Tag Archives: keyboard

Why You Should Get a Mechanical Keyboard

I’ve now written three reviews of mechanical keyboards. There was my first (and the one I’m typing on right now), a CM Storm QuickFire Rapid, a Rosewill 9000V2, and, most recently, a Vortex Race 3. Each keyboard was different. One without a number pad, one with a number pad, and one that pushed all the keys into a compact package. Each one had a different switch type, a different sound and feel. But all of them had one thing in common: I loved them all. Typing on any one of these keyboards is wonderful. Sure, my Rosewill 9000v2 was a bit too large for my desk at work, that’s why I replaced it with the compact Vortex Race 3. My CM Storm is way too loud for the office, even when I don’t bottom out the keys, so it stays here at home, with me. The Race 3 has its flaws, but it’s still my favorite keyboard. Regardless, they’re all great for their own reasons, in their own ways.

Mechanical keyboards cost a bit more than standard keyboards, and they’re often wired, instead of wireless. Still, they’re the best keyboards you can get your hands on. For only a slightly higher price (you can find half decent mechanical keyboards for under $50), you can get a keyboard you’re going to love, and one that’s going to last you a long time. Let me tell you how.

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Vortex Race 3 Mechanical Keyboard Review

I love a good keyboard. I’m a software developer, and, if you’re reading this, you’ve surely figured it out by now, I’m a writer as well. I spend a lot of time typing. I own two different mechanical keyboards, and have a third one at work, each one completely different, and each one worth the admittedly higher price of a mechanical keyboard, by far. If you’re a professional, you use the best equipment. You won’t see a professional race car driver daily driving a 1999 Honda Odysey minivan. You won’t find a DJ spinning tracks with a Zune and some cheap included earbuds. A calligrapher isn’t going to be caught dead with a cheap plastic Bic. A world renown sushi cheff won’t waste their time with plastic butter knives. If you spend any time on a keyboard, you shouldn’t let yourself get caught dead with some lousy membrane or chicklet style keyboard. You’ve got to grace your fingers with a sweet, comfortable, repetitive stress injury-dodging, clicky, glorious mechanical keyboard. This is how the gods wanted you to type. I type this from my latest keyboard purchase (not counting the sweet translucent DSA keycaps I just bought for a future build) is the Vortex Race 3 mechanical keyboard. It’s a 75% keyboard, which means it doesn’t have a number pad, and condenses the Home, Page Up, Page Down, End, and arrow keys into the standard alphanumeric keys, modifiers, and F keys that you’ve become accustom to. It’s a great way to get the standard keyboard experience in a more compact package, leaving you more space on your desk and requiring you to move your hand less to reach your mouse or trackpad. You can get it in a variety of switches, all Cherry MX. Vortex has the Blues, Reds, Browns, Silvers, Blacks, and even Clears (the one I got) available for this keyboard. If none of that made sense to you, check out Lifehacker’s writeup of some of the most popular key switches from Cherry. Basically put, each key switch has a different sound and feel. and this keyboard has some of the most popular options.

The Vortex Race 3 is my favorite keyboard, yet it’s not without an extremely long list of flaws. It’s a conflicted board, to be sure, but why that is, you’ll have to read below.


Pros Cons
Gorgeous keyboard with old-school charm No macOS firmware updater, but macOS support and keys
Amazing typing feel Strange size for Escape and Delete keys, making customization tricky
Solid construction Key caps tight on the switches, hard to swap out key caps
Fantastic key caps Hard to find documentation and instructions

Read MUCH more about this intriguing keyboard below!

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The New MacBook Pro Keyboard is Glorious

I had a few reasons for going to the Apple Store last week. My iPad Pro Smart Keyboard was coming apart at the seams (the adhesive must have worn out… it was only 5 months old), my iPhone 6s has a bad battery (and still does), and, I had to find a replacement for my beloved Pebble smartwatch, as the company doesn’t exist anymore. Before I went and played with the Apple Watches that were on display, I went over to the MacBook Pro display. No one was standing in front of a 13″ MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, so I decided to test the keyboard a bit. After a few minutes on the keyboard, I was incredibly surprised. The first generation butterfly mechanism and dome switches in the 12″ MacBook were awful. That computer was a nightmare to type on. However, the new MacBook Pro has a brand new switch type, and it makes an incredible difference. 

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Apple’s Next Keyboard Could Have a Screen in Every Key

∆ See that there? It’s a triangle. It’s also the symbol delta, used to express change in many forms of math and science. If you’re using a Mac or iOS device, you can probably see this Apple logo: . And, for those who want to gaze into eternity, here’s the symbol for infinity: ∞. Did you know that, on iOS (with a hardware keyboard) or a Mac, you can produce all of these symbols with a few keyboard shortcuts? The ∆ comes from pressing Alt+J, the  is Alt+Shift+K, and ∞ is Alt+5. Do you know what happens when you press Alt+G? Do you know every keyboard shortcut for every application? Probably not. In iOS you can press and hold the Command key to make an overlay display, but this only works for iOS because there are few keyboard shortcuts; it couldn’t work on macOS, where there are shortcuts for nearly every key. Until now, users had to memorize these keyboard shortcuts, and eventually get the motions for tapping them stored in muscle memory. But what if the OS could remind you of each keyboard shortcut as soon as you held down a modifier key like control, alt/option, command, fn, or shift? One of the rumors we’ve heard about the new MacBook Pro is that it will have a dynamic OLED screen in place of a row of function keys so the function bar at the top of the keyboard could display different functions or information in different apps. But what if Apple wants to take this customizability further, to the entire keyboard? If rumors they they’ve been in talks with a company that makes a dynamic keyboard have any merit, Apple’s next great keyboard innovation could be a completely customizable (and quite fetching) keyboard like the Sonder Keyboard shown above. 
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Razer Released a Mechanical Keyboard Case for the 12.9″ iPad Pro, and It’s Actually Good

razerHeroI’m a bit of a keyboard snob. I worked tirelessly for a few months on an Apple keyboard before going crazy and getting a mechanical keyboard for the office. I went with Cherry MX Browns at work, which are housed in a Rosewill 9000v2 keyboard that I called “typing bliss” in a review. I’m currently typing on a CM Storm QuickFire with Cherry MX Blue key switches; it too is typing bliss. Sure, I had a coworker ask if I could type more quietly at work, (I added dampeners to each key to make it much quieter), and sure, I had a friend once ask me to stop typing because he couldn’t hear my TV (I turned the TV up), but these wonderful mechanical keyboards are worth the fact that they’re expensive, bulky, and loud, because typing on them just feels so good. When you type, literally, tens of thousands of letters each day, you begin to think about the keys that make words and code on the screen, and going back to non-mechanical keyboards is just sad. Unfortunately, at home, when writing for this blog, I don’t get to use one of my amazing mechanical keyboards too often, because I enjoy writing on my iPad from my couch. I could hook up my keyboard to my iPad through USB, but I’d definitely have to put it down on my coffee table and sit awkwardly on my couch, and in that scenario, it would be a much better idea to just write at my desk… in the same room. (Hey, this is New York, a living room is also an office, kitchen, bed room, and bathroom. Oh… it’s not a bathroom? Whoops.)

firstRazer heard the cry of the dozens of people just like me, people who do work on their iPads and prefer mechanical keyboards because they’re hundreds of times better for writing. They released the Razer Mechanical Keyboard Case for the 12.9″ iPad Pro. It’s a keyboard case that includes their own, in-house designed low profile mechanical keys. The end result is a mechanical keyboard with the key travel of a standard laptop keyboard, but the satisfying click and springy feeling of a mechanical keyboard. Though it’s smaller and slimmer than any other mechanical keyboard, it still carries some issues. Reviewers have had their hands on it for long enough to post their own reviews, and while it comes with a long list of unique problems, it’s still, apparently, an amazing keyboard case for the iPad Pro. Best of all, it still costs less than Apple’s offering. But, unless it costs an arm and a leg, that’s not too hard, is it?
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Logitech Released a Smart Connector Keyboard for 9.7″ iPad Pro

Apple’s iPad Pro keyboard, which some of this post was typed on, is $150. That’s far too expensive for a keyboard. If you want your entire iPad Pro to be protected, you’ll also have to buy a case to protect the rear, which is also expensive, at $70. That means, to protect your 9.7″ iPad Pro, you’ll have to buy a case and a keyboard for $220… or you could buy the new $120 Create keyboard for the iPad Pro. The Logitech Create keyboard also has a few features that the Apple Smart Keyboard lacks, like backlit keys, a place to store your Apple Pencil, and complete coverage and protection. Overall, this keyboard case does what Apple’s offerings do, with more features, and at a lower price. Though it’s a bit thicker, many users would likely consider it to be the best keyboard for the iPad Pro.
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Where Are the Smart Connector Keyboards?

The 12.9″ iPad Pro was released in November of 2015, and yet there are still only two Smart Connector keyboards for the iPad, both revealed during the launch of the iPad Pro. One is the iPad Smart Connector keyboard, and the other is the Logitech Create keyboard. The situation is even more bleak on the 9.7″ iPad Pro, which only has one Smart Connector keyboard, the Apple keyboard. Of course, any Bluetooth or even USB keyboard will work for these iPads, but USB involves extra cables, and Bluetooth connections aren't 100% reliable. They also drain the battery of both the iPad and itself, using more electricity than the Smart Connector keyboards. With Smart Connectors being the obvious choice for best iPad keyboard interface, you'd expect the market to be flooded with them. Where are the other Smart Connector keyboards?

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