KBParadise V60 Type R Polestar Edition review

Today we’re looking at a gorgeous new compact mechanical keyboard: the KBParadise V60 Type R Polestar Edition. As you can probably guess by its long name, this special keyboard has some unique features that really set it apart from the crowd: It’s fully programmable, it has a transparent bottom cover and full RGB case lighting. That makes it an eye-catching keyboard that you can customise exactly the way you want. Let’s take a look in our hands-on review!

Design & Features

The V60 is a compact keyboard, about 60% of the size of a full-format keyboard (hence the name). The number keys, number pad, navigation and cursor keys are all relegated to a Function layer, making them easy to access without moving your fingers too far away from the home row. It also makes the keyboard super portable; you can easily use this keyboard with a tablet or laptop on the train without issue — or just enjoy plenty of desk space when you’re using it at home with a desktop PC.

The V60 Type R Polestar Edition comes in USA layout only at present, meaning you have a wide Left Shift key and a wide Enter button. (Of course, if your Windows or Mac layout is set to an ISO layout (e.g. UK, French, Spanish, Swedish, etc) then you’ll still be able to press almost all region-specific keys in their normal position, e.g. you can type £ by pressing Shift + 3 when your computer is set to a UK layout.

The keycaps are made of ABS, and have dual laser-etched legends. The legends on the top provide the normal function of each key, while the legends on the front show the effect when the key is pressed with the Fn key held down. This makes the keyboard easy to use, even for newcomers to compact layouts, and it looks cool too. Each key is backlit in white, so you can use this keyboard in low light without any issues.

The case of the Type R Polestar is made from semi-transparent plastic, allowing you to see the circuit board underneath. Of course, it also allows the keyboard’s glorious RGB lighting to be fully appreciated.

A series of LEDs throughout the case light it up entirely, either in the single colour of your choice or through a constantly-switching spectrum of colours. There are also modes that vary the brightness of both the case and key backlighting, in rhythm with your typing or a heartbeat. Of course, either or both kinds of lighting can also be disabled if you prefer.

Unlike most keyboards with RGB lighting, you can choose exactly the colour you want without needing to install any software, as there are dedicated keys for increasing and decreasing the amount of Red, Green and Blue used. This makes it easy to choose your favourite colour, letting you match your PC and other peripherals or just swap to whatever shade catches your fancy.

The Type R Polestar is currently available with a choice of four Cherry MX switches: Red, Brown, Blue and Clear. Red switches are soft and linear, Brown soft and tactile, Blue hard and clicky, and Clear hard and tactile. Clear switches are still quite rare, so it’s great to see them on the Polestar.

We mentioned earlier that the keyboard is fully programmable, which comes courtesy of an ATMega32u4 controller and open source TMK firmware. This is a fairly involved process, but it allows you to have precisely the keyboard you want so it’s well worth exploring. You can find instructions here. Programming mode is enabled by pressing the button on the bottom of the case, so don’t press it by accident!

The Polestar connects to your PC using a removable Mini USB cable, which is provided. You’ll also find an instruction manual in the box.

Testing

Now that we’ve covered the keyboard’s design and features, how is it to use? We wanted to find out, so I used this keyboard for a period of one week, starting with a five hour train journey from Bristol to Yorkshire.

My first impressions of the keyboard were very positive. The layout immediately makes a lot of sense, and allows for a very portable keyboard indeed. Despite the small number of keys, all of the normal keys are included and there are even keys for adjusting the volume: Fn + B, N and M.

The only thing that wasn’t particularly intuitive was the placement of the arrow keys, which are in the Function layer either on WASD or on the right side of the keyboard near the Enter key. It took me an hour or so to get to grips with this placement, but after this initial period I found it quite sensible. If you already know where WASD is through gaming, then finding the cursor keys without looking isn’t difficult after a little practice.

The small size of the Polestar meant that I had no problems using the keyboard on top of my laptop perched on the tiny tray table, and the rainbow backlighting amused me (and passing passengers) to no end. The keycaps also felt good, neither too slick nor too scratchy under the finger.

Of course, your choice of mechanical switches also makes a big difference when testing out a new keyboard. Our review unit came with MX Clear switches, which are essentially a stronger version of the popular MX Brown switch. This was one of my first times using these switches, and I got on with them very well. They require 65 cN of force to actuate, compared to 45 cN for Brown. The higher force and faster return make it easier to not bottom out while typing, a trait shared with Cherry MX Blue switches. Overall, I found it to be a brilliant switch for typing that still performs well in games, and it’s not too loud either. They’re definitely worth trying, and the Polestar is the perfect platform to do so.

Ultimately, I had a good time testing out the Polestar, and I suspect that this will be one of the few mechanical keyboards that I end up buying for myself after the review period is over. The sensible layout, gorgeous backlighting and option for reprogramming down the line make this a very attractive keyboard. The Clear switches are also really nice, and I’ll be looking for them on future keyboards as well.

Links

The KBP V60 Type R Polestar is in stock now at KeyboardCo! You can choose from Cherry MX Clear, Red, Brown or Blue switches, all in USA / ANSI layout.

I hope you’re a fan of the Type R Polestar — we certainly are! If you’d like something a bit different, why not take a look at the other KBP keyboards we stock in all different shapes and sizes, or just take a look at our full selection of mechanical keyboards?

Thanks for checking out the article, and be sure to let me know what you think in the comments below! If you have any questions, we’d welcome those too.

Posted in Articles, News, Reviews Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,

The latest arrivals at KeyboardCo: Filco numpads and flag keycaps, Das Keyboard 4 for Mac

Hey folks! I thought we’d take a look at some of the recent arrivals at The Keyboard Company, including new mechanical keyboards, new accessories and more. Let’s get right into it!

Filco Mechanical Numberpads

filco_keypad_matte_white_large_2 (1)

The coolest new addition in my eyes are the Filco numpads. These tiny mechanical numpads are the perfect choice for anyone that has a Tenkeyless (TKL) or smaller keyboard, as they allow you to use the numpad for spreadsheets or calculations, without taking up valuable desk space when you don’t need them. If you have been considering a TKL keyboard but you don’t want to give up the ability to enter numbers quickly, this is the perfect accessory.

The numpads are available in three varieties: white with tactile switches (Cherry MX Brown), white with silent soft linear switches (Cherry MX Silent Red) and black with silent soft linear switches (Cherry MX Silent Red again). The layout of the numpad doesn’t change between American and European keyboards, so these numpads can be used with any keyboard on the market without issue.

filco_keypad_black_large_1

Just plug it in using the provided detachable USB cable alongside your original keyboard, and you can type in numbers and mathematical symbols with speed. There’s even a row along the top that gives you easy access to Escape, Tab, Equals and Backspace — awesome!

Filco Flag Keycaps

filco-flag-caps

This is a brief one, but still pretty cool. Filco have made their own national flag keycaps, with options for the UK and USA. The US get a cool Stars and Stripes keycap to replace Caps Lock, while the Brits get the Union Jack on either Caps Lock or Tab. These keycaps are inexpensive and a ton of fun, so check ’em out.

Das Keyboard 4 Professional UK for Mac

das_keyboard_4_professional_for_mac_uk_large

The Das Keyboard is one of the first mechanical keyboards to kick off the trend in the West, making its name with gloriously unlabelled keycaps and a stylish design. Things have moved on quite a bit since then, and now Das are producing the Das Keyboard 4. The Professional version of the keyboard comes with fully labelled keycaps, and this particular model has a UK layout and Mac legends, making it the perfect upgrade for iMac, Mac Pro or MacBook user.

The keyboard has gold-plated Brown switches and dedicated media controls including an oversized volume knob in the upper right. The keyboard is also a USB 3.0 SuperSpeed hub, allowing you to conveniently connect mice, gamepads, SD card readers and USB storage drives. This is a gorgeous keyboard that’s fun to type on, and it’s well equipped too.

Wrapping up

That’s all we have time for this week! We’ll be back soon with a closer look at Varmilo’s latest keyboards at the Keyboard Co, including some gorgeous models made of aluminium and magnesium. Until then, farewell!

Posted in Articles, News Tagged with: , , , , ,

Looking for a great Father’s Day gift? Try a mechanical keyboard

slider_3

It’s hard to find a good Father’s Day gift. My dad tends to like something that’s thoughtful, practical and long-lasting — not something he has to pretend to enjoy for a few minutes on the day, then keep in a cupboard somewhere for the rest of his life. Tools are good, but he’s already got the ones that he likes.

It’s a tall order, but this year I think I have the perfect gift: a mechanical keyboard. It’s not something you would think of first, but it actually makes a lot of sense — they feel amazing to type on, they’ll last forever and they’re damn practical too. Your dad will love it. Take a look!

What’s a mechanical keyboard, and what makes them good?

Truly_Ergonomic_Keyboard__Mechanical_Switches_closeup

So: mechanical keyboards. These computer keyboards feel great to type on, because beneath each button is a real mechanical switch. That gives proper feedback when you press down, and some produce a lovely clicky sound too. If you (or your dad) remember those big and biege IBM Model M keyboards with those buckling spring switches, these are the modern equivalent: just as well-made and enjoyable to use, but with modern necessities like USB. The switches are lighter than your average keyboard too, and you don’t have to press down all the way for a press to register. That makes using them much more comfortable, for old bones and new, and you may find yourself making fewer mistakes and typing faster too!

Model M 01

Like all good tools, a mechanical keyboard can last a lifetime. Normal keyboards use the same rubbery blobs as a remote control, but they stiffen up after a few years and you have to press harder and harder for them to work. Mechanical keyboards are made of tougher materials and have a more bullet-proof design, so they’ll work just fine after even five, ten or twenty years of constant use. I’ve seen old mechanical keyboards discovered in junk piles, covered in dirt and gunk, but after all that crap was cleaned off they worked just as well as they ever did. Mechanical keyboards also (mostly) modular, so even if one switch or another component fails, odds are you can repair it yourself without shelling out for a whole ‘nother keyboard.

afb252aadef26ced9dda6300620f06d6

Whether your dad uses a computer at home or for work, he’ll always be able to see the gift you’ve given him — and he can show it off to his friends or coworkers. Every time he sits down at his desktop, laptop or tablet, he’ll appreciate the thought and care you’ve shown. He might even like it so much he starts tinkering with it, adding his own keycaps or even building a keyboard from scratch — the start of a new hobby!

So to sum up: mechanical keyboards are fun to use, they make writing faster and more comfortable, and they’ll last for decades without complaint.

Our Father’s Day mechanical keyboard recommendations

So – which mechanical keyboard do you choose? Thanks to their rise in popularity over the past five years, there are a massive variety available. Your dad’s taste may vary from mine, but I see classic, no-nonsense designs as the ideal choice. A kaleidoscope of rainbow-coloured lights, twenty additional macro keys, unusual layouts: these are not necessary.

Instead, pick up something that comes in white or black, in a standard layout, and no backlighting. That ensures that your dad sees the mechanical keyboard as it is intended: a great typing experience, not an expensive gimmick. And if he wants to customise it later, then he has the freedom to do it!

Filco Majestouch-2: a great no-frills typing keyboard

s-filco_majestouch_2_uk_large

Filco’s Majestouch-2 is a great place to start looking — it feels great to type on, and has a standard layout with no superfluous features whatsoever. (However, you can get it in a range of sensible colours, or a camo green that will blend in nicely with every motor vehicle my dad has ever owned.) You can learn more about the Filco Majestouch-2 or see more keyboards via the links below:

Matias Tactile Pro: a classic design, available for Macs and PCs

1

Another company to look out for is Matias. Their keyboards are reminiscent of classic Apple designs, with modern remakes of the classic Alps switches that lurked inside. The Tactile Pro has the same satisfying, chunky typing experience as many of these older keyboards, even IBM’s legendary Model M, but with slightly lighter switches and a more modern design.

Unicomp Classic: the legendary IBM Model M reborn

MD-19786_20160606104413_1a848ac5a6e12624

Speaking of the Model M, a company called Unicomp has been producing its Ultra Classic keyboards based on IBM’s original designs – but this time you can choose from the original beige or a more modern black. They sound amazing.

Filco Convertible 2: Great for laptops, tablets and even smartphones

FKBC87MCEB2_01

The Convertible 2 is an upgraded version of the Majestouch-2 we covered earlier, with Bluetooth built in. That makes it easy to connect to tablets like the iPad, laptops and multiple PCs. Of course, you can still plug it in with a USB cable when you want to, and it feels just as great to type on as the original Filco Majestouch-2.

Keyboard Paradise: modern guts and retro styling

kb_paradise_v100_dolch_keyboard_large

Finally, the last keyboard you should consider for your dad is the KBP V100. This is a modern keyboard with tactile Cherry MX Brown mechanical switches, but it’s available in Dolch and Olivetti colour schemes that provide tons of classic style.

Questions? Comments?

I hope this article has convinced you that a mechanical keyboard could be the ultimate Father’s Day gift for your dad.

If you want my personal recommendation, it’s the Filco Majestouch-2 — I think that classic design (and optional camo colour scheme) will be just the ticket for my dad! (If your dad prefers tablets to PCs, then the Bluetooth variant is the easy choice).

filco_majestouch_2_tenkeyless_camouflage-r_us_multimedia_large_4

If you have any questions or would like suggestions to suit your individual requirements, please get in touch via the comments below! You can also contact us by phone +44(0)1453 884938 or via email — sales@keyboard.com.

For more information on mechanical keyboards, check out our guide to mechanical switches here!

Thanks for checking out the article, and I wish you all the best for Father’s Day — it’s June 18th, by the way. No pressure!

june-18

Posted in Articles, Guides Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Topre Realforce RGB review

DSCF0103

A modern take on a long-time favourite

Topre belong to the same golden cadre of mechanical keyboard makers as Filco and Unicomp; designers that put the typing experience first and modern accoutrements second (if at all).

Today Topre are bucking the trend, with the release of their ultra-modern Realforce RGB keyboard. This comes with the same electro-capacitive switches that have found favour on the original Realforce and Happy Hacking keyboards, but with some modern innovations that could appeal to a whole new market. Let’s take a closer look!

Features & Design

smaller

As the name suggests, the Realforce RGB comes with trendy RGB backlighting, allowing you to set the LEDs behind each doubleshot keycap to any of 16.8 million colours. This can be done individually, en masse or in special modes like ‘rainbow wave’ or ‘rainstorm’ that provide cool lighting effects. RGB lighting has become a major trend for gaming hardware in 2017, and it’s great to see that embraced by Topre.

DSCF0105

Topre have also opted to use Cherry MX compatible keycaps and stems for their keyboard rather than their traditional Topre ones, allowing you to swap in your own custom keycaps from a wide range of online options if you want a new look. It has always been difficult to find Topre keycaps online, so this is great news for anyone that likes to customise their keyboard with new novelty keycaps or whole sets in different colours, styles or materials.

Image credit: MassDrop

Image credit: MassDrop

Topre have also forged their own path with the Realforce RGB. Due to the unique electro-capacitive switches that lie at the heart of the keyboard, it’s actually possible to change the actuation point — the physical threshold at which the keyboard recognises a key has been pressed — in software. You can choose from 1.5mm, 2.2mm or 3.0mm, allowing you to fine-tune individual keys or the whole keyboard depending on your use.

APC

For example, you could set the actuation point to the 1.5mm setting when playing a fast-paced game like Counter-Strike or League of Legends, allowing you to tap and double-tap faster, but return it to a higher seting like 2.2mm or 3.0mm when writing or playing a strategy game to avoid typos.

We’ve seen shorter actuation distances on many recent gaming keyboards, but Topre’s novel approach means that you can experiment to find what works best for you, rather than being stuck with a certain distance after you buy the keyboard.

DSCF0110

In terms of design, the Realforce RGB looks much more modern than earlier Realforce models, with minimal bezels and a sleek matte black colour scheme. The keyboard isn’t any larger than other full-size keyboards, despite having some extra keys for actuation and volume control.

DSCF0106

That’s because these extra keys have been tucked into the upper right corner, where you’d normally expect to find LEDs for Caps Lock, Scroll Lock and Num Lock. These are still present, visible through a semi-transparent piece of glossy plastic between the extra keys and the top row of the number pad. There are also a wide range of Function keys, for media playback controls, and setting the backlighting’s colour, style and intensity.

The Realforce RGB is available in a USA (ANSI) layout at present, with a uniform 45gram weighting for each switch. N-Key rollover is fully supported over USB. All settings can be changed via software for Windows. The keyboard comes with a three-year limited warranty, including the LEDs — a rarity for a keyboard.

Now that we’ve described what the keyboard is capable of, let’s take a closer look at what it’s actually like in the real world. Here is our review!

Hands-on Review

DSCF0104

In order to give a good account of the keyboard, we used it as our daily driver for a period of two weeks. That includes a lot of writing (including articles like this one), editing and gaming. The game we played most often was Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (a competitive shooter), backed with Overwatch (a slightly more casual shooter), Civilization VI (a turn-based strategy) and Torment: Tides of Numenera (an RPG).

RGB-keystroke

Let’s look at typing first. Topre’s electro-capacitive switches have always excelled here, which is why Realforce and Happy Hacking keyboards have been so prized by writers, editors and developers. The reason for this is hard to pin down exactly, but it comes down to the smooth, soft feeling you get when pressing down each key. It’s quieter and less harsh than a Cherry MX switch, with a satisfying ‘THOCK’ sound accompanying each keystroke. The Realforce RGB delivers this excellent typing experience just as well as earlier Topre keyboards, while the addition of backlighting ensures you can use the keyboard just as comfortably at night as you can during the day.

REALFORCE-RGB-SalesKit-v1

Gaming also benefits from the backlighting, allowing for easy low-light use. We also appreciated the ability to set custom backlighting layouts for specific games. For example, keys that are used often could be one colour, less frequently used keys could be another, and those that aren’t used could remain unlit so you don’t hit them on accident.

RGB-color-full-color-2

You can do a similar trick with the actuation point, and this might be the killer feature of the Realforce RGB for gamers. You can set keys that you want to use often to a quicker actuation point, while keys that aren’t used in-game can get a slower actuation point. That makes it easy to hit the correct keys with speed, while making it harder to hit the wrong keys accidentally. This is super useful, especially for games that you haven’t yet mastered, as it ensures that all of your key presses are on target.

2017-04-20 10_54_28-REALFORCE RGB Software

Otherwise, the Topre Realforce RGB is a strong choice for gaming. The N-Key Rollover allows for as many simultaneous key presses as you like (great for games like OSU!), while the low 45 gram weighting and customisable actuation point mean that gaming even for long periods is comfortable. The full layout makes the keyboard a good choice for games with a lot of hotkeys, like flight sims, and ensures you have plenty of spare keys to use for macros.

RGB-no-color

Overall, the Topre Realforce RGB impresses. It is a premium option, no doubt, but you definitely get what you pay for: a brilliantly smooth typing experience, completely unparalleled customisation options, pretty RGB backlighting and excellent build quality.

Available now

The Topre Realforce RGB is available now at The Keyboard Company. To find out more or to place an order, please visit the page linked below.

Thanks for reading this article! Please let us know what you think of the Realforce RGB in the comments below, and we welcome your questions too. You can also find us on Twitter @keyboardco or Facebook.

Posted in Articles, News, Reviews Tagged with: , ,

Contour RollerMouse Free3 review: the latest ergonomic mouse alternative

 

 

RM-free3_top

Have you seen a RollerMouse before? It’s like a mouse, but different. Instead of roaming around the right side of your keyboard, the RollerMouse sits right in front of your keyboard, within easy reach of your fingers and thumbs. It’s stationary, like a trackball, but instead of a ball you roll the bar forward and backward to go up and down, and move the bar left and right to go left and right. It feels as natural and intuitive as a traditional mouse, and provides some significant efficiency and ergonomic benefits. Let’s go into more detail so you can see what I’m talking about.

Why RollerMouse?

DSCF0209

First up, efficiency. Because the RollerMouse is so close to your fingers when you’re on the keyboard, you don’t have to waste time or energy moving your hand off the keyboard, to the mouse, then back again. That only saves the work of a fraction of a second, but you might repeat that motion hundreds or thousands of times per day — and so savings quickly add up.

More importantly, there’s also a big ergonomic advantage to using a mouse this way. You’re able to keep your palms and wrists on a comfortable rest at all times, and you’re avoiding a lot of repetitive motion that can cause serious problems down the road. Whether you’re concerned about RSI in the future or you’re already suffering from it, you’ll immediately appreciate this new way of doing things.

Design and features

DSCF0200

The RollerMouse Free3 is the latest version of this little-known mouse alternative. It provides the familiar ergonomic and time-saving advantages as its predecessors, wrapped in a sleeker package that includes an integrated wrist rest, more buttons and extra customisability. After using the RollerMouse Free3 for a week, we’re ready to deliver our hands-on review!

The first thing you’ll notice about the Free3 is that it’s actually quite sleek. Earlier versions of the RollerMouse looked a little vintage, but the Free3 has a curvier design with more generously-sized leatherette pads for your wrists and palms to rest on.

DSCF0203

It’s also less tall than its predecessors, at less than a centimetre high. That makes it easier to fit under lower-profile keyboards. Finally, the design is much wider, allowing the bar to be much longer. That seems to allow for more precise movement, which is useful when pressing small buttons or selecting individual letters.

DSCF0202

The button layout has also been expanded compared to past designs. As well as having dedicated left and right click buttons and a (lovely) scroll wheel, there are six more buttons: A large button below the scroll wheel allows you to double click with a single press, while a smaller button above the scroll wheel provides up to ten options for cursor speed from 600 to 2800 DPI. LEDs light up to indicate your current setting, making it easy to get back to the one that you liked. (You can also adjust the mouse sensitivity in Windows or Mac to gain even more fine-grained control.) Finally, there are four shortcut buttons that let you copy and paste, and go back or forward. For anyone used to a mouse with side buttons, this is a godsend.

DSCF0206

As well as adjusting the sensitivity of the rollerbar, you can also customise its clickiness. This is done by a manual slider on the bottom of the RollerMouse. If you find yourself pressing too hard to click, or clicking accidentally, this is an easy way to set things right.

Impressions

DSCF0204

When you first use the Free3, it is a little odd. Although moving the cursor around the screen is intuitive, it still took me about a day to be able to mouse around the screen with speed and accuracy. Once this training period was complete though, I found I could be very nearly as accurate with the RollerMouse as I could with a traditional mouse design. (I even tried playing games with the RollerMouse… and it kind of worked! Turn-based games like Civilization were the easiest to control, but even playing shooters like Counter-Strike was technically possible!)

And what about the benefits? I definitely found that I was able to work more quickly when I was using the RollerMouse. Not having to ever move your fingers away from the keyboard is pretty amazing. It’s almost the same feeling as using console applications in Linux; you feel like you can get everything done without ever breaking your flow.

DSCF0205

I also felt some ergonomic benefits. One prevailing idea in computer ergonomics is ‘mouse shoulder‘ — feeling pain in your neck and shoulder after using a computer for long periods. This often occurs when you keep your arm and shoulder rotated away from your body, such as when you’re holding onto a mouse. By keeping your hands within the width of your shoulders, you can avoid mouse shoulder and the unfortunate pain that accompanies it.

The RollerMouse could have other ergonomic benefits too. I sometimes get some tenderness in my tendons after working or gaming for a long stretch at a time, and that feeling was largely ameliorated by using the RollerMouse, and more so with the Free3 than with earlier iterations. It’s still early days though, so I will try to continue to use the RollerMouse and perhaps prepare another review after several weeks or months.

Overall, I had a good time using the RollerMouse and definitely found it has its advantages. If you spend long periods of time working on your PC, particularly if you’re writing or editing, I think the RollerMouse will be quite helpful to you – I wish I had the RollerMouse when I was a student! If you are playing games or editing photos, I think the benefits are less obvious, but there’s still some advantages to be had.

Either way, I’d encourage you to try the RollerMouse Free3 if you’re able, and let me know what you think! It would be fun to show some customer reviews here on the blog, so feel free to get in touch.

Links and wrapping up

RM_Free3_angle

There’s never been a better time to try a RollerMouse. The Free3 is currently available with a 30 day money back trial, so you can try it out for yourself risk-free. If you don’t like it for whatever reason, you can return it for a full refund, no questions asked.

RM-free3_top

The Free3 is also available as a bundle with the Contour Balance keyboard, as seen in the photo above. This keyboard is designed to work perfectly with the RollerMouse, with negative tilt so that it joins up perfectly. (We’ll have a full review of the keyboard on the blog soon!) If you’re interested, you can check out the bundled deal right here to get both items for 10% off.

That’s all for now. Thanks for checking out the article and be sure to let me know what you think in the comments below! You can also reach us on Twitter @keyboardco or at facebook.com/keyboardco. Thanks again and have a great week!

Posted in Articles, Reviews Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

Filco Majestouch-2 Hakua review: a chalk-white keyboard with MX Silent Red switches

DSCF0180

Hakua. It means ‘search’ in Finnish, but it also means ‘chalk’ in Japanese. It’s also the name of Filco’s latest mechanical keyboard. The Hakua is a chalk-white version of the legendary Majestouch-2, and it really is a stunner. This particular Hakua keyboard has a secret too: it’s got Cherry’s brand new MX Silent Red switches. Let’s take a closer look (and a listen!) in our hands-on review.

Design

Despite the new colour, the overall design hasn’t changed since the original Majestouch-2. You’re still getting a rock-solid mechanical keyboard, with a plate-mounted PCB and light ABS keycaps that provide a blissful typing experience. The layout is completely standard, and the keycaps are inscribed with Futura legends. Both full-size and TKL (tenkeyless) versions are available; I’m looking at the full format version at the moment.

DSCF0174

The Hakua’s clean, modern aesthetic makes it the centre of attention on any desk. It looks brilliant as it is, but I’m also going to predict that this will become one of the most popular keyboards for customisation as well. Whether by changing the fascia or adding custom keycaps, these Hakua keyboards seem like the perfect starting point for anyone that wants to set their keyboard apart from the crowd.

DSCF0175

The bottom of the keyboard is also white, in case you were wondering, and includes the usual movable feet to angle your keyboard how you want.

DSCF0177

The non-removable USB cable also comes with a white-and-pink velcro tie to keep it nicely bundled up while you’re on the move. Finally, the keyboard comes with a USB-to-PS2 adapter and a clear plastic cover that will keep it dust-free.

DSCF0171

Testing

I used the Filco Hakua for one week as our go-to mechanical keyboard (fighting off a lot of opposition, let me tell you!). After using smaller 60%-size and TKL keyboards for a long time, it was a breath of fresh air to return to a full, completely standard layout.

DSCF0179

The new switches were a lot of fun too. They’re just as light as MX Red switches, at 45 grams, but rubbery TPE built into the switch provides sound dampening on both the upstroke and the downstroke. That makes for an incredibly quiet mechanical keyboard, which produces deeper tones compared to the normal clatter of a mechanical keyboard. If you work in an office and you’re worried about annoying your coworkers, then these are the switches that you should be getting.

model

A side effect of the dampening on the downstroke is that you get a slightly ‘cushioned’ feeling, similar to typing on a Topre electro-capacitive keyboard. I found this quite nice, but as always it will be a matter of taste. Try it for yourself and let us know what you think!

You can listen to the keyboard here:

Links

DSCF0169

The Filco Majestouch-2 Hakua is available now at The Keyboard Company, in full-size and TKL layouts. So far just American / ANSI layouts are available, but you do get choice of MX Brown or new MX Silent Red switches. To see more information or to get one for yourself, check out the product pages linked below:

Wrapping up

Thanks for checking out the article, and be sure to let us know what you think of the new keyboards in the comments below. I’ve certainly enjoyed my time with them, and I’m sure you will too!

Posted in Articles, Reviews Tagged with: , , , , , ,

Topre keyboards in EU / ISO layouts in stock now!

Topre Realforce keyboards in exclusive EU layouts are now in stock at The Keyboard Company! Here are the latest arrivals.

Full-size Topre keyboards

topre_united_kingdom_gold_on_black_keyboard_large

The Topre Realforce 105UB is a luxurious full-size keyboard, offering perfectly smooth electro-capacitive switches and a complete layout with number pad. These keyboards are weighted at a uniform 45 grams, and are available in a range of colours and layouts.

uk_topre_realforce_105U_45g_black_on_beige_keyboard_large

Tenkeyless Topre keyboards

topre_realforce_88ub_black_uk_large

These space-saving keyboards omit the numberpad, allowing for easier portability and more comfortable mouse positioning. They’re also available in both light and dark colour schemes, in various layouts:

uk_topre_realforce_88U_45g_black_on_beige_keyboard_large

Wrapping up

Of course, these aren’t the only Topre keyboards we have! The new Topre Realforce RGB gaming keyboard is in stock now (review coming soon!) and you can look at our full range of Topre keyboards.

Thanks for checking out the article, and be sure to let us know what you think of the new keyboards. If you have any questions or comments, leave them below or write to us on Twitter @keyboardco. Thanks again and enjoy the rest of your day!

Posted in Articles, News

Pick up our Contour keyboard & mouse bundle at 10% off!

contour_roller_mouse_free3_and_balance_keyboard_large

The Contour RollerMouse is one of our favourite ergonomic inventions; a rolling mouse replacement that sits below your keyboard, allowing you to mouse around the screen without moving your hands out of your ‘home row’ position. It’s super comfortable to use, and it feels more efficient too — we even use these in our offices!

The new Rollermouse Free3 has arrived at The Keyboard Company, and for a limited time we’re offering it as part of a bundle with the Counter Balance Keyboard at £30 off! Let’s take a closer look.

Shop for the Counter RollerMouse Free3 + Balance Keyboard Bundle >

The new RollerMouse Free3

contour_roller_mouse_free3_and_balance_keyboard_large_1

The RollerMouse Free3 is a sleeker, refined version of previous RollerMouse input devices. The Free3 is equipped with nine buttons, giving you left click and right click plus seven programmable buttons. There’s also an integrated scroll wheel, making it easy to move throughout the page.

The Free3 includes a new type of sensor beneath the rollerbar, allowing you to move the cursor on screen more precisely. This is great for any program with a complex interface, like Photoshop or Microsoft Word. Accuracy and cursor speed have also been improved, as you’re now able to set the pointer between 800 and 2800 DPI.

The Free3 is more comfortable than its predecessors too, thanks to an integrated wrist-rest with plenty of padding. The fully open rollerbar is also more stable, giving you room to move accomodating different shoulder widths. It’s also the lowest profile RollerMouse ever, allowing you to maintain an ergonomic position more easily. It also meshes extremely well with the Balance keyboard, which is why we’re offering these two new products in one bundle at a 10% discount!

Shop for the Counter RollerMouse Free3 + Balance Keyboard Bundle >

I personally loved the RollerMouse when I reviewed it in 2015, and I can’t wait to spend more time with the new version. Now, let’s move onto the other half of the bundle: the Contour Balance Wireless Keyboard!

The new Contour Balance Wireless Keyboard

contour_roller_mouse_free3_and_balance_keyboard_large_2

If you’re looking for the perfect keyboard to pair with your RollerMouse, then this may be it. The Contour Balance is designed to put your hands in the most comfortable typing and mousing position. Adjustable legs and tilt options make it easy to adopt an ergonomic posture, with options for negative, neutral and positive typing angles — unlike almost other keyboards on the market today.

The keyboard connects wirelessly to the included USB dongle, and can run for several months on just two AAA batteries. When not in use, you can keep the dongle within the keyboard itself, so you’ll never lose it. This keyboard doesn’t even need an on/off switch, thanks to its advanced power-saving technology.

All in all, it’s a solid keyboard that works great with the RollerMouse Free3. For more information and photos of both, please check out our store link below!

Shop for the Counter RollerMouse Free3 + Balance Keyboard Bundle >

Wrapping up

That’s all for now. Thanks for checking out the article, and be sure to let us know what you think of the bundle in the comments below!

Posted in Articles, Meta, News Tagged with: , , , , , ,

Left-handed Keypad Keyboard review

 

black_left_handed_keypad_keyboard_large

Left-handed keyboards are a rarity, even for left-handed people… and that’s a shame. Beyond just being better-suited for southpaws, left-handed keyboards actually have a whole host of benefits for right-handers as well. Today, we’re looking at one such Left-handed Keyboard, which has arrived recently at KeyboardCo.

img_8941

 

Left-handed keyboards aren’t completely reversed of course — they just have their number pads on the left-hand side. You can see what this looks like above, and it’s basically what you would expect. You type normally with both hands, and use your left hand to enter numbers or press keys like Print Screen.

So why left-handed? Well, it’s great for entering numbers and using a mouse at the same time, like when you’re entering data into a table or spreadsheet. You also have easy access to the tab key, which is normally far away from the number pad.

Having the numberpad on the left also provides the same comfortable ergonomics that a tenkeyless (no number pad) keyboard provides. You can keep your mouse directly ahead of you, instead of off to the right hand side, which is a much more comfortable position.

img_8938

 

This particular keyboard has other ergonomic benefits too. Its keys become slightly raised in the centre, and each is slightly angled. The idea is that you place your elbows slightly wider, with your fingers angled towards the centre. This posture feels more comfortable, and the difference is slight enough that learning the new positioning is a matter of minutes instead of hours or days. It looks a bit odd, but it makes a lot of sense ergonomically.

img_8944

 

There are other handy features here too. For example, there are a selection of shortcut keys that run across the top of the keyboard, letting you access your internet browser, perform a search or adjust your volume without using the mouse. This keeps your hands on your keyboard, minimising distraction.

img_8946

 

The right hand side of the keyboard is also a bit thinner than you’d expect, with home and end near the top, and page up, page down and delete all in a line above the full-size cursor keys. You’ll also note the handy LED indicators for Caps, Scroll and Num lock on the right hand side.

img_8945

The Black Left-Handed Keypad Keyboard is a pretty comfortable keyboard to use, and I hope we see more keyboards in future that use it for design inspiration. If you’re interested in picking one up for yourself, click the link below.

Posted in Articles, Reviews Tagged with: , , ,

Filco Convertible 2 TKL review: a portable wired and wireless mechanical keyboard

Update March 2017: Good news, everyone! Full-size Convertible 2 keyboards with MX Brown switches will be available this summer in UK, German or Swedish layouts (ISO). MX Blue switches will also be available, for UK layouts only. Click here for the full range.

img_8961

The Filco Convertible 2 TKL is a hybrid keyboard, in that it offers both wired and wireless (Bluetooth) operation. Like its bigger brother, the Tenkeyless version of the Convertible 2 is a convenient way of connecting to smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers all with one keyboard. If you often find yourself switching between multiple devices, each with their own keyboard, why not just use one great mechanical keyboard connected to all of them?

img_8963

The TKL version of the Convertible 2 has a few unique advantages brought about by its smaller size. The missing number pad means that the Convertible 2 is much lighter than the full format version, and takes up less space.

That makes it more portable; you can easily fit it into small messenger bags or backpacks. Whether you’re carrying the keyboard to work or your next LAN party, you’ll be happy to give your back a break. Plus, the small size means that the keyboard will fit on the tiny tray tables on trains and airplanes, making it easier to work here.

img_8968

The smaller size has other benefits as well. Not having a number pad means the keyboard takes up much less space on your desk, and it brings ergonomic benefits as well. You’re able to keep your hands closer together when using a mouse, which often feels more comfortable.

img_8958

Like other Filco keyboards, the Convertible 2 feels really well made. The simple matte plastic casing is sturdily constructed, and the steel-mounted mechanical switches feel crisp and solid under your fingers. You have a choice of two genuine Cherry MX switches: tactile Browns and clicky Blues. Both are a joy to use, especially with the light ABS keycaps. If you’d prefer different keycaps, the standardised layout means you’ll have no problems finding custom replacements.

img_8952

Connecting to Bluetooth devices like phones, tablets and computers is easy, and the keyboard can remember up to five Bluetooth connections for later use. You can also plug the keyboard in with its detachable USB cable, allowing you to use it without batteries. That gives you six potential connections in all!

img_8947

The Convertible 2 takes two AA batteries, which are provided in the box. These should last for up to a full year depending on your usage.

As well as Sony batteries, you’ll also get a key puller and three replacement keycaps. Combined with DIP switches on the back of the keyboard, you can swap the position of Ctrl and Caps Lock, or trade the right-hand Windows key for a menu key.

img_8954

Our first customer review of the Convertible 2 TKL perhaps sums it up best:

One word: Awesome. This is the ultimate keyboard for those who need wireless connections and connect to multiple devices. Filco as usual delivers top notch quality.

If you’d like to get one of your very own, take a look at our store page linked below. You can also see our review of the original Convertible 2 for more information on the whole concept.

Shop for the Filco Convertible 2 TKL >

See our review of the full-size Filco Convertible 2 >

Update March 2017: Good news, everyone! Full-size Convertible 2 keyboards with MX Brown switches will be available this summer in UK, German or Swedish layouts (ISO). MX Blue switches will also be available, for UK layouts only. Click here for the full range.

Thanks for checking out the article, and be sure to let us know what you think of the keyboard in the comments below!

img_8951

Posted in Articles, Reviews Tagged with: , , , , ,