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Day 19 of the 2021 Series:

Word has come down from on high that we're going to be returning to the office this summer. Probably. So, I guess that means I'm going to need some keyboard recommendations.

mikestone.me/preparing-to-retu

@mike I really like the Microsoft Sculpt (no mouse) paired with the Logitech MX Ergo advanced. When I'm done for the night I just lock them up, but both have worked really well so far.

I would like to replace the keyboard with a mechanical (Ergo Dox or other) but there's nothing wrong with mine right now so that's a stretch goal.

@cyr I've had a Microsoft keyboard before. I've liked Microsoft's hardware better than their software. Is the form factor going to be easy to put into a backpack with a laptop?

@mike depends on what else you have in there, due to the curve of the keyboard it doesn't lie flat - it is around 15" long but curves inwards, so YMMV. The numpad on that model isnt connected, which is nice but is one more thing for the bag to eat. I used it with a shoulder/messanger bag without much issue. There is a newer "Surface" branded version, but havent checked that one out.

@cyr Well, I'm not known to travel light. Usually I'll have a laptop, maybe two, mouse, headphones, power adapters, a couple of charging cables for phones or other USB devices, etc. Now I'm going to throw a keyboard into the mix.

@mike ah well you'll be OK then, though if you look into mechanical boards you could save space if that's ever an issue (and find little bags/cases easier).

@mike Best option ever, get the old IBM keyboard with a littlebit of spraypaint. Those keyboard's tactile feedback is heavenly

@mike You didn't mention a size. Numpad or no numpad? If you want an OEM keyboard, there's mainly just one brand I can recommend and that's Leopold. They're unfortunately only available with Cherry MX switches, but I guess you're okay with them. Just buy one with silent switches and preferably with double shot PBT keycaps.

Unlike most other OEM boards, Leopard comes with dampening materials in their keyboards and their stabilizers didn't rattle like a bag of Lego when you type on it.

@mike Their PBT keycaps is 1.35 mm thick, if my memory serves me right. That will make them sounds less hollow and more discrete than you're average keyboard with thin ABS plastic keycaps.

Double shot is also the most superior method for legends. You can never wear them out and the text is razor sharp.

@hund I'm not tied to a specific size. I want it to be super portable since I'm going to be packing it up every day. Number pad is expendable. The keyboard on my laptop doesn't have one and I haven't missed it. I was thinking probably one of the 60% would be fine, I'm just slightly worried about feeling cramped when I'm typing.

@mike @hund What are your feelings on arrow keys? Necessary?

@patcoll Probably. I realize there are alternative ways of accomplishing the same thing, but muscle memory is a pain in the neck to fight against.

@hund

@mike @patcoll Then 65% is what you want. How about I build something for you? What's your budget?

@hund What kind of range are we talking about here? I was looking at a Ducky One, which is around $125 American, and that's perfectly fine. I'd expect to pay more for a custom build though (and I'd be happy to). How much does a build typically cost?

@patcoll

@hund I'd love to take you up on that, but it's probably more than I'm willing to spend at this point. I really appreciate the offer though.

@patcoll

@mike I’d seriously consider a Keychron K2 or K6 too.

@hund

@mike FWIW I have a Ducky One and am really happy with it. Real quality bit of kit - having said that, it’s my first “quality” keyboard so I have no basis for comparison. It’s orders of magnitude better than any other keyboard I’ve ever have though.

@hund @patcoll

@kev
I gotten myselv the ducky one 2 mini, and its fantastic to use. I was gonna ho with the one 2 sf, but kinda looked odd, and i wantwd it in white, so i went with the 60% and just got a mecanicall numpad from varmillo. Only one i could find.
@mike @hund @patcoll

@Twelve @kev @mike @hund @patcoll I've using the One 2 Mini for a hot minute now. It's a really good board especially when the arrow keys functionality is set up properly. Using anything bigger than a 60% feels really weird for me now.

@wil @Twelve @kev @mike @hund @patcoll the Ducky One 2 with MX greens is really nice... my second fav next to a Unicomp space saver.

@mike The 60% with arrows build I’m planning is a budget build, because I want to try the layout. For parts from KBDFans, parts I have here, I’d say it will probably be all-in cost of 170-190.

If I were building it for someone else, I’d include labor, which would probably bring the cost up to the range @hund is referring to.

Pre-built boards will be cheaper of course. If you’re not sure, I might start there. Customs are fun tho 😀

@mike Hm, in that case I might look at 65%, a 60% with arrows, or a 75% if you need the function row.

@hund

@mike I'm building a 60% with arrows next week, I can let you know how it goes 😂

@mike @patcoll @hund I couldn't live without the arrow keys so also prefer 65% keyboards. Have been living with mine for about 18 months and love it.

Just a word of warning: carefully select your switches. The clicky ones like Cherry MX Blues have started lots of office fights. 😀

@fedops Yea, that's definitely a concern for me. I have a blue keyboard at home, and my wife can hear me typing across the house. Especially when it's something I'm passionate about. I'm expecting the office is going to be trying to separate people physically more than they used to, but I'm not sure how much. In the before times, I could physically touch 3 other people without getting out of my chair. Didn't exactly have a lot of space to work with.

@patcoll @hund

@mike I have two 75% boards, one a chinesium with Gateron blues and the other a Keychron K2 with Cherry MX reds. I have come to prefer the reds both because of the noise but also their smooth linear characteristic.

A colleague and I both have the K2 and using them in the office has not been a problem. 75% is nice if you use the F keys (or the media key layer) a lot. Otherwise the 65% format is very similar; I don't find the bit of extra depth to be that big a deal.
@patcoll @hund

@fedops @mike @patcoll @hund

+1 for the Keychron K2. I have one with Gateron Reds, but aftermarket Dye-Sublimated PBT keycaps. It's a great board! Bluetooth is also a nice to have, though I keep it plugged in most of the time.

ndanes.com/images/desk-Jan2021

@ndanes I like the BT capability mostly for using it with my phone. Flick the switch, reply to an email in K9, flick back and continue working on the PC.

Those keycaps look really nice!

@mike @patcoll @hund

@mike @patcoll @hund if you're a vim user, mapping hjkl to the arrow keys with a modifier (I use spacebar) works relatively well and gives a good analog with vim muscle memory.

Doesn't really translate to gaming though if you can't re-map arrows to something wasd.

@mike @hund personally I've fallen in love with the HHKB layout. And as a bonus it's very light and compact so I have no trouble packing it with me when I go to the office for the day. Is a bit pricey though which is unfortunate 🥺

@mike I'd recommend quitting your job and finding one that isn't making you return to the office.

@mike I’m sorry to hear that Mike. I bought a Keychron K8 abs am extremely happy with it.

@mike If you can wait a little bit System76 is building a keyboard that they will release soon:
system76.com/accessories/launc

It looks like it's going to be pretty interesting, with lots of customising available.

@mike moonlander! i just got one and it's fire. plus, the people who made it got paid a living wage. zsa.io/moonlander/

@mike As you seem happy with a Razer mouse, have you considered one of their keyboards.

They use optical switches which are claimed to be as good as a pure mechanical switch. This one for example - Razer Huntsman Mini.

I have the same keys on a Tartarus Pro and they have a mechanical feel to them.

I also use a Drevo Blademaster Pro with Cherry MX Brown Switches which is reasonably quiet.

@mike I recently bought a Mountain Everest.

It took some time for it to arrive and I swapped the Cherry MX Browns for Kailh Box Browns, which was easy.
mountainggshop.com/products/ev

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