The Mechanical Switch: First Time Mechanical Keyboard User

Oh how I love double meanings and puns. Look at how cleverly I have titled this post! “The Mechanical Switch”, get it? “Switch” in the sense of the action of switching from a generic rubber dome keyboard into that of a mechanical keyboard and “switch” also means the mechanical switches that are used in the mechanical keyboards! Please bear with me, I have some literature oral commentary examination in just two days time and I’ve yet to study the texts in detail at all. Anyways, I felt that I have experienced using a mechanical keyboard long enough to express some of my thoughts and feeling about using one. This is by no means a review of mechanical keyboards in general as I’ve only tried the tip of the iceberg in such a field. My experience is also very limited to the keyboard and switch type I am using. Nevertheless, I feel that this might shed some light into what one might expect when making the switch.

Introduction (Uninformative) to Mechanical Keyboards

Let us start with the introduction and basic understanding of a mechanical keyboard. There are many types of keyboards that are produced. They can be categorized into different sizes, layout, and key switches or rather the technology behind it. The main difference between a mechanical keyboard and your generic keyboards is that mechanical keyswitches are designed so that they register the key you are entering without the need of fully pressing the keys. With the many different types of switches, the amount of force and way the keys a registered differs. There are pictures and more detailed explanations of the different switches lying around that will definitely give you a clearer picture of the technical details of each switch.

I have to admit that my current knowledge of such things is as limited as you people out there not knowing anything about such keyboards.  But this is not my focus, what I am going to focus on is the feel of using a mechanical keyboard which ultimately is one of the main reasons why people choose to use such keyboards. So to make it clear I am currently using a Filco Majestouch Brown Switch keyboard and my experience is solely based on such a switch and such a keyboard.

The Personal Experience

I’ve read up a bit on the different types of switches and what type of uses are suggested for the different switches. And yes, all the switches do feel different and I’ve tried a little of the other colors (Black and Blue). I’ve ultimately decided on a brown switch because of the recommendations by people about the tactile feeling, the strength needed to push the key before it registers etc. Actually I lied, I saw the keyboard being sold at a reasonable price (second hand) and decided that I should just buy it and try out what exactly is so special about mechanical keyboards. Of course I did consider a bit of the switch type and felt that it coincidentally fits perfectly to my intentions so yeah, a heaven sent perhaps.

Immediately after I started using the keyboard, I’ve come to notice of this “feeling” that people harp so much about. Indeed, it feels very different from my generic keyboard. There is indeed this feedback that allows you to know when you successful press and register a key. It just feels so different and honestly I enjoyed typing on this mechanical keyboard much more than my previous one! I cannot really tell you whether it is good or bad feeling but it just feels more suitable and conducive to use. I must say that this is highly subjective especially when it comes to “feelings” and non-quantifiable and non-tangible kind of comparisons. I cannot tell if its “better” but it just feels nicer. Yeah, nicer would be a better word I guess. So yeah typing wise you will feel the difference, whether it is “better” or not depends really on you. Again this is based on the brown switch that I am currently using and I’m not too sure what the feeling will be like on other switches but there will be a difference I assure you when compared to a generic keyboard.

Another thing is the sound the keyboard produces when each key is pressed down. I do know some switches are louder than others and some even produces clicking sound or an overall different kind of sound. Still, this brown switch mechanical keyboard I am using is significantly louder than the generic keyboard. What the sound sounds like though is completely different from the rest. In the sense that say you smash a key down now on your keyboard, it isn’t exactly that sound but in terms of loudness it might just fall a little short of that. Yes it might be a tad too loud for some people’s liking but I must admit that this sound that is produce is kind of interesting and not that annoying for me. There are videos out there on youtube to demonstrate what I mean and you can easily search them up. They are not accurate in terms of the kind of sound produced but the difference in sound levels can be roughly gauged. The clicky sound is also kind of cool (blue switches produce such clicks) and it is a loved by some and hated by others. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure I guess eh? So yeah, the sound produced is significant and I kind of like it actually.

Lastly, the ability to customize the color and type of keycaps is very interesting and fun. There are many different colors to choose from and the materials can also give you a slightly different kind of feeling when they are touched. You can creatively change the different keys on the keyboard to reflect a certain color scheme or buy some really cool looking keys to beautify the keyboard. For example the keyboard I’m using now has no letters printed on at all (what they call blank keycaps). It gives a nice stealth feeling to it but I’m learning more towards buying white keycaps to make kind of a black and white theme. Common uses are changing the WASD keys to a specific color and stuff like that. The keys (the individual key switches) can also be changed and customized meaning you can have a mixture of brown and blue keys for example so as to maximize your experience to the fullest.

A Honest Personal (Ignorant?) Conclusion

Mechanical keyboards are significantly more expensive then the generic ones out there. In fact you can simply get a keyboard for less than $10 and it will surely work and fit the purpose of what a keyboard is supposed to do. The cheapest mechanical keyboard will probably set you off close to roughly $100 maybe? Indeed with all your fanciful gaming keyboards out there within such a price range it kind of questions the purpose and desire to get such a keyboard. In fact, if you are mainly using it for gaming the experience is not that much of a difference or does it have any significant performance enhancements to the point that it justifies the price tag and/or the lack of fanciful features that your gaming keyboard or $10 keyboard provides. What I recommend though is that if you have a bit of spare cash and not knowing what to get yourself, you might want to invest into buying one mechanical keyboard that suits you. This is especially so if you are going to be typing a lot whether is it for work or leisure.

It is all about the feeling. Practicality wise, a normal keyboard will do just fine as fine as a mechanical keyboard. It all types, as in seriously.

[images (from top to bottom) by: Solo, Filco Official Site, Charles McGraw]

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