myProjects

Leopold mechanical keyboards

 Post about custom keycaps here

In this post my notes using two mechanical keyboards :
  leopold Tenkeyless Version "Normal" (Cherry MX Brown)
  leopold Tenkeyless "Otaku" (Cherry MX Blue)

#1 Basic information about keyboards
#2 Leopold keyboards (cherry mx brown Vs. mx blue) quick review
#3 Where to buy

#1 Basic information about keyboards

If your are looking for a complete guide about "mechanical keyboards" you can visit the below post:
www.overclock.net/keyboards/491752-mechanical-keyboard-guide.html#post6025204

Quick background (notes are extracted from overclock guide) :

 key rollover #KRO & NKRO
 How many keys you can press at the same time.
 keys ghosting

 Ghosting happens when you press, at the same time, two keys (for example A and B)
 but an extra key (which is not pressed by you) is sent to PC (and eventually printed on screen).
key bouncing

 You press a key just one time but switch "bounces" on-off-on(-off) : the same key is sent to PC two times
keycaps printing methods

pad printing like a sticker on keycap
lasered etching engraved with laser
dye Sublimation ?
double-Shot Injection Molding keycap consists of two pieces of plastic the first (outside) cut out the letter the second piece (colored with color of letter) has the letter corresponding relief. Two pieces are embedded.

keycaps shape
cylindrical : common shape (like leopold)key1flat : like the sleek aluminium Apple keyboardprofile-apple
spherical : old keyboard (like c64)profile-c64 Noise and sound
Click or tak sound ... it is not a joke and some keyboards (using some type of switch) could be noisy. I have bought a leopold with  Cherry MX Blue : sound is very nice but quite noisy.
 Type of switch

Each switch has own characteristics: sound and tactile feedback. Cherry is the main company which produces switches for keyboards.

Cherry MX Black Switches non-tactile linear for gamer
Cherry MX Red Switches non-tactile linear for gamer (less force to be activated compared to black)
Cherry MX Brown Switches tactile for gamer and typer - dumb/tak sound
Cherry MX Clear Switches tactile for typer (has more tactile feed-back than brown)
Cherry MX Blue  Switches tactile best for typer - click (nice but hight) sound

We can continue with this topics about keyboard ... if you wish to drill down this topic please visit the guide here : http://www.overclock.net/keyboards/491752-mechanical-keyboard-guide.html

#2 Leopold keyboards quick review

The Keyboards

keyboard apple vs. mechanicalpar
keyboard apple vs. mechanical

As said I bought two keyboards both are the Leopold tenkeyless model but one with blue and other one with brown cherry switch. This model loses numeric keypad that mean you save space on desktop and your mouse is close to your right hand when you are typing.

The two versions are :
   Tenkeyless "Otaku"  (Cherry MX Blue) :
http://elitekeyboards.com/products.php?sub=leopold,tenkeyless&pid=fc200rcabn
  Tenkeyless "Normal" (Cherry MX Brown) :
http://elitekeyboards.com/products.php?sub=leopold,tenkeyless&pid=fc200rtab

Tenkeyless "Otaku" Vs "Normal"
Tenkeyless "Otaku" Vs "Normal"

 Common to both keyboards

Both keyboards seem well assembled with good plastic feedback (no creaking noise when you keep keyboard in hand or typing). Keycaps has cylindrical shape. Keycaps plastic (and in general the keyboard plastic) isn't smooth but a  rough texture make lovely the tactile feedback.leopold-profilekey2led

The only note (related to keycaps) is about the emboss sign on keys "f" and "j" that are very small and hard to feel ... sure if you use them. Color is a black opaque (not shiny) and fingerprints and dirty aren't attracted : the keyboard is pretty refractory to dirt (I'm using one to my home and the other one to the office for 10 hour a day) ... but read below about "FC200RT/AB" model.

keyboard
keyboard

The keyboard it is quite heavy ... for a keyboard more ore less 1kg against to ?? of a normal keyboard.
Dimensions: 362mm x 140mm x 33mm

Under the keyboard there are :

  • feet to tilt the keyboard
  • rubber in order to increase the resistance to slip on desktop : I'm using the keyboard (at home) over a tempered glass desktop without any slip.
  • micro usb ( and 3 furrows useful to pass the cable on the leftSide-center-rigthSide of keyboard)

keyboards-underIMG_4575

Keyboard is sent with a transparent hard cover in order to protect keyboard. In package is present a red ESC key... completely red for the otaku version instead with a (not lasered) black text ESC for the other keyboard. What is missed is the leopold label logo.

Felling of typing (both keyboards) is very good also if the "contact bouncing" could happen more frequently than I thought. Just to let you know bounce is a normal  effect : one switch activation could be transformed in to two consecutive activations ... for keyboards this means sending two times the same char. Btw this event doesn't annoy and happen rarely.

I'm not interested to NKRO ... and to be honest I don't know how to test it using the correct approach. So what reported below hasn't to be consider a real test nor reliable. However I never experimented keyboard blocking with 10 keys pressed at the same time... Instead after 6 keys pressed at the same time the 7th key is sent such as shift key is pressed
example -> cthqejI (really the last char should be and not I since I wasn't pressing shift)

Keyboards are Apple/Mac/OSX compatible :http://elitekeyboards.com/support.php?lang=en#4
With the following keys mapping :Screen shot 2011-11-14 at 11.34.57 PM

 Tenkeyless Version "Normal" (Cherry MX Brown)

Model: FC200RT/ABhttp://elitekeyboards.com/products.php?sub=leopold,tenkeyless&pid=fc200rtab

Model: FC200RT/AB
Model: FC200RT/AB

Keyboard has velvety sound like a dense "tak" (Cherry MX Brown). So keyboard is pretty silent so that you can use it in the office. Sound isn't bad but it isn't so nice as the click of Cherry MX Blue is. About tactile feedback this is less evident and more linear compared "Cherry MX Blue" offers ... the switch activation is not so  noticeable. Btw the typing it is very lovely. Keys labels are lasered with white infill ABS. You can feel the embossed letters to the touch... it is very nice. Letter is colored white  and for some letters the white color seems to not cover very well the black of key. This could matter about resistance of key to abrasion ... but honestly this is more a  state of mind than a real issue. Just to let know below two images the first when keyboard was unboxed the second one after two weeks of use (8-hour a day).

key2

 Tenkeyless "Otaku" (Cherry MX Blue)

Model: FC200RT/ABN - http://elitekeyboards.com/products.php?sub=leopold,tenkeyless&pid=fc200rcabn

Model: FC200RT/ABN
Model: FC200RT/ABN

Otaku version is geek... and has the "wow which fucking keyboard do you have?" effect. The "click" is a sharp sound (Cherry MX Blue) and together to tactile feedback make this keyboard the best choice for typer. The other side of coin is the sound "click" that is quite noisy and rough (sound could annoy when used in silent environment). Click is so audible that my wife has to close the door of bedroom when I work in my room in the night ... as I said "Cherry MX Blue  Switches" is wife not compatible. The tactile feedback is more noticeable than "Cherry MX Brown". You are able to notice the mechanism and resistance of Switches as well as the activation (click) of it.

key1

The "black keys" initially could confuse you but after few minutes you will be surprised to discover that you are able to write without look the keyboard. The only issue is when you need to use "Special chars" such as !@#$}[/ ... you could experiment some uncertainties to find them.

#3 Where to buy

I bought my keyboard here : http://elitekeyboards.com

this two models :
Cherry MX Blue  Switches
http://elitekeyboards.com/products.php?sub=leopold,tenkeyless&pid=fc200rtab
Cherry MX Brown  Switches
http://elitekeyboards.com/products.php?sub=leopold,tenkeyless&pid=fc200rcabn

The Seller
Elitekeyboards sells mainly in USA territory. However you can contact them : I live in Italy and I bought two keyboards without any issue. Elitekeyboards support is kind and helpful thus you can ask them in case of doubts. Packaging of keyboard is well arranged and your keyboard is well protected during shippment. As vector they use USPS but for the second shipment I asked them to use FedEx. Transaction is done using paypal and cost of shipment is (for Italy) $52 ($48 using FedEx)

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