In my quest for geeky stuff I stumbled upon a deliciously retro trend among the typing connoisseurs: the mechanical keyboard. The mechanical keyboard looks like a regular one but hides a secret: the mechanical switches that make the keys go down and up. Once upon a time, all computer keyboards were like this, so there's a chance you've typed in one (if you're old enough, and you are, and you know it). Then some capitalist in search for profit discovered the membrane keyboard and other shitty alternatives, and that was it for the good old mechanical keys... until the vintage hysteria made it an object of desire for geeks and hipsters.
I learned to code in an old IBM PC from 1986. I remember that clicky keyboard, sturdy as hell, that coped with my furious typing and enraged debugging. I still cannot believe that Enter key resisted such abuse. With such precedents it's no surprise I was captivated by the idea of reliving those magical days. But there are a number of problems.
- They are expensive. Around 150€. Not an impulse buy but, was it to stop me from buying an essential tool I would be using for the rest of my life (and probably leaving as heir for generations to come...)? Of course not!
- They are loud. Like, very loud. Apparently that reassuring clicky thing is way too much for many, specially in open environments where it is said that coworkers have reached the point of life threatening their owners. This is a problem. I use my home computer when everybody else sleeps, and I'm not so much scared about my coworkers threats as I am about my wife's. Nothing that a little bit of research won't fix, though. I learned that mechanical keyboards come in many flavors, as many as colors of the switch rainbow. There are like a million different switch colors, each with a defining behavior. I settled for the MX Red one (over the most popular brown and blue ones) due to its silent operation. (I prayed in secret while the package was in transit for that feature to be true, at the unbearable scenario of deciding between my life and my keyboard).
- Finally, they're not available with a Spanish key map. Really? Really. Search Amazon now and confirm that either they're not available or they're suspiciously cheap. But, hey, I purchased an iPad keyboard during my last trip to US and it's not that bad. I switch the iOS configuration from Español to English depending on what I'm writing and... well, I make do. Will a little bit of adjusting stop me from enjoying the pinnacle of keyboards? I'm pretty sure the adjusting exercise is even going to prevent Alzheimer or something. Come on! Hit checkout, fill in credit card, order confirmed.
...package delivered! My Das Keyboard Proffesional S, a mechanical keyboard engineered in Germany is home. First thing to notice: this thing is huge. Enormous besides my sleek Apple keyboard, who looks up with impotence while it's being pushed away by the big newcomer. It needs two USB ports!! Man this is a tank! (And weights just us much).
Now let's check the so much touted typing feel. I press a key and... wow that is light! I mean, it almost needs no pressure to push the key. Not sure I like this. If I'm not very precise with my strokes I'm going to press many keys at once. And I do, actually. The slightly different size of the keys and the oh god what was I thinking when I bought a US key map, makes me make thousands of mistakes. I'm back at 8 years old now, looking down at my keyboard carefully preparing every letter I press. Frustrating. And the feel of the keys... well, I'm not blown away honestly. Not that different. I don't know, perhaps it was not a good idea after all.
I leave it on the desk. Plugged in. And hit it again the next day. And the next. I'm slowly adjusting to the position of the keys. I'm getting back at touch typing and I eventually chain a long sequence of keystrokes. That feeling of pushing the key deep down in the keyboard, that sound when the key hits the bottom, ... and then one more mistake. Aaaaarrggh! But I stubbornly keep on...
I don't know what it is, perhaps it's the remembrance of the 80s, perhaps it's the sound of the keys, perhaps it's that I've spent 120€ on it, perhaps it's that I'm earning it by improving every day... but I start to feel something about this new companion on my desk. I cannot express it in words. I don't know. It must be love.