The Case For Mechanical Keyboards
There’s a rabbit hole on the internet and in the computer world that, once located and if accidently stepped into, is deep and consuming. Is it the dark web? Is it weird pimple popping videos? No, it’s mechanical keyboards. Don’t believe me? Go on YouTube and type in “building a mechanical keyboard,” or “mechanical keyboard reviews,” and welcome to the world after the red pill. The unpleasant truth that is revealed after ingesting the red pill you ask? The fact that your work life isn’t the same until you’ve spent a not-insignificant sum of money on a decent mechanical keyboard.
This started as a review of the keyboard I’m using to type this, the Keychron K2 v2, considered an entry level option at $90. It’s a 75% board, meaning it doesn’t have the numpad on the side and the remaining keys slightly closer together, with the option of either plastic or aluminium bezels, white backlight or RGB backlights, and PBT keycaps. But I decided as I began to type this that a review of a specific model doesn’t do the keyboard community any justice. It’s more inclusive than that. So what makes a mechanical keyboard so different? I’m glad you asked, dear reader; the feel, the sound, and the options.
I know, how different can a $90 keyboard feel from it’s $30 counter part, and why does it even matter? Well, think of it this way; you’re very likely spending at least 5 hours a day typing and clacking away at something at your desk. It’s worth spending money on a quality mattress because you’re spending 8 hours a day there. Isn’t it then worth spending money on a quality keyboard that you’re using to produce work that other people are subjected to for 5 hours a day? The answer should be yes, in case you were wondering. I can speak from experience that typing on a mechanical keyboard is just more “fun” than an impersonal, quiet, and frankly too-business-like Magic Keyboard. Now, with that said, they’re not for everyone. More importantly, they’re not so great if the people around you are sensitive to sound and distracted by sound.
Remember back to the old, patinaed plastic keyboard that was clacky and loud and felt imposing when typed on. Now, imagine that, but updated for modern days. Keys are no longer just cheap plastic that wear away, we’re dealing with PBT, high end plastic keycaps, specialized switches under those keycaps each with a unique sound. The specific model I’m typing this on has Gateron Red switches, which are light, super light, with no tactile bump, but still produce a nice clicky sound when pressed down. I’ll post a video with the sound, as my writing of it will not do it any justice.
The most compelling reason to go for a mechanical keyboard, is the fact that you can make any keyboard you want for any purpose you need it for. Granted, it can cost a tad more the deeper down this hole you go, and it’s not always worth it unless you’re an enthusiast (which I’m not.) What options? Well, the size. The typical keyboard you’re thinking of is called a full size:
Then, the sizes go down from there:
Once you’ve chosen the size of your tool, take a look at how it will feel and sound, which is dictated by the switches in which the keys you are typing on activate. The key presses down, and activates the switch, which provides an auditory and/or haptic feedback to let you know you hit the key successfully. I can only speak to Gateron Red switches, which I’m typing this on now. They’re soft, sensitive, and loud when it matters most. What I mean in less sexual terms: they’re sensitive to type on, no haptic feedback or ‘bump’, and they make a satisfying clicking sound when you type. Below is a link to a proper breakdown of how the various colored switches feel.
Gateron Switch Breakdown: https://www.pcgamingrace.com/blogs/guides-resources/gateron-switch-color-guide
Last but not least is the look. This is where the real fun is. The world of mechanical keyboards is large, inclusive, and non-judgemental. You want a pink aluminium keyboard with bright blue keycaps that makes no noise when you type? There’s a build for that. Want an all black plastic, super lightweight, with keycaps that don’t even tell you the letter you’re typing? Gotcha, can do, bring it on. In a world where we type more in a day than most of even speak, it’s worth expressing yourself on the tool that let’s you voice your thoughts, create your work, and relax with a game. If you’re a keyboard enthusiast, let me know what you’re working with, I’d love to see it and hear about it.
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