Topre. The amazing switch in the enthusiast keyboard community. Some like it some don't. So let's check it out.
LAYOUT & SIZE
This is a tenkeyless keyboard, meaning it has no number pad on the side. And it has 87 keys, which is reflected in the model name 87U. Although the keyboard also comes in the full sized variant as well, as well as silenced versions. A tenkeyless form factor is also useful for ergonomics, and brings your mouse closer to the centre, which will allow for more natural shoulder positioning.
The layout used is pretty standard, with standard spacing. The bottom row isn’t standard though, but it isn’t as much of a concern, as these are really nice stock keycaps. But also since the availability of Topre keycaps is quite low, and makers accommodate for it anyway.
DESIGN & BUILD
The keyboard is heavy for it’s size, the plastic feels good to the touch, and it’s sturdy. It definitely is the best feeling keyboard I’ve unboxed so far.
So this is the white version of the board, and there’s also black, which also looks amazing and is more stealthy, especially with those keycaps. The keyboard has a quite classic or retro look, with it’s tall head which was common in older keyboards, and also the more pronounced radii on the corners, and even the edges are filleted quite aggressively. So everything is very smooth, rather than blocky and angular. And the white version just takes this theme that step further, with the grey modifier keycaps.
The plastic as said before feels awesome. It’s got a slight textured finish, but at the same time it kind of feels soft and velvety in a way, which is difficult to explain. At the top left there is the classy Realforce logo, which is again very reminiscent of old keyboard designs.
As for the keycaps, I’m happy to say that these have awesome keycaps with a nice typeface for the characters. Just plain and simple and clear, which is often missing in the cheaper boards I review.
The legends are dye sublimated, which are durable and long lasting, and these are PBT keycaps, with a slight texture to them which feels great, and will also be more resistant to yellow and shining overtime. Some of the letters are a bit fuzzy though, so not the sharpest.
The feel of typing on this is unique. It does feel like a rubber dome keyboard, but more snappier, refined, solid, and satisfying. The switches are smooth, and the tactile bump is very near the top. The tactile feel isn’t a sharp distinguishable point like on conventional mechanical switches, and are more like normal rubber domes. One of the more distinct features is the thock at the bottom of the keystroke. It’s just a solid hit at the bottom which is somewhat cushiony in which is helped by the rubber dome. But all of this is very quiet, which is another feature that many like. Most of the noise is made when it returns to its original position.
The stabilised keys are the some of the best I’ve come across, and aren’t too rattly. The space bar especially is by far the best I’ve felt, and just feels amazingly solid.
I’ve played with Topre boards in the past, but I’ve mainly stuck to mechanical keyboards. And I feel like this does come into play. Since I get to try all these different switches, anything that feels different just feels good to me. But honestly, this stock experience is kind of good for typing, but just not for me. It’s not levels above or anything, and it’s not a great great distance away from some nice rubber dome keyboards. I whipped out one of my old rubber dome boards out, and I was thinking to myself, wait, this feels alright actually. And it wasn’t too different from my experience with the Topre switches.
But for typing, it’s amazing. It’s quiet, ergonomic, and solid. And it probably is the ideal typing keyboard and would fit perfectly well in a professional working environment. For gaming, it’s fine as well. This one in particular is variable weight, so the WASD keys aren’t the same.
The typing experience is unique, especially if you’ve been using mechanical keyboards for a while, and it’s quite refreshing. Personally, the stock typing experience is nice, but not amazing for my needs. This is a professional grade keyboard, so for typists in working environments, it’s one of the best you can get. It’s easy on the fingers, with tactile feedback, allowing for great typing accuracy, and it’s also quiet making it very suitable for office use.
The build quality is also excellent. The steel internal plate, the rugged plastic enclosure, and the PBT keycaps made the keyboard feel very premium. This is definitely an alternative to the traditional mechanical keyboards out there, and provide a unique and satisfying typing experience.