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Possibly One of the Best Keyboards Ever

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 35 comments

Click, click, click.

There are really three things that I always tell people to invest money in when buying and setting up a new computer system. The first one is the display, since this part of the system will typically outlast the computer unit several times over. The second device is the mouse. Finally, the keyboard.

While there are is an ocean of choices out there when it comes to keyboards, very few are made well. Most of the keyboards you find on the market today are terrible. Keys fade easily, keys become sticky/stuck, poor materials, and sometimes functions break down after extended use. Because your computing experience is so deeply tied into the keyboard, it's important to know what you're getting.

Things to look for in a keyboard:

- A company known to make quality keyboards
- Key finish: you'll want a keyboard that looks like it'll last through heavy use
- N-key rollover: does the keyboard flake out after 2 or 2 simultaneous presses?
- Quality key-travel
- Build quality: do the keys look like they're loose and are going to pop?

In our experience, keyboards with tons of added fancy features tend to lack on the build quality side. Either keys will become stuck after use (not register), or the letters or coating will fade. For example, we have seen so many keyboards from Logitech fade with use. The black coating on the keys will eventually rub off, revealing a unsightly white plastic.

If you're a serious touch typist and or spend a lot of time playing games, there is no exception to investing into a good keyboard. That's why, we pick the Das Keyboard as one of the best keyboards you can buy.

We pick the Das Keyboard Ultimate because of its quality but also due to its blank nature.

The Ultimate is completely blank. There are no letters or symbols on the keys at all. All the keys are black, and because the plastic is black, you'll never experience fade. Of course, you'll struggle to get around if you're not a good touch typist. Yes, this keyboard is not for the two-finger key pecker. It's a serious keyboard. Das makes a version of the ultimate with labels, but we prefer the blank.

What makes Das Keyboards great? First and foremost: quality. From the very first key stroke, you can immediately feel the high quality in the keyboard's structure, key mechanism, and key travel. The following are specs for the Das Keyboard Ultimate:

German-engineered mechanical key switches:
Das Keyboard compares to the legendary IBM model M. Its best-in-class mechanical gold-plated key switches provide a tactile and audio click that makes typing a pure joy. The keyboard has been designed to produce greater speed and accuracy by providing responsive tactile feedback using gold-plated, slightly clicky, best-in-class, 20-million actuation mechanical key switches.

N-key rollover:
Model S allows full n-key rollover and supports up to 12 simultaneous key presses.

USB 2.0 hub:
The high-speed USB hub allows you to sync and charge your iPhone, iPod or any USB compatible devices.

Extra-long USB cable:
Das Keyboard sports a 2-meter (6.6ft) cable that goes through your desk grommet to keep your workspace neat and tidy.

Indeed the focus on the keyboard is clearly quality. There aren't any fancy controls, LCD screens, and unnecessary clutter. The focus is entirely on the typing experience. There are no distractions, just pure typing pleasure. We were previously using a chiclette keyboard, like the Apple aluminum keyboard, which is actually very good. We have a very positive impression of the Apple keyboard, but moving to the Das Ultimate instantly improved our typing experience.

Because you can hear and feel your typing, you type more confidently. The clickiness part of the keyboard may annoy some users, or at least annoy nearby people. However, it's your fingers that are doing the typing, so that's what you should care about most.

Those who have used some of the original Keytronic keyboards will feel at home on the Das Keyboard. But the Ultimate feels even better.

After several days with the keyboard, we're convinced that the Das Keyboard Ultimate is really one of the best products that serious computer users should invest in. Best of all, when you have the completely blank Ultimate, people won't be able to immediately screw with your computer if they happened to sit down in your chair.

Discuss
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  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , 8 November 2009 13:32
    99 euros for a keyboard? :o 
    No way.
  • 2 Hide
    smartroad , 8 November 2009 14:18
    I've never had a logitech keyboard fade on me let alone go down to the white plastic. My current Microsoft wireless comfort is going extremely well even after 6 years of typing and game playing. Neither of those cost me more then £30 ($50 US with these days exchange rate).
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , 8 November 2009 14:30
    A keyboard without characters........you're pulling my leg aren't you?
  • 0 Hide
    ainarssems , 8 November 2009 15:00
    I remember in 90's when I was kid in the school in Latvia we had a hobby group in electronics and I remember bits of old USSR PC's lying around. Keyboard switches was made in vacuumed glass tubes , contacts silver plated. Keyboard keys had a magnet in them and when key was pressed magnet approached glass tube with contacts and contacts connected in force of magnetic field. These should last like a million years, I bet they use something similar in space shuttles. The switch it self is sealed in vacuum so it will never get corroded or oxidized or contaminated. I do not know how goood are they in terms of speed but definately seem good for reliability.
  • 0 Hide
    Devastator_uk , 8 November 2009 16:11
    The Logitech ones I've had are built out of black plastic so you'll never get down to the white plastic, in fact I think all the black keyboards I've seen are solid black plastic.
    It's true that if you buy a silver keyboard, you'll get down to a non-silver plastic.
  • 1 Hide
    Devastator_uk , 8 November 2009 16:13
    At 99€, why not just buy ten Microsoft 500 keyboards and replace then as needed.
  • 0 Hide
    will_chellam , 8 November 2009 16:16
    I had a logitech dinovo (notebook ver) that was perfect apart from the fact it only supported two key presses simultaneously - half life crouch jump - not happening = bin
  • 2 Hide
    gregor , 8 November 2009 16:24
    By key fade I take it you mean that the characters get worn off over use? If so then surely if you are recommending a keyboard that has no characters in the first place then thats hardly a reason to discount any other keyboard?
  • 0 Hide
    plasmastorm , 8 November 2009 17:05
    Old old OLD news, Engadget reported these over a year ago lol
  • 6 Hide
    Anonymous , 8 November 2009 17:29
    You complain about fading keys and then you go and buy a keyboard with no characters on it...
  • 0 Hide
    Clintonio , 8 November 2009 18:02
    I like the added functionality on more modern keyboards, I like the fact they're quieter, and so does everyone around me, since I'm one of the typists who, with even a silent keyboard, will be heard on the floor below slamming into the board. I like extra buttons and fancy extras. Especially a mute key, I almost can't live without a mute key on my mouse, touchpad or keyboard. Same with volume controls. And, I already have about 10 USB ports on my PC, so, a hub seems utterly useless to me.

    Doesn't seem like the best keyboard ever, seems kinda lacking. I'd rather go for a hardcore keyboard with like, 20 more buttons, a bunch of useful features, less crappy clacking sounds and a shorter/non-existant USB cable to reduce the crap behind my desk.
  • 0 Hide
    AW-Levi , 8 November 2009 18:35
    "Das Keyboard" is just one of many thus cannot be considered the best up to date. Among the best ... probably. It's additional functions are of use only to those who are extreme users and have the proper hardware to go with. As for general users, besides looking great and offering a lot of functions it's still a normal keyboard.
    However, even keyboards that cost approx. 5$ can have a life span of more than 10 years if used properly. This keyboard might be recommended for gamers , that is if supports the "stress" of the gamer. ( Some people break keyboards while they play...lol )Sadly it lacks a few elements that make typing and playing games comfortable.
  • 1 Hide
    flaminggerbil , 8 November 2009 18:40
    Rubbish on the Logitech fade, I've had my G11 for quite a long time now and not experienced a single quality based fault with it.

    Also while that keyboard does look pretty good, if there's no arm-rest, nuts to that.
    Another thing I cant understand is, if you're a touch typist of the level where you'll never need to look at the keyboard: Why the hell do you care about keyfade in the first place? Do you just want a blank keyboard to show people how pr0 l33t typ3r you are?
  • 1 Hide
    mofnet , 8 November 2009 22:31
    a keyboard with no letter markings on it is just madness..! even a touch typist is unlikely to choose a keyboard with no letter markings on... its like buying a car with no numbers on the speedo and saying "you've been driving for years, so should know when your travelling at 30mph or whatever the speed limit is..." absolute madness...!

    I do agree with buying good quality interface devices (display, mouse / pen tablet, keyboard) as these devices are your interface to the computer and as such must be comfortable and easy for you to manage, but come on..... how is no letters on the keyboard "easier"...?
  • 0 Hide
    Johnylyr , 8 November 2009 22:36
    Why don't they keep the enter key big? I want to press enter with my elbow without having to look at it! Every keyboard is rubish unless they have the following: big enter, backspace, shifts, insert, page up etc in two horizontal lines of three and not any other stupid alignment and of course big number of simultaneous key presses.
  • 0 Hide
    Johnylyr , 8 November 2009 22:42
    I really miss those old AT keyboards with which I was playing mortal combat vs my cousin and we were both able to do our tricks pressing lots of keys at the same time without hearing beeps.
  • 0 Hide
    mm0zct , 9 November 2009 04:16
    Personally the standard hp office keyboard is my favourite. i think i paid £5 for it years ago and it's still going well and sitll my favourite (most common useage is programming).

    The keyboard on my hp mininote 2133 is probably me second favourite. Which i think says a lot for it as a netbook keyboard (although the 92% full size actually means my typing on my normal keyboard suffers if i don't use it for a while as i misjudge distances between distant keys slightly, but i don't think keys need be any further spaced than my netbook, try a mininote keyboard if you don't beleive me)
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , 9 November 2009 06:03
    I got my IBM model M in a lot of 10 assorted keyboards for $5 about 10 years ago. It's been my workshop keyboard but this year I migrated it to my house where it's gets used alot more. Definately the M1 Abrams tank of the keyboard world.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , 9 November 2009 06:29
    urh, i hate sales plugs.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , 9 November 2009 06:30
    urh, i hate sales plugs.
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