A Tale of Three Keyboards

There are two main schools of thought on the matter of mechanical keyboards — or rather there’s one school of thought and then there’s the people who don’t realize they aren’t in it.

The first camp are what you might call “Clicky Keyboard Nerds”.

The second camp is called “everyone else”.

I decided I wanted to become a Clicky Keyboard Nerd1 as soon as I read that it was a thing. It took me a long while before this desire was even close to realization. Clicky Keyboards are expensive. Finally I managed to find one that was cheap enough to justify springing for: a second hand Tactile Pro 2.0. I know, Mann’s assumption, right? Still. It looked very clean.

Turns out it’s extremely tough to be a Clicky Keyboard Nerd, in any kind of pure sense, if you work in more than one location. Especially if you work with people, or like to type in an apartment you inhabit with your spouse. So instead of attaining Clicky Nirvana, I’ve been forced to divide my typing time between three different keyboards.

Which isn’t such a bad thing, because they each have at least one great feature that the others don’t. Here’s what I’m approximately touch-typing on these days.

MacBook Air Built-In Keyboard

Website | Cost: $999+

For a built in keyboard, the second-to-newest Air keyboard is pretty great for typing on. They’ve come a long way from the plastic MacBook, which in itself was no slouch. I remember how much better my 2008 model felt compared to the HP I’d transitioned from. When I go back to that old plastic thing now it feels like I’m typing on bamboo keys mired in a box of molasses (just like Mother used to make!) This keyboard is about as good as chiclet keys get.

Really the best thing this keyboard has going for it is that it’s physically undetachable from my MacBook, so it’s always available without any setup. It also has backlit keys, which is pretty handy for typing in the dark (don’t ever type in the dark, weirdo.)

Logitech K760 Wireless Solar Keyboard

Website | Cost: ~$50

When I started using a standing desk at work and at home, I realized very quickly that if you want to use it with a laptop you have to have a separate keyboard and mouse, otherwise you’re going to be constantly looking down. Luckily I’ve had this keyboard for a while now and it’s extremely portable. It has good HandFeel® (that’s a thing I’ve just made up which measures how nice a keyboard feels when you type on it) and I’d say that it’s comparable to the MacBook keyboard.

It’s wireless, which is pretty nice, and not only that it allows you to set up 3 bluetooth profiles, so you can quickly switch between devices without pairing/re-pairing. So I don’t have to have separate keyboards for my day/night phones. What a relief. It also has keys which correspond to useful things on iOS.

Here’s the kicker: it’s solar powered.

Solar. Powered.

It could potentially keep on trucking until the heat-death of the Universe. Amazing. I love this thing, and I take it everywhere.

Matias Tactile Pro 2.0

Website | Discontinued

Just look at this bad boy. It’s one of the most attractive of the mechanical keyboards out there, which means it is only mostly hideous. I picked this up for $10. At this point you’re either thinking “what a bargain,” or, “you absolute ninny”.

It’s really, really fun to type on. It makes a sound like Pinocchio falling down a mountain of rebar. Once you get into your groove it’s faster than anything you’ve ever used. You’ll feel like you’re really getting somewhere. If you don’t mind the ringing noise (Shawn Blanc hated it, I quite like it) then you’re all set.

One of the great things about the Tactile Pro is that it has lots of the little symbols you only need once in a blue moon printed on the keyboard. You’ll never be at a loss for a ß or a ∆.

I loved this keyboard as soon as I picked it up. But just like that werewolf guy in Twilight, mine is a love that’s going to have to be patient. The problem I have with this keyboard is that it’s not portable, and it’s just too loud for working around people. I fear I’m going to have to wait until I have a home office before I can really get some use out of it. For now, I’ll remain a wannabe Clicky Keyboard Nerd. It feels good to have long-term goals, I guess.

  1. For anyone interested, this is the point that I create a TextExpander snippet.