Mechanical Keyboards - A Step in the Right Direction

Mechanical Keyboards - A Step in the Right Direction

A tweet by svbl on Twitter got me to look at mechanical keyboards. It was the one below.

Mechanical keyboards seemed quite promising and also much more intuitive than the ones I were currently using.

After a little bit of research and a couple of tips from svbl I decided to purchase a Ducky One 2 Mini RGB with MX Brown switches (if you don't yet know what they are don't despair; I didn't either).

Why Try Mechanical Keyboards?

There are a couple of reasons that mechanical keyboards are truly worth taking a look at:

  1. Better tactile and audio feedback when pushing down on keys (the audio feedback is simply great).
  2. Caps are easily replacable, washable and re-arrangable.
  3. More durable, i.e. the caps last longer.
  4. Support key rollover (basically pressing multiple keys at the same time).
  5. Speed. It's possible to type more quickly.
  6. Better customization options such as the choice of the switches which influence the tactile and audible feedback.

Compact Keyboards

I didn't realize that there are so many different keyboard variants. There are three main type of keyboards: 100%, 80%, 60%.

100% Keyboards

Those are the ones we typically use. They take up a decent amount of space and contain all the function and arrow keys. Additionally they contain the numberpad.

An Apple 100% keyboard. Photo by Photojan

Because they contain all the keys, they are called 100% keyboards.

80% Keyboards

Also called tenkeyless (TKL). It's a standard keyboard without the numberpad but with the function as well as the arrow keys. Also called an 80% keyboard.

60% Keyboards

The most compact keyboard. It's an 80% keyboard but without all the function and arrow keys, as you can see below.

A 60% keyboard, the Ducky One 2 Mini.

The Advantages

  • Better keyboard and mouse placement, as the mouse can be directly placed next to the keyboard.
  • Can be easily transported.
  • Can gain speed advantages as you have all keys directly within the reach of your two fingers.

Setup for macOS

Seeing that I'm quite used to the macOS shortcuts, I wanted to get my Ducky One 2 Mini keyboard working in the same manner as the Apple keyboard.

The only thing I needed to do was to switch the Option and Command key in functionality, as seen below, and you get the standard macOS style keyboard.

Customizing the placement of the command and option keys.

My Impressions

Having set up my keyboard and worked with it for a while I'm quite happy so far. The tactile and audible feedback is great. It simply feels great to type on the keyboard. And I think I will definitely stick with mechanical keyboards in the long term.

Due to the 60% layout, though, there are some shortcuts that I'm having difficulties getting to work. Specifically selecting a whole line used to be way easier on my old keyboard. But I imagine I will find a way to make it work as well.

I also love that you can control the mouse using your keyboard with the Ducky One, it's simply awesome.

Further customization for the Ducky One 2 Mini

  • Changing the color profiles: Use Fn + Alt + T to cycle through the different color modes. More on this can be found in this tutorial.
  • Macros: the keyboard also allows macros. More on this can be found here.
  • Karabiner (macOS) - Can be used to customize the key bindings of the mechanical keyboard.