Sunday, 24 March 2013

A keyboard with a Duck on it.

For those who don't know, the keyboard you are using on your PC is probably using a rubber membrane with individual keys on top. Even if its a gaming keyboard there is a pretty good chance that its one of these membrane keyboards. The elegant alternative to this rather squishy style is a mechanical keyboard. A mechanical keyboard uses individual switches for each key giving a very solid typing experience.

I decided I wanted a mechanical keyboard after using an old buckling spring keyboard at work. I also wanted something a little smaller on my desk, finally, as the back light on my G19 was very washed out looking I figured it was time to spend some pounds. 

Looking for a mechanical keyboard in the UK is a pain in the proverbial posterior. You can't go anywhere to try one (outside of some pretty high end stores in London as far as I can tell) and when you do find a place that will even sell you one you have to wait because they don't keep them in stock at all, maybe the mechanical craze has not yet hit our fair tea drinking nation. 

I went with for my order. I knew that I wanted MX Blue keys (I love clicks damn it!) and I wanted a blue back light (to match the theme of my gaming hole) after some browsing I realised that the Ducky brand made solid and reliable keyboards, there were other options obviously but it was the Ducky that had had the most positive reviews overall (100% mechanical design, very good build quality, bright light, high quality plastics on the keys) - I opted for a TKL ('tenkeyless', that's a keyboard with no number pad) to save on desk space as well as have a more portable board in case I get hooked on blues and have to take the little fella everywhere with me... also, and lets be honest who uses the number pad on a home PC? - not me. 

Moments after placing my order I received an e-mail telling me that I would be in for a wait because they don't keep them in stock (hummm) they did offer me a board with Blue keys and a pink backlight... oddly, being a 32 year old man with an all black and blue rig I decided to wait for my ideal board. 

After what seems like a lifetime of waiting (it was a month just about) my board finally arrived. 

FIRST IMPRESSIONS, and pictures follow.... 

The board is small, I know, keys are standard sizes but it's strikingly small compared to the G19 that was sitting on my desk. The build quality of this board is pretty striking as well. It's sturdy, heavy and is quality to behold. 

The Duckly weighs about the same as the G19, which is crazy when you see the size of the G19 in comparison. I think this speaks a lot about the materials used in its construction.  The USB cable is very nice but I would have liked a braided cable bit its instead a high quality rubber coated one. I'll probably change it for a braided one if I can find one as its totally detachable and very standard (mini USB) 

The Media keys are alternate functions of the F keys, not a problem at all, I knew this before buying but one thing I will miss is my G19's volume roller. Saying that, the media keys are easy to get to and I dare say that after a few days I'll get used to them. 

As someone with a love of alternative Operating Systems its nice that the keyboard comes with alternate windows key caps, no windows logo for me but instead little Duck Logo's. very hipster. 

After plugging it in the next thing I noticed was that the lights are like car headlight. On full brightness they are  blinding in a darkened room, lets face it though, this isn't a bad thing. You can turn them down at night and on a summers day its still going to be seen and look nice. Most lighting modes are okay but when the keyboards not in use the 'breathing' mode is the one I think I'll leave it on. when I'm using it I switch to 100% of keys lit at about a quarter intensity.

The MX Blue keys are everything I expected, boldly loud and satisfyingly tactile! - my only real criticism about the keys are that the larger ones (Space, Backspace, capslock, tab, shift) all feel a little heavier than the rest of the keys. Maybe it's me just not being used to it but they do feel heavier to me. 

One of the concerns I had about buying a Blue was key return (travel) speed. As a gamer I was worried that they blues would not return to default position fast enough for me when in the heat of action, this turns out to be no problem at all. I'm not even sure why this was in my head in the first place. Blues are so nice for my gaming and typing style.

If I had to pick faults with the keyboard I would say that the Cherry Stabilisers on the space bar are a little too stiff and could do with being quieter, the blue keys are find but when the space bar is pushed it sound like I've hit two keys at once (due to the nature of those stabilisers) built saying that it works flawlessly and the illuminated Ducky logo on the front of the bar is a nice touch. Dedicated media keys would have been nice as an extra but not really needed and its a snug board. 

I would recommend anyone to buy a mechanical keyboard but do some research regarding the MX key types before you do, it would be an expensive mistake to get a key type you ended up hating. if in doubt the Red's and brown's appear to be the more 'standard' key types. 

All I have to do now is get some custom key caps for WSAD and an escape button that has the word panic on it.... the options are endless but whatever crazy designs those keys have the Cherry MX Blues under them will still give me a wonderful typing experience. 

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