Don’t call them “gaming keyboards.” You’ve seen gaming keyboards in stores, running rainbow lights under the keys with neon green logos and designs that look like they come from a futuristic war machine. If you use one of those in an office, you’re going to feel like an idiot. Let’s just be honest with each other about that.
I was very interested in gaming keyboards because they’re supposed to be durable and comfortable, which what I need when you’re sitting there pounding out 5,000 words a day. I’ve gone through several low-cost wireless keyboards since I started working for Solid Signal, and they always look pretty bad when I am finished with them. Not to mention, my fingers really hurt after a day of typing on them. Flat keyboards with almost-flat keys may be stylish, but they’re kind of rough on the fingers.
For years I’ve been pining for something like the original IBM PC/AT keyboard. My guess is that 90% of these are still operational and I keep telling myself I’ll head over to a secondhand store to see what I can find. I even found a web site that refurbishes them. The keyboard I used 30 years ago was built to last, with solid, mechanical keys. When you typed on them, you got a satisfying “clack” that made you feel like you were doing business. This was back when the people most likely to use these keyboards had just moved over from typewriters, which make the most audible feedback you can imagine.
What always stopped me was the idea that there was going to be 30 years of grime and germs on any keyboard I bought. I have a feeling that I could dunk an old keyboard like that in Lysol and it would still work after it dried, but it would still be grimy.
And then I found this Tech Choice Blue Switch keyboard. The “Blue Switch” part refers to the fact that it uses mechanical switches similar to the “Blue” versions created by a company called Cherry. Cherry started with industrial keyboards but gamers found that they work quite well for gaming. Blue switches stand up to a lot of punishment and they even give you a little “clack” when you type that makes you feel like you’re in the middle of a city news desk in the summer of 1984.
If you sit at a desk all day, you’re going to want one of these. The fact is, a full key travel keyboard like this one just feels better, and the switch actuates long before your fingers hit bottom, so there’s less strain on your fingertips and joints. You can pound as hard as you want on this keyboard but if you type with a light touch the keys will never even go down all the way.
This is a solid keyboard with a very traditional keyboard layout that includes arrow keys AND number keys in positions just like you remember them. The only real difference between this and the keyboards of yore is the addition of a Windows key and an Fn key that lets you control media playback from the function keys. Oh, that and the USB connector.
That’s right, the USB connector. This isn’t a wireless keyboard, it will never need batteries and it will never go dead. It’s also heavy – I do not condone violence but if you were to use this keyboard as a weapon I expect it would do quite a bit of damage.
Folks, this is the keyboard you really want. It’s gaming-quality without the obnoxious gaming look, so it looks at home in an office setting and you won’t get those frequent jokes about playing Call of Duty at your desk. Is it the last keyboard you’ll ever buy? I’ll stop short there because I don’t want to make promises. Supposedly the keycaps come off so you can change them out if they get worn, and the keyboard even comes with a little plastic keycap puller. I’ll say this, it’s probably the first keyboard you’ve seen in decades that will make you want to take it from computer to computer.
And if you happen to play Call of Duty, it will work for that too.