Quality Keyboards – DSI Mac Modular & Realforce 87U

How did I end up at this place? A keyboard snob? An elitist? In the early 90s my Mum gave me her IBM Model M keyboard from a previous job. A mechanical marvel, an engineered masterpiece. I couldn’t fully appreciate it at the time, perhaps I was young, but more likely we just had no idea how crappy keyboards would become over the next two decades. I spilled orange juice into the Model M, and although a little sad, I moved on.

Years later, despite getting mild RSI at work I persevered with crappy bottom of the line HP keyboards in the office. My Mac Pro was delivered with the horrendous A1048 keyboard. I replaced this with the ‘funky’ aluminum mac keyboard – hey did I just pay good money to give my Mac Pro a laptop keyboard?

DSI Mac Mechanical Modular Keyboard

Finally I lost the plot. From Fentek Industries I bought a snappy DSI Mac Mechanical Modular keyboard. The idea is that it is expandable in various ways, but I was happy to get a tenkeyless keyboard and save on desktop space. I also wanted a mac-specific keyboard layout, and there really aren’t any alternatives. The DSI Mac Modular has the option and command keys in the mac positions, and no context-menu key. Additionally, the Mac Modular supports volume up, down and mute, and has an eject key. This is all well and good, but I would love to have seen support for pause/play/next track for iTunes – really more useful. My only other minor quibble with the keyboard is that the compact layout is a little dense. Using a Windows layout at work day to day, I get a little disoriented with cursor keys, page up/down etc jutting right up to the regular keys.

The typing action on this keyboard is great. I have the one blessed with brown Cherry switches, blue are also available. Despite using the ‘quieter’ brown Cherry switches, you will get a very distinct mechanical keyboard noise from this keyboard. Drives the wife a little crazy. Doesn’t matter, I’m in my own world churning out wpm on this baby.

DSI Mac Modular Keyboard

DSI Mac Modular Keyboard DSI Mac Modular Keyboard

My keyboard seems to have a weird issue with USB – it just stops working after some period of rest. Not sure if it’s the keyboard or my computer, but I will contact DSI about it.

I would definitely recommend this keyboard for any Mac user desiring a quality keyboard with a Mac specific layout.

Realforce 87U Keyboard

Now, the real new darling in my life is the Topre Corporation’s Realforce 87U keyboard. The typing experience on this really is fantastic. The keyboard’s reputation of being the best you can get is well deserved. Topre’s capacitive switch technology is really unique. It doesn’t feel like any mechanical switch I’ve used. The keys do not bottom out in a hard, clunky manner. Instead they seem to offer some gentle deceleration before they hit the end of their travel. They are also quiet. The sound is satisfying, but not clacky like regular mechanical switches. The layout is great – a standard Windows layout with everything in the expected location, perfect for programming. The tenkeyless layout keeps the mouse close to my right hand. It’s appearance is totally ninja with black text on black keys, which looks cooler than blank keys and also lets non-typists hunt and peck, should you allow them to touch your keyboard.

Escape! - Realforce 87U

Kapow! I decided to power up from the regular understated black escape key to the red one.

Realforce 87U

Navigation keys

Realforce 87U Numeric Keypad

Numeric keypad

The Realforce keyboards are also customizable. I have switched my left [ctrl] and [caps] keys, putting the left control key closer to my pinky. You can also deactivate the Windows key and the Numlock key.

HELLO CAPSLOCK! - Realforce 87U

Beautiful blue glow…

To support this, you get alternative sets of [capslock] and [ctrl] keys. You also get an additional red [esc] key (as pictured) and some pretty funky blue WASD keys – for gamers I guess?

Realforce 87U [Caps] [Ctrl] [Esc] and [W][A][S][D] keycaps

Scouring the web, you’ll no doubt encounter many personal dilemmas about shelling out so much money for just a keyboard… wait… just a keyboard? I use a keyboard every day of my life. I use a keyboard to earn my living. Would you expect a carpenter to use a rusty old band saw? Would you risk your well being with poorly fitting shoes? It is utterly worth it. If I lost this keyboard, I’d absolutely buy a replacement without hesitation. Once you lay your hands on one of these, you’ll know exactly why you bought it.

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