Das Keyboard Is Nearly Perfect

| In-Depth Review

The Das Keyboard Model S for the Mac is not a thing of beauty. It’s huge and ungainly in the Mac world of ‘smaller is better.’  It makes lots of noise, takes a bit of getting used to and is wider than my 17-inch Macbook Pro. It’s also the best keyboard I’ve ever used on a computer. 

Das Keyboard Model S Professional for the Mac

 

Everything Old is New Again

To an extent, it’s a throwback to the world of the IBM Selectric M typewriter which had a satisfying tactile feel to it and an even more satisfying click sound whenever a key was pressed. It’s the most un-Mac thing attached to my iMac. In a quiet office environment, it would quickly be shown the door since the noise, which I consider a major benefit, won’t play well with others. It uses Cherry MX blue keys and is higher than most other keyboards which puts a strain on your wrist as you get used to it. But after a day of use, it was no problem at all as my hands repositioned themselves to type downward. 

My typing speed increased by about a third after two or three days, since there is no question whether a key was hit or not. You hear it and feel it, and it feels really good. It’s built like a tank and will last for many years. At a price of US$133.00 I guess you get what you pay for. It also weighs three pounds and is as substantial as that weight would presage.

The Return of the 10 Key Pad

There is a  ten key pad, along with page up and down keys as well as home and end keys, these are keys that I sorely missed. The letters are etched and won’t easily scratch off. If you have never typed on a key-switch type keyboard there’s really no fair way of describing the feeling of satisfaction that just doesn’t come any of the current Mac keyboards. It may be a matter of taste thing, and you may hate the difference — but to me, there is just no going back. I love this big lug. 

Some keys are mapped a bit differently than on the usual Mac keyboard. The CD eject key above the ‘del’ key to the left of the 10 key pad, and underneath that are the four arrow keys. The ten key pad comes complete with keys marked: ‘clear’, ‘Enter’ and the four math functions. The ‘Function’ key is oddly placed to the right of the spacebar between the ‘Option’ and ‘Control’ keys. A few of the top row key work differently than on  Apple keyboards. For example, the volume up and down and mute keys are F11, F10, and F9, and to invoke the volume controls you need to depress the ‘Function’ key. The same is true for the stop/pause, previous track and next track keys. Brightness and dimness have their own marked keys on the top row and Expose is F9, not the Apple F3. The differences are easy to get used to and won’t be a problem after a few minutes of use. One nice extra is that the F1 key can act as a sleep key if the ‘Function’ key is depressed. Having the ability to put my iMac to sleep from the keyboard is handy.

 

It Takes Two USB Ports

One thing that might be a problem is that this is not a Bluetooth keyboard. It uses two USB 2.0 ports, one for the keyboard and another for the hub function. On the right of the keyboard are two USB ports, so, in effect, you’re not losing anything. If you don’t want to use the two port hub that’s fine too since there is a two meter USB cable hardwired to the keyboard terminating with two USB male plugs. One has a picture of a keyboard and the word “hub” is on the other. You’re not forced to plug both into your Mac. Not that it’s a major selling point, but in this world of Bluetooth peripherals, I always keep a wired keyboard at home just in case I run into a Bluetooth problem. Doing so has gotten me out more than a few scrapes.

Would I Recommend It?

Definitely. I love this keyboard and I intend to use it for the next forever. But a tactile key-switch keyboard might not be for everyone. I’d try it out first, or buy from somewhere with a good return policy if it’s not for you. 

 

Product: Das Keyboard Model S Professional for the Mac

Company: Das Keyboard

List Price: US$133.00

Pros:

Turns mere typing into a treat for the fingers and ears, speeds typing speeds considerably, amazingly well built, adds keys that are sorely missing from Apple keyboards,provides a two USB 2.0 hub.

Cons:

Big and bulky, takes two USB ports, weighs more than some Macbook Airs, expensive, takes a bit of getting used to, might not be for everyone.

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16 Comments Leave Your Own

Lee Dronick

Satisfying click sound! No thanks! smile

Aftermac

I’ve never used a Das Keyboard, but I recently tired of the mushy Logitech keyboard provided to by my employer, and replaced it with one of my Apple Extended Keyboard II’s (w/ iMate ADB to USB adapter). It’s amazing how much my typing has improved the last couple weeks using a high-quality mechanical keyboard!

mrhooks

How does it compare to the Matias Tactile Pro 3 and Unicomp Spacesaver M?  I like the feel of the Spacesaver M the best, but it’s kinda ugly.  raspberry I went with the MTP3 because it had the best balance of pros and cons for me (I admit, aesthetics is probably a little more important than it should be :D).  The feel isn’t quite as excellent as the Spacesaver M, but it’s very good, way better than the Apple Pro Keyboard that came with my G5 (not to mention the truly horrid aluminum keyboard).

BTW, does the Caps Lock on the Das lock?  I don’t like full-width Caps Lock keys that don’t lock (actually, I don’t like full-width at all, but locking alleviates that a bit).  That’s one of the things about the MTP3 I don’t like (the other being the narrow Option keys).

jmel7771

Glad you found a keyboard you like, its difficult.

OK so tell me where Apple and everyone else is regarding a small, easy to
use, relatively inexpensive ERGONOMIC keyboard.

Apple use to make one themselves, way back. Hinge at top. Not too large. Great for normal forearm / hand posture.

Why all the throwbacks to standard non ergonomic rectangles?
Did humans evolve so quick than in some 2.5 generations Carpel Tunnel Syndrome suddenly disappeared?

I get the whole efficiency of making one keyboard circuit for laptops and desktops but a lot of us still dock our laptops, use a larger monitor and type a lot.

myramoki

I’ve been looking at this keyboard also as a replacement for my MacPro keyboard.  One thing I don’t like is the size.  Could it not be about as big as my 6 year old MacPro keyboard, which has 1 extra function key and the function keys themselves are not separated from the rest of the keys by extra space.  And I don’t understand why it needs two USB slots.  My MacPro keyboard manages to have two additional USB plugs.  Perhaps that is so it can provide a more dedicated line for the keyboard and more power for the USB hub ports?  That’d be nice to know.

And yes, it would have really been good to have seen some comparison with the Matias keyboards, especially the their One Tactile that can serve as a iPhone wireless keyboard too.

exAppl088

I have been using the Matias Tactile Pro 3 for a year now,
and it has all the characteristics of das Keyboard, BUT
none of the weird key placements PLUS it has the four
volume/eject keys above the numeric pad and F13-15
above the 3 cursor key columns. No weird “function” key
and layout is an exact copy of the ADB Mac Extended Keyboard,
the best keyboard Apple ever sold. ( i have 2 in boxes )

No “always on” LED’s lighting up the room, and
the caps lock LED lights up the a lens in the middle
of the cap lock key in white.  It uses the same Cherry
key mechs and it supports 2 USB 2.0 ports with a single
USB cable.

IMHO, the Matias Tactile Pro 3 is clearly the “best” no-compromise
keyboard for Mac computers. Bought from Other World Computing
open box sale for $99 (regular $130)

exAppl088

correction:
the Matias Tactile Pro 3 has the same mechanical Alps key mechs used in the
ADB Apple Extended Keyboard with laser etched labels that include all the
Option and Shift-Option characters, AND it has 3 USB 2.0 ports for mice, trackballs, etc
(I.E. NOT hi power USB devices, like iPod/iPhone)

Ref: www owcomputing com
(No affiliation, except I am just a long time, satisfied OWC customer)

mrmwebmax

+

Back in the ADB days, I had a very tactile keyboard similar to the Das, but ever since getting my iMac a few years back, I’ve come to appreciate the Chiclet-style Apple keyboard. Although I use the wired version, as I cannot do without the arrow keys, 10-digit keypad, etc. Why the heck can’t Apple make a Bluetooth version of the full keyboard and eliminate a wire from my setup???

Keyboard preferences are, of course, hugely personal. I think my preference for the short-throw keys on the Apple keyboard is similar to my preference for the later Atari 2600 joysticks: I liked the ones without springs, unlike the original models that had more travel. The springless models just felt more precise, and that’s how I feel about Apple’s aluminum Chiclet-style keyboard.

I’m a fast typist but by no means a touch-typist: I have to look at the keyboard, and although I use two hands, my hands and fingers are all over the place hunt-and-peck style. Not sure if this explains my preference or not.

iJack

I can’t believe anyone is still making wired keyboard, much less using one.

I love my Logitech diNovo Mac Edition KB. The break-point on the resistance of the keys is at just the right level for good feedback.  It matches my iMac perfectly (black & aluminum).  I like it so much, that when Logitech stopped making it, I scoured the Net and bought a couple more for knock-down prices.

The Das KB above is very attractive, but wired?  Nuh-uh.

Eric

FYI: You can put an iMac to sleep using a mac keyboard shortcut: “command-option-eject”.

KitsuneStudios

I can?t believe anyone is still making wired keyboard, much less using one.

I know I prefer wired keyboards, to the point where I bought the wired Apple keyboard when I got my refurbished iMac.

I never adjust my keyboard outside the range of the wires, and don’t want to deal with batteries or connection issues, especially if I’m playing games. Nothing worse than low battery warnings popping up in the middle of a WoW raid.

Lee Dronick

I still use, and prefer, a wired keyboard. As with KitsuneStudio I don’t want to mess with the batteries, but one less wire is nice. I do use, and like a wireless mouse. Kind of contradictory because I have to mess with batteries for the mouse, but we all have different milage. I keep a wired mouse handy in the desk drawer for those times when I don’t have a charged battery on hand or there is a connectivity problem, that is rare.

iJack

I guess I’m spoiled.  My diNovo has been running 2-1/2 years on the original pair of AAA batteries.  I don’t even have replacement batteries in the house.  My Logitech MX Revolution just gets popped in the cradle every night for a recharge; there are no replaceable batteries.

mrhooks

I never adjust my keyboard outside the range of the wires, and don?t want to deal with batteries or connection issues,

Exactly.  And don’t forget the environmental impact of more batteries.  I will always take wired over battery powered, with keyboards and especially with mice, where weight is also a factor.

That said, Matias is working on a wireless version of the MTP3, for those who are interested.

The springless models just felt more precise, and that?s how I feel about Apple?s aluminum Chiclet-style keyboard.

They aren’t.  I had to use an aluminum keyboard for about a year.  I’m a pretty fast touch typist - 90WPM - and I was getting all kinds of errors on that keyboard I don’t get on my MTP3.

The other thing about chicklet keyboards is that, because of the short travel, you press the keys all the way down until they stop.  This actually increases the possibility of injury.  With mechanical keyboards, you can feel the point where the keystroke registers, and then the keys travel a little more beyond that.

mrmwebmax

+

I had to use an aluminum keyboard for about a year.? I?m a pretty fast touch typist - 90WPM - and I was getting all kinds of errors on that keyboard I don?t get on my MTP3.

The other thing about chicklet keyboards is that, because of the short travel, you press the keys all the way down until they stop.? This actually increases the possibility of injury.? With mechanical keyboards, you can feel the point where the keystroke registers, and then the keys travel a little more beyond that.

At 90WPM, I’m assuming that you know how to type correctly: Hands in the same position, keys always pressed by the same fingers. I wonder if the preference for a certain kind of keyboard comes down to typing technique.

Mine’s sloppy and random as hell. (I developed too many bad habits programming a TI99/4A before taking a typing class in high school.) I think that’s why I’m more inaccurate on more mechanical keyboards with long key travel.

Those keyboards,like the Das, have the keys all stuck together. Chicklet keyboards have “island” keys with blank space between the keys. That’s extremely helpful to me, because I come at keys from all angles.

I have a 933MHz G4 tower at my day job, as well as the MBPro I’m on right now. The G4’s keyboard is long-throw, mechanical, stuck-together keys. I’m terrible on it, because I inevitably hit keys by mistake when aiming for the keys I want to press. I also prefer the on/off feel of the short-throw Chicklet keys, because that’s the only way that I know I’ve made a full key press. Long-throw mechanical keys just feel too imprecise for my style (or complete lack thereof) of typing.

To each his/her own. It would be interesting to see if keyboard/key preference runs along proper touch typist vs. hunt-and-peck lines.

iJack

It would be interesting to see if keyboard/key preference runs along proper touch typist vs. hunt-and-peck lines.

I think you’re on to something.  I wonder if anyone keeps stats like that.  The learned vs the peckers.  wink

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