I received the mechanical keyboard from my wishlist for Christmas. It is the Rosewill RK-9000BRI. I hadn’t been able to play with the keyboard in person, so it was pretty exciting to open it up to try.
The first few keyboards that I used were all mechanical keyboards. The Apple II computers at school, and my first Tandy had mechanical keyboards. I remember the Apple II keyboard as having a particularly satisfying feel. My first modern computer was a 386 and it had a mechanical keyboard too. All of these machines were relatively expensive compared to a modern computer, and a nice keyboard was part of that cost.
My next couple of computers came from IBuyPower (a discount computer assembler) and then I started assembling my own. All my keyboards since the 386 have been membrane style. There is nothing really wrong with a membrane keyboard; they work pretty well and are very in-expensive. The main disadvantage of a membrane keyboard is that you have to fully depress (bottom out) each key press. This requires you to use extra force to type and increases strain.
Mechanical keyboards have seen a resurgence in popularity and there are quite a few options. The biggest decision to make is which type of switch to get (there is a switch under each key of a mechanical keyboard). The switch type determines how much force is required to activate the key, how much noise a key press makes and whether there is a tactile bump when the key is activated. There is a really good post summarizing the switch types at http://www.overclock.net/t/491752/mechanical-keyboard-guide
I picked the Cherry MX Brown switch. I wanted there to be a distinct tactile bump prior to activation, and I didn’t want an audible click to sound. That left the brown and the clear. The brown is easier to find and requires a little bit less force than the clear. The other big decisions to make are what layout you want and if you want any back-lighting.
I am really enjoying my keyboard (this blog post is really just an excuse to use it more). I am still getting used to the idea that I don’t have to fully depress the keys. I have used membrane keyboards so long that it is hard to adjust. I would say that I am already faster with the new keyboard, but I am still making a few more errors than I used to.