If you have been following me on App.net for the past couple of weeks then you know I have been gradually making the switch from Mac OS X to Linux. First by purchasing a Dell XPS 13 inch Ultrabook to run Ubuntu, and later by installing Fedora on my primary computer, a 2009 Mac Pro1. During this transition I have continued to use my trusty Apple Extended Keyboard, but its Macintosh keyboard mapping has made typing some common Linux keyboard combinations difficult. Instead of taking the time to perform the obvious task or remapping my Apple Extended, I decided to indulge my curiosity and purchase the Das Model S Ultimate Keyboard instead. It has no key cap inscriptions at all.
I first heard about the Das Keyboard from Shawn Blanc, when he reviewed three different clicky keyboards for use on his Mac.
The Das Keyboard has two great things going for it. More than the other two keyboards, I prefer the tactile feel of the blue Cherry MX switches and the audio click of the Das. Since you don’t buy a mechanical keyboard for its aesthetics, for those looking to get a clicky keyboard, this is the one I would recommend.
I have tried a Tactile Pro in the past, and am a big fan of Apple’s Extended Keyboards from the last century, but I had never heard of the Das before Shawn recorded its clickiness for the entire web to hear.
The Das Keyboard Model S Ultimate is the loudest keyboard I have ever used. It employs 104 German made gold plated2 Cherry MX Blue mechanical key switches3 to produce its signature clicky sound, and distinctive two stage feel.
The blue switches are considered to be the best switch for typing because they have a “clicky” tactile bump when the activation point is hit. While many people prefer them for gaming, it is not as easy to double tap as other switches since the release point is above the actuation point. The standard “clicky” versions of Das Keyboards utilize Cherry MX Blue switches.
Sharper than the click-clock sound of my Alps equipped Apple Extended Keyboard I, the Das Keyboard’s clicky key switches really come into their own when typing at high speeds.4
For those looking for a review of the aesthetics, the Das is the Death Star or keyboards. Large, black, and glossy, The Das Model S Ultimate is the keyboard Darth Vader would choose if he needed to type in his meditation chamber. At almost three pounds, the Das Keyboard is almost as heavy as my Apple Extended Keyboard I. Lacking the large “function key forehead” of Apple’s Extended Keyboards, the Das features a more streamlined design that still dominates any desktop. Its extra long two meter USB cord means you can layout your workspace any way you like, and its high-speed USB hub allows you to sync and charge up to two devices including an iPad from the keyboard’s right side. I only wish the USB cable was was easier to conceal, and that there was a USB port on either side of the keyboard for South Poles like me. In order to get the maximum charge out of the Das you need to plug in both USB plugs that fork from the end of the Das’ extra long cable. Its massive size, and cabling requirements might make the Das a little too much for MacBook Air users who only have a single USB port on either side of their laptops.
While some might call the Das keyboard “ugly,” I think the Das Model S Ultimate looks rather BAD ASS.
Just because it has mechanical switches… doesn’t mean it should also look like it’s been rescued from 20 years ago.
One of the things that makes the Das Model S Ultimate keyboard so BAD ASS is the fact it has no key cap inscriptions at all. Instead of the “horrendous” typeface Das uses on its other keyboards, the Ultimate models are free of markings, striking fear and aww into the hearts of everyone that passes by.
Learning to type on an unmarked Das keyboard means learning to type stronger. You can no longer cheat by looking down at the keyboard to find those rarely used, out of the way characters. Before using the Das I found myself still looking down at my keyboard from time to time to regain confidence, and make sure my finger reached the proper key. With the Das I am building the muscle memory all great typists have. For the first time since my high school typing class I make my fingers do the walking without looking down. I will admit I had to rethink some of my harder to type passwords after adopting the Das, but after two weeks of constant use I am surprised at how well I remember the QWERTY keyboard layout without cheating.5
The Das Model S Ultimate Keyboard fits its name. It is the ultimate typing tool for anyone who wants to develop muscle memory, build confidence, increase speed, and scare away onlookers with a inscription less keyboard and a BAS ASS clicky sound. I hate to retire my Apple Extended Keyboard. But after moving to Linux, and breaking my last ADB to USB adapter it is time to make the switch.
I have since sold my Mac Pro to go Ubuntu full-time at home. ↩
The key switches on Das Keyboards use gold contacts to prevent corrosion, and extend the life of the keyboard. ↩
The softer, quieter, Cherry MX Brown key switches are for pussies. ↩
The Das Model S allows 6-key rollover with USB. Great for fast typists and gamers who may find themselves holding down several keys at once. ↩
The beauty of a inscription less keyboard is that you can map it to almost any layout with distracting keyboard markings getting in the way. ↩