Saturday, March 15, 2014

Cherry MX Keyboards - How to Choose?

Ahhh keyboards. One of those things you begrudge spending money on but could also be making your experience a lot less enjoyable than it could be.

I've been a bit of a keyboard geek for a while in that the factory issued crap from HP, Dell, IBM, Apple etc. drives me slightly mad when I'm in a situation where I just want my words to appear on the screen correctly without it turning into a Hulk moment.

So, I cast my mind back to the PCs I grew up with and seem to remember never really encountering these frustrations.

As it turns out, the keyboards I grew up with in the late 80's / early 90's (at least the ones on the IBM and IBM clone PCs I remember using) used mechanical keyboards.

Essentially, yes, a mechanical keyboard is older tech that uses physical switches and springs to actuate the key and register the keypress.

And as everything old is new again, Mechanical Keyboards are making a comeback in a big way.

This is justified however as they really are a much better experience (IMHO) and just that much more satisfying to type on.

What are Cherry Switches?
So, now you're interested right?
Good :)

Ok - let's introduces a company called Cherry.
Cherry has been the biggest manufacturer of mechanical switches for a very long time.

And they haven't updated their logo in a very long time either.

They also pump out keyboards as well but the trend these days is for them to just be the manufacturer of the actual switches and let other vendors look after the manufacturing of the keyboard.

To cater for different typing and gaming styles, there are a number of different Cherry Switches.

The difference between switches is:
  • Force required to actuate
  • Tactile (Yes or No)
  • Clicky (Yes or No)
Rather than re-invent the wheel, at this point you should head over to LifeHacker and scroll down 1/4 of the way down the page.

Here you'll see an excellent animation of each switch type.

As a quick Overview:

This switch was made exclusively for the Hulk.
If you have big ass, super powerful hands, this is the switch for you.
Everybody else, steer clear.

Awesome for typing if you work from home.
If you work in an office, this will take years off your life in that your co-workers will want to kill you.

I love these switches.
Just the right amount of resistance, nice and tactile and a dream to type on.
You don't have to bottom out the key for it to register and you really can just type nice and fast.

Low resistance, high smash.
I can see why people like these for gaming.

So, now you're interested, without actually trying one, how do you know which one you actually like?!

Well - there's two ways to tackle this.

The first is to start burning time heading to retail stores in hope that they have one there you can try.

If you're lucky, Dick Smith tends to have a Logitech sample showcase which has the G710+ setup (cherry brown switches).

That's where my journey began when they had a 40% off sale :)

The second option is to grab yourself a Cherry MX Sampler.

I picked one up off eBay for $15 at the following URL:

These bad boys are awesome in that they have a black, blue, brown and red.

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