Over a year into this pandemic, people have learned to distract themselves and deal with the overwhelming anxiety of lockdown by picking up new hobbies. Some people have learned to bake all sorts of bread, while others have built up an arsenal of coffee paraphernalia so they can serve coffee to their friends who will never visit because everyone’s quarantined. Heck, I’ve been seeing an impressive amount of people who have perfected at least five complex yoga routines and I respect that so much.
Knowing the insane amount of work and brainpower I put in things whenever I obsess over something, like that time I made running into a personality, you’d think I’d pick up weights and be a buff boi now, don’t you? Nope! I’m too busy getting overwhelmed by anxiety and spending my free time napping or not paying attention to whatever I’ve got streaming on Netflix.
But joking aside, I’ve been spending my time streaming on Twitch so I can display my terrible skills to the world, and virtually hang out with my friends while I’m at it. I built a PC, but that’s a story for another day, because I want to talk about keyboards.
Because that’s new new hobby that I got sucked into, and help oh god I need out.
*ANGRY TYPING NOISES*
So when quarantine started last year, I finally decided to bite the bullet and get one of those cheap mechanical keyboards. So for a good year, I rocked the Rakk Lam-Ang Lite, with Otemu Red switches and I swapped out the keycaps with some weird and cheap SA set I got off of Shopee.
I mean, that’s well and good and I managed to have a good and cheap keyboard that serves me well, right? I should have stopped there. I ended up disliking a bunch of things about it. Don’t get me wrong, the Lam-Ang is a solid entry-level keyboard that does its job pretty well, but I didn’t like how the keys sounded whenever I bottomed out, and I quickly realized that linear switches aren’t for me at all. Plus, the spacebar rattled like crazy and the sound was annoying as hell.
Could I have just fixed all of my issues with the Lan-Ang and be done with it? Sure. I could have bought a new set of thicker keycaps, lubed the stabilizers so they wouldn’t rattle like hell, and maybe swapped out the switches to something more tactile. It would have been a fun DIY project, but it would have cost me as much as a new keyboard.
Enter the Keychron K4
So, hey, I dropped the cash to get that keyboard brand tech YouTubers everywhere have been rocking – the Keychron. It’s solid, it has bluetooth, it sports Gateron – a far more superior switch brand than the Lam Ang’s Otemu – and I had a choice between reds, blues, and browns. And while I liked me some tactility, I don’t want my keyboard to wake up the entire neighborhood. So I went with browns. And while I loved the tenkeyless layout that I’ve been using for over a year, I wanted to switch things up so I went with their K4 model with the 96% layout.
And yeah, it’s been great! Although my day job entails a lot of writing and that means I actually don’t have much use for the numpad, it’s nice to know that the it’s there for the few times I have to do some data entry. Plus, getting Bluetooth means I can actually get rid of one more wire and it’s a huge deal – my desk feels a lot less cluttered now.
It’s way too noisy
But I wanted more. I didn’t want my Keychron to look like everyone else’s. Plus, I hated the stock ABS keycaps. They were too thin, they shone right away, and the sound they made were too shrill and annoying. Plus, typing on it felt weird – it was like the keyboard was cheap and it didn’t match what I paid for it. It was shrill and hollow at the same time.
To partly address the sound issues, I started by opening the keyboard and installed a bunch of foam inside. The Keychrons have always been hollow and they have loads of unused space inside – and stuffing the damn thing with things to add to its density helps.
I Should Have Stopped THERE
So the Keychron now sounds good, right? But there’s still the issue of the keycaps looking generic, and the gross cheap feeling I get whenever I use them. And I honestly don’t like how the stock OEM profile felt – it’s too low and I had trouble looking for keys. And in my line of work, typos are death. So like the frugal person that I am that constantly makes sound financial decisions, I made the totally smart decision to purchase the Drop + Matt3o MT3 /dev/tty Keycap Set.
I mean, I’m gonna use this thing everyday, might as well make it look pretty, right? And I got a really nice stream out of it, so it’s worth it, I guess?
So now I managed to spend an entire night replacing a hundred keycaps, and mow it looks great. The new keycap profile and the thicker PBT plastic feels and sounds absolutely better than what I started with.
Because I’m Smart, I Plan On Doing More Upgrades
So now that I managed to get the keyboard to look and sound great, I plan on using it as is for a while. But I’ve been bitten by the mechanical keyboard bug and I plan on tweaking this more. So I’m looking at changing the switches to something more tactile like the Glorious Pandas, or the Gazzew Boba U4s. And that’s when I plan on going through the whole ordeal of opening up each and every single one of those 100 switches just to apply lube for a smoother downstroke.
Yeah, this is gonna be tedious. And expensive. But I’m sure I’m gonna have a lot of fun as I try to get the feel and sound that I want.
What have I gotten myself into?