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Quick Take Xmas Gifts: Keyboards Mikes, Hubs and Mice in 2020

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Well, I seem to have bought just a boatload of different keyboards, microphones and mice in 2020. The first world problem of staying at home for the last seven (?!!) months have led me to become the foremost expert on various junk like this. so here’s a flash review of what seems to work and what doesn’t:

Hubs: Caldigit TS3 Plus

Well, I have to say that in the end, these $220 Caldigit Thunderbolt 3 hubs are the things to get for reliability. The cheaper ones just don’t connect and have all kinds of problems. My latest buy, the off brand Geddie USB hub for instance has all the right features. For about $25, you get USB C power up to 78Wattes (it is sure nice to have discovered Apple Menu > About Mac > System Report > Power to see what the computer thinks it is getting), HDMI 4K60, two USB A ports and a USB C port, but the problem is that it will flake out and disconnect.

I can’t tell if this is because one of my USB C ports in my MacBook Pro 2016 is “loose” that is, it doesn’t make positive connection or it is the hub itself. I suspect the later. I do see that one of the USB C ports is quite loose on the upper right

But the Caldigit does seem quite reliable and with the Thunderbolt 3 connection at 40Gbps it has lots of bandwidth.

Keyboards: Varmilo V87M Mac

Well I’ve now tried an incredible number of mechanical keyboards this year: the Varmilo, the Keychron V2, the Anne Pro, and the WASD Code V2 for quite a while now. In the end, I would have to say that in terms of keyboard feel, the Varmilo is just great. It has PBT keys so it has that nice feel. It is not using Cherry MX switches, but it seems to be pretty nice. I’m not sure how durability will go.

In summary, I’m about to hand off my favorite keyboard from the WASD Code to the Varmilo VA 97M Mac Keyboard for wired keyboards with the only proviso that at least for me this $129 keyboard would be better with Cherry MX Blues. The budget option is the Qisan Gaming with real Cherry MX Blue keys for just $58 is really great.

The Keychron V2 with Gateron Blue is a close second and probably the best wireless keyboard I’ve used. The layout is awesome at 84 keys. It’s a steal at $69 for white backlight (with a 10% discount if you use my referral link) The only confusing this is that it says it is a PBT/ABS key, but it doesn’t have quite the nice rough feel of the Varmilo. So perfection isn’t quite here, but we are getting close, if only they had a Cherry MX Blue option 🙂 The very handy FN+A to get into Apple mode is great!

The worst of the bunch is the Obins Anne Pro v2 not because it is a bad keyboard, but just because as a 60% keyboard, they got rid of the arrow keys. Yes, you can use the menu keys as an override, but it’s a little confusing not to have the arrow keys marked. It had great reviews and I really wanted to like it. It runs out you can configure it a few ways to get around this. For one thing, a tap on the Caps lock will enable the arrow keys which is pretty good, but still confusing. The Qisan just has arrow keys which is a better choice for people typing alot.

Mice: Corsair RGB Core plus Corsair MM1000Q

Yes, I’ve gotten a lot of these over the years. The latest the Corsair RGB Dark Core. The main feature here is that paired with the Corsair MM1000 Qi charger, you just roll it over the Qi charging spot and it works. Of course that means that you still have a cable to connect the mouse pad, so I’m not sure if you re gaining a lot. Still, if you are a gamer, this is a great option.

The biggest problem with it and the Mac is that it doesn’t seem to work all the time in connection. About half the time I have to remove and then reconnect it, but it is really a great idea and that pad is awesome as a combination.

For business folks, the Apple Magic mouse 2 still rules the roost for me. The key thing is that it has a touchpad on top so it accepts swiping and the battery definitely lasts forever. The charging is ridiculous because you have to flip the mouse upside down to charge it, but it take weeks for that to happen.

Mousepad: Artisan Shidenkai Ninja

I realized that I have bought a crazy number of mouse pads from the basic Logitech G440 that is a great basic pad to the Corsair MM1000Q and then the really different Artisan Shidenkai Ninja. Of all of these, if you are not thinking too much the G440 is fine, but as a Christmas present, the Ninja is really pretty cool. The embedded crystals are not really visible so it just looks like a nice grey pad.

Wrist rests: Griffitti Fat Wrist Pad

The same could be said for wrist rests, I’ve tried a few and most of the time, the more luxurious the more in the way they seem. In the end, if you are using a mechanical keyboard, you really need a simple one. I have actually quite liked the Giffiti Fat Wrist Pad which is a simple (overpriced) piece of memory foam as easy an unobtrusive.

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