs, of course, I want them to turn black /
I see the words scroll by, can't read but half, I know /
Cut me some slack: I learned to spell from reading Rob Taco.

I see a row of keys and they're all painted black /
That logo distracts me, I think I'll send it back /
I used to hunt and peck, then quickly look away /
Then I wore the letters off with hardcore Nethack play.

I wanna see it painted, painted black
Black as night, black as coal
I wanna see the sun blotted out from the sky
I wanna see it psinted, paontrd, paimyed. [aint4d nlack

I like Sun Type 6 USB keyboard (X3738A) (1)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457703)

For $50 you can get a USB keyboard from Sun either PC-style or UNIX-style (X3738A) layouts. Just drop X3738A into Sun's store [sun.com] and there you go. It's hard to find any other way. It has gobs of extra keys, and the extra keys work great on Macs (like the volume, power and help key) and can be made to work on Linux. I haven't figured out how to get the volume keys or additional F-keys to work on Windows.

Word of warning, the X3738A is a massive keyboard. it has f-keys on the top and on the side. It has esc where ~ normally it, it has ~ where backspace normally is. And of course ctrl where caps lock normally is. Having esc right above TAB is rather nice for vi. the position of \ and ~ and backspace might set some people off. (you can certainlly get the PC layout version instead). the keys are slightly shallower than most keyboards, and they have a tiny amount of resistance and then quitely pass and are easy to press. it teaches you to type more lightly which can dramatically reduce hand and wrist pain.

I've destroyed a few of them with beer and with water. I've also repaired a few that have been completely full of water all night (cat knocked a waterbottle ontop of it, it filled the keyboard up to the brim and sat there all night). taking it apart and rubbing any black corrossion off the celephane membrane with a scouring pad of emory cloth seems to be the way to go, just don't crack the delicate traces or entire sets of keys won't work anymore (an expensive conductive paint pen is needed to repair that).

I don't believe in buying $7 keyboards anymore. my gf still goes for those super cheap ones, she wears the letters off and puts deep groves in the keys from all the typing she does. I don't understand how she doesn't kill her hands with cheap ass keyboards.

das keyboard is a rip off (1)

ILKO_deresolution (352578) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457711)

i painted my $5 keyboard black and it was way better than a das keyboard.
those fuckers should burn in hell, that is the dumb asses who would buy a 9 dollar keyboard for 80 bucks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Re:das keyboard is a rip off (1)

ILKO_deresolution (352578) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457828)

oh and why not get one of those dope dell keyboards for 30 or one with a built in touch pad for 30 || a fuckin full blown media center deal for 80
? really sombody give me one good reason why that basic keyboard is worth that much! im open minded so hit me with a polite reason and i wont have to keep telling everybody what bull shit es ist! sorry das keyboard fellas, nice try we do want black but its not like we don't have it!

Duct tape (1)

HaeMaker (221642) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457728)

$80? I can make my own with duct tape and a $10 keyboard.

Das nineties (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457729)

Remember when making things sound pesudo-german made you Über-cool?

Real geeks... (1)

Hymer (856453) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457747)

...prefere a genuine IBM Model M.
...it just got the real cool frightning clikety-clack sound.

Best keyboard: IBM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15457773)

IBM/Lenovo makes the ideal keybaord, with both a built-in trackpad and a trackpoint. Same great tactile feel and convenience of integrated pointing devices as IBM ThinkPad keyboards. Two models are available, one with numeric keypad and one without. Here's a link to the one without:

http://www-131.ibm.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/P roductDisplay?catalogId=-840&partNumber=31P9490&st oreId=10000001 [ibm.com]

Typing this on an original Das Keyboard right now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15457851)

I could type super-fly fast already, so having the blank keyboard didn't really help my speed out all that much. BUT, it did finally force me to learn all the number keys above the letters and the associated !@#$%^&*()_+ keys. I was an AutoCAD drafter at my previous job and even got really good at typing the shortcuts with my left hand without looking while using my right hand on the mouse. My old boss (Mr. Hunt'n'Peck) would marvel at my amazing skills.

Mostly it's just a status thing and to keep other people from using my computer. It does give a bit of "street cred." I like the feel of the original keyboard and I am curious to see if the new one is any better, but I don't think I'm willing to spend another $90 to find out.

If you're a good typist and a keyboard snob, I'd say give it a shot.

Why $90? (1)

nasor (690345) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457906)

My biggest question is, why are they charging $90 for it when it's nothing but a black, blank version of the Cherry G81-3000 Professional brand keyboard? Granted, the G81-3000 is a very nice keyboard, but it retails for around $60. Does it cost them $30 extra to not print the letters on the keys?

http://www.accesskeyboards.co.uk/cherry.htm [accesskeyboards.co.uk]

Cheaper solution (1)

no_such_user (196771) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457927)

Though I can type fairly well, I'd look at the keyboard far too often when typing. Especially true for the hortizontal number keys. So I took my (cheap, HP-bundled) keyboard, popped the keys off, and rearranged them (incidentally, the letter keys now spell out something like "thequickbrownfxjmpdvrlazyg"). You don't need a fancy black-on-black keyboard to do something like this. It works even better on old Model-M's. Find an old, dirty, used one real cheap, pop off the keytops and throw them in a dishwasher, take a can-o'-air to the keyboard, and pop the keys back on randomly.

Added bonus: When the desktop support guys come around and need to type in an admin password, they're COMPLETELY thrown off.

Pictures (1)

DoctorHibbert (610548) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457948)

Would it be a crime, if just once, Slashdot actually had some pictures to accompany a story?

Best Keyboard I ever bought.. (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457951)

Logitech G16.

The keys feel better than the best Microsoft keyboard, the backlighting of every key cap ledgend makes it absolutely perfect in a low light video editing suite and the macro keys are super easy to use and program. The lame LCD at the top can be cut off and thrown away but the keyboard it's self has a wonderful feel, looks fantastic and is a joy to type on. I was not expecting any of that for a backlight keyboard. I was expecting a piece of junk that happens to have lighted keys.

Cince then I have replaced all my keyboards at home (except this one that has a crappy Microsoft Office Pro keyboard... ICK) and am happy about spending $70.00 on a keyboard. I also like that it is not possible to rub the keycap ledgends off on the logitech as they are moulded in plastic unlike all other keyboards of late.

My only grip is that the keyboard is frigging HUGE. almost an extra 4 inches wider than a normal keyboard.

100% Black? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15457961)

My appologies if this is posted elsewhere, but if this keyboard is 100% black, WTF is with the logo in bright white letters?

Mostly improved (2, Insightful)

bazald (886779) | more than 8 years ago | (#15457977)

While the original Das Keyboard was, for the most part, a rebadged keyboard of high quality (with a logo that wasn't even on straight), this keyboard definitely stands on its own. Personally, I've never had a more pleasant typing experience than I've had with the new version. Not only is less force required to type quickly, but finding the home position is much easier because of the different feel of the 'f' and 'j' keys. This keyboard really feels like its its own product rather than a rebadge.

The only gripe I have is that it doesn't really feel that great for playing computer games because of the way it catches keypresses now. The original felt a lot better in that one case. So, I would definitely recommend using this for typing and something else for gaming.

nur (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15457999)

Nail polish remover (acetone you geeks) + tissue/cotton swabs + free-as-in-beer Dell keyboard = Laugh at your friends who paid $90

nur (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15458072)

$90 = 1 Das Keyboard
$90 + acetone (nail polish remover) + tissue/cotton swabs + free-as-in-beer Dell keyboard = 1 Das Cheapboard + 1 keg + 3 handles

The old IBM style in new packages (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15458089)

I like the pckeyboard.com products. Can't beat the original IBM-style keyboards.
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