Das Keyboard

by Ryan 11. January 2012 08:14

I've been using computers for a long time, but I never really put any thought into the keyboard I used. I had never used a keyboard that was worth more than about $10, because what's the point, right?

Well I was hanging out in the ##/r/sysadmin IRC chatroom when one of the keys on my latest $10 keyboard started sticking, and it occurred to me that instead of just turning the keyboard upside down and shaking it, hoping it was just a stray Dorito flake stuck in there again, it might be time to finally get a serious keyboard. Luckily there was no shortage of opinions on "good" keyboards there in the chatroom, and one in particular really caught my eye: The DasKeyboard.

It's a mechanical keyboard, and I had heard the buzz about mechanical keyboards - that the tactile feel, durability and key actuation was unparalleled, but on the other hand they were loud. (*CLACKCLACKCLACK*) So with that in mind, I ended up buying the Das Keyboard Model S Ultimate Silent, understanding that it was slightly silent-er than the regular version, but was still pretty loud.

UPS dropped it off a couple days later. I've been using it for about a week now. So without any further ado, let me just get down to exactly what I really love and don't love about this keyboard:

Pros:

  • Very heavy. This keyboard will stay where you put it. Feels solid and high quality. The keys don't rattle around in their sockets.
  • The blue LEDs for caps lock, num lock, and scroll lock are pleasantly dim and not distractingly bright. Really bright LEDs annoy me.
  • No key inscriptions. You might think that it is too hipster and/or nerdy to have a blank keyboard. But I'm truly urging you to try it. Even if you've been using PCs for 30 years, you don't realize how often you unknowingly glance at the keyboard as a subconscious crutch, and having a blank keyboard will increase your touch-typing skill and typing speed. (Can you reliably hit the % character or { character just by touch? Are you confident enough to hit the & character without looking and losing your stride mid-sentence? You will be after about a week of where looking doesn't help.) Plus it'll intimidate people to stay off your computer if they don't know what they're doing.
  • Built-in USB ports so you can plug in another USB keyboard into your keyboard once you realize that you can't type without letters on the keys.
  • Long, thick USB cord, with additional plug for a USB hub.
  • Feels great to type on. The keys are lightly textured and they spring back extremely quickly after you press them - which is what makes extremely fast typing so possible on this keyboard. There's no mushiness or uncertainty in your key presses. There is nothing like a mechanical keyboard for both fast typing and video games. Those Korean kids that play Starcraft tournaments and register 42 billion keystrokes per minute? Mechanical keyboards is how they do that.
  • The company is based in my home state of Texas!
  • N-key rollover (push as many keys at once as you want, the computer will register them all. Only mechanical keyboards can do this.)
  • Tactile feedback and not having to completely depress each key to get it to register. This means you can move on to the next key faster.
Cons:
  • It's loud. Even though the "silent" version is slightly less so, it's still the loudest keyboard I've ever owned. That said, you may grow fond of the satisfying sound of typing. If I were a film director, I would use this keyboard as a prop for when I want the audience to know that someone is typing.
  • It's expensive. However, take into account that this extremely heavy-duty keyboard will last for years, and is arguably the best keyboard that money can buy.
  • I am experiencing a little bit of stickiness on my left shift key when I strike it near its right edge with my left pinky finger. If I strike it more towards the center of the key it works perfectly.  I've only used the keyboard for about a week though, so I'm hoping that the left shift key either smooths out a little over time, or I subconsciously train my pinky finger to stretch out a little further during typing to strike the shift key more towards its center.  The backspace key is also a bit squeaky.  The rest of the keys are perfect
So all in all, I am quite pleased with my purchase.  This is by far the best keyboard I've ever laid hands on. The transition to no letters on the keys was much smoother than I thought and I never once found myself missing them. Furthermore, my typing speed truly has increased already.
 
One last interesting thing is that when using this keyboard, it tricks my mind via optical illusion, as sometimes I could swear I can see faint letter inscriptions on the keys because my mind is expecting to see letters on the keys. Spooky!
 
edit: I am happy to report that the left shift key did in fact smooth out over time with a couple weeks of use.  In fact, all of the keys are getting a little smoother and becoming more perfectly tuned to my fingers. My love of this keyboard is still growing.

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About Me

Name: Ryan Ries
Location: Texas, USA
Occupation: Systems Engineer 

I am a Windows engineer and Microsoft advocate, but I can run with pretty much any system that uses electricity.  I'm all about getting closer to the cutting edge of technology while using the right tool for the job.

This blog is about exploring IT and documenting the journey.


Blog Posts (or Vids) You Must Read (or See):

Pushing the Limits of Windows by Mark Russinovich
Mysteries of Windows Memory Management by Mark Russinovich
Accelerating Your IT Career by Ned Pyle
Post-Graduate AD Studies by Ned Pyle
MCM: Active Directory Series by PFE Platforms Team
Encodings And Character Sets by David C. Zentgraf
Active Directory Maximum Limits by Microsoft
How Kerberos Works in AD by Microsoft
How Active Directory Replication Topology Works by Microsoft
Hardcore Debugging by Andrew Richards
The NIST Definition of Cloud by NIST


MCITP: Enterprise Administrator

VCP5-DCV

Profile for Ryan Ries at Server Fault, Q&A for system administrators

LOPSA

GitHub: github.com/ryanries

 

I do not discuss my employers on this blog and all opinions expressed are mine and do not reflect the opinions of my employers.