Where can I find a good keyboard these days?

My first experience with keys was a Commodore 64, and I quickly became a fan of basic programming. But I don’t remember that keyboard anyway, so ignore this bit. That was pretty much the extent of my experience with keyboards until I started using an electric typewriter for papers.

The electric typewriter is very memorable to me. I can still remember the action of the keys, the smell of the ink, and the hum of the machine. There were other computers at College too, but I don’t remember the keyboards at all. The “computers” were simple monitors connected to a mainframe. I heard a story about this style of computer, that the State had made some colossal blunder in investing in them but everyone went PC. In any case, the action of the electric typewriter was nice.

Later on, I would come to use more IBM-type keyboards in the military and as a telephone operator. I find these keyboards to be a bit clunky and noisy. I’m not a big fan of the “clicking” while I type. As a matter of fact, even the clunkiness of Microsoft keyboards annoys me. Even though they don’t click they are noisy.

Eventually, I would move on to the PC and then laptop keyboards. I’m using a ThinkPad T-series right now, but I can’t tell, it’s too dark in here right now. The keyboard is OK, but in general, keyboards these days just seem to be junk.

This brings me to my general question of where can I get a good keyboard? And which laptops do you think have good keyboards?

I think it’s too personal to give an answer. What suits me maybe won’t suit you. The only thing you can do is to go to a shop and try them out.

Like any bit of techno-fetishism, there is endless possibilities for geeking out about different keyboard types. I’ll summarize the basics sorts of keyboards you can buy these days:

Rubber-dome keyboards are the cheapest, most basic, and most common sorts of desktop keyboard available. Their mechanism is simply squishing a rubber membrane onto a circuit board. A lot of people find them mushy and unpleasant to type on.

Scissor-switch keyboards are common in laptops, and also available in desktop keyboards. They tend to have a shorter, crisper mechanism, though they can vary in quality quite a bit. For laptops, the Thinkpad keyboard are well-regarded, though a lot of people think they have been declining in quality over the years. I quite like my three-year-old Thinkpad keyboard. I have two cheap scissor-switch desktop keyboards, one which I like, and another that I hate.

Then, there are the mechanical switch keyboards. These use some sort of mechanism with springs and physical switches. There’s a ridiculous variety of types, with fanatics for each sort. These include the old buckling-spring keyboards, and a range of other switches with or without clicking and different amounts of force needed to press the switches down. A lot of people love them because they provide much more tactile or auditory feedback for when the switch is actually activated. FWIW I hate buckling-spring keyboards, but I love my Cherry Brown switches which are medium-clicky. Unfortunately mechanical keyboards are expensive, typically costing $100, and you can’t find them in most brick-and-mortar stores to try them out.

ETA: Computer-parts stores like Micro Center or Frys might have some mechanical keyboards you can try out.

Moderator Action

This is more a matter of opinion than fact.

Moving thread from General Questions to In My Humble Opinion.

Unicomp still makes many variants of the fabled Model M keyboard that was common during the 80’s. They are a little pricey but not terribly so and supposedly last forever. You may not like them if you think they are too clicky and noisy but they may make a model that addresses those issues as well.


Here is the quiet version:


I like plenty of clicky action and good tactile feedback. Mushy keyboards are a huge turnoff. That said, there’s a super-cheap plain keyboard on Newegg that I always buy. I really should stock up on a lifetime supply, although the one I have now has been going strong for several years. It’s got a PS/2 connection, so no worrying about whether it will work in the BIOS.

If you really like the feel of a typewriter, there are kits available to convert them to computer keyboards, or you can purchase one that has been converted.

Maybe I’ll just type everything and scan it.


These get pretty good reviews - http://matias.ca/


Best ones I ever found were in a surplus shop in Silicon Valley.
If Graingers is selling to the general public (I see them on ebay from time to time: they sell damned good products, but only to the trades.

Those Matias keyboards are clicky, though. This was typed on one.

I use a Black Widow. In hindsight, for gaming I wish I’d gone with something quieter (because I can’t type and have a microphone on at the same time), but for programming and typing it’s great. I really love the Cherry MX Blue switches for typing. My typing is really bad whenever I have to switch down to a stupid mushy keyboard.

Edit: MX Blues are super clicky clacky, as I mentioned. The MX Browns are basically quieter blues.

I use a Logitech G710. I’ve been very happy with it.

*Mechanical keyboard. It’s a proper mechanical keyboard, very well built.
*Backlighting - The keys are illuminated. You can turn this off, but I like like it. Makes the keyboard look all futuristic.
*Cherry MX Brown - mechanical keys, but low noise. If you were used to the older mechanical keyboards you might be used to a louder and more tactile “click” when you pressed a key. As I came from shitty Dell membrane keyboards the G710 feels nicely mechanical without making a sound racket.

And I just bought the Logitech K300 which has a nice feel to the keyboard.

Best feature is that it is completely washable - meaning, yes, you can fully submerge the keyboard in water and scrub away to clean it!

The washable keyboard is tempting but I’m only happy with an ergonomic keyboard. Unfortunately I just dumped diet coke on my Microsoft 4000 and i’m waiting on the Amazon Fairies to bring me a new one.

I recently tried Microsoft’s new Sculpt Ergonomic and it was lovely for typing. Unfortunately it’s wireless and could’t keep up with fast, multi-key action in gaming so I had to send it back. If you don’t game at your desktop, I highly recommend it.

So now I’m back to the 4000 which has mooshy keys and I hate it but my fingers know where everything is after all these years. If you want a reasonably priced ergo keyboard, the 4000 is pretty much your best choice.

That surplus joint I mentioned - it was originally “Halted Production Surplus Company” (lots of Silicon Valley dreams go belly-up), so the name “halted” isn’t completely out of left field:

Great place to browse if of the geek variety.

I have an old Compaq that weights about 5 pounds, and I love the touch of the thing. I keep checking to make sure I can find a replacement somwehere, in case I spill a smoothie in mine. The letters are worn off some of the keys, and others, which I never use, are congealed in dried mud. Model 296433-001 . If my house was on fire, this is the second thing I’d rescue, after my carbon steel kitchen knife.