Keyboard Issues and Recommendations

RhapsodyRhapsody Registered User regular
I've been sporting a Saitek Eclipse for the last 6 years or so on my desktop machines. In the past few weeks, the keyboard has started to act really wonky. The multimedia buttons assigned to controlling volume as well as the backlight intensity have started behaving in different, erratic ways. For instance, the volume down key will randomly send my computer to sleep, the volume up key spits out seemingly random key combinations, and so forth. The only driver I have installed for the keyboard is the standard HID keyboard driver that comes with Windows 7. I have a number of questions:

1) This feels like a problem with the keyboard hardware, given the random nature of the key outputs as well as my attempts to uninstall/reinstall the controlling driver multiple times. I kind of want to check to make sure I'm not missing anything and see if simply getting a new keyboard would fix my problems.

2) In looking for a new keyboard, I'm very interested in acquiring a mechanical one. I've done a fair amount of research but I'm having trouble landing on a particular model. I've never used a mechanical before, and I don't really know from experience how the different switches feel, but from what I've read, it seems like I would lean towards either the Cherry Browns or Blacks. I intend to use this keyboard mostly for gaming, Starcraft and LoL most likely, and I'm also looking for multimedia functions as well (they don't have to be dedicated buttons, but a function key style similar to a laptop would work). I'd love to hear any feedback anyone has about their experiences with the switches/keyboards.

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Posts

  • AlectharAlecthar Alan Shore We're not territorial about that sort of thing, are we?Registered User regular
    Below are a few mechanical keyboards that might work for you. Browns are generally considered superior to blacks for typing due to the tactile feedback you receive on key actuation (which, with Cherry switches, is actually before the key bottoms out, which is somewhat different than a regular dome keyboard). The Blacks are a linear switch, so the only feedback you get from the key is it bottoming out, even though the actuation point actually occurs before then. It also requires more force to push down, so it can help eliminate accidental key presses. The Blacks are less well liked for typing because you have to use more force to push the keys, and you have to push the keys all the way down to get any tactile feedback on the key press. Browns are a solid middle ground.

    Steelseries 6Gv2
    Thermaltake Meka G1
    Zowie Gear Celeritas

  • minor incidentminor incident Helen Keller to the bullshit Registered User regular
    Mechanical is the way to go, assuming you can be a little clicky-clacky noisy. I'll never go back to a non-mechanical keyboard.

    I've tried the SteelSeries and a Das Keyboard, plus a couple others that I can't remember well, and nothing holds a candle to Razer's Ultimate.

    The Blackwidow is more compact than most gaming keyboards and uses f-keys with an FN button for volume, media, etc. no bullshit extra media keys. It does have a single column of programmable macro keys along the left side. The cherry blue keys on it are amazing. Wonderful audible AND tactile feedback at the actuation point. Personally, I prefer the blues over all the other cherry varieties. They're great for gaming, and good for typing, if a bit loud. Reminds me of my old mechanical IBM keyboards.

    It also has individual led backlights under each key, which is indispensable for me. I can't stand non-backlit keyboards anymore. I seriously can't say enough good things about this board.

    It really is very personal, though. It's easy enough to find the SteelSeries and Razer boards in stores to play with, so I'd suggest at least trying to do that first.

    Steam: minor incident || PSN: inter-punct
    You may not find all that you're after. In the end I hope it doesn't matter.
  • AlectharAlecthar Alan Shore We're not territorial about that sort of thing, are we?Registered User regular
    edited August 2011
    The Ultimate definitely looks like a gaming keyboard, and if you want backlit keys with your media F-keys, it's one of the few options (I'm actually still trying to think of others). It's pretty expensive, and the finish is glossy, which I generally try to avoid due to the dust and fingerprint catching.

    One thing to note is that, while the Ultimate does have a special matrix built into the WASD keys, the key rollover limit elsewhere is 2, and it doesn't support PS/2 at all. Though often considered a legacy interface, most good mechanical keyboards support PS/2 to enable the keyboard to support "n-key rollover" (the ability to press as many keys as you like simultaneously and have all of them register) and avoid the often crowded USB bus.

    I myself tend to game with the lights on, and I would never really use USB and audio ports in my keyboard, but your needs may be different. Like minor incident says, once you've narrowed down to quality mechanical boards, personal choice is really the biggest factor.

    Alecthar on
  • minor incidentminor incident Helen Keller to the bullshit Registered User regular
    edited August 2011
    Yeah, I did a little searching for comparisons, and I can't find a single other backlit mechanical keyboard. That's definitely odd. Maybe I'm an exception, or I'm just spoiled by my MacBook Pro, but a backlight is essential for me. But again, I game in a dimly lit room most of the time. If the backlight wasn't a deal breaker for me, I'd go with the SteelSeries in a heartbeat. It feels pretty good, looks clean, and they make quality stuff. A bit cheaper than the Razer, too, I believe.

    Oh, and as for n-key rollover, I've not run into an issue yet, but it is worth mentioning. For the record, it handles w+a+shift+space without missing a beat, so most any combo on the left cluster shouldn't be an issue, but if you're playing twister on the right side, you may have problems.

    Oh, and I'll never understand why they put the USB port on the keyboard on the right side. So anything you plug into it is hanging over your mouse pad. Meh.

    I also never use the audio jacks on a keyboard either, but that's a whole other topic.

    minor incident on
    Steam: minor incident || PSN: inter-punct
    You may not find all that you're after. In the end I hope it doesn't matter.
  • AlectharAlecthar Alan Shore We're not territorial about that sort of thing, are we?Registered User regular
    You can find quality backlit mechanical keyboards, but they're mostly from less well known manufacturer's like Deck Keyboards, or this one from (I think this is right) a company called iOne.

  • TehSlothTehSloth Hit Or Miss I Guess They Never Miss, HuhRegistered User regular
    I had a Das for about 4 years before I ended up getting a blackwidow ultimate up on Newegg's shellshocker. I was a little concerned because I'd heard some bad things about QC but I wouldn't go back. I feel like it's built much more solidly than my Das Ultimate. I only have one complaint, and that is that I'm used to having a regular number of keys with no labels and I orient myself kind of around feeling for the left-ctrl with my pinky, and I'll often times shift over because my pinky goes for the macro button in the bottom left. I don't think I've actually used any of the extra buttons, but I sometimes toss my USB stick in the keyboard, it's a bit easier than reaching around my tower.

    Also, they're cherry blues, which you may not be a fan of since they are definitely louder than most normal keyboards, but I don't think they're like, distractingly loud.

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  • AlectharAlecthar Alan Shore We're not territorial about that sort of thing, are we?Registered User regular
    The Das is no longer only in unlabelled form, so that's nice, but it's a good deal more expensive than it probably needs to be.

    I own one largely because the modified ANSI layout with big enter keys throws me off, because it's not what I'm used to, on my home or work keyboards, so I wanted a keyboard laid out the way the Das is, and I like the build quality quite a bit. Maybe it's improved since you owned one?

    Regardless, it's a quality keyboard, as are many others that are cheaper (and more expensive, for that matter).

  • UselesswarriorUselesswarrior Registered User regular
    edited August 2011
    Check out Unicomp. They basically make new IBM Model M's. They are heavy and loud and fantastic to type on. I've played around a little with a Das Keyboard and I think I prefer my Unicomp. No media keys though, but that is also a failing of the Das Keyboard. They are also about half the price of a Das Keyboard.

    Here is the model I have at home, It's my second favorite keyboard after this. If I could find a mechanical version of that keyboard I would be in typing heaven.

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  • RhapsodyRhapsody Registered User regular
    Thanks for the replies. My biggest concern is that I can't seem to find many mechanical keyboards in stores around my area, except for the Blackwidow. I think the Blackwidow is out for me, due to the glossy finish, the lack of good key rollover support, and my concern with the quality of the individual product I'll get. I'm strongly considering the Meka G1, I'm just concerned about the black linear switches. I don't really care for backlighting, but I feel like function keys at least for volume control are a must for me.

    It's too bad that Steelseries went with the goofy key setup around the enter key. Although, I guess I don't really use the right shift key all that much if at all.

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  • AlectharAlecthar Alan Shore We're not territorial about that sort of thing, are we?Registered User regular
    If you can, try stuff out. That'll tell you more about whether or not you like the linear switches or not.

  • EtheaEthea Registered User regular
    Just ordered a Tenkeyless MX-Brown should be pretty awesome.

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