Covid-19 UPDATE 08/04/2020.

Working From Home Week 3

We’ve been running The Keyboard Company remotely for the best part of three weeks now, having started on 19th March.
I am pleased to report that all is working out well; the guys who have stayed on-site can keep an appropriate distance from one another with one person in the office and one in stores.
The stores have been particularly busy. I am grateful beyond measure to these guys.
And I am so proud of the whole team who despite having to work from home and do things differently, have managed to keep everything very smooth with no more problems than one would expect under normal conditions.

So orders still ship same day and carriers are keeping to standard delivery timescales.
Royal Mail is doing a fantastic job and deserves thanks, they are proving to be another of those – as yet – unidentified hero services.

We are shipping about double the amount of orders we usually would at this time of year.
It is no surprise that the medical and washable keyboards and mice are popular right now but more surprising is the amount of sales to people working from home. But of course, if working from home for the first time, you tend to find things that need improving, and if you don’t already have a good quality mechanical keyboard, then it is an excellent time to get one. We have had a fair few customers saying things like: ‘my Filco is sitting on my desk at the office, and I can’t do without it’ and buying another one, or a slightly different one. Tenkeyless and other small footprint keyboards have been particularly popular.

I’m finding I can do everything I need to remotely. I am saving the hour a day spent in the car, and with no meetings or interruptions, I am finding that I do like working from home. All our suppliers are managing to meet our needs, and we are supporting our cleaners and other staff who are effectively not working. If it wasn’t for the horror of the Corona Virus on our society and our NHS – I couldn’t be happier.
I am even finding time to update the blog more regularly.

I hope you are keeping safe out there and following the guidance and I believe we will pull together and come through this the stronger for it. The sooner, the better.

Bruce

Posted in Articles

Keyboards and Mice advice relating to COVID19 Virus.

Keyboards and Mice advice relating to COVID19 Virus.

The COVID19 virus is a huge challenge for all of us. For many years now we have supplied a range of keyboards and mice for use in infection control. We are getting many enquiries, and here I hope to cover some of the main points and provide a little guidance on what is available.

We at The Keyboard Company have no medical or infection control expertise. We rely on evidence-based research to inform us about the efficacy of products when used to combat infection risks.

With the COVID19 virus, there has been no time for robust research, so we have to say that we cannot be sure of its behaviour on surfaces. However, COVID19 is an envelope virus similar to others that have been studied so research into removing them from keyboards should still be of some value.

The accepted view at present is that the virus is killed by 65% plus solutions of alcohol and can also be washed away with soap and water. It seems reasonable to assume that a keyboard that can be cleaned with alcohol or is washable will provide some protection.

The emphasis on handwashing at present lends weight to the need for these cleanable products. Hand washing becomes ineffective if one is touching a contaminated surface regularly, and most keyboards stop working immediately they come into contact with water.

Ideally, at this time, a policy of not sharing keyboards and mice would be the most robust way to avoid cross-infection. But this is not always possible and even when it is – a product that can be disinfected is a great benefit.

Our products cover a range of scenario from an occasional wash to disinfection at regular and frequent rates. Often the time taken, and effort needed to disinfect is a factor that can impede implementation of the most well-intentioned protocol. Here is some guidance for those who are considering investing in keyboards and mice that can be cleaned.

Please note that these products aim to reduce the risk of transmission through being cleanable. No keyboard or mouse can promise 100% protection against transmission. They work on the basis that they are cleaned regularly with an appropriate product to remove or destroy infective agents.

Some keyboards have ‘built-in’ antibacterial properties in their materials. These products can be of benefit in an everyday situation. In essence, they might kill some germs but are not intended to replace washing or cleaning with appropriate chemicals.

The following products are safe to clean with both household disinfectants and those commonly used in healthcare, including those containing alcohol.

For clarity, I will group products using a traffic light system.

  • Green: These products are suitable for an application where a daily clean is deemed sufficient, for example, a personal computer at home or in the office.
  • Amber: These products are for environments where keyboards are shared and so need cleaning more than once a day.
  • Red: These products can be disinfected as often as required, are quick and easy to clean and ensure little room for mistakes in the process. These will be the ones typically used in Medical situations.

A word about keyboard covers: we cannot sell these on the pretence that they offer any form of robust protection. They are prone to splitting, and they do not fit well enough to ensure infection cannot enter beneath them. They are most appropriate for use in environments such as garages and petrol stations as a physical barrier to soiling rather than to reduce infection risk.

GREEN.

We have some models that have the look and feel of a standard computer keyboard and mouse.

These have a significant advantage in that the user experience for touch-typing and working is the same and work can carry on as before. They can be wiped with disinfectant and sprayed, but for a more robust clean they can be unplugged from the computer and washed, some even in a dishwasher. Please remember, washing a potentially contaminated keyboard should be done in an appropriate place as some virus may remain in the washing area.

A few examples of these are:

Seal Shield 208.

https://www.keyboardco.com/keyboard/silver-seal-keyboard-waterproof-antimicrobial-washable-keyboard.asp

GETT GCQ Cleantype.

https://www.keyboardco.com/keyboard/gcq-cleantype-easy-basic-black-keyboard.asp

Mice.

Gett GCQ

https://www.keyboardco.com/mouse/gett-gcq-plastic-scroll-mouse.asp

Seal Shield Silver Storm.

https://www.keyboardco.com/mouse/silver-storm-black-scroll-mouse-medical-grade-waterproof-antimicrobial.asp

Seal Shield Silver Storm Wireless.

https://www.keyboardco.com/mouse/silver-storm-wireless-black-scroll-wheel-mouse-medical-grade-waterproof-antimicrobial.asp

AMBER.

These models provide some more protection and are quicker to disinfect. They will have some form of sealing on top so that infection cannot enter the inside of the keyboard, and the washing process is made easier.

Again these are more user-friendly than some of the RED models. They have a tactile feel when pressed, which is a help for data entry.

Many of the AMBER products are as well sealed as the RED models but have raised keys and grooves. This means that while giving a more normal keyboard feel they also add to the time and attention required for cleaning.

Some of the most robust models are in this section, and they offer excellent value. For a keyboard that may require disinfection 2-3 times a day, they are often a good option. Some also have built-in pointing devices.

Mice in this category tend to be ‘over-moulded’ with a silicon rubber cover and will use press buttons for scrolling as no-one has managed to seal a scroll wheel.

These mice are also applicable for Red category.

SealShield Cleanwipe.

https://www.keyboardco.com/keyboard/clean-wipe-uk-medical-grade-mini-keyboard-waterproof-with-detachable-cover.asp

Indukey Smart Clinical – With touchpad.

https://www.keyboardco.com/keyboard/indukey-smart-clinical-board-touchpad-keyboard-white-107-key-ip68.asp

Indukey Smart Clinical mini.

https://www.keyboardco.com/keyboard/indukey-smart-clinical-board-compact-keyboard-white-ip68.asp

SterileFLAT Antibacterial Backlit Keyboard

https://www.keyboardco.com/keyboard/sterileflat-antibacterial-backlit-keyboard.asp

AMBER Mice. Most of these are suitable for RED as well.

GETT GCQ Med Mouse.

https://www.keyboardco.com/mouse/gett-gcq-med-mouse.asp

SterileMouse Laser Wireless Antibacterial Scroll

https://www.keyboardco.com/mouse/sterilemouse-laser-wireless-antibacterial-scroll-mouse.asp

SterileMouse Laser Antibacterial Scroll

https://www.keyboardco.com/mouse/sterilemouse-laser-antibacterial-digital-scroll.asp

SealShield Mouse Black.

https://www.keyboardco.com/mouse/seal-shield-mouse-black-waterproof-optical-mouse.asp

Sealshield Wireless Medical Mouse.

https://www.keyboardco.com/mouse/silver-seal-wireless-optical-rechargeable-mouse-black-antimicrobial.asp

RED.

For the most part, these are products that can be wiped clean with a disinfectant wipe, like the sorts used in hospitals. They are completely flat on the top surface, so the process is quick and easy, and there are no gaps or grooves where infection may hide. Sometimes they are a little less user-friendly and touch typing can be inhibited. Still, they offer the highest level of protection.

RED products are perfect for a dentist who has a keyboard close to the work area that needs to be disinfected in between each client, or a GP needing to disinfect in between patients.

Some RED products have a touchpad type pointing device in the flat surface so this is also disinfected in the same action. Some are wireless meaning that the cable can also be eliminated as a potential source of infection.

Most of these types have a silicon rubber top surface that is soft and has some ‘give’ in it when pressed.

It is essential that this surface material is robust. We like the SterileFlat keyboard very much because it is constructed from durable materials. Other similar models we have tested were weaker and prone to splits and tears, which would negate their anti-infection benefits.

We also have Cleankeys which has a flat Gorilla Glass top surface with a touchpad built-in. It is a similar feeling to using a tablet or smartphone and comes wired or wireless. The built-in touchpad also has the advantage that there is no need for a separate mouse. These are the ultimate in Ease of practice for infection control.

Made in Germany

Cleankeys

https://www.keyboardco.com/keyboard/cleankeys-glass-easy-clean-medical-touchpad-keyboard.asp

SterileFlat is very cost-effective and very robust.

Wired or wireless available from stock.

https://www.keyboardco.com/keyboard/antibacterial-flat-medical-keyboard.asp

So that’s a swift round up. I’ll try to update as time permits. If you have any questions, it’s bruce@keyboardco.com

Posted in Articles

COVID19 Virus – Keyboard Company preparations.

COVID-19. The Keyboard Company, Trial home working and how we are planning.

Hi Folks.

We are experiencing quite a concerning situation at present. The like of which I have never had to think about in my business life. So in all honesty – I am making it up as I go along.
The priority for me has to be the Health and Safety of the team here, our customers and others we may be in contact with.
And then ensuring the ongoing success of The Keyboard Company and continuing services that we provide.
And I am aware that we all have a duty to the nation as a whole and our communities.

At present the situation is fast moving, we follow government advice and make decisions on a day to day basis using our best judgement.

This week we are going to send home as many people as possible to work from home for 2 days. We will have a small team staying to run the stores and ensure goods in and out continue – as that is the essence of what we do. But the admin staff can work remotely.
We have in theory had a set up for this in place for many years but only one or two at a time have ever needed to use it.
This week on Thursday and Friday all the office and admin staff will work from home as a dry run to make sure our preparations are robust and ready for the possibility that we will in some way be enforced to do so. As we have seen in China and Italy when COVID19 becomes more widespread it seems it may become unavoidable, and so a test is going to ensure we are fully prepared for business continuity.
All email will be accessed by the correct people so that email communication will not change. Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp and all social channels will be unchanged. Telephone calls are one thing that present more of a challenge but we will leave the main lines open and someone should answer, but we also have a new mobile should there be any issues. This is
+44 7955-570045.
This is also the number for our whatsapp.

So good luck everyone, stay safe and we look forward to hearing from you.

Posted in Articles

Brexit and The Keyboard Company

A few words from Bruce on Brexit and The Keyboard Company.

As you will have heard The UK is in the process of leaving the EU.
Personally I find this sad and I would like to express my enduring respect, admiration and commitment to all our customers, suppliers and friends in EU nations. Indeed, to all peoples of EU nations.
I am not here to give political opinion, I will just comment on how we are affected in our job of supplying keyboards. The UK voted, the result is clear and we will now live with it, that’s Democracy.
Much is undecided as yet so I cannot give a comprehensive route map but here are my feelings and intentions for The Keyboard Company.
As a business, we only have much the same information as anyone else – so I am no expert.

Right now we are in what is described as The Transition Period.
This will run until December 2020 when we will be subject to whatever deal, or non deal is negotiated between EU and UK.
There is reason to wonder what that deal may look like and how things will proceed after December but while we are in transition
we are still fully in the EU for all practical purposes and can happily support our customers in EU nations as we have done in recent years.
So for now, nothing really changed.

I would only be able to guess at what our politicians may come up with as a deal to work with the EU after December.
My guess would be something along the lines of a Canada deal but there are bound to be changes of some sort and the possible permutations are many.
However, it is our intention to maintain our links with our friends and customers and suppliers in EU and we are confident we will be able to do so.
We have plans in place to open a subsidiary business within the EU block should the need arise.
So one way or another, please be assured – we will be here to help as we have always done.

It is highly possible under a Canada type deal that we will have access to the single market but will not be part of the customs union. This would put EU nations on a par with other nations that we deal with, and actually allow us to run one system for the whole world, rather than the two we now work with. In this respect I am hopeful that it will be more fair to all our clientele.
It will mean that we send goods to EU customers with no VAT added. And this VAT may, or may not, be collected by the carrier upon delivery of goods. I expect all electronic items will continue to adhere to CE, RoHS and WEEE regulations regardless of any deal so I don’t see an issue there.
But this is speculation. I will post again once we have some certainty. My main aim today is to assure everyone of our ongoing commitment to The European Keyboard Market. We have been buying and selling Keyboards all over the world since 1989 and although Brexit is sure to present challenges we have come through much strife in the past and we should be able to handle what may come now.

Let me know if you have any questions.
Bruce.

Posted in Articles, News

The Best Compact Bluetooth Keyboard For Mac: The Keychron K2 Mechanical

There aren’t many compact wireless mechanical keyboards on the market but the Keychron K2 is one of the best there is. It’s probably (according to me and several other reviewers) the best compact mechanical keyboard for Apple devices as well.

What’s special about this Kickstarter Funded Keyboard? Well for starters it can be used on both Mac, Android or Windows devices. It can also be used Wired or Wireless and it has a massive battery capacity. One charge will last an age! It has a huge (for a keyboard anyway) 4000mAh battery.

I’m using it on a Mac mini at the minute, I’ve swapped from a generic logitech bluetooth one and it’s miles better! Mac users often get a rough deal when it comes to third party peripherals, they are either insanely expensive or just not that good! Have a quick search on Amazon, the results aren’t inspiring at all. The Keychron K2 is an exception to this generally true assumption.

Suggested Reading:
The Keychron K2 featured in this article is also featured in a blog detailing the best keyboards for software development and coding. Be sure to check out out.

A wireless mechanical keyboard for Mac:

The Keychron K2 has a long list of features and it nails them all. It has almost every feature you could want from a compact mechanical keyboard. It’s stylish, compact and highly accurate. The proof is in the pudding, I’m writing this review using the K2 right now. Before we go any further into the review, let’s take a look at the full list of features.

Keychron K2 Specifications:

Ten keyless 84-key keyboard
Mac setup with Control, Option, and Command keys
RGB Backlit, with 18 options.
Plastic or Aluminium body
Gateron Switches
Replaceable curved keycaps
Dedicated printscreen button
4000mAh battery
Angled feet to use as a stand
Wired and wireless (Bluetooth) capability
Switch between a max of three Bluetooth devices
USB-C
Includes USB-C cable
Mac/iOS and PC modes

How does it perform:

Design:
It was designed and built by Keychron. The team has over 20 years of experience in the Keyboard industry and it shows. It’s sleek, beautifully designed and the build quality is exceptional. The keyboard comes bundled with some added extras such as the key removal tool. This allows you to replace some of the grey keycaps with an orange one to add a bit of colour (not that you need it if you are making use of the RGB backlighting).

Overall, I really like the design and it looks at home on my white desk. I can imagine in most cases it’ll look best in ultra clean setups.

Design Score: 8

Battery Life:
The K2’s battery life is said to last around 15 active hours, this means actively typing with the RGB or White backlight on. It’s rated at 4000 mAh. You can double the battery life if you turn the backlight off. Keep that thought in the back of your mind if you have a long commute and need to get a lot of work done. You don’t want the battery running out especially if you forget to bring the included charging cable with you.

Switch off the auto-sleep feature and the battery life will be diminished somewhat. I’ve disabled it due to the nature of my work, I’m back and forth to my desk and I don’t want the hassle of re-connecting the bluetooth each time.

I’ve had the pleasure of using the K2 for around 5 days now and I’ve not charged it once yet. It gets top marks from me for battery life.

Battery Life Score: 10

Typing:
This is also where the K2 excels. The typing experience is a joy!

For me, typing is all about accuracy, noise and feedback. I’m using the K2 with Gateron blue switches. Gateron blue switches are all about a nice loud click and some great tactile feedback. That feedback helps to determine if I’ve pressed the key correctly and the audible cue gives me another indication as to how I’m doing in terms of typing speed. I just hope the noise isn’t too loud that it starts to annoy my colleagues working at the desk next to me!

At first I thought the keyboard could benefit from a wrist support. However, I’ve since thought about it a bit more and decided that it isn’t really needed and it’d take away from the ‘charm’ of this great compact mechanical keyboard.

Typing Score: 8

Complaints:

During my research phase of writing this review I stumbled upon another reviewer that had a few complaints. I don’t feel those complaints are warranted at all, in fact, it’s complaining for complaining’s sake.

For example, the reviewer suggested that the toggles on the side of the keyboard (to change between wired or bluetooth etc) are far too small. My view on this is that you’ll probably be only using it either on bluetooth or wired and not switching between the two very often. The text is quite small but again, you’ll only really be looking at the side of the board when you are using the included USB-C cable to charge it.

Summary:

Forgetting it’s wireless or wired abilities, the K2 is a brilliant keyboard from a purely functional perspective. This keyboard is able to stand on it’s own in the market. I’m sure it’ll be very popular among gamers, casual users and typing professionals.

The Keychron K2 Mechanical is available in an ABS plastic or aluminum variants. You’ll get a choice of three Gateron switch types. Blue, Brown or Red. You can buy the US model from our shop by clicking here.
The UK model will be available late January pre-order to secure yours now.

EDIT 25/02/20:  UK versions  just arrived!  Link

A full Windows configuration review of the Keychron K2 Mechanical can be found over at CodeWithMike.com

Have you recently bought a mechanical keyboard for the first time? We’d love to hear your thoughts on what it was like making the switch. Let us know in the comments below.

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

Contour Unimouse Wireless Ergonomic Mouse review

For anyone that suffers from pain in their hand, wrist or arm from RSI, using a mouse for extended periods can be an excruciating experience. Our hands aren’t meant to be kept in a horizontal position for so long without break, and years of mouse use can cause significant problems.

That’s why we’ve seen alternative ergonomic mice designs, many of which allow the mouse to be used in an angled or even completely vertical position. This reduces pressure and pain, allowing computer users to work, play games or surf the web in comfort. However, not all positions are comfortable for all people, and it can be hard to guess which position you’ll like best before actually trying it. Even if you find a position that works, moving from one fixed position to another may not be great for your long-term health.

The subject of today’s review solves these problems by offering a full range of angles, allowing you to use your mouse at nearly the same angle as a traditional mouse, almost vertical or any angle in between. It’s called the Contour Unimouse, and we’ve been using it for the past week. Let’s take a closer look in our full review!

Specs & Features

  • Ergonomic mouse with four friction-based points of articulation so you can find your own unique  comfort
  • Effortlessly switch postures on the fly to engage different muscles and tendons while avoiding fixed, static positions
  • 35 degrees of body adjustability (35 to 70 degrees)
  • Articulating thumb support to alleviate pinching of the CMC (basal) joint and reduce RSI
  • State-of-the-art PixArt OMW3330 sensor provides seamless performance from 800 to 2800 DPI
  • Rechargeable Li-Ion battery provides three months of daily use
  • 6 programmable buttons and an ultra-smooth scroll wheel plus customisable user macros
  • Contents: Unimouse Wireless, USB receiver, USB cable adapter, USB to Micro USB cable, user guide

Design

The heart of the Unimouse is its wide and adjustable body, which out of the box sits at a comfortable 35 degree angle that’s better ergonomically than a standard mouse.

The expansive design suits a wide variety of hand sizes, from small to extra large, with three distinct buttons that serve as left click, middle click and right click. (You can also change the middle mouse button to act as a double click by holding down the DPI adjust button and middle click button simultaneously.)

Between the left and middle mouse buttons, there’s a smooth scroll wheel with distinct tactile notches. There are two additional buttons on the left/top side, which are bound to Back and Forward in Windows by default to allow for rapid navigation through web pages, file directories and more.

Below the main body of the mouse, there’s a curved and accommodating thumb rest. A ball joint allows the thumb rest to angle up, down, forward and back. You can also move the rest towards the front or back of the mouse along a rail, and telescope it in or out to suit your preferences. The friction-based system is easy to adjust, and stays in place effortlessly once changes are made.

Towards the front of the mouse, below the adjustable main body, there are five status LEDs that can light up in green or red. A button nearby allows the sensitivity to be adjusted on the flow, stepping between 800 DPI and 2800 DPI in 200 DPI increments. This area also shows the available battery, and will begin flashing red once the mouse needs to be recharged soon.

The body of the mouse can be elevated from 35 degrees to 70 degrees, allowing it to reach a near-vertical angle for the ultimate in ergonomic comfort. You’re free to change this angle whenever you wish, allowing you to engage different muscle groups and avoid a static hand posture. As with the thumb rest, a simple friction-based system makes adjustment easy. The adjustable angle also allows the mouse to be folded up for easy portability.

The bottom of the mouse has three large skates that are suitable for all surfaces. Towards the front of the mouse there’s the PixArt PWM3330 sensor, a recent mid-range optical sensor with sterling credentials. The sensor lacks any unwanted built-in acceleration, allowing for pixel-perfect accuracy in games and spreadsheets alike. There’s also a power switch here, allowing both wired and wireless modes to be toggled on and off.

The front of the mouse is where the Micro USB charging cable can be plugged in. By default you’ll use the mouse wirelessly, by plugging a tiny USB dongle into your computer. You can also use it wired if you prefer, and a lighter wired model is also available. The battery for the wireless version should last for three months of daily use, and definitely comes recommended for laptop users.

That brings our tour of the hardware to an end, so let’s briefly cover the software side of the equation before we get into our testing results!

Software

To use macros or reprogram the buttons, you can install the Unimouse driver on Windows or Mac. The current driver page states that the driver is only available for Windows 10 or macOS, but you can go to the old drivers page for a version intended for Windows 7 or Windows 8.

The drivers allow you to customise various aspects of the mouse, setting up macros, re-binding the buttons to different functions or choosing application-specific settings. The drivers offer similar functionality on macOS, although I wasn’t able to test them myself.

Testing

I used the wireless Unimouse for a one week period with Windows 10, both on a desktop PC at home and with a laptop in cafés and trains.

I noticed a significant difference in long-term comfort between using the Unimouse and standard flat horizontal mice. After using the Unimouse for six hours of work and a couple hours of games afterwards at its default 35 degree angle, my wrists felt a bit less painful than they did the day before. The following day, I consciously tried to adjust my hand’s position every hour or so. This seemed to provide better results, reducing pain in my right wrist to tolerable levels.

Of course, this is only my experience — you may not experience similar results. However, having a full range of postures available should at least maximise your chances of finding a suitably comfortable position.

Changing the angle of the main body and the thumb rest to suit was a very rapid affair, and even at its highest angle of elevation the mouse itself remained rock-solid. I did notice that elevating the vertical angle of the mouse to the maximum meant that I got some corresponding rotation in the horizontal axis; I wasn’t holding the mouse perfectly straight on the table. This meant when I meant to move right to left, the cursor on screen went down and to the left. That required a little mental readjustment when playing fast-paced games like World of Tanks or PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. I later discovered that adjusting the angle of the thumb rest alleviated the problem, so it’s worth remembering this if you experience a similar issue.

I also found telescoping the thumb rest out and sliding it forward made it more comfortable for my large hands, so remember rotation isn’t the only possible thumb rest adjustment!

Overall, the Unimouse was as good as gold in my testing. The mouse remained consistent and responsive throughout, with the wireless connection proving no problem on either the desktop or laptop I tested it with. Given its significant comfort improvement, I plan to continue using the Unimouse for work to hopefully prevent further RSI symptoms on my right hand.

Links

You can find the Contour Unimouse on KeyboardCo. Choose the wireless or wired versions below to see more information or to get one of your very own!

Wrapping up

Thanks for taking a look at the article! We hope it was helpful to you. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to get in touch via the comments below. You can also try messaging us on Twitter or Facebook. Thanks for reading the article and we’ll see you on the next one!

Photos taken by Stella Judd

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

Win a Filco Majestouch-2 with Cadaea’s birthday giveaway!

Want to win some gaming gear, including a Filco Majestouch-2 keyboard, courtesy of KeyboardCo and others?

Streamer Sophie ‘Cadaea’ Keen is doing a giveaway of six gaming peripherals, which runs until March 29th and is open to all EU residents (sorry, Americans and other international friends).

Sign up via the link below, and be sure to follow us and the other sponsors on social media to maximise your chances of winning!

Click here to enter!

https://twitter.com/twitter/statuses/972864753428295681

Posted in Articles, Competitions, News Tagged with: ,

New Matias RGB aluminum wired keyboards coming soon!

RGB backlighting is one of the biggest trends in the PC gaming space, where it can be found on peripherals like keyboards, mice and headsets. Instead of being forced to choose between just a few colour options when you buy a product, with RGB backlighting you’re able to choose any colour and change it whenever you like. You can sync up your different peripherals, light up in the colours of your favourite team, or just watch a rainbow of colours pulse and dance.

Matias produce a range of modern keyboards, often inspired by classic Mac hardware, but they’re not averse to meeting customer demands for the latest trends either! With that in mind, allow us to introduce the Matias RGB Backlit Wired Aluminum Keyboard for Mac and PC!

Features

First, let’s cover the features you’ll find on this new iteration of Matias’ classic aluminum keyboard.

  • Generous 2mm of key travel for tactile and responsive typing
  • Spectrum Colour Dial lets you choose any colour in the rainbow
  • Limit sleep-damaging blue light exposure with warm white (good), yellow (better) or red (best)
  • Easy brightness controls in 10% increments from 0 to 100%
  • Mouse-friendly USB 2.0 port built in
  • Mac-friendly function keys, volume keys and music controls

Design

The RGB Backlit Aluminum Keyboard (hereafter: the Matias RGB) is a full-size keyboard, meaning it includes a numberpad and every other key you’d expect to find on a standard keyboard. It also has additional keys, including Mac and PC function keys on their respective models, including volume and media playback controls.

The Matias RBG measures 441 x 116 x 19mm in all, making it reasonably wide but not tall or thick; perfect. The weight of the keyboard is substantial without being excessive, at 606 grams.

In order to change the colours available, you use a dial placed on the rear of the keyboard, in line with the arrow keys. From here, you can spin the dial to change your backlighting colour quickly and easily. Going all the way to the left is white, all the way to the right is also white, and you have all the colours of the rainbow in between.

You can also press the dial back to access the special Low Blue Light modes, which give you a choice of warm white, yellow and red. As the level of blue light in the backlight is reduced and red is increased, your natural sleep cycle will become less and less affected by the light produced by the keyboard.

Of course, we recommend that you use the blue light reduction features built into the latest versions of macOS and Windows 10 to further reduce your Blue Light exposure from your monitor for best results.

If you don’t have access to these features or you want more fine-grained control over their effects, we recommend the excellent free app f.lux as a fine alternative.

The Matias RGB connects to your computer using a 1.5 metre USB cable. It also comes with a handy USB 2.0 port on one side, allowing you to connect a peripheral like a mouse, wireless receiver or USB storage drive.

Wrapping up

The RGB Backlit Wired Aluminum Keyboard from Matias will be available later this year, with precise release dates and prices still to be announced. The keyboard will be available in two variants: Space Gray for Mac and Black for PC.

The model numbers are listed as shown; links and prices will be added once the keyboards are available at KeyboardCo!

Matias RGB Backlit Wired Aluminum Keyboard for Mac

  • Space Gray (FK318LB-UK)

Matias RGB Backlit Wired Aluminum for PC

  • Black (FK318PCLBB-UK)

Thanks for checking out the article, and be sure to let us know what you think of the new Matias RGB keyboards in the comments below! We welcome your feedback, as always. Until next time, farewell!

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Test-driving the left-handed keyboard

Today we’re looking at something rather special: a fully left-handed mechanical keyboard. Let’s take a quick look at this keyboard’s features before reviewing its design. Then, we’ll share our experiences using this keyboard for the past week!

Features

  • Fully left-handed layout (numpad, nav cluster, alphanumerics)
  • Brown tactile mechanical switches produced by Kailh
  • Shortcut / media / volume keys with Function layer
  • Gaming mode with Windows key lock

Design

As you can see, this keyboard looks very different from a standard model. Instead of having the alphanumerics on the far left, then the navigation cluster in the centre and the numeric keypad on the right, we have exactly the opposite arrangement: numpad first, nav cluster second and alphanumerics on the right.

This arrangement has an obvious benefit for left-handed users, who can access the numberpad and navigation cluster more easily with their dominant hand for faster and more accurate operation.

n.b. This is a pre-production model, so its appearance will differ slightly to the final version although the layout and features will remain identical.

It also has benefits for right-handed users. Many typists and gamers choose a compact keyboard layout, in order to keep the mouse further to the left and therefore more in line with the shoulder. That reduces stress on the joints and promotes a healthier position for typing and gaming. However, it often means that the number pad and sometimes the navigational cluster are omitted, which can be annoying. With this left-handed keyboard, the numpad and navigational cluster are placed on the left, ensuring they’re out of the way but can still be used if needed.

The keyboard also includes other labour-saving features. For example, a function button in the lower right allows access to additional functions on the F-key row, such as opening email or music apps, adjusting the volume or skipping tracks. You can also lock the Windows key, temporarily disabling it so you don’t press it by accident while gaming.

You don’t have to sacrifice typing feel to go with this left-handed design, either. The keyboard uses a full set of MX Brown keys produced by Kailh, providing a tactile experience that works equally well for typing and playing games. The keyboard also uses a standard layout, allowing you to install new keycaps in different colours, styles or layouts.

Other standard features are also included here. On the bottom of the keyboard, you can find three channels for the USB cable to be routed, allowing for tidy connection to computers to the left, right or directly behind.

There are also flip-out legs that allow the keyboard to be used flat or at an angle.

Now that we’ve covered this keyboard’s design, let’s move onto our impressions from testing the keyboard for a one week period!

Testing

The left-handed layout is very interesting to use after you’re used to traditional right-handed layouts. For the first day or so, I was looking for the arrow keys to the right, rather than in the centre, and I couldn’t get my head around going to the far left of the keyboard for the number pad.

Then, on the second day, something clicked in my head and I was able to use the new layout naturally and without hesitation. It’s really nice to be able to use the number pad and the mouse at the same time, making inputting numerical data in forms and spreadsheets a very rapid and comfortable experience.

Similarly, I felt the benefit of having the mouse in a straight line from my shoulder, allowing me to keep my arm in a comfortable position at all times. I use a large mouse pad and a low sensitivity for gaming, so having this extra space was particularly welcome.

In terms of typing feel, this keyboard excels. The Brown switches provide tactile feedback while requiring little force to actuate, making them an excellent choice for typing. I also played several matches of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive without any issues; each key was easy to find and could be pressed rapidly for strafing, selecting grenades and so forth.

All in all, I had a great time with this left-handed keyboard and I’m really tempted to use this layout in the future — it just makes so much sense, I’m a little surprised that left-handed keyboards haven’t become more popular!

Wrapping up

The left-handed keyboard is coming soon to KeyboardCo. Stay tuned for more information including price and availability!

EDIT June 2018:

We now have stock available:  UK Left Handed Keyboard

 

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An introduction to Kailh switches, including Speed & Box

The most popular article we’ve ever published is a guide to Cherry’s MX switches, which lie at the heart of many mechanical keyboards. However, Cherry are far from the only company producing switches these days, and one increasingly popular alternative are Kailh switches made by Chinese firm Kaihua Electronics. Here’s everything you need to know.

What Kailh switches are there?

There are three main families of Kailh switches:

  1. Default: switches made to mimic Cherry’s original designs
  2. Speed: switches with shortened travel and actuation distances
  3. Box: switches with the stem surrounded by a box for protection

Like Cherry MX switches, different Kailh switches have different colours and corresponding characteristics. We’ll cover each of them in turn, explaining how their construction differs and what they’re like to use. After that, we’ll look at some other common questions and answers regarding Kailh switches.

1. Default Kailh switches (Blue, Brown, Red)

Image credit: LethalSquirrel, GeekHack

Kailh produce switches that operate near identically to Cherry’s original designs; these are legal clones. If you’re familiar with Cherry’s switches, these Kailh alternatives require little introduction: Blue is a tactile and clicky switch, Brown is a tactile switch, and Red is a light linear switch. We’ll call these Default switches, in absence of any existing nomenclature.

According to testing by Input Club, there are some differences between the average Kailh switch and the average Cherry switch: the Red switches require a little extra force to actuate, the Blue switches require a little less, while the Brown switch is subtly different as it feels a little more… tactile. Despite these changes, the overall typing experience is quite similar.

2. Kailh Speed switches (Silver, Copper, Bronze, Gold)

As explained earlier, speed switches are essentially shortened versions of existing MX-style switches, allowing for faster actuation and intended for gaming. While Cherry produce a shortened linear switch, the Speed Silver, Kailh have produced four different shortened switches: Silver, Copper, Bronze and Gold.

The Kailh Silver switch is much like Cherry’s Speed Silver: a light (40gf) linear switch with shortened travel (3.5mm) and actuation (1.1mm) distances.

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The Kailh Copper switch is a soft tactile switch, with a (50gf) tactile bump and an actuation point just 1.1mm into its 3.5mm travel distance. Combined with its light (40gf) actuation force, and you’ve got a switch that can handle both gaming and extremely rapid typing — definitely one to try.

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Kailh’s Bronze and Gold are both clicky speed switches, very similar to Cherry’s Blue switch with the same audible clicky feedback, but with shorter travel and activation points.

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The Kailh Gold is closest to the Blue switch, with an actuating force of 50gf, a tactile bump requiring 60gf, total travel of 3.5mm and an actuating point of 1.4mm to make it more suitable for gaming.

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The Bronze switch is almost the same with an actuating force of 50gf, a tactile bump requiring 60gf, total travel of 3.5mm but with an actuating point of 1.1mm to make it even more suitable for gaming.

So, to sum up, here are the four speed switches, a brief description, their actuation/tactile force and actuation point.

  • Kailh Silver: soft linear – 40gf / 1.1mm
  • Kailh Copper: soft tactile – 50gf / 1.1mm
  • Kailh Bronze: soft clicky – 60gf / 1.1mm
  • Kailh Gold: very soft clicky – 60gf / 1.4mm

3. Kailh Box switches

Identifying a Kailh box switch is pretty easy: just look for the box enclosure that surrounds the familiar cross-shaped MX style stem. This box protects the switch from dust and moisture, and provides an IP56 resistance rating. However, the mechanism means that they’re only compatible with SMD LEDs, rather than the (slightly more common) through-hole LEDs.

There are four different varieties thus far, each with a different colour: Box Red, Box Brown, Box White and Box Black. Again, if you’re familiar with the default switches, you can guess some of their characteristics: Box Red is a light linear switch, Box Black is a heavier linear switch, Box Brown is tactile and Box White is clicky.

Interestingly, each Box switch has the same travel and actuation distances: 1.8mm for actuation and 3.6mm in total. That’s a little shorter than the Default switches, and you can feel a bit of a difference when it comes to speed.

Here’s a YouTube video by Kailh that shows off the new switches:

Once again, here’s the summary:

  • Kailh Box Red: soft linear
  • Kailh Box Black: heavy linear
  • Kailh Box Brown: tactile
  • Kailh Box White: clicky

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you pronounce Kailh?

Kailh is usually pronounced the same as kale, that leafy cabbage. However, it’s a Chinese word and other pronunciations are relatively common.

Are Kailh switches as reliable as Cherry ones?

Based on on our own testing and general sentiment in the mechanical keyboard community, Kailh switches are every bit as reliable as those made by Cherry. The company has been making switches for decades, and its new models show the company’s interest and skill in this area.

Are there other Kailh switches?

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Yes, for sure. There are tons. For example, the switches above are clicky low-profile switches — an interesting combination that brings to mind the best laptop keyboards!

However, these three main groups are the most commonly available and/or interesting to talk about. If you’d like us to cover a different Kailh switch, let us know!

Wrapping up

I hope you’ve found this guide useful! Let us know what you think in the comments below, and if you have any questions or spot any inaccuracies then please get in touch. Thanks for reading, and we’ll catch you on the next one!

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