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Das Keyboard Model S
Date 2nd September 2010
Author James "Agg" Rolfe
Manufacturer Das Keyboard
Vendor AusPC Market


Possibly like many of you, after reading Manaz's review of the Diatec Filco Majestouch, I found myself pondering a move to a better keyboard. I can't actually remember the last time I bought a keyboard specifically because I wanted it. I bought a Honeywell in the early 90's after trying a friend's, but since then it's been one long chain of pretty much nameless OEM keyboards. I remember using a Compaq slimline for years, but most recently I've been using a Dell keyboard that a friend got free with a PC - she favours split ergonomic keyboards so gave me this one and it's kept up with my almost constant daily typing for a few years now.

As you can probably imagine, I spend a lot of time at the keyboard, thanks to OCAU's news posts, zillions of emails, forum/server maintenance and keeping pace with my largely online lifestyle. Scarily enough this goes back over 20 years, to when I first started programming in BASIC on a friend's VIC-20 in 1984. So it seems odd that my keyboard would be something that the manufacturer simply gives away when it sells a PC. The Diatec that Manaz reviewed looked interesting, but I thought I'd try another keyboard from AusPCMarket - the "Das Keyboard Model S Professional Silent".

Click to Enlarge

I guess you can split the world of keyboards into three general groups. Firstly the cheapies, including OEM ones that manufacturers give away with PCs because they have to provide something for people to use. Some of these can be perfectly fine - I'm sure Dell has put some thought into their keyboards and the one I've been using for years has served me well. Cheapies also appeal to people who don't spend all that much time at the PC, and don't do a lot of typing or gaming. The second group I'd call enthusiast keyboards. These include the gaming keyboards, the bling ones that light up, those with specialised media centre keys etc. Basically, any that people buy for a specific purpose, but that purpose is not necessarily pounding out thousands of words a day. The last group is the "professional" keyboards. These are the ones aimed at people who make their living, or are perhaps completing their education, behind a keyboard. Those who type huge volumes of text, or at least, those who want the same level of comfort and ease of typing as professional typists.

Click to Enlarge

The Das Keyboard is aimed squarely at this third category, and makes no attempt to appease the media centre, gaming or bling keyboard crowds. There's no volume control keys or helpful LCD screens or shortcut keys for launching your browser etc. In fact the only feature that sets it aside, at first glance, from my OEM Dell keyboard, is the rather handy inclusion of two USB 2.0 ports on the top-right corner. These unfortunately don't use the same USB cable as the keyboard itself, so for full functionality you must plug the keyboard into two USB ports on your PC - or use the included USB-PS/2 converter. Of course you get those two USB ports back, and more conveniently positioned, on the keyboard itself. The cable is two metres long, which is nice - short keyboard cables with lots of tension on them are annoying.

Click to Enlarge

Looking at the keyboard in more detail, we have a shiny gloss black top and matt key-tops with neatly stencilled characters. In fact the lettering is laser-etched into the key-tops, so that should last a lot longer than the decals used on some other keyboards. The three LEDs for num, scroll and caps lock are a subtle but pleasant blue - not, thankfully, the eyeball-searing blue LEDs popular on the front of cases. There are single-position retractable feet on the back if you prefer to tilt the keyboard towards you, and rubber pads to stop it sliding about your desk.

Click to Enlarge   Click to Enlarge

The main feature of this keyboard, as with the Filco reviewed earlier, is the use of individual mechanical key-switches beneath each key. This is as opposed to cheaper keyboards, most of which use a flexible membrane which collapses as the key is depressed and allows electrical contacts to touch. As with the Filco the key-switches are made by Cherry Corp. Key-switches are preferred by many professional typists because of superior feel, accuracy and audio/tactile feedback than cheaper technologies.


All original content copyright James Rolfe.
All rights reserved. No reproduction allowed without written permission.
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