yoshi675

n00b
Joined
Oct 2, 2018
Messages
7
I know mechanical keyboards have existed since the 80's and have remained relatively unchanged, but yet they're still so popular. I'm curious to know why that is?

Due to the fact that optical keyboards use light as an actuation point rather than metal to metal contact like a mechanical keyboard, they have more reliable, consistent latency, and a better and longer lifespan.

They also perform better and still have that nice clicky sensation when keys are pressed (in my experience).

Is it because they're too new, or something else?

What do you guys think and do you have a preference/reasons for liking mechanical over optical keyboards (vise versa)?
 

Mad Maxx

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Apr 12, 2016
Messages
5,760
I tried one of those Wooting optical keyboards. Didn't care for it. I've become a devotee of MX Silver switches and the Wooting couldn't compete with my Ducky One/2.
 

Susquehannock

2[H]4U
Joined
Jul 26, 2005
Messages
4,057
[M]echanical .... Model M for life.

.
74937_voodoo.desk3a.jpg
 

Dan_D

Extremely [H]
Joined
Feb 9, 2002
Messages
59,126
I know mechanical keyboards have existed since the 80's and have remained relatively unchanged, but yet they're still so popular. I'm curious to know why that is?

Due to the fact that optical keyboards use light as an actuation point rather than metal to metal contact like a mechanical keyboard, they have more reliable, consistent latency, and a better and longer lifespan.

They also perform better and still have that nice clicky sensation when keys are pressed (in my experience).

Is it because they're too new, or something else?

What do you guys think and do you have a preference/reasons for liking mechanical over optical keyboards (vise versa)?

I've never tried an optical keyboard so I can't speak to that. Mechanical keyboards are popular because they feel better, more consistent, and last far longer than mushy membrane horseshit.
 

yoshi675

n00b
Joined
Oct 2, 2018
Messages
7
Thanks for the input everyone! Starting to see not many people have tried optical keyboards. Seems like they aren't popular enough.
 

tedych

Limp Gawd
Joined
Jan 18, 2013
Messages
372
I've never tried an optical keyboard so I can't speak to that. Mechanical keyboards are popular because they feel better, more consistent, and last far longer than mushy membrane horseshit.
I can't for the life of me return to mechanicals. I love/like/adore *very* low-profile and fast to type with keys - this can't be satisfied with mechanical keys. I love/like/adore quiet keys/keyboards. For me, mechanicals are the horsesh*t. Very expensive as a "bonus".
My average membrane boards last for 7 years at least. Keyboards are something I don't expect or require to last 20-30-50 years. They are easily replaced (no data or reinstallation issues/time involved) and are relatively cheap peripheral to throw some cash for once every 5-8 years. Mice are another story, much harder to pick one that satisfies all my requirements.
All that said, if optical keyboards can last for 100-500 years, this is absolutely irrelevant for me too. It's all about how I would feel it under my fingertips, the hight of the keys and their travel. Optical mouse switches is much more relevant topic to discuss however because mouse button switches are much more problematic.
 

N4CR

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Oct 17, 2011
Messages
4,825
Being that my life orbits around optics I may have to give them a try and maybe even get bored enough to improve them or design my own.
Open to ideas..
 

margrave

Weaksauce
Joined
Feb 15, 2018
Messages
118
I haven't tried an optical keyboard. I've mostly used membrane keyboards ever since mechanicals mostly went away 20+ years ago.

Mechanical keyboards are noisy. I like quiet keyboards.
Some mechanicals are hypersensitive, responding to the slightest touch. I like a key to respond only when it hits bottom, or nearly bottom.

I also like long-stroke keys. Laptop keyboards (and Apple desktop keyboards) have short-stroke keys. Not good for me.
They're also flat-topped. I like concave tops.

So when I took a new job three years ago and they provided a Logitech Wave K350 keyboard I was delighted. So much so that I bought one for use at home. It comes with a quite nice optical mouse.

The only problem is that the keys start to rub after a few months. I recently solved that problem by lubricating the keys with white lithium grease. That worked wonders.
We have two Waves here. Both have been lubed, and they work splendidly.

As for optical keyboards ... perhaps the lack of a mechanical switch will make them last longer. But my keyboards last for years, and that's long enough.
I don't care whether an optical keyboard might last for twenty years. The computer won't, so why should I care for a keyboard that lasts "forever".
The other factors (touch, stroke, quiet) matter more to me than lifespan.
 

dvsman

2[H]4U
Joined
Dec 2, 2009
Messages
3,606
I've gone through a bunch of different types myself but I've finally settled on MX Browns like some of the other posters here as my favorite. Good feel for touch typing and the audible feedback is handy. While I can understand that the noise may be off putting to some - I like that it breaks the otherwise monotonous silence. I just put on some headphones if I want to listen to music or am playing games.

Right now I've got a Logitech Spark (with Romer G) on one rig and Das Pro on second and Das Q on a third. The Spark and Q I like for the features (RGB / gamery), the Pro I like for the sheer typing.
 

Dan_D

Extremely [H]
Joined
Feb 9, 2002
Messages
59,126
I can't for the life of me return to mechanicals. I love/like/adore *very* low-profile and fast to type with keys - this can't be satisfied with mechanical keys. I love/like/adore quiet keys/keyboards. For me, mechanicals are the horsesh*t. Very expensive as a "bonus".
My average membrane boards last for 7 years at least. Keyboards are something I don't expect or require to last 20-30-50 years. They are easily replaced (no data or reinstallation issues/time involved) and are relatively cheap peripheral to throw some cash for once every 5-8 years. Mice are another story, much harder to pick one that satisfies all my requirements.
All that said, if optical keyboards can last for 100-500 years, this is absolutely irrelevant for me too. It's all about how I would feel it under my fingertips, the hight of the keys and their travel. Optical mouse switches is much more relevant topic to discuss however because mouse button switches are much more problematic.

I can wear a membrane keyboard out in about a year. However, I use my keyboards and type far more than most people. When you have two jobs in the computer industry and one of them is writing reviews, you do a lot of typing. Some of my forum posts hit the limit for this forum. Again, that's a lot of typing. I'm probably on my system 3x longer than many people who do it for a living. 18+ hour days are hardly a rarity for me. I also play games, so using my computer is a hobby as well. Again, that's a lot of abuse on a keyboard.

It doesn't matter who made it, or how much it cost. Membranes don't hold up for me at all. Within six months or so I notice spots on the membrane that are more worn than others. Mechanical keyboards remain consistent. Consistency is one of the traits about mechanical keyboards I like. Beyond that, you can get switches that respond with very little touch. Sure, scissor switch based keyboards (which is what I assume you mean) have a lower profile but I've never like the feel of them despite the quick actuation.
 

tedych

Limp Gawd
Joined
Jan 18, 2013
Messages
372
Sure, X-scissors is what I mean. Others are sh*t :) . And you may be one of ~0.5% of people being so abusive for their keyboards so a longer lasting one might be a top priority.
I also stay on my system longer than ... most. 0.5-1 year of lifespan would be too bad of course. But anything beyond 3-4 years is more than acceptable if I can avoid horrible mechanicals and I'm thankful they invented membrane with "acceptable" prices and features and mostly because of low-profile! I can't imagine writing/having a kbd with mountain-high style keys anymore. :) Ah yes, after I got my flat keys kbd I can no longer imagine my life with conical/curved keycaps.
Sometimes I cannot understand all the hype about mechanical keyboards like they are god-sent. Not talking about you, just in principle.
 

Dan_D

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Joined
Feb 9, 2002
Messages
59,126
I've tried flat keyboards as well. I didn't care for them. I just didn't like the feel of them. I also can't type as fast on one.
 

Dan_D

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Joined
Feb 9, 2002
Messages
59,126
Would love to try optical. Rocking cherry red at work, and blues at home.

Oddly, I wasn't even aware "optical" keyboards existed until I read the original post in this thread. I'll probably try one at some point.
 

larrymoencurly

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Jul 18, 2002
Messages
1,635
In practice I think the key switch type matters only if it's the ancient type that uses aluminum foil disks glued to sponge, which feels very muchy when it bottoms out and wears out fast because the foam breaks down. It's probably more important for the moving plastic parts to be designed well so they don't wobble too much, bind, or feel funny because the springs create undesirable force. Optical keyboards can be affected by those things as much as mechanical or dome keyboards are.
 
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