My new keyboard: Microsoft 600
Recently I felt that I needed a new keyboard. My Magicforce 68 become louder and louder for some reason, and I didn't want to go some unknown "Outemu red" switch, especially since I type more and play game less. Unfortunately there is no places near here to try out things, so opted for a rather unusual solution: going back to a membrane keyboard.
So I got my old membrane keyboards and started typing on them. One didn't have all the keys I needed (I need caps lock as ctrl), the other was really flat, and felt sticky. But my Logitech was in nice condition, however it is almost a laptop keyboard with short key travel and a weird layout too. While I got used to the typing, the layout was hard to get used to.
I started looking for candidates even before that, and I had two keyboards. One was the Razer Cynosa Lite, which is a membrane keyboard with backlight, and really cheap compared to others from that manufacturer. The other I was lucky to discover, the Microsoft 600 keyboard, through youtube.
After careful consideration, I decided that if I want to go back to membrane keyboard, I choose something cheaper, so I don't need to break the bank. Note, that the Microsoft keyboard is just half the price than the Razer and I had the money for the Razer one too. Both are full sized keyboards, with regular layout, nothing fancy. The Microsoft ones has some extra keyboards, but I will talk about them later.
Microsoft stuff for a Linux user, ewww…
One part of computer related stuff where Microsoft always excelled are peripherals. I had the chance to try out a mouse from them, years ago, and it was a really nice experience to use. I only heard good stuff from people when it comes to Microsoft keyboard and mouse.
Keys and layout
I also looked at almost all of the review videos about this keyboard, which was hard since mechanical keyboards are all the rage these days. I just wanted to see how it looks. I didn't find any bigger picture about it, and I was afraid that it will be a very low profile keyboard, with short travel distance for keys. To my surprise that is not the case. It has normal key travel, and even after just getting out of the box, to try them, I knew that I will like it.
I especially like the bottom row, which has standard size buttons, but also it is curved, coming down towards to the bottom of the keyboard, which helps me use my palm on the right control key, that I use for addtionial mod key in dwm. I love this structure. This design also goes to the arrow keys and the lowest part of the numeric cluster. The other keys are like sinked keys, but looks and pressed like normal ones. It makes the whole keyboard futuristic, with the curved corners, but with white legends on black keys, still looks classy (although we could argue that old keyboards were the other way).
The function row (F1-F12) have smaller keys, and somewhat harder to press. This includes the Escape key, the Print Screen, Scroll Lock and Pause. And the surprise appearence of the dedicated calculator button, which is above the num lock key. I have to say I don't understand why they added it, but I will probably use it for my scratchpad terminal thingy (at the time of publishing of this post, I was still lazy to do that).
There are some multimedia keys, which we can play/pause, volume up/down, and mute, which are all useful, and works well. We have an Fn key, that we can use for some added Windows functionality, which I don't know if I can reuse in Linux, have to try to figure out with xev.
Other than that, I like the fonts on the keys, although while they wanted to put the alphabetical keys to the middle of the key, they somehow landed towards the top right of the key. It doesn't bother me at all. Since this is an English language keyboard, I don't have to bother myself with my native language's accent keys.
Typing, first impression
I have to say it has a nice feel to it. It is indeed silent, and the keys are big and comfortable to press, and don't have to hit them precisely in the middle, which was the case on my Logitech keyboard. The spacebar is a little bit louder, but I like it, and also good to press, no matter if I hit it with my left or right thumb. I especially like the wider media keys, and spaces between them. The Escape key joined the small club too, but it's in the usual place, no problem to find it in the dark, if I have to.
Gaming, first impression
I didn't really test this. I played a few minutes of Thief Gold recently, and some Painkiller: Black Edition, so not much reflex testing really. I am pretty sure this keyboard is alright for playing any kind of game for normal use. Professionals will probably laugh at you though, and it's alright.
Do I recommend the Microsoft 600?
After a few days of usage, I feel this keyboard will be with me for a long time, and I hope Microsoft will not stop creating them, because this is a really nice keyboard for typing. I didn't feel pain after long writing session, the keys are really comfortable to use. The keyboard looks like a normal one, but it still has some ergonomic features. The price is also nice, although I wish I could test the white version, which is of course more expensive, and I couldn't find anywhere in my country. Since this is Microsoft there are many language options, I could easily got my native language, or German too. There is also a keyboard+mouse pack, but I have a special vertical mouse, so I don't need an extra one.
So yes, I totally recommend the Microsoft 600 keyboard for typing and general use for any age really. It has a spill resistant feature, so it's probably not a problem if kids have accidents around it, and iot has big enough letters and numbers, so elderly people clearly see them too. For the price it gives you a very nice experience overall, and since it is Microsoft you will have no problem finding them, probably even in your native language.
Note: picture will come, currently I am having trouble with connecting my mobile phone to the PC.