I've had a pretty shaky history with keyboards. I've never been able to stick with the same board for any amount of time. They either break or I get the urge to try out something new. Just like with distro hopping and endless vim configuration, it's half hobby half unhealthy obsession.
Thankfully for my wallet I'm neither a hoarder nor collector of keyboards. Typically owning one or two at a time before replacing them with a new purchase.
As an experiment I wanted to write down a complete timeline of keyboards I've owned/used in my life up until now and reminisce of keyboards past.
Unknown Cherry Keyboard
I remember a few keyboards before this, but none of them are noteworthy enough to write about. So I'm starting with this board because it was my first mechanical keyboard.
I don't have any receipts to look up the model name but I believe it was a CHERRY G84-4100 (or similar). Because this was my first mechanical keyboard I didn't really have any point of reference to compare it to. At this point in time mechanical keyboards didn't register to me as especially popular, or even a hobby. It wasn't until later where I noticed they became really popular, mostly amongst programmers and gaming enthusiasts.
I remember loving this keyboard dearly right up until the moment I spilled coffee all over it and it died. I was utterly distraught and felt so clumsy for breaking something which (at the time) was such an expensive purchase.
Noppoo Choc Mini
Hooked on the clikcy sound, I think I next purchased a Noppoo Choc Mini online, which I believe it no longer available. I distinctly remember it being a super 'pingy' keyboard and my parents complaining about the noise, so I experimented with putting o-rings in dampen the sound, which helped a bit.
Around this time I think I must have seen blank keycaps online for the first time and thought this was the coolest thing ever 😎.
So like an idiot I borrowed my dads files and sanded off all the letters from the keyboard 🤦. As you might have guessed the outcome was not great.
I think I sold it on eBay for a fraction of the cost to someone who probably had the sense the swap the keycaps.
Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop
Perhaps jaded with mechanical keyboards at this point I decided to try something else whacky, the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop. This was my first foray into ergonomic style split keyboards so it took a while to get used to, but after a while I really grew to love this keyboard. The switches in this board were scissor switches, super quiet and an absolute joy to type on. Before this board I'd never learnt to touch type properly so I credit the ergonomic split with actually forcing me to learn how to touch type properly.
This keyboard worked great until the 'e' key stopped working. Annoyingly this would only start to fail when typing a specific combination of keys. The actual error was difficult to reproduce but would intermittently cause problems when typing, frustrating enough to stop me using this board.
Das 4k Compact
Dissatisfied with my earlier bodged attempt to 'improve' (and ultimately destroy) my noppoo choc mini I fixed my eyes on the real deal: A Das 4K compact with blank keycaps 😎.
I used this board during my final years of University, and afterwards at my first graduate office job. I remember feeling slightly nervous to bring it into the office because of the blank keycaps.
At this job I frequently had to manually type in passwords when SSH'ing onto remote boxes (don't ask). I consider myself to be a pretty proficient touch typist, and pretty much never have to look at the keyboard, but in high pressure situations I'd frequently misstype passwords and be forced to ring up tech support to unlock my account. This happened frequently enough that I realised that blank keycaps weren't for me, at least not for the office/work environment.
Apple Magic Keyboard
During the pandemic I caved a brought an M1 Mac Mini, to compliment my purchase I also decided to buy an apple magic keyboard. The build quality was top notch, it felt nice to type on and the compact size meant it didn't take up much space on my desk. I can see why so many people use this kind of keyboard.
Running MacOS 100% of the time wasn't all that I'd hoped it to be and I found myself swapping between my Mac Mini and other Windows or Linux machines. At this point using the magic keyboard with it's Mac specific layout became unpractical and confusing. To make it easier to switch between devices I decided to look for keyboards on the market that were compatible with each major OS and made it easy to quickly switch between layouts.
My current keyboard
...Which brings us to present day, currently I'm typing this article on a Logitech MX Keys. Because it's compatible with multiple OS's I use it for work on my company issued Macbook and personal usage on my own Linux machine.
I really like the tying experience of this keyboard, the super low profile keys allow me to type super fast. However I have a few personal gripes: Firstly the board is completely wireless, which means I have to charge it via USB-C. As I'm sat practically tethered to my desk all day a permanently wired option would actually be more convenient as it would save me to the hassle of charging.
My second issue is simply the size of the board. Had I had waited a few months I could have purchased the more compact MX Mini compact equivalent which would have been far more convenient for me. The size is an issue for two main reasons, predominantly because I like to travel with my keyboard, so it needs to easily fit in a bag/suitcase. Secondly I'm not (and never have been) someone who ever uses the numpad, so all these additional keys just sit there unused, wasting precious real estate on my desk.
My final gripe is in the construction of the board itself, and how this led to some unfortunate damage. The switch design makes it really tricky to pop off keys in case you ever need to clean your keyboard (who amongst us hasn't at some point eaten near their desk and got crumbs stuck under their keys). At one point I attempted to lever/pop off a keycap and managed to break the tiny connector the switch hooks into. So now I have a broken key on my number row that doesn't sit fully flush and occasionally gets stuck :(
There appears to be no easy way to acquire replacement key caps for the MX keys unless you're willing to pay an absolutely extortionate price from third party vendors.
My Next Board?
My gripes with the Logitech MX Keys have led me once again to start evaluating other options that are out there. I think I'm in the market for a new keyboard before the end of 2023, but want to do plenty of research to find the best value board. I likely write a follow up post about my criteria and research and perhaps a follow up review if I end up pulling the trigger.