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Input Devices Upgrades Hardware

Review of the Model M-Inspired Unicomp Customizer Keyboard 383

ThousandStars writes "I wrote a review of the Unicomp Customizer Keyboard, which is a modern version of the IBM and then Lexmark Model M much beloved by nerds and hackers. The pros of the Customizer: it's sturdy, remarkably similar to the Model M, has great tech support, and uses a USB interface. Oh, and it's Mac-friendly. The cons: at $69 it's somewhat expensive, and its noise won't be music to your cubemate's ears." Note: this is one of the very, very few buckling-spring keyboards you can get new these days, instead of prowling through thrift stores, eBay, and university dumpsters.
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Review of the Model M-Inspired Unicomp Customizer Keyboard

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  • by fictionpuss ( 1136565 ) * on Thursday May 29, 2008 @10:11AM (#23585803)
    ...and an internet fan-base, I guess that explains why I haven't been able to find a $2-3 replacement clicky keyboard in a charity shop over the last few years. Sometimes internet, you really suck.
    • by freenix ( 1294222 ) on Thursday May 29, 2008 @10:33AM (#23586109)

      The model M is not immortal and any good nerd has at least three in the closet. I have only had one of these die on me and it was probably a wiring problem that I can fix but it was nice to have more waiting. They seem to be going for about $25 on ebay, so the internet has not let you down by letting people share their love. Perfect knowledge and many providers is a fair market so $25 is a fair price for a used keyboard. Finding a cache in a dumpster is like finding several hundred dollars on the street and you should save them all for yourself, your friends or just to sell them.

      New keyboards like this are worth their price if you type a lot. It does feel good to type on and it will last forever. The only problem with the new ones, like the reviewer noticed, is the windows keys which decrease the size of Ctrl and Alt so that you might miss them.

      • by cp.tar ( 871488 ) <cp.tar.bz2@gmail.com> on Thursday May 29, 2008 @12:57PM (#23588309) Journal

        I have one of the SpaceSavers from Unicomp, as they didn't have a 105-key Customizer at the time.
        And since they couldn't offer me one with a Croatian layout, the nice people at Unicomp agreed to send me a blank one. So I got the best from both the Model M and Das Keyboard, and many looks of frustration from family members.

        People look at me in a funny way when I tell them how much I paid for it (the shipping almost doubled the cost, too), but then, they do not type as much as I do.
        OTOH, I find it funny that people are more than willing to cash out insane amounts of money for the bestest and fastest CPU or video card, but a keyboard? A random El Cheapo keyboard suits them just fine. Me, I like to hear when I've clicked a key, because I don't always even look at the screen when I type.

        An added benefit is, of course, the fact that it can be used as an offensive weapon in case of dire emergency or family argument ;)

      • by RobertM1968 ( 951074 ) on Thursday May 29, 2008 @02:59PM (#23590303) Homepage Journal

        While the Model M is not immortal, it is as close to immortal as any keyboard or piece of computer equipment ever was.

        I have a few old Model M keyboards... still running. I bought my mother a computer 15 years ago or so, and gave her a (used) Model M with it. She has went through numerous computers, and still uses that same Model M (it turned 22 years old this past February). She wont give it away, she wont sell it, she wont part with it for any reason. Her computer dies, she gets a new one, chucks the keyboard that comes with it and plugs in the Model M. Doesn't bat an eye over replacing a computer every few years... doesn't have any intention of ever replacing her Model M and expects it to outlast her next few computers (which it probably will).

        Interestingly, as her's is a lot older than the Model M's and M13s I have, the click is very unique in comparison. About as loud, but more metallic/click sounding.

        I used to have a few dozen of them (bought a box full of them). I had one "test" keyboard, which we tried killing... we'd walk on it (ok, that's nothing for a Model M... but we had to try), we drove over it with an Isuzu Trooper (well, the guy driving hit the gas and it shot out from under the back wheel across the parking lot... minor scratches on the bottom)... we put it in front of a city bus' rear wheels and watched as the bus edged up on it waiting for a traffic light to change, and then drove off... still worked of course. Finally, we launched it off a 3 story roof... as far outwards as we could throw it (musta went a few hundred feet horizontal, in addition to the three story drop)... picking up the keycaps and such was not fun. Though we did manage to shatter the outer case (and couldnt find a few keycaps), it still worked. We took a small torch to the plastic... weird stuff, that plastic... it's surface bubbled and browned, but we would have had to hold the torch to it for quite a long time to melt through, so we gave up.

        A sledge hammer managed to damage the plastic keycap plate enough in a few areas to stop some keys from working... but then again, most people dont run over their keyboards or hit them repeatedly with sledge hammers.

        We did have a few in the box we bought that had some issues... most seemed to be screwed up springs from being jammed in with so many others (fallen off keycaps and bent, damaged or missing springs).

        This is being typed on my Model M13 - a youngin by Model M standards (10 years old this June). Our other Model M is 16 years old, and our other Model M13s are 12-13 years old (2 beige, one black).

        My fave is the Model M13 black or Model M in olive-grey (heh - find one of those... I'm trying ever since I missed out on buying one of 6 that were on sale a few years ago).

        My only problem with the M13's is that the Trackpoints seem to "die" on them (they get pegged to a corner or side of the screen... sometimes fixable by re-gluing it to the keycap plate... sometimes not). Still trying to figure out where I can get new Trackpoint sticks to fix two of them...

        As a side note, from what I understand, you can still get the UniComps without the Windows key. I prefer the standard Model M/M13 layout (no extra keys).

        The standard 101 key Model M clones are at:
        (white) http://pckeyboards.stores.yahoo.net/cus101usenon.html [yahoo.net]
        They dont seem to have the black ones for sale in 101 key layout anymore...

        Funny thing is they sell their Model M clone with an optional "Enhanced" mushy switch option (ie: no clicky mechanical spring). I dont think they understand the meaning of the word enhanced.

        I type 12 hours a day, every day... and will not use anything but a Model M/M13 unless absolutely necessary. Once you get used to the click (which does serve a purpose and increases typing speed), you find that you look at the keyboard or screen a lot less when typing, you make less mistakes, and you type faster. I can hit ov

    • There was a guy on eBay about six months ago who had a whole buncha Model Ms new in the box for sale. I bought two for $28 bucks apiece.

      But still, when my wife gets me to go to a thrift store, I still make a beeline for the pile of keyboards in the back.
    • by R2.0 ( 532027 ) on Thursday May 29, 2008 @10:49AM (#23586311)
      Another source for Model M's:
      http://www.clickykeyboards.com/ [clickykeyboards.com]

      And for Northgate Omnikey's
      http://www.northgate-keyboard-repair.com/ [northgate-...repair.com]

      So sayeth the Internet.
  • Geezer alert! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sm62704 ( 957197 ) on Thursday May 29, 2008 @10:12AM (#23585809) Journal
    At $69 it's somewhat expensive

    Yet you are comparing it to the IBM model M. When that model was out over 20 years ago [wikipedia.org]. A cheap keyboard was over a hundred bucks back then.

    Tell me again how we should be glad gas prices are low "after inflation?"

    Of course, that hundred dollar keyboard was connected to a four thousand dollar PC with a color monitor (green). It had no mouse. It held less than 1 meg of memory and ran at less than 16 mhz (the 286 five years later; the 8088 was 4 mhz, a thousand times slower than today's CPUs).

    I paid $70 for my keyboard/mouse combo. Of course, they're wireless and the mouse has no ball.
    • by Brian Gordon ( 987471 ) on Thursday May 29, 2008 @10:21AM (#23585929)
      No wires or ball? You got ripped off buddy.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by badasscat ( 563442 )
      Yet you are comparing it to the IBM model M. When that model was out over 20 years ago [wikipedia.org]. A cheap keyboard was over a hundred bucks back then.

      Ha! I recall the Model M selling for $249. (btw, they weren't really referred to as "Model M's" back then, they were just IBM keyboards. They only had one...)

      $69 is not bad if this keyboard is really as good as a Model M. Of course, I bought my Model M new in the box for $15 on Ebay a few years ago, so that's probably still a better deal. And with a
  • Hear Much? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Azarael ( 896715 )
    After 22 years of loud clicking, I wonder if you'll sustain any hearing damage.. A sturdy keyboard is a great thing, but at least put in some rubber or something to muffle the sound.
    • by snowraver1 ( 1052510 ) on Thursday May 29, 2008 @10:49AM (#23586305)
      The clicking is the best part. When you are typing up a storm, the whole office better know it. When something is broken and everyone it waiting for you to fix it, and everyone hears "CLACKITY! CLICK! CLICK! CLACK! CLACK! THUNK(spacebar)! CLACK!" the only thought in thier head is "Man he must be doing something complicated".
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by JPLemme ( 106723 )
        I love my clicky keyboards. The problem is that when you surf the web ^H^H^H stop to think about work-related things everyone around you knows it because of the silence.
      • Re:Hear Much? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by ari_j ( 90255 ) on Thursday May 29, 2008 @12:02PM (#23587423)
        I actually hacked a Selectric to speak USB for that purpose.
    • by Khyber ( 864651 )
      Considering each click registers at approximately 35dB I really doubt you'll sustain any hearing damage. Time to finish repairing the pins on the PS2 plug.
  • by i.r.id10t ( 595143 ) on Thursday May 29, 2008 @10:14AM (#23585833)
    But are they still heavy and sturdy enough to "console" someone... repeatedly? Sometimes I channel the BOFH, and these cheap plastic Dell deals just don't hold up to the abuse...
    • by washort ( 6555 )
      Yeah, they've still got the same heft and bullet-stopping abilities as the original.
    • by Nimey ( 114278 )
      Yes. My Unicomp is /slightly/ lighter than a real IBM or Lexmark M, but it's still usable for melee combat and blocking lighter/slower bullets. There's a steel plate in the base.
    • by Odinson ( 4523 ) on Thursday May 29, 2008 @12:51PM (#23588181) Homepage Journal

      I have owned one of these customizers for a couple of years so far and I can say yes. Even a woman of moderate build could fell two or three professional wrestlers with this thing. If they can lift it.

      They should have know better than to mess with you when they heard your keystrokes sounding off like machine gun fire in the night. They are very spill resistant too, so you don't have to worry about how bloody they get. You can type a strongly worded letter mere seconds after an attack.

      Now if they would just offer one with lit keys so you can see who you are pummeling in the pitch black without the aid of night vision goggles at an additional cost!

  • too big (Score:2, Insightful)

    by russellh ( 547685 )
    Cut off the numeric keypad and we'll talk. Till then, I can live with my happy hacker ..
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I have to disagree. I have a black Das Keyboard (you know, the one without markings). The numeric keyboard is a life-saver (somehow it's just not possible to touch-type the numbers above the keyboard)...
      • I have to disagree. I have a black Das Keyboard (you know, the one without markings). The numeric keyboard is a life-saver (somehow it's just not possible to touch-type the numbers above the keyboard)...
        I think that's funny. I love the idea of das keyboard, but I think it would be better if it had embossed braille.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by value_added ( 719364 )
        The numeric keyboard is a life-saver (somehow it's just not possible to touch-type the numbers above the keyboard)...

        Admittedly, learning to type is hard, and few today seem to think it's of any value, but typing numbers is no more difficult than typing anything else. Even the F keys in the top row are easy to type (as evidenced by the years of WP popularity and dominance).

        On the other hand, if you are doing nothing but typing numbers for hours at end (data entry and accounting people traditionally do this
    • Agreed,

      give me a HHK with buckling springs and powered hubs.

      I'd buy one in a flash.

      I have two of the Unicomps at the moment and I'm just waiting to take a band saw to one of them.
    • Re:too big (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sm62704 ( 957197 ) on Thursday May 29, 2008 @10:43AM (#23586237) Journal
      Cut off the numeric keypad and we'll talk

      I see you've never had to enter a long series of numbers into a database. Entering numbers from the number row above the letters is slow, cumbersome, and error-prone.
      • by Ancil ( 622971 )
        I see you've never had to enter a long series of numbers into a database. Entering numbers from the number row above the letters is slow, cumbersome, and error-prone.

        I don't do enough data-entry to warrant a numeric keypad. Even if I did, I wouldn't want it glued to the right side of my keyboard, forcing me to reach 3 inches further every time I use the mouse.

        The numeric keypad on standard keyboards is literally placed in the worst possible place for anyone except an accountant who doesn't use a mou
      • I see you've never had to enter a long series of numbers into a database. Entering numbers from the number row above the letters is slow, cumbersome, and error-prone.
        I have several keyboards for different purposes, actually. In general I just can't stand reaching halfway across the room for the mouse.
    • You should look at the Apple bluetooth wireless keyboard. It trims out the numeric keypad, is high quality, looks great, and the feel of the keys is a dream (though not the loud clicky feel this article is talking about). I've been using it on a Windows PC with no problems. It really saves desktop space and removes the need to stretch your arm far to the right to use the mouse. The only stumbling point might be that some editing keys have also been removed (home/end), but I've become used to key combination

      • You should look at the Apple bluetooth wireless keyboard. It trims out the numeric keypad, is high quality, looks great, and the feel of the keys is a dream (though not the loud clicky feel this article is talking about).

        Actually I'm using one as we type. It's great and I love it. I use it for writing text and stuff - I use several keyboards for different purposes. My HHK is for serious coding sessions - I note that it hasn't been used much lately :-( I also use some kind of generic full keyboard, and

  • USB, pointing stick (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Ed Avis ( 5917 ) <ed@membled.com> on Thursday May 29, 2008 @10:15AM (#23585847) Homepage
    Unicomp also make keyboards with a 'nipple' pointing device in the middle like on Thinkpads. The Endurapro [yahoo.net] is buckling spring with pointing device and is available as USB. The only downside is that they can't ship the USB version outside the USA.

    I'd like to get one but currently I have a good stock of Model Ms for my typing needs.

    What I really want to use is the old PC or PC-XT keyboard - buckling spring but even heavier and better built than the Model M. However the electronics are different. I think I saw an adapter on sale for $100 somewhere but that's a bit steep.
    • by Hatta ( 162192 )
      Oh my god. Now I *Have* to get the unicomp. I'll never take my hands off the keyboard again!
    • Now if they'd add an ergonomic version of their boards, I can't go back to a straight key alignment.
    • I recently went on a keyboard hunt and ended up with an IBM Space Saver II. It's basically a compact Thinkpad keyboard with a trackpoint nubbin and mouse buttons on the bottom. There is no number pad and it's PS2 only, but I have an adapter and it works fine. Ubuntu recognizes the trackpoint too.

      I found it on Ebay for about $30. If you do an ebay search for part number 37L0888 it should turn up. They are incredibly expensive to buy new.
  • by LinuxOnEveryDesktop ( 14145 ) on Thursday May 29, 2008 @10:17AM (#23585875) Homepage
    I actually prefer Unicomp's Endurapro [yahoo.net]. Same buckling springs, but with an integrated mouse. Saves me from carpal tunnel.... well that and a reasonably ergonomic desk setup. Endurapro at work, endurapro at home :)
  • There's a comment saying the Kentucky company is the latest owner of the IBM IP and manufacturing equipment for the keyboard. All of which still resides in Kentucky.

    $69 is CHEAP for a decent keyboard. I'm one of those IT guys that's happy to give out the lame excuse for keyboards being shipped with PC's and horde the best of the older keyboards.

    Our dev has a DASkeyboard. Very nice too. I'm not l33t enough to go decal-free at 3AM support calls though.

    This company is a *perfect* example of the ec
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by maxume ( 22995 )

      Manufacturing is alive and well in the United States. The job growth from manufacturing isn't particularly strong though, as there is tons of automation. One guy running a couple of CNC lathes is more productive than 4 guys running manual lathes, and so on. Or something like Hyundai, where the spend less per vehicle on welding, but have higher consistency, because they are fully automated.
    • Offtopic:
      This company is a *perfect* example of the economic potential for manufacturing in the U.S. It's a niche product, high quality, that won't have a market big enough for whatever low-wage empire to ever export the work.

      The address given on the website is a relatively small building, which according to the PVA's office is mostly warehouse (with a small office attached).

      Manufacturing is most likely done in an ex-Lexmark plant somewhere in Mexico or the Far East....

  • My experience. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by srollyson ( 1184197 ) on Thursday May 29, 2008 @10:24AM (#23585977)
    I'm a relatively young guy, so my first experience with a buckling spring keyboard was when I bought one of these Unicomp Customizers a year ago. The responsiveness is terrific! It's hard to convey this in a way that doesn't seem like snake oil, but I feel like it's increased my typing speed and accuracy.

    I think I've become spoiled, actually. When I use my laptops' membrane keyboard, it feels mushy in comparison.
    • Incidentally, I'm 24, and I only learned about buckling spring keyboards from the curmudgeons wise mentors on /. and elsewhere. But when I actually began using these keyboards, I realized why they're revered in nerd circles. A more elegant weapon for a more civilized age, indeed.
  • To save you the hassle of having to deal with the SnapShot-enabled crap on the website:

    Product Review: Unicomp Customizer keyboard

    A rash of e-mails regarding and hits to my negative review of the Matias Tactile Pro 2 leads me to write this positive review the Unicomp Customizer, a modern version of the Model M that IBM used to produce. Dan's Data explains why these "buckling spring" keyboards are so nice:

    The big deal about these old keyboards is their lovely, positive key-click. When you use a keyb

  • by Octos ( 68453 ) on Thursday May 29, 2008 @10:29AM (#23586061) Homepage
    Really. $70 for a keyboard is nothing. It's a tool you use every day for extended periods of time. If you're looking for a decent keyboard it's because you don't like the way the $3 crap-board feels. It costs three bucks for a reason. Quality tools that last are worth every penny.

    If you really want to balk at price, I'll point you to my Kinesis Contour keyboard. It cost about $300. The key feel and ergos are great. I've used this board at work for about 9 years now and it's still going strong.

    If you still insist on being cheap, go prowl Goodwill or other thrift stores. I found a Lexmark BS board in near mint condition for $5.
    • I don't think it's necessarily complaining about price to note that the price is somewhat higher than normal keyboards, and for someone on the margin of deciding whether to buy the keyboard the additional $50 might turn them off. You can see that my review says, "the price, at $69, is somewhat high, but I think the productivity improvement worth the extra cost [...]". Furthermore, although another poster observed that both the real and non-inflation-adjusted price of Model Ms and Customizers have dropped, i
  • I just ordered me a Unicomp keyboard yesterday (a SpaceSaver). And I expect to pay a bit more than just $69: I live in Germany, shipping and taxes will drive it up to about $100, I think.

    I'm a programmer like so many of you, and I don't understand why most programmers don't care for their keyboards: it's the tool we work with all day. Ask any craftsman and he will tell you that tools are important. For example, I know that a lot of coiffeurs buy a scissor for a few hundred bucks after their apprenticeship.
  • I don't understand why keyboard manufacturer still put the Windows logo on the meta key (unless Microsoft give them money).

    Can you point me out websites where i can buy a keyboard without 'Windows logo' ?

    Anyway, only recently I found a use to this key (using it as meta with Awesome window manager. This don't interfere with 'alt' key in irssi !)

    P.s. English isn't my first language !
    • by dave420 ( 699308 )
      Are you that petty that the windows logo pisses you off? Jesus H tapdancing Christ.
    • by JoshJ ( 1009085 )
      Compiz treats the "Windows" key as the Super key. I know Emacs tends to just let you use alt as meta; making it pointless to have an actual "meta" key set in the window manager.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Unicomp also offers keyboards without the windows keys, models with control where caps lock is normally found too.
  • I have had one of these for years. It's awesome beyond words.

    Actually the original reason was that I wanted a keyboard with no letter decals on it (since I am a touch typist ever since I know myself). I looked around where I could get such a thing (we tried painting one ourselves, but the paint tended to attract dust, so it got.. hairy after a while; and what's worse, eventually it caused some kind of skin allergy); after a while, a friend recommended Unicomp, and to get a buckling spring keyboard at the sa
  • USB vs. PS/2 (Score:5, Informative)

    by chiph ( 523845 ) on Thursday May 29, 2008 @10:45AM (#23586271)
    If you're waffling between getting the USB version of the Customizer and the PS/2 (and intending to use it with a PS/2 to USB converter), get the USB model of the keyboard.

    I have the PS/2 Unicomp, and it draws too much current for most USB converters, so you get irregular text entry and occasional lockups. This prevents me from using it with USB-only computers, like my Mac. :(

    I would love it if Unicom put a two-port USB hub inside the keyboard, so I have a place to plug in the mouse and maybe a USB memory key.

    Chip H.
    • Re:USB vs. PS/2 (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 29, 2008 @11:38AM (#23587041)
      There's a mod for the PS/2 keyboards to work with USB when power draw is too high. Basically, you solder two 4.7k ohm pull-up resistors on the keyboard's circuit board. These are connected to pull-up the clock and data lines.

      If you're wary of modding the keyboard, you can build an adapter like so:
  • Matias Tactile Pro (Score:3, Informative)

    by ThousandStars ( 556222 ) on Thursday May 29, 2008 @10:56AM (#23586411) Homepage
    Note: this is one of the very, very few buckling-spring keyboards you can get new these days, instead of prowling through thrift stores, eBay, and university dumpsters.

    It's ThousandStars, the original submitter [seliger.com] here. Note that you can also get a reborn Apple Extended II keyboard called the Matias Tactile Pro 2.0; I also reviewed it [wordpress.com], but unfavorably, and it suffers from a number of deficiencies the Customizer doesn't. Even Mac users (I am one) are better off with the Customizer.

  • After a long time of waffling, I finally picked one of these up for my home use. I absolutely LOVE it. I've got a few old model-m's floating around, but I wanted something with the windows key, and USB was a definite plus. $70 was a bit expensive, but it's been worth it so far. Now I'm just trying to convince work to buy me one. If they don't soon, I'll probably just buy one on my own dime and bring it in.
  • by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) * on Thursday May 29, 2008 @11:19AM (#23586753)
    I was introduced to the Model M keyboard one fine afternoon when leaving from work a dumpster outside a large insurance company building was FILLED with hundreds of Model M keyboards; evidently they were doing a hardware upgrade. Seeing the keyboards I grabbed one from the dumpster (I have no pride) to try out.

    Overjoyed that I finally found a clicky keyboard like those I remembered from the early IBM days I returned the next day and picked up half a dozen more.

    If I had only known I would have taken more.

    I can't use them at work though - my cube farm neighbors complained when I brought one in.

    But I do love the bucking spring design.
    • by Kenshin ( 43036 )
      I can't use them at work though - my cube farm neighbors complained when I brought one in.

      Clacking keyboards are probably one of the only things more annoying in an office than a loud coffee slurper and someone with an awful ringtone.
  • I currently use a MSFT Ergonomic keyboard, I love the ergonomic shape of it, however, I miss the tactile feel of the old IBM keyboards. Does anybody make an ergonomic keyboard with tactile feedback or buckle springs?

  • Link: http://www.cvtinc.com/products/keyboards/stellar.htm [cvtinc.com] It has only one modern feature: built-in macro capability and keycode swapping (no need to install software to program it).
  • by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) * on Thursday May 29, 2008 @11:21AM (#23586789)
    Model M keyboards turn up quite frequently on EBay.

    Just use the search term 'clicky'.

  • How about the trusty Royal Manual, now there was a bulletpoof keyboard. Lacking in interface choices, though. Scanner only.
  • What other options are there for tactile feedback and/or buckling-spring keyboards?

    Frankly, the grey-on-black colour scheme is hideous, and I've grown quite attached to the volume control keys and USB hub on modern keyboards.

    A more compact design wouldn't be too much to ask either.

    Surely there has to be some happy medium between the $5 dell keyboards and the heavier-than-a-brick Unicomps?
  • by jollyreaper ( 513215 ) on Thursday May 29, 2008 @11:54AM (#23587315)
    The buckling spring is what gives the keyboard a satisfying feel when typing. I'm very much not a fan of the mushy "quiet" keyboards. There's just such a satisfying feel when typing on something that feels like it could be attached to a typewriter. :)

    The Model M's were the first keyboards I learned on and I was pleased as punch to find out people were still making them all these years later.

    I don't know about this new version they have but the one I bought is here: http://pckeyboards.stores.yahoo.net/cus101usenon.html [yahoo.net]

    Solid, durable, not likely to crap out on you. Not a slashvertisement but a testimonial.
  • by Just Some Guy ( 3352 ) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Thursday May 29, 2008 @01:18PM (#23588681) Homepage Journal

    Reposted from my blog [honeypot.net]:

    There are few joys in life like using something that is the perfect expression of its intent. Each trade has its representative tools, and their common trait is quality, even if it's not obvious to the casual observer, and often counterintuitive. The best tools in a category are almost always the least flashy, and rarely the ones a new practitioner would choose.

    The Model M keyboard is like that: it's loud, ugly, heavy, and utterly lacking modern niceties like buttons to change your sound volume or check your email. And yet, it has that transcendent feeling that's hard to explain, that sense of rightness where you realize that you're using the best that's ever been made, that every change since then has been superfluous and cosmetic. With time, the loud clacking becomes the background music of your work, the harmony that tells you that your thoughts have become words. Its beige boxiness yields to elegant simplicity and the realization that true beauty is born of function, not appearance. The sheer weight of the thing turns to solidity and the confidence that it will stay where you put it. The dearth of features becomes the singleminded dedication to the parts that really matter and a proud disregard of unneeded distractions.

    A tool attains its peak when a craftsman forgets that he's using it because it has become an extension of himself. Thus the humble Model M has become the iconic favorite of hackers everywhere, an ode to the engineers who grasped for excellence and acheived it.

  • Bah at model Ms (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DarkOx ( 621550 ) on Thursday May 29, 2008 @01:27PM (#23588829) Journal
    The original Northgate OmniKey line of keyboards are the best ever made. They were $130 or so for the larger ones(104 key) back in the day. If you never worked on one you should try you will never want to type on anything else ever again.

"An open mind has but one disadvantage: it collects dirt." -- a saying at RPI