Part of gearing up for a move from shared office to home office, I have been sorting a few essentials pieces of kit. One that has been on the list for months is a good quality mechanical keyboard, after putting up with a cheap Logitech wireless that I picked up in a hurry three years ago when I first arrived in Hong Kong.
I have had a Das Keyboard Model S Ultimate inflicted on me by a colleague at work for long enough to get used to it, but it's not for me long term, when it comes to using strong passwords with limited attempts! (For those that don't know, the Model S Ultimate keyboards has no labels on the keys, it's meant as a tool for improving your touch typing). I did like the Cherry MX Blue mechanical switches though, which make a reassuring audible 'click' when they register a keypress. Good for sounding productive in the office, bad for annoying people on conference calls, but not an issue in a home office!
So, to cut a long story short, after a few hours trekking around the computer markets in Sham Shui Po and Mong Kok, I ended up walking away with a Shine 3 keyboard from a Taiwanese company called Ducky Channel. It is plain, black, with a choice of backlight colours, and a dizzying array of completely pointless lighting effects, including 'on' which was enough for me. As the flagship model I ended up paying HKD 1,100 for a white backlit model with English keycaps.
The keyboard is very solid, with a detachable USB cord using a standard micro-USB connector, so thumbs up for that. Plumbed in and installed without a hitch, I set about tinkering the settings to my liking. Of the various lighting modes I selected the 'Reactive' mode, dialled the default brightness down to minimum, and 'pressed' brightness to maximum, so the keys briefly flare and fade away when struck. Pointless gimmick, but given the capabilities of the keyboard, I feel like I should use them! Being a Taiwanese company, the keyboards by default come with a themed space bar to coincide with the current lunar year, so mine had a snake. There is a plain space bar with a small Ducky logo on it in the box which you can swap it with, if like me you're not keen on the embellishments.
Ergonomics wise, the Cherry MX blues are great as ever, perhaps sounding a little quieter here than on the Das Keyboard. The only little gripe I have is that the keyboard is quite high off the desk like the old IBM model Ms, I'm going to need to get a wrist rest to use it comfortably for an extended period. Keys are nicely spaced, drawing comparisons to the Das Keyboard, it's a bit more compact, and there is minimal bezel outside the keys so it doesn't dominate your desk space.
In summary, if you're looking for an inoffensive, high quality backlit keyboard for serious typing, definitely give Ducky a go!