I finally gave in to the ‘need’ to have a custom keyboard from WASD Keyboards. I’ve been looking over the site, and what they offer, for some time. The fact that my own keyboard has been failing helped the decision.
From my reading I already knew the switch type I wanted, the Green ‘Cherry MX’ switches, because I wanted a quality switch with a proper old-school tactile ‘click’.
I decided on the 104 keyboard, which has the layout I’m used to for both writing and coding. Then it was down to the design.
You can go with several pre-made key-tops for the alphanumeric, modifiers (Alt, etc), the navigational keys (Home, End, etc) and for media keys.
Or you can download a template and use something like Inkscape to design the key-tops you want. I, of course, went for that option – because anything worth doing is worth making harder for yourself.
The templates come with a lot of ‘pre-set’ layers, effectively mimicking the web designer options. From there you can mix and match with even more flexibility, including, of course, using whatever fonts, or images, you want on the keys. You can even put a picture over the entire surface of the key -tops if you want.
While designing the key-tops, you can also pick the colour of the text, or leave it as pure black or white. If you choose white, then any white key will get black text – all other keys get white. If you choose black, then any black keys get white, and the rest get black.
For the keys themselves, there are 22 colours that you can select from f, and you can mix and match as much as you want (see the picture leading this post to see an example).
Matching key-tops to key colours is where I made a bit of a mistake in that I have three dark blue keys (Enter, Numeric Keypad Enter and Tab) and two dark purple keys (Alt). Unfortunately, I left the text on those keys as black and it’s hard to read. So, don’t be impatient like I was. Think through your key-top and key colour choices.
Ok, so you can make the keyboard pretty, but how is it as a keyboard?
I love it; it feels great to type on. The key action is really positive with just the right amount of movement and resistance. For a touch typist – and someone who has used various keyboards from manual typewriters to the current ‘Surface’ type ones – this is a lovely keyboard to use. Whether I’m typing prose or code, everything feels just right. It also sounds just right. I missed that old click sound!
In fact, I’ve been looking for excuses to use the desktop more, since it has the lovely new keyboard and my laptop doesn’t – even though I can laze on the couch when using the laptop.
Add to that six DIP-switches (Does everyone remember them?!) that allow you to change the keyboard into QWERTY mode, or Dvorak mode, or Mac mode or Colemak mode. You can change how the Caps lock key works, or the scroll key works. You can …
You get the idea.
Also, I can’t believe the speed with which they got the keyboards (one for me, one for my wife) to me. I ordered them on Australian Saturday (US Friday) and they were here Australian Monday afternoon!
So, we have keyboards you can customise with many colours, with an incredible amount of fully customisable variety on the key-tops. We have keyboards who have a lot more flexibility by setting various DIP switches. We have keyboards that are solid and feel wonderful to type on. We have a company that manufactures and ships them with rather ridiculous speed.
I just wish I had enough money to buy one for work. And maybe the laptop and …