top of page

It’s easy to get a good keyboard, right? Er, right?

Traditionally, I have done most of my typing on my company-issued laptop. In the office, I have a docking station with a monitor and a decent keyboard and have been more-or-less comfortable with it for several years.

But when the COVID-19 lockdown began, I was at home with my laptop only. I plugged in my own mouse, but used the laptop keyboard. It worked, of course, but I wasn’t as comfortable as on my office keyboard. Also, since I had been using my personal laptop more than usual, it got me thinking about all the un-plugging / re-plugging when I want to switch back and forth.

(Hm. “Switch”. I wonder...)

In any case, we have other keyboards around the house, but I don’t really “like” any of them. As I used my office keyboard most, I was most comfortable with it, and also think it’s the “best” keyboard of the bunch, so it’s my main point of reference.

Part of the problem is that I am a reasonably proficient typist, which got me thinking. The first typewriter (, for people unfamiliar with these archaic devices) I used was a Royal desktop typewriter my Mom had when I was small. It looked something like this:

I actually went through a few of the exercises my Mom had in a typing book she had from when she learned to type, but didn’t really “learn” how to type back then. Later, I used my Mom’s Royal Portable Typewriter, which I still have (Note the lack of a “1” key. The lower-case “L” was used instead):

Then, in the 1980’s, I took a typing course at night-school (extra credit), and used an electric typewriter.

When I started using computers, I could already type reasonably well, and several years doing data entry helped a lot – so much so that I actually struggle a bit with mobile devices. I can type far more quickly with a full-size keyboard, and feel extremely sluggish with a phone/tablet. (I rather like the “swipe type” feature on my iPhone / iPad and am faster with it, but still nowhere near my desktop typing speed.)

While working from home, I kept thinking fondly of my office keyboard. And testing the Raspberry Pi official keyboard (, got me thinking it it might be worthwhile to invest in a “good” keyboard.

How hard can that be? A little online searching, and I should be able to easily find a good keyboard, right? Er, right?

Well, no. My first indication that I might no longer be in Kansas was a PC Mag article by John Burek (, where I learned that there was such a thing as a “mechanical” keyboard – as opposed to what?

#TIL, most “budget” keyboards use a “membrane switch” or “rubber dome”. This is relatively inexpensive, but less durable, and with less tactile / auditory feedback when typing. I also became aware of the sub-culture associated with mechanical switches, and realized that this topic was far larger than I was prepared to investigate in any realistic detail. For example, when discussing mechanical switches, there are several different types of switch, and then variations on those types. (, for more detail)

#TIL the term “tenkeyless”, which appears to simply refer to a keyboarrd without a separate number-pad. (More compact, I guess, but not really to my taste.)

Rather than go diving down this particular rabbit-hole, by doing things like getting demonstration switches and researching things like “Actuation Distance” and “Actuation Force”, I read though a number of reviews of different mechanical keyboards, and finally decided on the WASD V3 104-Key Custom Mechanical Keyboard (, using the Cherry MX Brown switch, which is a bit of a hybrid. I decided that this would give me a decent middle-ground, let me dip my toe into the mechanical keyboard ocean, and give me a frame of reference for future investigation (assuming I am ever so inclined).

I limited my customization to colours for the major groups of keys (ie, black keyboard, light grey alphabetic/number keys, and darker grey “modifier” keys, along with the Ubuntu symbol for the “Windows” key. The company allows customization of individual keys, both in colour and in the symbol / font used, but I didn’t want to down that separate-but-related rabbit-hole...

Purchase and delivery went well (aside from a problem with the courier delivering to the wrong house, but we straightened that out), and now I doubt I will ever buy another non-mechanical keyboard. Now that I understand the differences, and can feel / hear the specific action of this keyboard, I understand a lot of what I had been missing in many of the keyboards I used in the past. It is certainly a matter of taste, but my taste is such that mechanical keyboards are definitely the way to go. Next time, I may go down that rabbit-hole a bit deeper, but for now, I’m more than satisfied.

Maybe I should look into mice at some point. How complicated could that be?



1 Comment

Aug 19, 2020

Glad you finallly found one that works for you.

bottom of page