A keyboard is a gateway to unfathomable amounts of wisdom and shenanigans. You can use it to create, conspire, perspire, game, troll, start a revolution, share information, stroke your ego with a tech website, transcribe, and order sweet, sweet Jimmy Johns and Chinese food in the wee hours of the night.
It’s essentially an extension of ourselves, but many do not give any thought to the prospects of having a better user experience. After all, their 15 year old tried and true Dell is just fine with them. Why change? The answer to that may be a mechanical keyboard mouthful known as the Das Keyboard Professional S Quiet. Their claim is that they provide a whisper quiet typing experience coupled with tactile feedback that is both pleasing and addictive, with the end result being less typos. It shall be reviewed.
What is a Mechanical Keyboard?
The main difference between your traditional keyboard and that of a mechanical one are the nature in which the keys are struck. For example, your traditional keyboards have layers of plastic membranes underneath the keys. When pressing the keys ALL the way down, the membrane connects to another membrane, which creates a circuit, and voila, you have your key press registered. Mechanical keyboards, on the other hand, use individual physical switches under each key, that when pressed, register the keystroke. Why does that matter, you ask? In short, it should create a much more sensitive keystroke environment, which allows you to type much faster and simultaneously reduce errors.
Build Quality/Initial Impressions
Upon opening the box, I’m greeted with a sleek looking black finish, not to mention the substantial weight of the keyboard. It has such a sturdy feel in fact, that dropping it wouldn’t make me cringe, tear up, or use epic swear words in the slightest, because it’s not going to fall into pieces. The keys are all laser etched to resist fading and feel very sensitive but substantial to the touch. On the top right-hand side there are two USB 2.0 hubs for charging and a 6.6 foot (2-meter) with two USB ends (one for the USB hub & one for the keyboard itself). Overall, build quality certainly isn’t cheap and that’s obvious right from the start.
Here are some of the key features that Das Keyboard promotes in their product. The following is a list and quick synopsis of each one:
Quiet Key Design
The Professional S Quiet is supposed to provide “whisper quiet” typing while in use. If you’ve never used a mechanical keyboard before, this is a bit of a misnomer because in comparison to other regular keyboards, there isn’t a huge variation in sound. I went ahead and tested the key sound on this keyboard, as well as a few membrane types, but couldn’t discern much of a difference. In short, the sound isn’t entirely inaudible.
German Engineered, gold plated mechanical key switches
Gold-plated mechanical key switches is an issue of longevity. The claim is that the mechanical key switches are designed to withstand 50 million strokes, as opposed to the 10-20 million of common dome-switch keyboards. Obviously, I can’t really speak as to if it would in fact last that long, but as mentioned earlier, the build feels quite substantial and well-made, so I could see this statement coming to fruition. I should also note from previous experience with membrane-based keyboards, they can degrade over time and cease to register inputs properly.
Two high-speed USB 2.0 ports, designed for syncing and charging iPhones and other USB devices
Pretty self-explainable. The two USB ports are nice to reduce cord clutter. I used them mainly for charging my mobile device, which is generally slower from USB 2.0, but it’s certainly functional and nice to see some added thought going into the workspace and what a user could potentially benefit from.
Extra-long USB cable (2m, 6.6 ft) that goes through desk grommets to keep workspaces neat and organized
The cord seems long enough for most desktop setups.
N-key rollover (anti-ghosting technology)
To me, this is one of the most useful features of a mechanical keyboard. If you’re not familiar with it, n-key rollover is when the keyboard hardware detects each key press independently. This comes into play especially when you’re a high-speed typer, such as a transcriptionist or gaming at a high level. To give you a quick example, I’m going to hold down several keys one right after another, and show you the results. This is what happens when I hold down the “a” key, then type “s”, “d” etc.
See what happened there? While holding down the “a” key, as one would expect, there are repeated letter entries. As I transition to the other keys while still holding down that “a”, the keyboard disregards that first press and allows you to move on with whatever you are typing. To me, it’s a game changer due to alleviating all of those times where you accidentally press a key for too long and have to backspace in order to fix it. May seem trivial to some, but if you do hours upon hours of typing/gaming, it’s definitely is a boon to the keyboard user.
*I’ll note with this that it has a full key rollover with a PS/2 connection and up to 6 keys over USB. For full functionality of the keyboard, you have to plug it into two USB outlets.*
Media Function/Special function keys, including energy-saving instant sleep key, and media controls.
All of the special function keys are very responsive and I think it was wise to integrate them into the F keys across the top, rather than independent keys. Saves a lot of extra space on the keyboard.
Sleek, glossy back surface with blue LEDs
The reflective surface of the keyboard, as mentioned above, has a great piano black look, but it does come at a price in terms of dust collecting. You’ll constantly be wiping it off and/or using compressed air to clean it, if you are a neat freak.
Laser-etched inscriptions on keys to resist fading
I’ve had many a keyboard letter fade over the years due to my devilish striking of the keys, but I do believe very much that these won’t fade over time.
KVM Switch compatible
In short, this means that a user can control more than one computer using the Das Keyboard.
Due to the low actuating force (45g as opposed to 55-60g for most keyboards), you’ll notice right away how sensitive and responsive the keys are. This is due to the individual physical switches you see to the right. A meager, partial press of any key will register a keystroke. Truthfully, if you’re not accustomed to that, it will take some time to retrain yourself. I started off making quite a few errors due to my apparently klutzy finger movements (e.g. barely bumping the spacebar while web browsing & believing my PC had rebelled and become sentient), but found with a little practice that the errors ceased and my speed and accuracy began to increase. Unlike other modern keyboards, the Das Keyboard makes you feel as though any error is explicitly your fault. That’s how accurate these keys are.
Despite the sensitivity of the keys, perhaps ironically, there is also this overwhelming sense of significance to every keystroke. What I mean by that is that the build quality is so premium and precise, that one feels purpose while using it. Confused? I would liken it to how one feels when using weighted poker chips or chess pieces, as opposed to cheap knockoff brands. I find it posh and I’m not ashamed to say it…
There’s a few things that could certainly be improved, most notably the lack of an ergonomic feel. To be fair, I am quite fond and accustomed to my ergonomic Microsoft Keyboard, so that may be some of it. However, I have large hands and despite the nice feeling of the concaved keys, I definitely noticed the sharp corners on the outside of each key, along with what felt like squished spacing. There was also a lack of a palm rest, which I know would increase the size of the keyboard drastically, but it’s something I personally would find invaluable.
I asked Das Keyboard if they planned on making an ergonomic version anytime soon, but there are none on the immediate horizon. That saddens me, because this keyboard would be insanely good if it came in an ergonomic format! Regardless, one does get accustomed to the Das Keyboard, so it may be YMMV for another user like yourself.
If you happen to follow anything else I do or stalk me in your spare time (I’m flattered, btw), you will know that I run a transcription company, NW Transcription. I’ve spent many years transcribing, once even resorting to concocting protective finger shells out of super glue, for my raw fingertips, in order to keep working a time-sensitive project (true story). A good keyboard is paramount to comfort and transcription survival.
Anyways, if you find yourself getting to a point where you’re incredibly fast with a traditional keyboard, especially a wireless one, you’ll run into occasions where the technology just can’t keep up with you. That means you end up wasting a lot of time backspacing or moving arrow keys back in order to correct minor mistakes. When working on a 100+ page document, this can be an absolute nightmare. In a profession where less time equals more money, the mechanical keyboard excels. As a transcriptionist, you should definitely consider it for your workload.
I can’t just sit idly by and only use the Das Keyboard for work, though. We need to see how well it performs in the land of video games. Most of my life, admittedly, I have been more fond of gaming on consoles, but lately that is starting to change. Despite my voyage into the unknown, I still struggle with wanting to use a controller over a keyboard, efficiency be damned! However, I will say that gaming with a mechanical keyboard is dangerously fluid and I am beginning to see the appeal. The low actuating force on the Das Keyboard results in extremely fast reaction time and it seems like a worthy contender for those wanting to game with a professional level keyboard.
The Das Keyboard Professional S Quiet is a great foray into the land of mechanical keyboards. Despite the slight learning curve, the end result is a premium keyboard experience with a sturdy product that should last you years to come. The positives by far outweigh the negatives and with just a few minor improvements in future iterations, this could be the mechanical keyboard to beat.
Das Keyboard Professional S Quiet Score: 8/10
|Feels Substantial||No ergonomic version|
|Concave lasered keys||Learning curve due to sensitive keys|
|Very Responsive||Dust magnet|
|Excellent Build Quality|
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