Scott Hanselman

DasKeyboard - The Next Generation

July 30, '08 Comments [40] Posted in Reviews
Sponsored By

imageI feel like a ninja. A really loud, clicky ninja. This is a loud-ass keyboard. In the best way. I reviewed the original DasKeyboard two years ago, the one with totally blank keys, and let me tell you - if you want to learn how to touch type, type on blank keys. Plus, you can switch to Dvorak like some freaky people without missing a beat!

I'm a bit of a keyboard nut. I literally have nearly every Microsoft keyboard and mouse set ever made, and at least a dozen other brands. I'm always looking for THE keyboard, or at least THE keyboard du jour.

The new DasKeyboard is even clickier than the last one. It's a totally different redesigned keyboard and it's exquisitely and comfortably clicky. No way you'd be able sneak an instant message while on a conference call with this keyboard. If you like a quiet keyboard, just stop reading now. This is the Gregory Hines and Savion Glover of keyboards. This is STOMP: The Keyboard. (Ok, last one) This is "Bring in the Noise, Bring in the Keyboard."

yhst-40922258946781_2006_102649It's kind hard to talk about this keyboard without possibly sexually harassing the keyboard itself. It's solid, smooth and glossy and feels good to the touch. The keys are very well balanced and require less effort to press than the last DasKeyboard. There's something I can't quantify about this keyboard, though - Somehow I'm able to type about 10% faster on it. Sounds weird, I know, but it's true. I don't know if it's the "throw" of the keys (the distance they travel) or the smoothness, but my fingers get less tangled with it. Your mileage may vary, but typing on a DasKeyboard is like running downhill as a child. You have to just stop thinking about your feet (fingers) and just keep slapping away. However, as with running downhill, there's that moment when you think "how am I going this fast?" and then you trip over your feet (fingers.)

I prefer the blank version or "Ultimate" but there are two, the "Professional" has normal keys. Both have a USB2 hub on the side with two ports, which finally gives me Mac Keyboard parity, somewhere to plug in my mouse and a memory stick. It's got a SIX FOOT USB cable, so holding it in my lap while leaning back wasn't a problem.

The DasKeyboard is loud and wonderful and I recommend it. It's got a 30-day guarantee if you can't hear yourself think over the clicking. If you want to hear it, check out Frank Caron's review and the associated MP3 file.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

facebook twitter subscribe
About   Newsletter
Sponsored By
Hosting By
Dedicated Windows Server Hosting by ORCS Web
Wednesday, July 30, 2008 10:58:24 PM UTC
Have you ever used the original IBM 101-key keyboard? How does it compare? I still use one at home. I miss the win-key, and the click is loud as hell, but man, it's the best feeling keyboard ever.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008 11:00:46 PM UTC
You should check out the SmartBoard.Clacky keys and ergonomic. I'm a Dvorak touch-typist as well.
LukeB
Wednesday, July 30, 2008 11:28:51 PM UTC
I have the ultra-snooty :-) MS Wireless Entertainment Desktop keyboard and I love it. I'm not really into loud, clicky keys. This one is super soft and smooth. The big down-side (and it is a big one) is no side keypad. I've gotten used to that, I have a separate USB keypad, but don't really use it anyway now.

I love my keyboard, although I admit that It's weird to actually get excited about a keyboard. Hehe.
-Ryan
Wednesday, July 30, 2008 11:32:13 PM UTC
That mp3 link takes me to some evil site, so you might want to double check it.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008 11:33:44 PM UTC
I tried the direct MP3 link and it redirected me somewhere scary. Clicking from the ArsTechnica article is fine, but apparently he has a nasty/dumb deeplinking script to redirect the rest of us clicking from here.

Also, I'm typing this comment on my "Customizer 104" keyboard, from www.pckeyboard.com, which I only mildly regret purchasing (found out about the dasKeyboard afterwards). I can't imagine there's a louder keyboard available, and I've tried quite a few.

I wish they'd come out with a laptop-style thin keys keyboard, that is ALSO ergonomic, that is ALSO NOT wireless. Someone ping me when that happens; I'd switch for that.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008 11:35:05 PM UTC
I have a stockpile of late '90s vintage Dell "Performance" mechanical keyboards. They seem very similar to the Das Keyboard except these are PS2, are beige, and don't have the USB hub. Every year or so I put them in the dishwasher to clean them (you just have to allow a week to dry).

But people always ask me where to get them and I used to say Ebay, but that source dried up recently. Now I'll send them to Das Keyboards. Thanks.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008 11:43:57 PM UTC
Weird...I'm not seeing that redirect script, but I've removed the link regardless.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008 11:54:54 PM UTC
You've blogged in the past about the pain in your hands and wrists from years of typing. Does this new keyboard help, hurt, or make no difference?
Frank
Thursday, July 31, 2008 12:06:58 AM UTC
It hasn't made a difference in the two weeks I've been using it, but drinking a lot of water, getting hand massages and taking my thyroid medication made a difference.
Thursday, July 31, 2008 12:09:49 AM UTC
Scott, I purchased the daskeyboard on 7/14, a few days after your tweet about it. I've been using it for about a week now and I've got to say I totally agree with you about the running downhill thing. The first hour or so of use I was almost convinced that the keyboard was causing me to fumble but later I realized that it was because I was trying to fight it. You hit it right on the nail, at first I was thinking "am I faster... surely not..." (fat finger). Regardless, your tweet about this was a few days after my G15 died at home causing me to play musical keyboards and needing a good keyboard at work. So glad I looked into it, thanks. I owe you now (at least partially) for my Kindle and now the daskeyboard. I promise I'm not being a groupie on purpose.
Thursday, July 31, 2008 12:15:14 AM UTC
I have the "series II" DAS - it is a great keyboard. Ryan - they tried to make us use those wireless 8000 keyboards at work and there was open revolt. The function keys are tiny dimples at the top and don't have any tactile feedback at all, that plus the wierd position of the windows key (in the center at the bottom, below the space bar) plus the lack of numeric pad made this an epic fail as a general keyboard. It is probably nice for surfing the web from your couch but otherwise I would give it a miss.
Thursday, July 31, 2008 12:45:13 AM UTC
Scott,

So it sound like you obviously have some RSI going on, why not opt for a natural keyboard and get a quiet one at that? ;) Personally I like the natural style, when I started having issues with my hands a few years ago I switched to them and haven't had issues since, and because I like to keep noise to a minimum when working (except for possibly some background noise like music) some of the Microsoft ones have a lower "key strike volume " if you would.

-Tim
Tim
Thursday, July 31, 2008 1:05:55 AM UTC
I've hooked up a Mac keyboard to my PC these days. I think the fact that there is a lot less travel in the keystroke has upped my typing rate a little bit. The other plus to it is the space between the keys reduces the number of times I fat finger something.

What I really want is the world's best trackball. I have a Kensington Expert Mouse right now, which would be great if the scroll wing didn't rub up against the trackball. It would also be great if Kensington customer service actually existed. I've sent at least five e-mails through their online site to no avail, not even an automated reply.

But if you really want to go all out on a keyboard, this is the only way to go:
http://www.datamancer.net/keyboards/keyboards.htm

KevDog
Thursday, July 31, 2008 1:28:34 AM UTC
I have no idea why - might be a remnant of the DNS vuln in the wild - but the link to that MP3 is sending me to some scam "security scan" site that Firefox then blocks as malware.
Thursday, July 31, 2008 4:54:58 AM UTC
uhhh $130 for a keyboard? No.
Thursday, July 31, 2008 7:01:04 AM UTC
I highly recommend the Kinesis contoured keyboards. It took me about 2 weeks to fully adjust, but it completely eliminated my wrist and forearm pain. As an added bonus, it increased my typing speed too.
Mike Harder
Thursday, July 31, 2008 7:57:35 AM UTC
I really want one of these.
Michael Dorfman
Thursday, July 31, 2008 9:06:37 AM UTC
Not completely on topic, but you've mentioned before about wrist pain. I was suffering the same until I picked up the (catchy). This solved my wrist/hand pain.

What mouse are you currently stylin'?
Thursday, July 31, 2008 9:07:38 AM UTC
Oh wow, that hyperlink really didn't work as planned - sorry.
Andrew
Thursday, July 31, 2008 10:24:56 AM UTC
I'm not buying until they have the Ultimate keyboard in a British keyboard layout :-)
Thursday, July 31, 2008 12:45:23 PM UTC
Have you seen this keyboard: http://www.artlebedev.com/everything/optimus/
I'm not sure you can increase the volume of the key strokes but you can do everything else you might think of, even turn off the key lights to get the ninja keyboard feeling.

Too expensive though....
Cosmin
Thursday, July 31, 2008 1:02:13 PM UTC
Scott, I suggest you try the latest Apple Aluminum keyboard. I can tell you that my pain in my fingers (it was hurting a lot) and my wrists (the keyboard lies very flat) went await in less then a week (even if I certainly type much less then you are). I can immediately feel the difference. You probably know the keyboard already, it has the same touch then the latest Apple notebooks. It doesn't make noise at all and the distance to press is even shorten... Has the two usb ports (even if you can't plug an iphone or stuff like that in it because of the short voltage). Last but not least, it's only about $50 (no I don't have apple shares).
The only "problem" is the poor support (read none) from apple for using that keyboard in a configuration where you are not running Windows on an Apple computer.
That said you can get the drivers on my page if you wanna give it a try. I highly recomand it despite the driver problems. And in case you get involved, maybe you have the required knowledge to do something about it ;)
Thursday, July 31, 2008 1:45:46 PM UTC
I'm interested, but... given the loud keystrokes, is this keyboard suitable for use at work in a "cubicle" environment? What is the Coworker Annoyance Factor?
Thursday, July 31, 2008 1:46:32 PM UTC
A friend of mine has a clickety keyboard just like that. And when he got it, I called him up just so I could hear him type over the phone. Its really loud and has a satisfying sound to it.

I personally have the Microsoft Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 which I love like no other keyboard ever made. I would get the Microsoft Ergonomic Desktop 7000 but its just way too expensive for me at this time.

I would be interested in what mice people use. I'm still with my logitech MX 1000 and I've been having problems with getting it seated correctly to charge. I'm hoping to find a mouse for my big hands to use but I would like it to have no problems charging. Suggestions?
Sushant Bhatia
Thursday, July 31, 2008 1:48:36 PM UTC
For me nothing beats my old IBM Model M for the right feel, weights etc.

Extra Clickiness please!!
RowlandG
Thursday, July 31, 2008 2:10:45 PM UTC
Extra loud, eh, kind of like the old IBM tanks. I'm typing on an old IBM keyboard right now, thanks to Rob Conery's Jonah the Whale joke, and it is loud as hell. It really feels like I can type faster on it though. Perhaps the sound helps keep your brain in sync.

I don't think I will be getting a DasKeyboard. It had better press my buttons for $130!

What's your mouse preference, Scott? I've got a 5-button wired IntelliMouse from Microsoft, and it is the best mouse I have ever used.
Thursday, July 31, 2008 2:34:54 PM UTC
I'm a Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 guy. I love the wrist pad raised above the keys, and (other than the space bar) I like the touch too. About the Ergonomic 4000
Thursday, July 31, 2008 2:47:49 PM UTC
Never tried one, but the Apple Extended Keyboard II is supposed to be pretty nice for old school keyboards. I guess you could find an ADB to USB converter and use it in Windows.
Matt T.
Thursday, July 31, 2008 3:15:48 PM UTC
About five years ago, I bought a mint condition 1987 IBM Model-M keyboard, and I've never looked back since. It has the best feel of any keyboard ever made, it's virtually indestructible, and unlike the cheap, China-made keyboards of today, the lettering on the keys will never wear off. Plus, the all of the keys are removable so they can be cleaned in a small bucket of warm soapy water.

This keyboard has never, ever failed me. I doubt it ever will.

If this keyboard isn't a true testament to the craftsmanship of IBM's quality, then I don't know what is.
Thursday, July 31, 2008 3:53:54 PM UTC
I kind of really want one.

But at $130 it's just not gonna happen. Honestly, I'd be hard-pressed to justify $60 for a keyboard. Even a really sweet one.
Thursday, July 31, 2008 3:57:02 PM UTC
You forgot to mention the best part: (from the learn more link on daskeyboard.com)

Das Keyboard technical information

* Glossy black upper enclosure with matching black USB cable, Darth Vader approved.

DARTH VADER APPROVED! Do you NEED any more reason than that? The Dark Lord of the Sith Himself! :)
Thursday, July 31, 2008 5:25:58 PM UTC
"It's kind hard to talk about this keyboard without possibly sexually harassing the keyboard itself."

In several years of reading your blog I think this is the greatest sentence you've ever typed that doesn't mention yours truly.
Thursday, July 31, 2008 8:14:00 PM UTC
Just wanted to be yet another person giving props to the IBM Model M - I love them and will not use anything else. As a lover of ThinkPads since before they had Windows keys, I don't mind the lack thereof. I am used to mapping my right ALT key to the Windows key (and all sorts of other strange mappings, like the Scroll Lock to the Application key).

The best is the comments from coworkers - I just tell them "Oh, that? That's the sound of *work* - perhaps you are unfamiliar with it?"

;)



Thursday, July 31, 2008 9:37:45 PM UTC

I am used to mapping my right ALT key to the Windows key


You can do that? Hitting Google...

http://www.howtogeek.com/howto/windows-vista/map-any-key-to-any-key-on-windows-xp-vista/

You can do that!
Thursday, July 31, 2008 10:12:13 PM UTC
I had the Microsoft Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 for a few days, then spilled a few drops water on it, and it was dead. Unforunately, I didn't keep the bill.

So back to my standard keyboard I went.
Mo
Friday, August 01, 2008 12:56:14 AM UTC
Hey Now Scott,
I'm interested in what wrist rests you use (if any)?
Thx 4 the info,

Catto
Tuesday, August 05, 2008 12:25:54 AM UTC
I used to like the NMB Hi-Tech (good clickiness) and some of the KeyTronic models.

Of course the Keytronic comparisons to the Das Keyboard keep coming. I liked this article that was out awhile ago on this very topic:

http://www.thinkcomputers.org/forum/showthread.php?t=719

I'd like to finish out my career 10 years from now with my trusty Model M

=8)
Rowlandg
Monday, August 11, 2008 4:45:42 PM UTC
The whole idea that Dvorak is better is, umm, poorly substantiated. Not that you're saying that Scott, but there are many people who think that the standard keyboard is inferior. Reason magazine says "not so", great article:

http://www.reason.com/news/show/29944.html
JCollum
Tuesday, August 19, 2008 9:28:35 PM UTC
I've been buying Keytronic keyboards. I like the Lifetime CLASSIC-U2, even though the backslash is in a somewhat weird location. It's a great keyboard for typing and costs around $35.

Best keyboard I ever had was the Northgate Omnikey Ultra. If you've never typed on one of those, you have not experienced typing nirvana. sadly it only had an old 5-pin AT connector and I couldn't get it to work with newer machines. I was able to sell it on ebay for $75, considering I bought it in 1992 for $100 i say that's good depreciation! :-)
Steve Sheldon
Sunday, August 31, 2008 11:15:25 PM UTC
Do you think there will be an UK version available? I don't know how different or troublesome it may become to get a US version when working in the UK? Any ideas?
Jamie
Comments are closed.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.