A friend of mine — a friend for more than twenty years now (holy shit I’m old) — ordered something for me as a birthday gift. It was supposed to arrive by UPS last week, around the 15th, I think. It turns out that somewhere along the way, between the friend (call him n8), Metadot (the vendor), and the shipper (UPS), a letter in my address got lost. As a result, it didn’t arrive last week.
n8 got in touch with me to let me know there was a problem. I called up UPS on Saturday and corrected the address error. The UPS representative told me the address had been corrected and the package was rescheduled for delivery. He told me it would arrive on the 21st.
It was about 1630 on Tuesday when I realized it probably wasn’t going to arrive. I called UPS again, and made the necessary corrections again. It was rescheduled (again), this time for today. Today, it actually arrived.
I was a little mystified to see that the package was a cardboard box that looked about the size and shape of a computer keyboard retail box — maybe just a little bigger. I brought it inside, sliced through the tape, and opened it up. Inside was an actual retail-style computer keyboard box with a picture of Das Keyboard on it. Yes, really.
Truth in advertising: the box contained a Das Keyboard Ultimate. This thing is a $129 keyboard — a keyboard I have craved for about as long as I knew it existed. I mentioned wanting such a beast in my HP Wireless Elite Keyboard and Mouse review, and I remember n8 had asked me for some details about what makes the Das Keyboard so great. Little did I know he was plotting against me.
Okay, okay, I’ll share what I think of the thing.
It is really clicky. I love how clicky it is. I might not like it so much if someone else was using it nearby while I was trying to work, but when I’m using it, it’s very satisfying. It’s loud, dammit, like keyboards were meant to be.
The tactile feedback of it is most excellent. The key shape is most excellent. The key arrangement is most excellent. All of these things contribute to faster, more precise typing than not only my ThinkPad keyboard, but also my HP Wireless Elite keyboard. It feels amazing, and this helps immensely with my typing. Right now, I’m away from home, typing on my ThinkPad keyboard in a coffee shop — and by comparison, typing on this thing feels like I’m pushing my fingers through molasses.
I’m already beginning to feel the improved typing speed effects, not only because of the physical design of the thing, but also because I’m looking at the keyboard to double-check myself far less often. I’ve only used the thing for a few hours, and so far everything about the keyboard’s hype appears to be true. If you aren’t a touch-typist, though, stick to something with marked keys (obviously).
It looks awesome. Seriously. This is one badass-looking keyboard.
It would be really inconvenient attached to the computer at the living room desk, because when guests want to look something up online I’m sure some of them would be discomfited, or even entirely helpless, faced by an unmarked keyboard. Also, attaching it to the computer at the living room desk would be problematic because that thing gets used more for gaming than anything else; when it’s being used for gaming, there’s other gaming in the room, and there may be headsets in use, all of which makes for a bad circumstance in which to make loud clacking noises.
I’ll be moving this keyboard into the room I call my “office”, where it won’t bother anyone, it’ll help encourage productivity, and it’ll make my working environment look just that much more . . . badass.
Now, I just need to get my hands on an IBM Model M in reasonably good shape to refamiliarize myself with how that feels, so I’ll be able to do a head-to-head comparison (edit: or maybe just a Unicomp Endurapro).
What I’ve discovered about comparing this thing with the HP Wireless Elite, though, is not so much that it’s better, but that it’s better for some purposes, and the HP Wireless Elite is better for other purposes. Some of the very things that make Das Keyboard Ultimate so exceptional are the same things that make it inappropriate, or at least less perfect, for other things.
In the end, if you have your own isolated working space, and you’re a lover of high-quality keyboard engineering, it’d be hard to do better than Das Keyboard (or even do anywhere near as well).