Cherry MX keys. Like buckling spring keys, they rely on springs and bending metal rather than cheap rubber domes.
There are a number of different color-coded varieties of Cherry MX switch, each with slightly different mechanical characteristics. I decided I wanted something which had the “clicky” feel of a buckling spring, but which would require as little force as possible to push the keys and be as quiet as possible. That meant Cherry MX brown switches.
I also decided I wanted a tenkeyless keyboard. I never use the numeric keypad, so it’s just a waste of desk space. I did, however, want a proper Esc key in the right place for vi, and the Home/End/PgUp/PgDown cluster. I began searching online for tenkeyless keyboards.
I almost bought a Cooler Master CM Storm QuickFire Stealth keyboard. While I am a touch typist, I’m still a little wary of keyboards which have no markings on whatsoever. Having hidden markings on the front of the keys seemed like a good solution — no markings to wear off on the top, and I’d still be able to look at the labels if I really needed to.
But then I found something better: the new Max Blackbird keyboard. What makes this different from the other fancy mechanical keyboards on the market is that it has the holy grail of keycap manufacture: double-shot injection molding. Each key is really like two keycaps, one on top of the other. The inner keycap has the symbol on top, raised up from the surface; the outer keycap is then molded around that.
This means you can use translucent plastic for the inner part of the key, allowing for a backlit keyboard — and yet still have keys that should never wear off. Effectively the symbol is a shaped “window” in the key, with translucent plastic “glass” filling it in.
If I had to pick the keyboard which it most feels like, I’d say that from a tactile point of view it’s like the Apple Extended Keyboard II, another legendary keyboard. The sound is slightly softer and deeper than I remember the Extended II being.
If you’re into gaming, you can disable the “Windows” key (which has a Max logo on it). There are various LED modes, including a programmable mode where you can decide exactly which keys you want illuminated, and a pulsing mode for showing off.
It has no Windows logo anywhere on it, and it works perfectly with Linux. The multimedia keys and application menu key just work. Build quality is good; it’s heavy, and feels solid. Weight plus rubber feet means it doesn’t slide around at all on my desk. The USB cable is the thick braided type, the connector is gold plated.
In short, someone has really paid attention to every detail. Assuming it keeps working — and I’ve no reason to think that it won’t — this is pretty much my perfect keyboard. © mathew 2017
© mathew 2017