Clackety Clackety Clack

My new keyboard, close up.

My previous keyboard, which I have had for a few years and have written at least three novels on, developed an alarming list on the right side of its space bar; it was suddenly catching and not releasing. Which meant it was time for a new keyboard — or at least, now I had an excuse to get a new keyboard, which I was thinking of getting for a few months now anyway. I selected a Razer Huntsman Analog keyboard, which promised durability (each key rated for millions of keystrokes, or so I was informed), and also a host of gaming-specific bells and whistles which I may or may not ever use.

Now it’s here and the thing I notice most about it is how loud and clicky it is. There are a lot of keyboard nerds who love a satisfying clack to their keyboards; I’m not sure I am one of them. But aside from the clack, the keyboard action is good. The keys depress slightly further than I am used to, and it’s throwing me off a bit; I suspect it will take me a day or two to get entirely used to.

I got exactly one photo of this new keyboard before a cat came up and started depositing hair on it; if you look at the photo above you can see the first of what I assume will be many cat hairs, there on the “D” key. I thought I might have the keyboard for longer than five minutes before a cat started shedding on it, but no. This is what I get for having four cats, I suppose.

In any event: New keyboard. If you notice a few more spelling errors over the next couple of days, that’s the excuse I am using for making them. Indulge me, please.

— JS

21 Comments on “Clackety Clackety Clack”

  1. I love my mechanical keyboards. I still have my original IBM Model M for when I am at work, and an Ambra Model M for when I work from home from my Mac.

    Clicky-Clicky-Clicky.

    Your LEDs are cool, though….

  2. Keyboard nerds who don’t like the noise and/or the travel have been known to use O-rings on the stems of the keycaps.

    It is a tedious, nerdy thing to do, and if you don’t like the result, it is a tedious thing to remove.

    But, you know, an option there if it bugs you.

    I personally love a gloriously noisy keyboard, but I don’t work in an office anymore and live alone, YMMV.

  3. I’ve had a Razr somethingsomething for years both at home and at work. My open-office neighbors complained about the clacking but I love it because it sounds and feels like a real typewriter. At work, I had to pop out each key and slide on an O-ring. It took a fair amount of time, but it did reduce the clacking from my neighbors.

    I thought the O-rings came with the keyboard but it’s possible I had to purchase them separately. I’ve never bothered to install the accompanying software but I’m told one can make all sorts of spiffy changes, have keys light up, etc.

  4. I do not, and never have, understood the draw of mechanical keyboards. I own one, because I wanted a combo wireless keyboard/mouse lap desk for using an HTPC on my couch, and like you, found that the best choice was made for gaming. So it lights up, has a wired option (for when a couple milliseconds of lag really matters, which is never) and has the clickiest keys I’ve ever heard. And it apparently doesn’t even have the clickiest keys out there! I bought a bag of O-ring style silencers on Amazon, and it helped a bit. Maybe try that. But if I could get the low travel and less-clicky feel of my laptop in the same portable solution, I’d do that. Clicky keyboards are not for me. Or my wife, who can hear me typing two floors away.

  5. I will try to hold my keyboard snob level to a minimum, but I really believe that anyone who types for a living (not a writer, just a coder), should think about investing in a keyboard a little deeper than off the shelf.

    Yes, its a rabbit hole. No, there is no end game.

    But there are amazingly superior typing experiences out there.

    There are some great silent tactile switches out there, which have great key feel and avoid the clack (honestly though, sound profile is more keycap and keyboard body based than it is switch based), and I’m not talking about nutso tactile switches (lookin’ at you Holy Pandas), but nice rounded feel.

    I get that not everyone wants to invest the time to dally with switches (and the wobble on most hot swap boards… well.. it’s pretty bad) but there are just so many better experiences out there.

    I said I’d try to keep the snob down… I think I got it down to a 6.

    Apologies.

  6. timeliebe – Central NY – Dreaded Spouse-Creature to bestselling fantasy author Tamora Pierce (SONG OF THE LIONESS, THE CIRCLE OPENS, BEKA COOPER: A TORTALL LEGEND series), a co-author of TORTALL: A SPY'S GUIDE, Co-author with Tamora Pierce of Marvel's WHITE TIGER: A HERO'S OBSESSION for Marvel Comics. Contributing Editor for VIDEO Magazine during the 1990s, Columnist for C/Net 1999 - 2002.
    TimELiebe

    Put me down as someone who likes the sound of keys making contact – in fact, it’s a big reason I’m considering ditching my 2018 Macbook Pro with the “butterfly keyboard” for a new M1 Mac! (The other is that, despite having 16 GB and a Core i7 processor, my current Macbook seems to live in Beachball Land.)

    My current desktop keyboard is a low-end MS 600 wired model with no ergonomics, and that suits me to the ground….

  7. Put me down as someone into clickity. My first PC was an PC-XT running Dos and the keyboard was built like a battleship.

    I would comment on the price you paid for just a keyboard (I’m too cheap), but then compared to some of your recent guitar purchases… ;)

  8. Paul George – I have been a grassroots activist — for peace, justice, human rights — since I was 16 years old. That would have been in 1968 (Gene McCarthy for President campaign). You do the rest of the math. Grassroots organizing had been my sole livelihood since 1989. I just retired in April 2019 after 30 years as the director of Peninsula Peace and Justice Center in Palo Alto, CA.
    Paul George

    Hey, Matt S, check out Keyboardio

  9. For I am Northgate, and thou shalt have no keyboard before me.

    My ideal keyboard is a Northgate with a split layout (similar to, but slightly different from, the “ergonomic” layout, which is far from ideal for mixed numeric and alphabetic use), backlighting, and dedicated diacriticals. I can dream, can’t I?

  10. For my generation, which doesn’t like to hold the fridge door open, it helped that the standard electric typewriter made a hum. Because not wanting to waste energy made for a good motivation to “get writing.”

    As for clacking, I dimly recall a sitcom where the fellow who played Alf’s dad worked in a booth. He recorded the sound of his typing onto an eight-track that he would play to sound like he was working.

    It feels like only yesterday I had a word processor with a volume control for the keys.

    I admit my current Mac keyboard has no such control, but still, I am surprised that other keyboards don’t have the volume option. It seems like a no-brainer to me.

    At least the new keyboard has beveled keys like any traditional, proper keyboard. My Mac one has flat keys: weird. Not as good.

  11. I hope you will keep the old one – it’s a historical artifact! Someday people may want to see it the same way that they would want to see the typewriter that Ernest Hemingway wrote his novels on!

  12. Cool keyboard. I like the lights. I don’t really like mechanical keyboards. My new computer came with a wired keyboard and mouse. I think the wired keyboard is a mechanical one. I don’t use them. I love my wireless keyboard and mouse.

  13. I cannot imagine spending $250 on a keyboard but to each their own. Heck, I thought the $23 I spent on a refurbished Microsoft Wireless keyboard and mouse was too much. Not sure what happened to it but I’m using a Logitech set now. Maybe if I ever get into serious gaming.

  14. Matt S: Check out the Kinesis Advantage keyboards. Ergonomic, a choice of key switches (I favour the Cherry browns – tactile but relatively quiet) and most definitely exists (though if you buy one much of your money no longer will).

  15. My favorite keyboards have never been clacky. The noise is offensive to me personally, let alone anyone else in the building.

    Three of them have been Apple keyboards or based on those, in the random times when Apple actually got a design right instead of just making it look unusual.

    My current model is a bloody cheap Dell low-travel keyboard, about $15, which has excellent feel and never lets your fingers lose their places. I picked up backups, just in case, although the only one that’s ever died was… err… the neighbor decided to use it as a hammer or something?

    It doesn’t have fancy backlights. It does have a numpad and media keys. The classic matte black goes with everything.

  16. If it’s the tools of your trade, you gotta have the best money can buy. Or at least, the best one for you. I’m an accountant and I spend all day at a computer, so I totally understand your purchase.

    I learned to type in 1986 on a typewriter that I’m sure must have weighed 50 pounds. Over the years it seems the keys have shrunk more and more until now we have these super flat things with hardly any height to them at all. Oddly enough, I really quite like the flat keys. My favourite is an inexpensive Logitech keyboard and mouse combo that turned out to be excellent. There are three sets around the house (and far more than three computers).

    Modern keyboards seem to quit working for no apparent reason. Tried changing the batteries, etc. so I have a bin full of keyboards so that I can just grab another. Strangely, one that stopped working previously will now work just fine after having sat in the box for months, if not years. I don’t know what’s up with that.

    Years ago I had come over to a friend’s to borrow her computer, and she complained that my typing was too loud and I was being too hard on the keys and I was going to break it. Tad oversensitive, in my opinion.

    If you don’t press the keys with feeling, half the time the key presses don’t register. I feel like I spend half of my life pressing the backspace key.

  17. If it’s the tools of your trade, you gotta have the best money can buy. Or at least, the best one for you. I’m an accountant and I spend all day at a computer, so I totally understand your purchase.

    I learned to type in 1986 on a typewriter that I’m sure must have weighed 50 pounds. Over the years it seems the keys have shrunk more and more until now we have these super flat things with hardly any height to them at all. Oddly enough, I really quite like the flat keys. My favourite is an inexpensive Logitech keyboard and mouse combo that turned out to be excellent. There are three sets around the house (and far more than three computers).

    Modern keyboards seem to quit working for no apparent reason. Tried changing the batteries, etc. so I have a bin full of keyboards so that I can just grab another. Strangely, one that stopped working previously will now work just fine after having sat in the box for months, if not years. I don’t know what’s up with that.

    Years ago I had come over to a friend’s to borrow her computer, and she complained that my typing was too loud and I was being too hard on the keys and I was going to break it. Tad oversensitive, in my opinion.

    If you don’t press the keys with feeling, half the time the key presses don’t register. I feel like I spend half of my life pressing the backspace key.

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