High-end Keyboards

I’m looking to replace my cheapie Logitech Access with something nicer. Gaming and multimedia features aren’t important; primary criterion is typing feel, and the benchmark is the old IBM Model M. Of course, I could get one of these from eBay, but given the gunk my own keyboard accumulates in a week, it would probably contain more hair than a YMCA pool filter. (And it’s the non-hair residue that really worries me.) Anyway, I’ve been looking at the following candidates:

The diNovo Edge looks amazing, and boasts a “PerfectStroke system”, but isn’t it just a laptop-like scissors switch? Lack of a num pad is a negative, as is the ~$200 price tag. I’d only pay that much if the keys were carved out of ivory or narra wood.

I only found out about Das Keyboard II during my present search, and it’s intriguing as it has the features I want: mechanical switches and a plain black finish. However, it’s also pricey at ~$90 and is pushed mainly on the merits of its blank keys, which apparently impart an “ubergeekness” (groan) that I could care less about. Is the quality really exceptional, or would I be paying a massive premium for missing symbols?

Finally, there’s Unicomp, keeper of the IBM flame and patent. This is my safe choice, but it’s not a whole lot cheaper than Das Keyboard. Isn’t there some Chinese company out there that sells knockoff IBM keyboards for a tenth of the price?

I would really appreciate any feedback from readers who’ve tried any of the above, or who may have gone down this road before. Keyboard review roundups are hard to come by, and most stores stock a limited selection–usually Microsoft and/or Logi, then assorted crap.

Microsoft natural 4000! I love it to death.


This might be of interest to you


bZerk make blank keyboards at about the price of a good regular keyboard.


Standard classic keyboard form factor, no labels.

I am typing this post on exactly this keyboard. They built them like tanks back then.

You want the Avant Stellar, which is a clone of the old Northgate Omnikey, but has standard PS/2 keyboard connectors and is programmable. It’s built like a tank, and has that clicky feel. It is, however, not cheap.

Nope. The IBM Model M style keyboards were very expensive in their day. The only reason they are cheap now is because of their age. It is expensive to make a keyboard of that quality. If you don’t want a used one, you’ll be paying quite a bit.

As a final note, the model M, given its heavy steel backplate, is the best keyboard for bludgeoning someone to death with. Go on, you know you want a keyboard of death!

Hah, that’s funny. This is my keyboard. No, just the model, that is the actual keyboard I bought a couple of weeks ago. I’m clicking away on it right now. It’s weird somehow that I can actually show you a picture of the exact keyboard I’m looking at, isn’t it?

It may be used, but it is in perfect shape. They clean the hell out of it. And yeah, you could club a baby seal with this thing.

I thought LeNovo took over the old IBM keyboard product line as well?

Thanks, everyone, for the responses so far. More to come, I hope. Dan’s Data is one of my favorite sites to read, but I hadn’t been there in some time. Similarly, I’ve visited the Clicky Keyboards site in the past, but gave up because of all the “SOLD OUT” disappointments. Good to be reminded, though, as those never-used M13s are looking good. Real good.

Loyd, I’d completely forgotten about Northgate, but seeing that blue stripe brings back memories. My family had one of those around the time we were replacing our PS/2 Model 30. (Oh, how I miss explaining to friends that an 8086 was better than an 8088.) Strange, but I always thought the Omnikey felt inferior to the IBM’s keyboard. Must’ve been its THUNK versus the IBM’s CLACK. I’ll definitely consider the Avant, and make sure never to toss anything out again.

Here I was, thinking that the diNovo was ridiculously overpriced, and now I’m mulling a $189 outlay for a copy of a keyboard I used to own! Still cheaper than a $269 Happy Hacking Pro, though, AND it’s got labeled keys for the non-poseur.

I love the diNovo keyboards (also the Edge) but loathe typing on oldschool IBM keyboards… which should tell you how different they are.
The diNovo feels like a bigger laptop keyboard and doesn’t feel at all like the IBM springaction.

It also annoys the !@#4 out of my officemates, so I use it every chance I can.


Unicomp forever baby.

I wouldn’t buy any other at this point.

Me too! I dislike most “ergonomic” keyboards but the Natural 4000 rocks. Also, it’s wired which means no hassle with batteries or dropped connections.

Oh, Jeez, I owned one of those for a few years. Indestructable. I stopped using it because the DIN connector wouldn’t fit in my new PC back then.

How weird - I have one of these sitting in my basement collecting mold. I should haul it out and see if it still works.

It’s not high end, but I use a Saitek keyboard at home. Really nice feel to it and the backlighting is nice.

Technology Name Rubber-Dome Key = crap