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This might be a stupid question, but i am new to the community and joined my first drop just last week: I was wondering, why there is a drop of a single spacebar? Are they otherwise hard to get, because they are for topre switches? Do they come in a special size/width? Are there drops for cherry compatible spacebars as well?
Thanks for the great community!
Topre spacebars are notoriously hard to manufacture; during the cooling process, they are prone to warping, bending, etc. Because of this, all topre keyboards come with ABS spacebars, which have a more consistent quality to them but is also of a plastic that most people consider "inferior" (it doesn't give the same, deep "thock" sound that people love about the topre and is prone to shining). So, we topre breed spend excessive amounts of money trying to perfect our typing experience.
Topre keycaps are also incredibly rare, a good replacement set of PBT keycaps can run anywhere from $100-$200, and that's if you find them in stock. On the contrary, MX cherry stems are what most manufacturers make their keycaps for. You can probably score a great keycap set for $50. This is why a lot of topre keyboard owners (Realforce, HHKB) use the Novatouch stems (which are topre, but have an extra + in the middle to make them cherry MX compatible) and put them inside of their keyboards to use the MX keycaps.
Aahhh, thank you very much! Now that makes sense! After a few weeks of lurking I noticed that Topre switches really seem to be something special. When speaking of "the best", the purest topre experience, which keyboard would you suggest? I know that this is probably a difficult question to answer, because everyone has different feelings about his or her perfect typing experience, but I am seeing a lot of HHKB, so i figured this is by many considered as "the" endgame? I don't even want to think about availability of this board in germany, but Ii have to work my way up the ladder of endgame anyway :D
Again, thanks for your answer!
The EU mechanical keyboard community is actually quite large. If you go to the mechmarket subreddit, you'll be able to find a ton of trades for all kinds of different topre keyboards. And, for me personally, I like the precision that you get from heavy switches, as it eliminates about 75% of my double keystrokes that I have with lighter switches (i.e. mx blues). Topre is basically just a heavy membrane / mechanical switch, right? You're paying for a mechanical switch that FEELS similar to a membrane with the "thock" that you get from hitting the bottom of the board. So I like the Realforce 87u 55g. This is the most sought after topre keyboard in my experience; people either upgrade from 45g topre to 55g topre or use a Realforce 87u 55g to throw the 55g domes into their HHKB. For personal typing experience, I actually can't really find myself ever using a 60%, so my "endgame" will just be my current Realforce along with some high quality topre to MX sliders with a modded cable.
Most keyboard enthusiasts that are not myself do prefer the HHKB. Just be warned, if you are working up the ladder to your endgame, be prepared to spend a LOT of money. Hyperspheres for silencing cost about $.70 per key, topre to MX sliders will run you about $65-$100, topre keyset will run you $100-$200 if you don't mod your sliders, lube will run you about $15, and you will have to buy a Realforce 55g uniform, switch out the domes, and then sell the (now essentially variable) Realforce, which is a hard sell at this point in time. Then, you'll discover artisans and your wallet will be blown to smithereens by this point :'(
The HHKB is PCB mounted vs. Realforce being steel plate mounted; this makes the RF more solid, and in my opinion, gives a more satisfying "thock" when typing. The 87u 55g gives you the most "Topre" topre feel, however, it's a heavier switch to use than 55g might indicate; because of the way the switches actuate, I'd add ~10g to get comparable feeling cherries. So, go for 45g switches if you like a light touch. However, if you are going to source SA profile heavy topre keycaps, you might need the heavier domes. If you are a speed demon with butterfly fingers, there's a 30g option. Despite collecting a variety of boards and switches, I do 90% of my typing on the 87U/55g, seems to be the case with most people who join our cult. Best place to get the boards seems to be Amazon, you get a much better variety and price for such a niche board. Plus, you can get the cool hipster Japan only models...
PS. Before a lynch mob of the HHKB faithful forms up; it's a lovely kb. It's just not as solid as a Realforce, plus with the lighter domes the tactility and noise are lower, as they should be in a design where portability is a factor. As far as 60% boards go, it's the best. HHKB is joy, HHKB is life - now can you lot please release my kids, their mother misses them...
Well, except for fanatics, I believe most of the HHKB fans had already know what you pointed out. To be exact, the HHKB is case-mounted, which means the case are the part of the typing experience itself. While the plate absorbs the pressing force in the RealForce, the force now reverberate through the HHKB case. Some may states that makes the typing feel hollow and like you said, not solid, but I say it's a very unique experience that only a HHKB can offer. Furthermore, the main selling point of the HHKB is the layout, which I think really smart if you can get used to.
PS. Some real HHKB Lunatics don't even consider the JP model as the "true" HHKB, so...
Thanks! I've only read about the mechmarket subreddit thinking, it would be an US thing as well :D Thank you very much for your insight on the switches! It's really great to get a detailed impression of the different switches and boards, when your aren't able to test them in person. What are your thoughts on topre imitaions like the novatouch or boards by a company called NiZ? Is it a big difference compared to the topres? I'm asking because they would be pretty easy to get via amazon and try them myself.
Yeah, I figured that already :D I really have to force myself, not to join a drop like every second day, because I wanted to upgrade my pc first. But when that's done, I'm afraid it will become scary for my wallet :D
Again, thank you very much for the info - I'm really enjoying this community so far!
That's a good thing to know, since I've only typed on cherrys so far. The 87U really looks tempting and I will definitely add it to my list! Yeah, I'm not sure, if I'm into the japanese models but thanks for the tipp anyway! :D
Do the things you said about PCB- vs. plate mounted also apply for cherry mx boards?
Thank you for your answer!
So, basically, with topres the weight of the key is all at the VERY front of the key stroke, rather than at the middle like cherry MX switches. Like 'consolation' said, it really feels a ton heavier than it actually is, maybe like 65g because of the distribution of the resistance.
Novatouch is okay in my opinion, I just can't stand behind anything other than the Realforce. Steel plate mounting feels so solid, I live for the 'thock' sound at the end of my keystrokes. The Plum is OKAY, but the electro capacitive switches are 35g, which is unusable for me. Novatouch will be your best bet if you want to try - worst case scenario, you try the Novatouch, you buy a Realforce 55g, and you take the MX compatible stems from the Novatouch and switch em out with your Realforce. That saves you a step, haha. For my personal use, I can't use the HHKB. Not willing to give up anything other than the numpad :(
And you are correct, PCB vs. steel plate mounting is also present on cherry MX switches. Most, a vast majority, of these keyboards use steel plate because it just makes the keyboard more solid. Without a steel plate, the switches feel a little springy, I'm not too sure how to describe it with words.
Get a Realforce - same company & made in Japan.
Realforce = Topre
Not that the HHKB isn't also a nice board - I own both.
JTK Sliders cost $30 and ship from the EU. (is the UK still EU?)