An odd thing happened when I posted about a ThinkPad I bought to turn into a dedicated writing machine. I expected to stir a small discussion about choosing a ThinkPad and Linux over macOS; however, I was surprised when the commentary turned to mechanical keyboards.
Well, perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised. People who have an opinion about keyboards tend to have strong ones, particularly those who make a living pounding keys.
No one pounds keys more than a writer or developer. I fill both shoes and clock in millions of keystrokes a year. Yet, oddly enough, I’ve never weighed into the mechanical keyboard debate. I’ve generally favoured low-profile, membrane keyboards because I’ve used laptops as my daily driver since the late 1990s.
Before the pandemic, I worked in an office using company-supplied boards, selected for cost and sensitivities — mechanical keyboards are expensive, and their clicks and clacks won’t win you any friends in an open-plan office. When I wrote fiction, I did so in bed (ergonomics be damned).
The pandemic, however, thoroughly upended my working practices and life. I’ve worked from home since 2020, and since then, I’ve invested in a home office setup built for my tastes and needs. While I occasionally write in bed or on a couch, it’s a rarity. I spend 90% of my time at a desk with my laptop tethered to a Thunderbolt docking station and a host of external peripherals, including a keyboard.
For the last 18 months, I’ve used a Logitech MX Keys for Mac. There’s much to like about it, but I don’t love it. It’s certainly packed with features, like (some) programmable keys, backlighting, and wireless connectivity. But if I’m honest, the keys feel a little mushy, and they misfire more than I’d like. I’m not confident this board will last me more than five years, and I can already feel some wear and instability in several keys.
Given my mild dissatisfaction, I am more amenable to change than I would otherwise admit. Maybe I’ve been missing out. I do want a good keyboard, one that feels responsive and one that lasts years, if not decades. As I work from home, alone most days, I don’t need to type quietly, though I find excessively loud switches annoying.
The beauty of going mechanical is there’s enough variety and options to suit everyone. Different switches affect the feel and sound of the typing experience. Keycaps can bring a different feel, profile, and a splash of colour. There are even low-profile models for those who’ve grown up using laptops.
So, with all this going on — and with recommendations galore from readers and work colleagues — I decided to buy my first mechanical keyboard. It’s not yet arrived, so I shan’t reveal what I’ve bought. Suffice to say, it’s a low-profile model recommended by two colleagues, both of whom are technical writers like myself.
I hope I like it – wish me luck!