Filco Majestouch-2 TK (MX Blue) with Dolch keycaps

Note: The keyboard and keycaps in this article are bought by me and not a review sample. I have, however worked with KeyboardCo in the past and like them a lot in general. But just so you know!

A new keyboard in the house! Namely the Filco Majestouch-2 TK (MX Blue) Always an exciting happening in the family. After typing happily for a couple of years with superbly compact and slim Apple Magic Keyboard (works fine with Windows btw.) at home, and with my Topre Realforce 88UB at work, I thought it would be fun to get a keyboard with the classic clickly MX blues.

My main reason to get Cherries apart from the amazing blue clicky sound is the fact that one can get a wide selection of custom keycaps, very much unlike the Topre ones where you’re pretty much stuck with the keys they came with, or maybe some with Japanese characters.

After some consultation in Geekhack, I decided that out of the options I had available (in Finland pretty much zero apart from some gaming keyboards), Filco would be a good choice. Knowing they stock it, I headed straight to The Keyboard Company  website and after some deliberation opted for one in Scandinavian layout — easier to swap here in Finland if I want to switch again. The Filcos are in no way inexpensive, but knowing the amount of time I spend typing, I considered the hourly cost to be quite reasonable.

Unboxing Filco Majestouch

The delivery from KeyboardCo arrived promptly as always, and I decided to shoot a classic unboxing video. Notice the great “Code and Life” logo in the thumbnail! There are no audio comments in the video, but you can hear the clickies quite well.

As an “out of the box” experience, here are my major plusses and minuses list:

Plusses
  • Very solid build, the case will definitely last a lifetime
  • Great MX blue typing experience and satisfying sound
  • Compact layout, it doesn’t expand much outside the keys in any direction
  • It’s a “no frills” workhorse, not much more to be said!
Minuses
  • Standard keycaps are quite high, making a wrist support pretty much a must
  • There’s nothing particularly exciting or special about they look

Custom Dolch Keycaps: Taking It to Another Level

Now that I got my keyboard, it was time to take step two: Finding proper retro styled keycaps. I wanted to avoid laser engraved ones in order to have the legends around as long as possible. Ideally I would’ve wanted PBT keycaps with very simple, centered legends, but turns out that ISO layout sets with these two attributes are *extremely* hard to find! So I made my peace with getting high quality double-shot ABS caps.

After long time browsing AliExpress and a dozen small suppliers in US (for some reason Europe has a limited vendor selection), plus some group buys, I settled on U.S. quality vendor PimpMyKeyboard and their DSA “Dolch” keyset. I got the red arrow keys and ISO kit as well, for a total of I-don’t-really-want-to-disclose after shipping and EU customs. Let’s just say the caps were more expensive than the keyboard. These baddies are worth their weight in silver.

Here’s a set of images for your drooling pleasure. Note also the nice Filco wooden wrist rest that works nicely and leaves the logo visible (it’s the smallest size I originally got for HHKB2. There’s also dedicated TK option but I just reach for cursor keys occasionally, so I don’t mind the narrower form factor.

As you can see, the keys look quite amazing! I especially like the font on these, and the color scheme reminds me of the old MSX computer my friend’s older brother had in the 80s. The red cursor and escape keys are a nice icing on the cake.

The PimpMyKeyboard caps are decidedly lower profile than the quite high originals, and the function keys even are a bit recessed into their deep settings. I think it’s a nice detail, but some might feel the caps a bit low for this Filco.

Main keys are good height and a pleasure to type on. For some reason, I had issues with the D key getting stuck down on my keyboard. I notified PMKB and they promptly sent me a replacement for no cost (and a fun “sorry!” sticker :), which was excellent service. The new D is a bit better, but it still sometimes gets held down, and I suspect my Filco may have its D switch some fractions of a millimeter off center, causing the issue with keycaps of slightly different dimensions. Nothing a quick swipe of a file won’t fix.

Plusses of PMKB Dolch
  • High quality doubleshot ABS caps
  • Excellent font, very legible and very vintage
  • Pleasant neutral color scheme reminiscent of the 70s and 80s
  • Written labels on special keys is very retro
  • Good selection of additional key kits including ISO, color highlights and gamer options
  • Fast shipping, great customer service
Minuses
  • Darn expensive, cost more than a keyboard when shipped to Europe
  • High Filco original keycaps mean it’s an A- fit instead of straight A
  • No PBT option

Conclusions

I’ve now logged about five months of continuous use with the Filco Majestouch-2 TK and I can say I like the cherry MX blues well. They have a satisfying feel and sound, and there’s a certain feeling it imparts when you are using the keyboard. In mechanical switch realm I still think the Topre switches have a slight edge, but the difference is small and they lack the oldskool feel so I haven’t bothered hauling my Realforce from work over this time.

Main consideration with the MX blues compared to the browns for example is the sound level. The first four months I had the pleasure to type on my Filco while my wife was temporarily in Cambridge, and I could enjoy the clickies. Now that she’s back, the sound doesn’t probably bother her much (no complaints so far) but I am quite aware whenever I’m typing after midnight. In this regard, my previous Apple Magic Keyboard is more clandestine.

If you are on the lookout for a top notch mechanical keyboard, I can give a high recommendation to the Filco. A further recommendation for the MX blue option if you’re in an environment where the clicks won’t be a problem. And of course you can have another late night coding keyboard, so you get some refreshing variety in your life!

Also, thumbs up for the PMKB Dolch keyset, they are 98 % perfect fit for the Filco! I wanted a retro keyboard, and now I have it, and thanks for excellent build quality and good switches, it’s not just shiny exterior, but a pleasure to hack on as well.

HHKB Professional 2 Keyboard Review

HHKB Professional 2

The keyboard is something that I use daily, and whether I’m writing e-mails or coding, I’ll likely do several hours of typing a day. Last summer when I switched to US layout in coding and started using Vim, I started thinking that maybe I should upgrade my seven year old Logitech keyboard to something hopefully better. And when I get such a project, I did what I always do: Went totally overkill with research and ended up spending a few hundred euros once I had made up my mind on the “most optimal choice” for me. :)

Update: If you’re interested in this review, you might want to check out my continuation with the Topre Realforce 88UB.

Keyboards: 101

My worldview after 2000 was essentially that laptop type flat keyboards are the way of the future, and keyboard choice mainly depends on whether you buy a Logitech or Microsoft one, and do you get the top of the line model or an OEM version for 15 euros. Enter Geekhack and some interesting discussions at Stack exchange, and it quickly became apparent that there is more to it.

First choice one needs to make is the layout of the keyboard. Kinesis makes some weird looking ones that some people swear by, and there are matrix-type layouts, I decided I would continue to risk carpal tunnel syndrome with a “normal” layout for the time being, as I don’t want to optimize my brain for a keyboard type that would only be available at home.
Continue reading HHKB Professional 2 Keyboard Review