tech: Crazy Keyboards Keychron Q2 Max, GMK Retro and Alpaca V2

OK, since my Anne Pro keyboards are all in some sort of Bluetooth hell, I realized that I only have one wireless keyboard, a Keychron K6 with U4T and YMDK Shinethrough Pudding Keys. This has been a great keyboard and I really like the thocky sound somewhere between a click and a silent linear.

So what to choose next, well there are a lot of choices, but I ended up going through my favorite reviews:

  1. Keyboards and the Keychron Q2 Max. There are alot of reviews, but since I bought my K6 a few years ago (I’ve bought a few and destroyed one with a bad mod). But since then Keychron has really moved up market with their new Q series. The Qs are wired keyboards that are nice. The Q Pros and then the Q Max is the highest end with heavy gaskets and things. The line up is incredibly confusing, but I really like the compactness of the 65% Anne Pro and the equivalent in that line is the Q2 Max. This has a knob on the upper right and it has real arrow keys which the Anne Pros don’t. I just got the Q2 Max and I have to say they’ve really upped their game alot from the K series. The knob is cool and it so weighty and solid. Really a great keyboard. Expensive at $209, but worth it. I ended up getting the barebones keyboard for $189 because what the heck. These have all the trimmings: There is a proprietary 2.4GHz transmitter that allows up to 1000 polls per second for gaming use, it is fully programmable with VIA unlike the K7. Also, it has south facing LEDs for a nice shine through.
  2. Theremingoat‘s Alpaca V2 from Prime Keyboards for $20/36-pack plus shipping. This is one of my favorite reviewers, he has over 3,000 switches and is so meticulous. It is because of him that I got the really nice U4Ts, but this time, I thought that I would go to the very top of his list which are so called linear switches. These lack the tactile bump, but I have to say now that I have I have them, I can see why he rates them so high. They are linear yes, but they have a terrific solid sound and they feel just so firm and yet responsive. These are definitely one of the nicest switches I’ve every used. They are pretty hard to find, but the site was great and they arrived quickly. He rates them nearly perfect in push feel and in sound and I completely agree!
  3. GMK Muted Retro Blue + Pink from Mechanical Keyboards which work with the Q2 Max layout for a whopping $195! I looked at a bunch of different keys and almost just got the YMDKs again, but I couldn’t help it, people kept on raving about the ABS custom keys from GMK. They bought the Cherry Keyboard molds and they are incredibly expensive at $150-200 per set. Well, I found these Retro keys and I thought they would go perfectly with the White Q2 Max and I wasn’t wrong. There are literally a zillion keys that come with it, but the ones that look are nice are the retro pink which I’m using for the arrows keys and the Enter and Escapes keys. They also comes with a cool Blue which I may endf up changing too. I’m pretty sold now on GMKs, you have to shop and shop but you can find them on presale and they are really worth it (for the true keyboard geek). Note they have a huge number of different keys. I originally used the wrong Home key, but there are two. This set doesn’t have the Apple keys, so I just used Code to mean Command and Alt to mean the Option key,’ The selection is pretty limited for these, so keep on the look out for good ones. This set is retro and does remind me of past keyboards, but so much better looking and solid. There are lots of ways to accent them, the default is blue ESC and blue ENTER, but I kind of like the pink arrows!

Assembly was easy but no shinethrough

This is such high-quality stuff that putting it together was easy, just make sure the pins are square and the Alpacas go right in. And the keys are a dream to assemble. The only real issue is that the GMKs are not shine-through so might as well turn off the LEDs that are lighting underneath. I love the GMKs so much it doesn’t bother me that much.

More envy for later: Gateron Melodics and Hall Effect Keyboards

The only thing that anyone could want now is a real clickly keyboard to go with my linear and thocky. That would probably be the highly-rated Melodics by Theremingoat. Sure, I have now just about every great key switch from Cherry Blue, Brown and Gateron Brown and Blue plus Kaith Box White, but the Melodics are the highest rated tactiles, so there is that. Not to mention the new Hall Effect keyboards like the Keychron Q1 HE that are out there. These allow completely programmable switch points so they are great for spamming keys and even for using keys like analog buttons as they can measure the exact position of each switch (vs just on or off).

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