Sunday, August 17, 2014

My new keyboard - Realforce 87 U Silent - the best typing experience but with a high price #torpe #realforce #realforce87U

It's more than a year, that I have switched into the 'highly quality mechanical' keyboard search mode. I have to admit, considering the amount of money I have spent for more than a decade to medium or very bad overpriced conventional keyboards, that were promising some sort of quality and productivity boost during typing, I was late. 

Better late than never. For most of the people (if you exclude hard core gamers) investing in a good keyboard is some sort of, waste of money, since most of the regular keyboards seem to do the work. The thing is that if your work is about typing  a lot and when I mean a lot I am talking about hundreds of lines of code and text everyday, and you start monitoring your typing error rates, the amount of noise you produce when you hit the keys, a slight pain on your wrist or fingers after long hours of typing then you start wondering if there is a better way or tool? Anyway this post is not about, preaching the qualities and benefits of using a pro-mechanical or hybrid keyboard for intense typing jobs (like being a software developer) rather than my experiences on buying my second pro keyboard. 

I have stopped using Apple's keyboards for more than a year, my first attempt to the world of hybrid mechanical keyboards was the Matias Quiet Pro . Here is a post,  (in Greek) about my impressions and the market research I did in order to come up with it. Matias was a big change comparing to conventional keyboards, the feel was something very different for me, and I have to be honest I was more or less satisfied with this change. My typing errors were reduced, my max-out of the keyboard keys reduced even more and my keyboard stopped bumping in the air due to my hi intense (strong typing force) style. My typing rate was not increased though, due to the different feel and 'resistance' of the keys while pressing. My next priority was noise, Matias delivered, working in an office you don't want to get the blame for noise pollution due to clicking noises of your mechanical keyboard  and since I am also very 'sensitive' on noise issues at work I was looking for something 'office' friendly. I spent almost 8 months typing with Matias, and I consider it a very balanced keyboard for those who want to try the feel of a mechanical  keyboard  (actually is considered  a hybrid) in work without spending a small fortune.

During my research prior to buying the Quiet Pro, I did an extensive research on pure mechanical keyboards e.g flavors of keyboards using the CHERRY MX switches and the new kid on the block Topre. Due to the noise factor as already elaborated and while reading and listening to many youtube videos, I decided that one day I would buy a  Torpe based keyboard, something like the ultimate desitnation on the developer keyboard land. And so I did. In that post I wrote, that despite buying the Matias, my first choice would be RealFor87U, unfortunately it's price was a no go and  I did not have a prior experience on mechanical keyboards so I wanted to invest on a low risk solution.

The trial went well, I came to realize that I should have invested in a real good keyboard years before, so in my 34 birthday I decide to go the extra mile and buy the RealForce 87 U Silent, Variable Weighted press keys.

The good  things
  • It absolutely the best keyboard experience I have ever had, eventually the 45g weight keys are the perfect fit for my typing style (intest force, high rates on max-out the keys). After typing on the RealForce it seems that all the previous keyboards way behind.
  • I managed to reduce error rates, max out on keys, bumping of the keyboard was elimitated (since it is heavy and steady enough) and last but not least, managed to increase my typing rate!
  • Especially the very fist days, I was like eager to go at work and start typing, absolutely loving the feeling. (only developers would understand this I know). 
  • It is Silent!!! More silent comparing to the Matias.
The bad
  • High price, it is very expensive and  there is an extra hidden cost. Unfortunately Realforce ships from the US, considering the price, the item was picked in the customs office in my country (EU-Greece). With that price tag, you need to pay in taxes  another 100 USD dollars, and the worst thing is that the FedX delivery, is charging another 100 USD dollars for making the paper work and delivering the item to you + this extra is on top of the 60 USD you have  paid in the original price tag for FedX!. It is almost insane and I have to admit I would not recommended anyone outside of the US, buying this keyboard that way. I was so close on delivering the item back and requesting a refund. Since I decided to pay everything.. it still hurts, I can help other people avoiding my mistake.
    • Search for alternatives eg Amazon stores that, that have already a fixed tax tag for customs import.
    • Avoid FedX delivery and shipping when it involves customs, it seems for Greece UPS seems much more flexible. The amount of money requested for doing the paperwork are way too crazy.
    • if you have a friend in the states that is coming to EU, ask him/her to bring one with him as a present. 
  •  If you typing very strong I would recommend you go for the Fixed Weighted keys, this was my only mistake (but I how I could know, since you can not find them easily to test them out, especially in Greece). It seems that some of the (e.g Back space of space) that have different weight (feel) while pressing and I can max them out, while the majority of the alphanumeric keys which are on the 45g weight are ideal. So the only break in the overall silence is when I hit Back Space, and I maxing it out.

Overall, YES it is one of the best keyboards in the world, so a software developer would most probably love it. YES it is very expensive and if you order it outside of US your wallet might hurt for many months after the purchase.  I wish RealForce-EliteKeyboards and relevant Torpe Keyboard providers, reduce their price tags or start importing them in the EU so the European customers do not pay a small fortune (almost double price) for such a keyboard.