on January 21, 2011
First, you should know the difference between this model and the model with the same name that is listed for $129, as Amazon doesn't explain it. This model has the quieter Cherry MX Brown key switches, while the model for $129 has the Cherry MX Blues. If you check the two models out on Das Keyboard's website, you'll see it explained there.
Some background on me. I've been a programmer for the last 16 years, and I game about three nights per week for a couple hours. I spend about 12 hours a day on my computer, and have been going through keyboards every six to eight months for years. You know how nice a new keyboard feels. But after a few months, the keys don't actuate like they did when it was new. If you don't hit the key in the middle, it doesn't always depress. Consequently, you end up hammering the keys without even realizing it. The keys on this are rated at 50 million key actuations. So if I get even three years out of it, I'll be money ahead.
The Das Keyboard is an absolute dream to type on. I don't do many reviews, and see them as a waste of my time. All I can say is once you've used a mechanical keyboard, you'll never go back. And your speed with definitely increase. I would've bet money against that, and I would've lost.
Regarding the MX Blue key switches vs the MS Browns (this keyboard): I'm glad I went with this model. I'm on the phone with clients every day and am constantly making notes during my calls. I've had several people mention they can hear my typing, and this is the silent (not silent, but less noisy) version. Personally, I like "clack clack" of the louder model, but it's too loud for my use.
Regarding the blank keys: Obviously, I'm a touch typist. And if I were just writing documents, I would've bought the blank version without hesitation. But as a programmer, I'm constantly using keyboard shortcuts and use my keyboard to navigate as much as possible so I don't have to reach for my mouse. My concern was that I could still do that without key inscriptions. I have to admit, it forced me to lean my keys, and I didn't realize how much I was actually looking at my keyboard. But for the first week, I kept a jpg on my Desktop of the version with key inscriptions as a cheat sheet. After that, it was all smooth sailing and I've never looked back.
And I have to admit, the BA nerd factor of this is off the chart. I've had two clients who came to my office actually take pictures of it to show the other guys back at their offices. I admit there's a little vanity there. But if they perceive me a better programmer / computer user because of it, how could that possibly hurt?
The other added benefit is that the intimidation factor keeps computer illiterate people off my computer. No more "oops, I deleted that folder. Was that important?" If somebody can actually sit down and use it, they know what they're doing.
Just buy it...you won't regret it.
Well, I've been using this keyboard daily for a little over a year now. I've used it so much that the primary use keys are polished and high gloss lol. No big deal. But what is amazing is that the key actuations are just as fresh as the day I bought it. The first keys to go are usually my movement keys for gaming. But even those show no signs of wear (other than being shiny of course).
I don't see why it won't last three years like I mentioned in my Jan 2011 review. I'm already close to the break-even point cost wise (would've bought two $50 membrane keyboards by now), so this thing is a money saver. On top of that, it's a joy to type on.
Buying this is a no-brainer for any heavy computer user. I'm still in love with it.
on June 30, 2011
You're in the market for mechanical keyboards so you're not generally afraid of a $100+ price tag.. Get this keyboard. The Cherry MX Brown switches makes typing feel like butter - absolutely a pleasure typing on this keyboard.
If you're iffy about buying this because of the lack of letters, get it anyway. Sure, the professional version has characters on the keys, though I keep hearing that they wear off easily which is a bit counter-intuitive. Get this keyboard and you will memorize where all the keys are - very simple.
Why the Silent version over the regular (MX Blue switches)? Personal preference. Both of these keyboards have volume - if that isn't going to bother people around you, whether it be coworkers, family members or roommates, here's why I STILL suggest the "Silent" version - it still takes SLIGHTLY less force to press down the key. 45g vs 50g doesn't seem like a huge thing, but it really can be. BUT, if you want the Cherry MX Blues for their famous extra click sound, absolutely go for it. The two switches have few differences - I chose the Browns because I didn't need the extra sound and I wanted the easiest possible typing experience - I got what I wanted.
If others who have reviewed this gave it anything less than 5 stars because it is NOT silent or some other non-issues, I ask them to DO THEIR RESEARCH before buying AND reviewing a product. This keyboard is a 5-star product; there should be no question about that.
on April 7, 2011
This keyboard is the Das Model S Ultimate Silent, meaning it has Cherry MX Brown switches and no lettering on the keys (they're blank, forcing you to learn how to touch type).
The mechanical switches in this keyboard are great, they don't make the clicking noise at the actuation point (halfway down the key-press, when the switch is activated), however they still have the same tactile bump as the non-silent version of the keyboard that uses the MX Blue switches. The reset point of the MX browns is almost the same as the actuation point, so it is very easy to double tap the keys as you can "float" at the halfway point and just slightly lift and depress the key repetitively. If you bottom out the keys as you type (you press them all the way down so that the key hits the back-plate), the keyboard will make some noise, however if you learn to touch type you won't bottom out the keys, you will just press them halfway down until you feel the tactile bump letting you know the key press has been read, and then lift your finger back up again, this allows you to type with much less effort and mess less noise. If you are gaming you will probably find yourself bottoming out the keys more frequently, so the noise levels will be equivalent to those of a standard rubber dome keyboard (e.g. Logitech G15).
This keyboard comes with a USB to PS2 adapter so that you can avoid the limitations of the USB interface, where you are limitted to 6-key rollover (meaning if you press more than 6 keys at once whilst typing furiously or more commonly, gaming, it will only register the first 6 keys depressed.) If however, you are using the included PS2 adapter, it supports full N-key rollover (NKRO).
With NKRO support, you can press all 104 keys simultaneously and it will register all of them. This is very helpful once you start breaking 100 WPM or if you are a serious gamer playing RTS or FPS games like Starcraft 2 where miss clicks/types are very unforgiving.
This keyboard is your standard mechanical keyboard with all of the expected features (NKRO, good tactile feedback, standard layout, and gold connectors).
It doesn't glow in the dark, it doesn't have an LCD screen, and it lacks macro features or media controls, however it does what keyboards were designed to do: allow you to input data in a reliable and fast manner.
on October 20, 2011
Keyboards are usually afterthoughts.
However, keyboards are primarily for typing text. Anyone who writes, programs, enters data, etc is spending a lot of time looking at a screen and typing on a keyboard. The cheap OEM and in-store models of keyboards are designed to be cheap. Some are designed to be flashy and cost a little more. But most of them have the same workings: rubber dome key switches. Basically, one is pressing on rubber hard enough to force contact to register a keystroke. If one is lucky, the rubber dome is well designed to give some feedback that a key stroke was registered, but still, you can't tell except by looking at what was printed.
They keyboard is an input device which uses all of one's fingers. Therefore, it should be designed first to be used by one's fingers. Sculpted keys, tactile feedback, and a proper size are the key factors. Most keyboards are based on the technology used in laptops. All of the components of laptops are designed to be portable first, and then usable to the extent possible. Flat keys with rubber dome keyboards and cramped design are not good for typing.
Das Keyboard is designed to be the best keyboard of its kind. That is to say, it is not trying to look like anything or be cheap, but to allow one to type most effectively. There are other mechanical switch keyboards available and this class of keyboard universally stands above rubber dome keyboards. The best rubber dome keyboard does not seem to be able to be compared to a mechanical switch keyboard.
This particular model, S Ultimate, has blank keys, Cherry MX Blue switches (tactile and audible feedback), two USB ports on an integrated hub, an the option to use PS/2 as well as USB. It is heavy: you can be sure it won't slide around. I can close the keyboard tray on my desk by pushing on the keyboard only. The audible feedback, the "click", is not that loud. The most important part though is not how it sounds, but how it feels. The difference between typing on this keyboard and a rubber dome keyboard cannot be explained easily. If one has not used such key switches, than one cannot know what one is missing.
Ordering from Amazon vendors may not be the best choice though. Das Keyboard sells them with free shipping, a 30 day period to try it and to return it if it is not found to be acceptable (must be returned in the same condition as it was sent) and a year warranty for defects. So, if one wants this keyboard, I recommend you buy it from Das Keyboard directly. Free UPS shipping, the return policy, and the warranty make it better than what you can get here from what I can see unless you see an exceptionally good price.
About the price, it costs $130 because that is what it is worth. You get what you pay for in this case. No hype, just good design and engineering.
I use Linux with the QWERTY based US layout (an International variant) and a Dvorak variant and I am a touch typist. I write and program daily. I should have bought this keyboard in the first place.
on December 16, 2013
Keyboard turned out exactly as research predicted: solid, sleek, elegant, and a pleasure to type on. I love it, I really do. In fact, I'm using it to write this review. The MX Browns were tempting; a lot of people suggested that MX Blues are too loud. I've never tried the Browns but I love the Blues. The keys give excellent tactile feedback and aren't terribly loud at all.
Anyway, why do I say you should "make sure you know what you're buying"? Because the whole blank keyboard concept is not necessarily as practical as you think. Most of us have no problem with "touch typing" and therefore the idea of a blank keyboard presents no immediate downside. But issues with the keyboard do not arise when you're typing normal sentences. They appear when you have to type idiosyncratic character patterns, i.e. passwords and complicated keyboard shortcuts. If you have a blank keyboard and you're asked to type in a password like $pG%1LkoaHM3, good luck.
I must admit however that I express these sentiments only because I've personally found it difficult to use this keyboard at times. It may be that my experience is anomalous and most people will have no problem with it. It may also be that I need more time to learn the keyboard, and perhaps then typing $pG%1LkoaHM3 won't be so hard. Who knows.
Regardless, I'm still giving the keyboard a 5-star rating. I chose to purchase a blank keyboard and I can't hold that against Das Keyboard. The build quality is superb, and it's definitely a bad-ass looking keyboard. One last thing before I forget, the keys can be a bit squeaky. I'm inclined to believe that comes with the territory of "mechanical keyboards," but I figured I'd let you know anyway. Hope that helps.
I returned the keyboard. I used it for a bit and realized the blank keys weren't worth it. Yeah it's cool for a bit. But once the "wow" factor wears off, and trust me it will, you're left with a beautiful keyboard that's unnecessarily handicapped.
...which brings me to what happened next. I ordered Das Keyboard Professional S with blue switches. The keyboard just got here today and frankly, it's not the same. I researched the issue online and found that Das Keyboard switched manufacturers from their previously high quality Taiwan company to a new OEM Chinese co. Apparently however, the Ultimate version is still made in Taiwan. This means two things: (1) The build quality on the Ultimate is better than the Professional. The keys feel different and the overall experience is far better on the Ultimate. (2) If you do decide that the Ultimate's blank keys are going to be too annoying (which IMO they will be), then do NOT buy Das Keyboard Professional S.
I just ordered a Filco keyboard a few minutes ago. Theoretically the typing experience should be the same as the Ultimate, as Filco also uses Costar (the Taiwanese manufacturer). But only this time, the keys will actually have letters on them.
TL;DR: Das Keyboard Ultimate is a superb keyboard and is built exceptionally well. Be cautious of relying on all Das Keyboards to be the same. Some are manufactured in Taiwan by a company known as Costar, and those are the best builds. Others are made in China which are poorly made. If you decide you want the build of the Ultimate but with inscriptions on the keys, do NOT buy Das Keyboard Professional S. Instead look to Filco keyboards.
on August 16, 2013
I was really excited to use this keyboard and honestly it was pretty great typing on it eight hours a day for work. Unfortunately, it stopped responding a few weeks ago, and I haven't been able to get in touch with anybody at Das Keyboard to hash things out. At this point, even if they get in touch with me, It would still take them several days (on top of the week+ I've been waiting for a reply) to do the RMA process...I'm pretty much out of patience. For a keyboard at this price point, the keyboard should be rock-solid, and if it isn't, I would've expected their customer service to be much, much better. Overall, huge disappointment.
on September 14, 2013
I purchased this keyboard back in December 2012, and it was working oh so great for about six months. It was everything I was hoping it would be, clicky-clacky mechanical keys with great feedback, no key labels, so I could be geeky 1337. That all stopped when one day I flipped on the old computer, and it no longer was registering power to the keyboard. I tried different USB ports, and different keyboards to verify that the fault was my precious das keyboard and not my machine.
I opened a ticket literally two weeks ago as of this review (September 1st) with das keyboard themselves, because unfortunately it's no longer under Amazon's return policy. I have yet to receive any response from them, and have made additional comments on my ticket. As it stands, I don't think that I would recommend this keyboard - it was amazing while it lasted, but I would have expected a longer lifetime for the price that I paid.
*Update 9/27:* I still have not received any traction on either replacing or fixing my current broken das keyboard, even after providing a pdf of verification of my Amazon purchase.
- Everything I was expecting it to be until it broke
- Manufacturing defect, now I have a very expensive hunk of plastic sitting in my room.
- Virtually no customer service support. Which is puzzling to me regarding the premium you're paying for this keyboard.
This review will be updated if any progress is made on the support side from das keyboard.
on October 9, 2013
It's my opinion that no one should compromise on the input devices that they use all day, every day. If, like me, you're an IT professional, then you touch your input devices (keyboard and mouse) more than your wife. You want a husband/wife that's nice to touch and listen to, but why don't you want a keyboard that's also nice to touch and listen to?
I am a professional programmer working in an open corporate environment. I've been using the silent model (MX Browns) at work for about two years. I type about 6-8 hours a day at around 90 words-per-minute. The company-provided cheapo Dell keyboards are frankly an insult to my elite hacking skills and I don't know why anybody would subject themselves to that hollow rubbery feel.
Having this slick slab of featureless black lets people know that I'm for real. I don't mess around, and yes, I do have the location of the symbols memorized. The mechanical feel of the keys is like hot butter to my fingers, and the sound is like a machine-gun rattle as I weave my dreams of code.
Have some self-respect already and get keyboard that's worth your time.
on January 31, 2013
This keyboard is great. The sound and feel of it are absolutely fantastic. On top of that, you can tell it is made of quality material.
One thing I would like to mention is its ability to game on top of the phenomenal typing. When purchasing this product, I couldn't find anyone talking about how it is for gaming. I play a lot of FPS and I bought the cherry MX brown key and this thing is great. I would like to mention that I have no experience with any of the other types of switches so I cannot compare them. However, this is worlds ahead of the "gaming" rubber keyboard I use to have.
After reading a bit, a few people have complained about the smudges and whatnot that can be left on the glossy parts of the keyboard. I, for one, have not had an issue with this. I wipe it down once or so a week and that is more than enough to keep it clean and spotless.
In the end if you are gaming, typing, or just casually using, you should buy this product. The cost was a shock to me at first, but in hindsight I am glad I spent the money for it.
on July 5, 2012
There are four Das Keyboards:
1) Das Keyboard Model S Ultimate: With no inscriptions on the keys. Nothing at all. Uses Cherry Blue mechanisms.
2) Das Keyboard Model S Professional: Sporting newly redesigned electronics provides full n-key rollover. Uses Cherry Blue mechanisms.
3) Das Keyboard Model S Professional For Mac: Sporting golden-plated mechanical switches and a high speed USB Hub to connect your iPhone and iPad [NEW]. Uses Cherry Blue mechanisms.
4) Das Keyboard Model S Professional Silent (this one - plus, this one has blank keys): This silent model (read not silent but less clicky) is ideal for people working in an open environment or for workers who need to type while talking on the phone. Uses Cherry Brown mechanisms. IMHO, this is the one to get.
The 1961 IBM Selectric typewriter was the result of the first serious thought about keyboard ergonomics. The effort showed in every detail of operation. The adjustable but uniform key touch, spherical keycaps, the ability to handle and buffer multiple key presses, and its hallmark tactile feedback contributed to vastly improved typing speeds at any skill level. Every competent typist I knew for the next two decades refused to work with any other typewriter. Alas, in the frenzy to re-invent everything, we've thrown out most everything we learned. And, cheap flat undersized plastic paddles sitting atop flimsy mushy contacts that throw every possible wrench into eye-hand coordination have become the norm as professional typing skills (and High School typing classes) have sadly gone the way of the dodo.
German Cherry Browns (tactile and less clicky) are the most preferred all purpose keys mechanisms (see first comment for reference) and there are basically 4 keyboards that use the Cherry Browns: This one the S Professional Silent Keyboard - Wired, the compact Cherry G80-1865, the Filco Majestouch-2, NKR, Tactile Action, USA, Yellow Keys Keyboard FKBN104M/EY2 or Filco Majestouch-2, Tactile Action, Metallic Pink USA Keyboard FKBN87M/PWE2, and the Razer BlackWidow Silent (UPDATE: now only $80 at razerzone.com). I went with this keyboard for the best reputation as well as the lowest price ($133 w/ shipping). Smooth feather-touch but long throw softly clicking keys with cylindrical keycaps (as fingers are NOT flat) with a build quality that ends any chance for ghosting (missed key presses) and bouncing (extra key presses) should be a standard with every PC (as well as a more solid and precise mouse). This keyboard also includes a USB hub so short mouse cords are no longer a problem (my primary motivation for wireless). I don't need headset connections or lighted keys (I never need help finding the keys in the dark). I also prefer a separate wrist pad (3m Gel Wrist). While moving to a mechanical keyboard is impressive, going back turns out to be an even bigger change (you can never go back).
While it may LOOK good to tilt up a keyboard like an old typewriter keyboard ... doing so actually puts more pressure on your wrists. Plus, you should keep your wrists straight, angling them in towards each other, place your monitor directly in front at eye level or lower, and use two hands for entering key combinations. But, most importantly, your keyboard should be low enough so that your arms point slightly downward when you type - with your fingers slightly lower than your wrists (which should usually hover above the wrist pad). And, don't forget a chair with some lumbar support as well as brief stretching breaks every 20 minutes. Also note that wear to lettering can be accelerated (still taking a long time) if hand moisturizers have not been fully absorbed. But, the Filco padded key caps are known to have more problems than the lazer etched keys used by DAS, Cherry, and Razer. Otherwise, Filco - and Das - build quality is legendary (but Filco's are slightly overpriced IMHO as distribution is more controlled). The Razer advantages are their inexpensive pulsing backlighting on the Ultimates and extra keys with macro software (their mice are also legendary but I own all Logitechs). The new Razer Silent should be very popular with gaming enthusiasts, but they're only available from Razer directly (and so with a higer price - UPDATE: now only $80 at razerzone.com). Moreover, the function keys on the Razers are shifted right from a normal layout and the larger keys (esp the space bar) can reportedly stick.
High-end keyboards still lack the variable key touch of the 1961 IBM Selectric so one must choose the switch characteristics to their liking / primary use (a better way). To that end I'll summarize the basic types of Cherry key switches:
A linear switch - best for gaming (eg: hard to press Cherry MX Black to allow resting your hand on the key without accidentally pressing or easier Cherry Red) is like a doorbell - smooth travel with no bump
A tactile switch - best for typing and very good for gaming (eg: Cherry MX Brown with the smoothest and lightest touch for the fast control typist or gamer although accidental pressing is therefore possible or the harder to press so gamers often dislike limited production Cherry Clear or discontinued White) is like a light switch - halfway through you feel a bump and then the light comes on
A clicky AND tactile switch - best for a lone hard-hitting typist as they are very noisy and often disliked by gamers (eg: Cherry Blue or Buckling Spring) is like a Bic pen - clicks loudly AND you feel a bump
After one has chosen the preferred key characteristics, here are good keyboard options:
BLUE: 104Key Ps2/Usb Adapt Keyb Blk,Razer BlackWidow Mechanical Gaming Keyboard,S Professional Keyboard - Wired, or USA Filco Ninja Majestouch-2, NKR, Click Action, Keyboard FKBN104MC/EFB2
BUCKLING SPRING: The classic IBM Model M 101-key Keyboard
BROWN: DAS Keyboard Model S Ultimate Silent, Razer BlackWidow Stealth, compact Cherry G80-1865, or White Filco Majestouch-2, NKR, Tactile Action, USA Keyboard FKBN104M/EW2 / Filco Majestouch-2, Tactile Action, Metallic Pink USA Keyboard FKBN87M/PWE2
WHITE: Elitekeyboards.com rare Leopold White or Deckkeyboards.com Legend Tactile
RED: Rosewill 9000RE or the rare Filco Majestouch-2 with Cherry Red FKBN104MR/EB2
BLACK: Filco Majestouch-2, NKR, Linear Action, USA Keyboard FKBN104ML/EB2 or SteelSeries 7G Gaming Keyboard
While iOne / XArmor / Ducky do use Cherry key switches, everything else is so cheap they're not comparable. Finally, I would unfortunately ignore all online reviews (including mine) as 99.9% are by people with experience limited to what they own (with the impossibility of finding all these keyboards together to try). No matter what / how you choose, however, I expect you'll be significantly better off.
Please, let me know if you found this useful.