Those of you that have been reading my blog entries regularly should know by now that I am a bit maniacal when it comes to my input devices. Even if a device is serving me well, I can’t help but search for its replacement—call it a disorder if you like, it’s just how I am.
Over the last few months, this has led me to try a Unicomp Customizer 104, a pair of Enermax keyboards, SteelSeries’ 7G gaming keyboard, and now one of the new Das Keyboards. The older Das Keyboard’s claim to fame was its high-quality “clicky” construction and blank key caps. The company claimed the blank keys forced users of the Das Keyboard to memorize key locations, and over time, the users would become better typists. Despite its relative success, however, the original Das Keyboard had a rather Spartan appearance that wasn’t very enticing. So the company decided to update the look and overall design, and while they were at it introduce a version with key labels as well.
Das Keyboard Professional
The new Das Keyboard line-up consists of Professional and Ultimate models. The Professional unit is adorned with key labels, while the Ultimate unit is blank like the older model. As much as I’d like to say I’m geek enough to handle the Das Keyboard Ultimate, I opted for the Das Keyboard Professional—as cool as using the Ultimate would be, I don’t have the time to re-learn how to type. I’ll save that adventure for another time.
Like the original, the allure of the new Das Keyboard line-up is their high-end construction. The keyboards feature Cherry MX blue mechanical key switches that provide tactile and audible feedback. These new models also feature blue LED indicators for the number, scroll, and caps lock keys, a built in, two-port USB hub, and an “almost-n-key” rollover function that allows up to 12 keys to be pressed simultaneously without ghosting. In addition, the new Das Keyboards have an extra long USB cable and slick, glossy outer casings that enhance the look of the units, although the shiny outer casing is prone to fingerprints and scratches.
I have been working with the Das Keyboard Professional for about two weeks now, and have to say it is vying for the title of my favorite keyboard. With that said, the Das Keyboard Professional is certainly not for everyone. Personally, I prefer the sound of clicky keys like those used on the Das Keyboard. Once you get used to the sound, I find that I can almost tell when I have made a typo by the sound of the clicks. The unit’s clicky keys will almost certainly deter some users though. If you prefer to work in silence, or are in an environment where others may be annoyed by the sound of the keys, the Das Keyboard is not going to fit the bill. Having been a fan of clicky keyboards since the days of the Northgate Omnikey, the Das Keyboard’s audible report works for me.
I also find the Das Keyboard Professional’s blue LED indicators and glossy exterior visually appealing, and I think its USB ports are in a good position. But while the key layout is standard, I have had an issue getting used to the angle of the upper-most row of keys, below the function keys. When typing feverishly, I have found the Q, W, E, R and T keys to be harder to press than I would like. The keys work fine, however, and it is only my left hand that’s having the problem, so I think it is just a matter of time before I get fully comfortable with the Das Keyboard and this issue goes away.
I plan to stick with the Das Keyboard Professional for the foreseeable future. So far it has the best combination of looks and features for my personal tastes. How long I feel this way remains to be seen though. I gravitate towards input devices like a moth to a flame, and if something else exciting comes along, I know I’ll want to try it out.