As I’m writing this, I’m worried I’m waking up the neighbors. I’m typing these sentences on a mechanical keyboard, one of the odder and more endearing hardware trends in the tech world right now. It’s the kind of keyboard everyone used 20 years ago, and that can still be found in some old-school offices that haven’t upgraded their IT in a while. You know the keyboards – the ones that have tall keys and emit a sharp, high-pitched click-clack with every keypress.
Most tech nostalgia is misplaced. As much as we pretend to pine for the gadgets of the past, you wouldn’t actually want to trade in your iPhone 6 for a Nokia, or sub your Chromebook out for a Commodore 64. But these days, a dedicated group of keyboard connoisseurs is trying to resurrect the mechanical keyboard. There are now a handful of dedicated mechanical keyboard manufacturers, like Code and Rosewill, and an active subreddit exists for mechanical keyboard fans to exchange tips and reviews.
After using one for a week, I finally understand the hobbyist hype. Mechanical keyboards are loud, expensive, clunky, and cool as hell.
For the life of me, I will never understand the affinity for mechanical keyboards. I’ve never liked them. I want my typing to require as little force as possible, and I want my keyboard to be as flat on the table as possible, while still having each keypress have a decent ‘plop’. For me, there’s only one keyboard, and that’s Apple’s current like of aluminium chicklet non-laptop keyboards. I’ve been using them since they came out, and I have one or two on back-up as well in case the one I’m using now dies.
I find that the keys on mechanical keyboards require too much force to press down, which I quickly find incredibly tiring. Their travel is also quite long. They are also too ‘fat’, forcing me to turn my wrist in an unnatural and uncomfortable position (i.e. hands upwards).
In short, I find the current revival of mechanical keyboards mystifying.
I developed repitative stress injuring in my wrist using those old keyboards, much happier with my new MBPro keyboard, silent and short travel.
Recently, while cleaning up, I came across one of my old keyboards (PS2 connector). The keys all seem fine, but I found it too stiff and too noisy.