August 14, 2012

Key Caps

I just received these in the mail today, so they are literally the acquisition of the day. These are doubleshot OEM profile Cherry MX switch compatible ABS key caps with reverse colored modifiers. If you understood the last sentence, then congratulations (I think) for being a mechanical keyboard geek! Good job. For the remaining 99.78% of the population, you may consider these key caps to be just another feather in my XXL size cap of ridiculousness.

Computer keyboards. Everyone has one these days: on a laptop; at work; on a phone; on a video game device; and so on. Computer staring desk monkeys often type on a computer keyboard all day long and think nothing of it. While doing just that one day, I stumbled across a blog or message board thread topic related to "what's the best keyboard" and was surprised to discover that mechanical keyboards are still made and collected with vigor (by the way, mechanical keyboards use "mechanical" switches or actuators to register the keystrokes, in contrast to the technologies that are used in many common, mass-produced, OEM keyboards).

The thread that caught my eye mentioned unfamiliar terminology such as "Cherry switches" and "clicky blues" and "Filco" . . . huh wut? After spending a few dozen hours reading up on the topic, I realized that one of my first (and best) computer keyboards was indeed mechanical: an IBM model M. This got me interested in a modern mechanical keyboard, which in turn resulted in more research and discovery of websites like Geek Hack and Deskthority, both of which concentrate on mechanical keyboards. Who would have known? Blue versus brown versus red switches? Filco versus Ducky versus Das brands? Full size versus tenkeyless versus compact layouts? Replacement key caps with customized colorways? Click Clack skull key caps that sell on the geek market for a hundred dollars? For ONE key cap! Amazing.

My mechanical keyboard trajectory went like this: (1) acquired a full sized keyboard from WASD Keyboards, with Cherry brown switches and a fully customized key cap layout and color scheme (which is the major selling point of WASD Keyboards); (2) bought additional key caps from WASD Keyboards because my first layout looked like ass; (3) continued buying novelty and other replacement key caps for grins and giggles; (4) went to Fry's Electronics to check out other mechanical keyboards having different switches (Cherry black, Cherry red, Cherry blue, Alps); (5) "borrowed" a Razer Blackwidow keyboard from Fry's to see whether or not I could live with Cherry blue clicky switches; (6) decided YES, I could live with blue switches; (7) got a full set of white side-printed replacement key caps for my WASD keyboard; (8) decided to acquire a tenkeyless keyboard (i.e., one that does not have the ten-key number pad cluster on the right side) with Cherry blue switches; (9) finally got a Filco tenkeyless with blues after waiting for Amazon to be restocked; (10) sold my WASD keyboard to a keyboard noob; and (11) just received the red and white set of awesomeness shown in the picture.

Yes, the above-described trajectory was rather expensive. Why would anyone spend more than ten bucks on a computer keyboard? Who cares about KEYBOARDS? Those are good questions, and every mechanical keyboard user will have his or her own set of valid, silly, and misunderstood answers. Personally, I wanted something that would be enjoyable to use and nice to look at because I use the computer all day when I'm in the office. The fact that my typing speed and accuracy have improved is a nice bonus. I mean, if you are going to do something or use a device for 40+ hours a week, why not try to get the most out of that activity and/or try to eek out a little pleasure and enjoyment while suffering through the day to day banality of your job? OK, OK, I admit that there is also some "cool factor" and "geek appeal" at play here, but really, mechanical keyboards just work better than the crap that most people fiddle with on a daily basis. Try one.

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