Every computer has a keyboard. Most people choose to use the free one that came with their system. Others are buying keyboards with flashy features, but the Das Keyboard does not try to lure consumers in with those features, extra buttons, or cool lighting. Instead, its main selling point is its lack of a certain feature that everyone has come to expect from their keyboard. This keyboard has no characters printed on its keys.
Before I get to the review, I would like to provide some background on Das Keyboard. Daniel Guermeur, born-to-be a programmer, and founder of Metadot Corporation, an open source software company, has invented Das Keyboard. Why? He still doesn't remember. He just did it.
Once the first keyboard prototypes were made many friends who tried it wanted to possess one.
Marketing a keyboard can be very boring, but not this one. We wanted to find a name that vehicules its avant-gardeness. A keyboard with no inscriptions on the keys is obviously only for a certain type of geeks, not just normal ones, only those who are above the pack: the Übergeeks.
Therefore "Das Keyboard", the German word for "the keyboard" came up as a natural name.
Contents, features and specifications can be found on Metadot's website.
PC enclosure reference model
Black color with matching black cable. Darth Vader approved
Enhanced 104-key layout
High-quality membrane switch technology
Three Windows keys
Keys withstand over 30 million keystrokes
DOS, Windows 3.1 or higher.
Linux, or Mac OS X
USB keyboard port
FCC Class B
CIA: approval failed: they were not able to read what people typed
Operating temperature: 0C to 60C
Operating humidity: 5% to 90%
Operating altitude: 0' to +10,000'
Operating Shock: 10 G
Das Keyboard makes a quiet clicky and snazzy sound. It does not require the use of ear plugs
Life : 30 million keystrokes
Tot. travel : .150" +/- .010" @100g
Travel to peak : .050" +/- .010"
Peak force : 2.0 oz +/- .4oz
Fire point : .110" nominal
Reset force : .5oz
Weight: 3.4 pounds
Height: 2.5 inches
Length: 21 inches
Depth: 11 inches
- front row: 0.7 inches
- back edge: 1.89 inches
Length: 18.4 inches
Depth: 8.28 inches
Max. input power : +5 Vdc +/- 0.25V @100mA max
Phantom key lockout: good for serious gamers who needs to press multiple keys at the same time
Serial data output: USB
Packaging and Contents
The DAS Keyboard is properly packaged in a cardboard container that wasn't much bigger than the actual size of the keyboard itself. Right now, a large majority of the orders are being taken online through the company's website, which is why I believe they've yet to invest in a retail packaging.
The DAS Keyboard comes packaged with a thank you message for ordering the unit as well as a document containing the installation instructions, FCC declaration, and warranty notice. Note there is no PS/2 adaptor included.
A Closer Look
There are three main features to the Das Keyboard, of course one would be that the keys that are free of any inscriptions, two, the individually weighted key switches and three, the build quality of the keyboard.
The Das Keyboard is a traditional full size 104-key keyboard, unlike some desktop keyboards that contain all the keys but are more compact, like the keyboards found on laptops. The keyboard's keys are all full size and the arrow and positional keys are both on their own "island" while the rest of the keys are all positioned in their traditional locations. Also, a rare oddity by today's keyboards is that the Das Keyboard doesn't offer any multi-media or hot keys. As you’ve read before, the keys are 100% clear of any inscription. The included flyer points out that if there are no keys to look at when you are typing, you will look down less and soon*be able to type more rapidly.
The next main feature of the DAS Keyboard is the individually weighted key switches. Through using this unique design, all of the keys are different in the amount of force required to register an action. The switches are divided into five different levels of force - 35, 45, 55, 65, and 80 grams. For reference, a traditional computer keyboard generally requires about 55 grams of force to register an operation.
The final main feature of the Das Keyboard is its build quality. Although it is just made of plastic, this keyboard didn’t even flinch when I tried bending it with all my weight. This is perfect for those who travel to LANs.
The bottom of the Das Keyboard is quite plain, has four rubber feet, two of which can be raised to tilt the keyboard up a few extra degrees. When raising the feet, there is a very loud "click" to let you know they have locked in place. The cable is a good length, but a tad on the thick side, and can be routed either out the back of the board or the side.
Some small issues I have with the Das Keyboard deal with aesthetics. There is a big and plain Das Keyboard printed on the top left corner. It is such a bland font, why not actually make a logo? Two issues arise with the Lock keys. The Lock keys are labeled, what happened to 100% inscription free? Also the LEDs are plain. Paying a hefty price for a keyboard with plain green LEDs is a shame, they should be blue or red.
Using the Das Keyboard was much easier than I thought it would be. I had a few problems remembering where the ^, *, #, etc., where located, yet otherwise there were no problems. After using the Das Keyboard for over two weeks, my typing speed has greatly increased because of the lack of inscriptions to look at.
The Das Keyboard has three main selling points; free of any inscriptions, individually weighted key switches and build quality. All of these points have been mastered, and truly create an uber keyboard. Yet, there is a main problem in the price of the Das Keyboard, the price. $80 is a lot to throw down for a keyboard, especially since anyone can spray paint their keyboard to remove the inscriptions. The Das Keyboard is surely a novelty item for those wanting to state their geekdom.