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Review of Das Keyboard 713

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the clicky-clicky-clicky-clicky dept.
My old keyboard was so crusted up with junk from years of abuse that I found myself struggling to depress most of the keys on the left side. So I decided that it was time to find a new keyboard. My plan was to steal the keyboards of my co-workers and try them out when they aren't around. But as this plan was underway, Das Keyboard asked me to review their newest keyboard. I used it for a few days to see if their website's claim of 'the best keyboard on the planet' is valid. Read on to learn more.

First of all let me say that it sounds great. There's something really satisfying about the thunderous racket created by a nice tactile keyboard. The buttons move smoothly and lightly. As I type these words I find myself typing very fast. Ironically, I have to turn up my speakers just to listen clearly to the NPR program quietly playing... and this leads me to my first point. There are no volume control keys. So I have to navigate through various menus to put the volume control widget back on my toolbar. I haven't needed it for years, but this keyboard has none of the bloated keys that over populate a modern keyboard. Save for the 2 keys added for windows 95, this is practically the same layout as the first keyboard I called my own in the 80s. The keyboard is also available without any markings on the key- although my keyboard had them.

Then I hear the ping that tells me that I have mail so I apple-tab to go to my Mail program and then... crap. Did I mention that this is a windows keyboard? The alt key and the windows key are obnoxiously transposed, requiring me to rewire my brain to get to the program I need. It's not the end of the world- and of course it only matters if you are using a Mac. But since I switch daily from the laptop keyboard to a desktop keyboard, I suspect that I would slowly go mad as I was never able to reliably remember which key was alt and which key was apple. To say nothing of this meaningless preferences button which does nothing. Of course the OSX preferences panels contain an option to remap these keys, but I'd have to reset it every time I went home. And I just don't like the idea of monkeying around with this sort of thing twice a day.

So I decide that just for now I will use my mouse to navigate from app to app. This makes my heart cry a little bit- I don't much care for my mouse. He sits there lonely, the tool of last resort as I instead opt to use ridiculous keybindings requiring 7 fingers of syncronized chording. It only inflames my carpal tunnel, but I don't have to move my arm. But times of desperation call for us to rise up to the challenges that come before us.

Now Das Keyboard has the USB ports on the right hand side. I've plugged in 2 devices: the first is a little spinner wheel that I use for editing video, and the other is a little RF broadcaster for a wireless Logitech mouse. And like most of you, I'm right handed. So as I fling my mouse around, I find myself constantly bumping into the 2 giant USB plugs that now overlap my mousepad. My old keyboard had the mouse ports at the top and I never had this problem.

The toggle lights are completely invisible unless on, hidden cleanly within the black plastic surface. The num lock key doesn't seem to do anything, although I assume that's a mac thing. And scroll lock... well now seriously, who among us relies on that in any serious way? Maybe I should just remap those keys, along with the windows 'preferences' key to be the volume up, down, and mute key I'm missing.

But it's black. It's sexy. It's loud. It feels good to type on it. Which takes me to the big question: is this really worth shelling out $130 plus shipping for? For me the answer is a no. It feels great to type, but the lack of volume controls, the mac keys, and most of all, the irritating position of the USB ports make it an inferior keyboard in all practical ways except for the simple act of typing. But if you are a left handed windows user, you might feel differently. As for me, I'm going to have to keep searching for my perfect keyboard. This one is close, but it's just not it.

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Review of Das Keyboard

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  • Apple Pro Keyboard (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Wizard Drongo (712526) <wizard_drongo AT yahoo DOT co DOT uk> on Monday June 30, 2008 @12:10PM (#24002195)

    Apart from the fact it's obviously better for Mac users anyway since it *has* the Apple key and option key in the right place, it also has the extended F keys, the volume and the optical eject keys too.
    In addition, it's also really nice to type on and perfect USB-hub placement.
    The only caveats are that a) it's no longer made since they went to the casio-inspired ones of late and b) there isn't a power button on them like the old iMac keyboard (and the follow on almost identical white-iMac keyboard that preceded the Pro keyboard).
    That said, I still like the g3 iMac and the white iMac keyboards just as much, they're just harder to find. Virtually identical keys as well, nice and chunky.
    I'm even partial to the new calculator style ones. Thought I'd hate them but since I got used to my Macbook's internal keyboard I find I quite like them. Easier on the wrists and hands.

  • by DJ Jones (997846) on Monday June 30, 2008 @12:13PM (#24002249) Homepage
    Model M = The most annoying keyboard ever created. The guy in the cube behind me insists on using one. Aside from punch-card mainframes it is the loudest most obnoxious piece of computer equipment ever created.

    There is a reason modern keyboards are quiet and it's not because of cheap manufacturing. It's common courtesy.

    Seriously, it's not cool in an office setting.
  • Caps-Lock key (Score:5, Insightful)

    by QuietLagoon (813062) on Monday June 30, 2008 @12:20PM (#24002397)
    I really wish that one keyboard vendor would take a stand, and move that CapsLock key to a more remote part of the keyboard. It is rarely used, and often accidentally hit.
  • by kunwon1 (795332) * <dave.j.moore@gmail.com> on Monday June 30, 2008 @12:22PM (#24002429) Homepage
    Optimus Keyboard [artlebedev.com]

    You must be new here.
  • by serviscope_minor (664417) on Monday June 30, 2008 @12:24PM (#24002459) Journal

    If they get in the way, you can bind them to the key that you intended to hit.

  • by Jeff DeMaagd (2015) on Monday June 30, 2008 @12:26PM (#24002511) Homepage Journal

    As much as I'm an "old fart" kind of person, I really don't "get" the click keyboards anyway. I don't like the noise and it really doesn't feel that good anyway. The clicky fans often talk about how membrane keyboards are all bad, but the thing is, there are varying degrees and qualities of membranes.

    If you buy the $5-$10keyboards, then yes, they are problematic in that they don't last long and are prone to not have one button press "feel" equal one electrical contact. I'm still using a Natural Elite, which has lasted me many years and still does have that 1:1 tactile to contact, I don't get "bounce", nor do I get contact without the tactile response that should go with it.

  • by PachmanP (881352) on Monday June 30, 2008 @12:28PM (#24002553)
    Ha! I bet this string of highly redundant replies all made within about 15 min will teach you to ask questions like this on slashdot again!
  • by Nathonix (843449) <nathonix@gmail.com> on Monday June 30, 2008 @12:30PM (#24002579)
    start + L start + D are just a few that come to mind that i use on an hourly basis.
  • by MarkVVV (740454) on Monday June 30, 2008 @12:52PM (#24002955)
    The best person to review a keyboard is an end user, not a so called "keyboard enthusiast".

    Shit...Keyboard enthusiast. What's next, "Miceophile"?
  • by value_added (719364) on Monday June 30, 2008 @01:08PM (#24003265)

    After 5 min of typing, my wrists hurt.

    Has the possibility occured to you that you don't know how to type?

    If your wrists aren't parallel to the keyboard and completely relaxed, you most likely don't. Double, if you're resting your wrists on something, and your hands and fingers are splayed up in the air like the legs of a cheap Las Vegas hooker.

    If an "ergonomic" keyboard works for you, that's great. But to me, that's a lot like saying there's nothing better than a big fat comfy chair for people who like to slouch. Who can argue with that? The irony, though, is that it's only in conversations that involve keyboards where people raise such ideas, while those who play piano, cello, guitar, violin or anything else that requires accuracy, dexterity and speed for 12 hours a day have no complaints, suffer no epidemic of carpal tunnel injuries, nor show interest in theories of how deviating from established technique would improve things.

    But while we're on the subject of theories, my own pet theory is that aside from the fact that few people today can be bothered to actually study typing, the height of desktops is mostly to blame. They're just too damned high. While the height does offset the too-low monitor problem, trying to type properly at that height is, if not next to impossible [ibm.com], then definitely problematic.

  • No, not really (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Monday June 30, 2008 @01:41PM (#24003833)

    Ergonomic keyboards have the keys in the positions your hands are supposed to be. It's a neutral position. There's plenty of research as to this, but really you just need to look at the position your arms and wrists take when you use one.

    As to you using a normal keyboard with no problems, well that's great, and most people can. Most of the population doesn't suffer from RSI, even when they do things improperly. However if you do, you need to deal with it, and part of that is getting ergonomic input devices.

    If you are really interested in this sort of thing, you should do some research. Most of what you know, the "mother's common knowledge" stuff is probably wrong. Like the idea that sitting up straight is the best idea. Nope. Reclining is a very healthy thing to do, and indeed the very best ergonomic chairs are made to support working in a reclined position.

  • by StreetStealth (980200) on Monday June 30, 2008 @01:42PM (#24003867) Journal

    Do these four words qualify as a bona-fide /. meme yet?

  • by LS (57954) on Monday June 30, 2008 @06:58PM (#24008847) Homepage

    Front page news on Slashdot! A piece of mediocre hardware in a category that hasn't been really improved upon in decades. The reviewer doesn't even like it that much, so why even post the article in the first place? What else are we to see in the future? "Hey guys, read my review on this average-ass USB hub". WHY?

    Slashvertisement, that's why....

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