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Possibly One of the Best Keyboards Ever

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 156 comments

Click, click, click.

There are really three things that I always tell people to invest money in when buying and setting up a new computer system. The first one is the display, since this part of the system will typically outlast the computer unit several times over. The second device is the mouse. Finally, the keyboard.

While there are is an ocean of choices out there when it comes to keyboards, very few are made well. Most of the keyboards you find on the market today are terrible. Keys fade easily, keys become sticky/stuck, poor materials, and sometimes functions break down after extended use. Because your computing experience is so deeply tied into the keyboard, it's important to know what you're getting.

Things to look for in a keyboard:

- A company known to make quality keyboards
- Key finish: you'll want a keyboard that looks like it'll last through heavy use
- N-key rollover: does the keyboard flake out after 3 or 4 simultaneous presses?
- Quality key-travel
- Build quality: do the keys look like they're loose and are going to pop?

In our experience, keyboards with tons of added fancy features tend to lack on the build quality side. Either keys will become stuck after use (not register), or the letters or coating will fade. For example, we have seen so many keyboards from Logitech fade with use. The black coating on the keys will eventually rub off, revealing a unsightly white plastic.

If you're a serious touch typist and or spend a lot of time playing games, there is no exception to investing into a good keyboard. That's why, we pick the Das Keyboard as one of the best keyboards you can buy.

We pick the Das Keyboard Ultimate because of its quality but also due to its blank nature.

The Ultimate is completely blank. There are no letters or symbols on the keys at all. All the keys are black, and because the plastic is black, you'll never experience fade. Of course, you'll struggle to get around if you're not a good touch typist. Yes, this keyboard is not for the two-finger key pecker. It's a serious keyboard. Das makes a version of the ultimate with labels, but we prefer the blank.

What makes Das Keyboards great? First and foremost: quality. From the very first key stroke, you can immediately feel the high quality in the keyboard's structure, key mechanism, and key travel. The following are specs for the Das Keyboard Ultimate:

German-engineered mechanical key switches:
Das Keyboard compares to the legendary IBM model M. Its best-in-class mechanical gold-plated key switches provide a tactile and audio click that makes typing a pure joy. The keyboard has been designed to produce greater speed and accuracy by providing responsive tactile feedback using gold-plated, slightly clicky, best-in-class, 40-million actuation mechanical key switches.

N-key rollover:
Model S allows full n-key rollover and supports up to 12 simultaneous key presses.

USB 2.0 hub:
The high-speed USB hub allows you to sync and charge your iPhone, iPod or any USB compatible devices.

Extra-long USB cable:
Das Keyboard sports a 2-meter (6.6ft) cable that goes through your desk grommet to keep your workspace neat and tidy.

Indeed the focus on the keyboard is clearly quality. There aren't any fancy controls, LCD screens, and unnecessary clutter. The focus is entirely on the typing experience. There are no distractions, just pure typing pleasure. We were previously using a chiclette keyboard, like the Apple aluminum keyboard, which is actually very good. We have a very positive impression of the Apple keyboard, but moving to the Das Ultimate instantly improved our typing experience.

Because you can hear and feel your typing, you type more confidently. The clickiness part of the keyboard may annoy some users, or at least annoy nearby people. However, it's your fingers that are doing the typing, so that's what you should care about most.

Those who have used some of the original Keytronic keyboards will feel at home on the Das Keyboard. But the Ultimate feels even better.

After several days with the keyboard, we're convinced that the Das Keyboard Ultimate is really one of the best products that serious computer users should invest in. Best of all, when you have the completely blank Ultimate, people won't be able to immediately screw with your computer if they happened to sit down in your chair.

Our friends over at Ars Technica have a review of the Das Keyboard Professional, which is the same as the blank Ultimate but with key inscriptions. Gizmodo also did a quick review of the Pro, which has lettering.

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Top Comments
  • 19 Hide
    zmanz , November 8, 2009 1:53 AM
    I'll stick to Logitech, thanks. A keyboard with blank keys is like a book without words in it. Or, if you wanna look at it from a "hardcore" user ideal, a black car with the windows also painted black. My keyboard also doesn't "flake out with 2 or 2 keys pressed".
  • 19 Hide
    eklipz330 , November 8, 2009 2:32 AM
    Oh, and nice ad... you guys get paid for this review?

    Shouldn't this be on Tom's Guide, not news, because this is NOT news
  • 12 Hide
    marlowwe , November 8, 2009 2:57 AM
    $120? Are you serious? I can't believe the hardware industry has the gall to sell a BLANK keyboard for the same money with which I can buy an SSD drive. I have never experienced or known anyone who has ever had a problem with their keyboard. The best thing about them is if they stop working you just buy a knew one - you can do this precisely because they are cheap. Here we have this company trying to tell us we need a $120 keyobard...lmao.
Other Comments
  • 3 Hide
    notrace , November 8, 2009 1:32 AM
    I actually just bought this a week ago. Simply amazing.
  • 0 Hide
    ksabo_tomshardware , November 8, 2009 1:35 AM
    you aint seen nothing yet. If you care about keyboards check out geekhack.org or just buy a real keyboard from elitekeyboards.com.

    i've tried them all nothing beats a realforce 87u. yes, it's pricey but hey you use it every single day.
  • 19 Hide
    zmanz , November 8, 2009 1:53 AM
    I'll stick to Logitech, thanks. A keyboard with blank keys is like a book without words in it. Or, if you wanna look at it from a "hardcore" user ideal, a black car with the windows also painted black. My keyboard also doesn't "flake out with 2 or 2 keys pressed".
  • 8 Hide
    IzzyCraft , November 8, 2009 1:55 AM
    Just nice looking, frankly to me overpriced, mechanical keyboards and sense most people have had Membrane keyboards to bang their fingers wiry on most of their lives having a keyboard with good positive feedback for once makes them believe it is the best keyboard in town although most would argue they most mechanical set ups are loud but best for typing not the best for gaming although most wont fret over they key travel but those who stick to crt for a pitiful few ms in their favor.

    2 meters of cable is nothing too special neither is the ability to push more then 3 keys as that was fixed when moving away from ps/2 to usb. The usb 2.0 ports are however nice but again nothing special.

    Mechanical keyboards do cost like 4 times as much as the cheaper cousins but they tend to last a lifetime all this one brings to the table is good looks.

    German engineered yet owned by a company in texas and probably still assembled in china

    too much hype imo i rather just spend half the price on something from unicomp having a nice looking keyboard makes me clean it too much.

    They are nice keyboards none the less.
  • 5 Hide
    IzzyCraft , November 8, 2009 1:59 AM
    the last resortdoes anyone have an explanation as to why it only supports 12 clicks in a row? Or am I misreading it....

    I believe it means 12 keys at once most ps/2 keyboards suffered from 3 keystrokes at once if you hit 4 keys on your keyboard at the same time nothing will come out.

    This was solved to when transitions to usb was made as it was software that creatives the limit not the port being used. Most Usb keyboards will do up around 4-6 keys 12 is somewhere in the excessive you must be typing with your face my keyboard supports up to 7 keys at once all you get it a repeating manor

    mutli-simultaneous keys is more or less only needed for fps games as you tend to already take up 2 for movement keys you are always pushing and hitting 4 keys at once is not as rare as it should be
  • 2 Hide
    doomsdaydave11 , November 8, 2009 2:07 AM
    Pointless imo. If you're buying a keyboard because its well built... really Logitech makes decent units, or if you want really good quality stuff and obviously don't care what it looks like the ABS M1 or IMB clacky boards are the best.
    Imo this is a waste. I am definitely not hunt and peck typist, but it seems pointless not to put the letters on it.

    On a side note, I can't remember a time where I've needed to press more then 2 keys at once... besides CTRL ALT DEL.
  • 4 Hide
    IzzyCraft , November 8, 2009 2:14 AM
    Probably biggest users of pressing more then 3 keys at once is the mmo crowd who may bind everything on their keyboard to do everything.
  • -3 Hide
    anamaniac , November 8, 2009 2:21 AM
    Of all the keyboards I've used, my favourite is a HP keyboard that came with a debranded HP computer... Sleek, light, EXTREMELY sturdy (I've used it as a weapon, burnt a hole in it, and have washed it several times).
    I tossed my $100 keyboard for this $5 piece.

    I just love it. The ONLY issue I have with it is that it's grey, but I can manage.

    Like how they offer a blank version though.
    Seeing these 'ultimate uber gamin' keyboards with backlit keys is disappointing. Learn how to type people. I usually look on habit, but like right now, I can still type without looking. Proper touch typing and proper posture makes for much quicker typing that benefits us all.

    Hate the logo on it and the extra piece extruding to show off its logo... I want a perfect shape.
    Been thinking about the Macintosh keyboard for a while though. Extremely simple and extremely elegant at the same time. The only Mac product I like.

    I also think that while hotkeys are nice, we don't need a keyboard with 20 of them. Mine has mute, volume up, volume down, and sleep (which I removed because I hit too often by mistake).
  • 2 Hide
    anamaniac , November 8, 2009 2:22 AM
    IzzyCraftProbably biggest users of pressing more then 3 keys at once is the mmo crowd who may bind everything on their keyboard to do everything.

    Damn, I remember that... that was fun. Damned mass multiplayer cocaine...

    Oh yeah, I hate hearing my typing. I like feeling it slightly, but I'd rather no noise.
  • 0 Hide
    Onus , November 8, 2009 2:29 AM
    Best keyboard I ever used was a Northgate. Sadly, they're gone...
    It had the same feel as the original IBM keyboards.
  • 0 Hide
    rooket , November 8, 2009 2:30 AM
    Mechanical keys are a thing of the past. sorry tom's hardware guru guy but those wear out. My friend used to have one. Key thing is, used to. The keys wore out and quit working so he threw it out. I'm still using a very old NEC keyboard that I picked up when they still actually had computer shows and it works as good as new. Only thing is it is one of those spill resistant ones with the rubber pad thingies inside. I actually own two. They work pretty good. Then this USB keyboard sitting next to me is sufficient as well, cost me $7 from newegg or some site like that and made by rosewill. Not a very high end keyboard but it does the job and works great on my xbox360, pc, and laptop.

    NEC keyboards were about $10 a pop.
  • 3 Hide
    eklipz330 , November 8, 2009 2:31 AM
    Quote:
    For example, we have seen so many keyboards from Logitech fade with use.


    I've been using the logitech illuminated keyboard for quite a while now, and I have to say I don't have this problem... It's probably the best keyboard I have ever used, but I'm not experienced with keyboards soo.... take my experience with a grain of salt

    It also increased my WPM even though it has phantom key blocking... I don't mush up keys when typing
  • 19 Hide
    eklipz330 , November 8, 2009 2:32 AM
    Oh, and nice ad... you guys get paid for this review?

    Shouldn't this be on Tom's Guide, not news, because this is NOT news
  • 4 Hide
    pbrigido , November 8, 2009 2:35 AM
    So when I spill coffee on this keyboard, it cleans itself, right?
  • 1 Hide
    thepinkpanther , November 8, 2009 2:46 AM
    i dont know if this can compete with the mac book wheel, however i am still waiting for a keyboard that does word acronyms with the touch of a single key, then the next generation of children can type up their messages with ease; "lol wtf ttyl pos" or 2 key burst fires, you never know how much u need this function until u have to write "bookkeeper."
  • 4 Hide
    siliconchampion , November 8, 2009 2:47 AM
    I am going to highly recommend the Logitech Illuminated Keyboard. The keys are flattened, more like a laptop's keyboard, but the motion of the keys feels great. The thing reeks build quality.

    I also own the new Mac Keyboard, and the Logitech blows it out of the water... I gave the mac keyboard to my parents...
  • 2 Hide
    ryanjm , November 8, 2009 2:48 AM
    But it's not an ergonomic split? I would never buy a keyboard that isn't a split since it forces your wrists at an unnatural angle that causes carpal tunnel.
  • 12 Hide
    marlowwe , November 8, 2009 2:57 AM
    $120? Are you serious? I can't believe the hardware industry has the gall to sell a BLANK keyboard for the same money with which I can buy an SSD drive. I have never experienced or known anyone who has ever had a problem with their keyboard. The best thing about them is if they stop working you just buy a knew one - you can do this precisely because they are cheap. Here we have this company trying to tell us we need a $120 keyobard...lmao.
  • 3 Hide
    alexie , November 8, 2009 2:57 AM
    a keyboard for 100€ that's incredible.
    I'm selling a pair of authentic shoes less than this price.
    Typing with this keyboard must be like in heaven :) 
    Thanks at all
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