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Review of Das Keyboard 713

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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