Mechanical Keyboards

Lately I've been in the mood for a change in my keyboard situation. When I first started coding I had one of the original mechanical keyboards from one of my family's first computer, an old Leading Edge. At some point I switched to the original Microsoft Natural keyboard and have been using variations of it (Natural, Keyboard Pro, Multimedia, 4000) since.

I change my mouse every year or two switching between trackballs and mice. But I've been using my Microsoft 4000 keyboard a long time and have been on the hunt for a new keyboard.

I'd like:

Finding all these in one keyboard is difficult.

Some of the keyboards I considered:

Keyboard.io is the most promising contender for what I am looking for. I've actually been patiently waiting since 2012 for them to develop something when I first read this great post on keyboards.

Unfortunately they are a startup and taking their time with R&D so outside a few prototypes they don't have a product. (Hurry up guys! :))

It turns out there isn't an 'ergo' keyboard that meets all my needs. I then decided to look at 'normal' keyboards where there are literally hundreds of choices, and I again narrowed it down to a few:

There are a ton of 'gaming' keyboards in this arena and I really didn't want something garish made for a 14 year old on my desk. That eliminated the Logitechs and many others.

I also had to decide on a key type. With mechanical switches there are several different types of keys you can buy - they are sorted by color so you have 'red' switches which gamers like, 'brown' switches which are quieter and a host of choices in between.

Then you have layouts as well. Do I want (need) a number pad? The benefit of not having one is you can move you mouse closer to your keyboard. There are also layouts which do away with the arrow and navigation keys entirely.

In the end I went with two choices, both of which are backlit:

I received the Cooler Master first. The blue switches are LOUD. Very reminiscent of the old IBM's. My daughter's bedroom is next to my office and she even commented how loud they were.

I liked the keys and the backlighting is nice but there are a few things I don't like:

I received the CODE keyboard next...

On the lack of a number pad... I've been swapping the keyboards between my home and work computer. At home I rarely use the number pad and find it very nice to have my mouse right next to my keyboard. At work though I occasionally find myself missing the number pad. Not often but if I need to enter in a sting of numbers it's a bit of a chore to do it without a pad. Still undecided on that one. I could always buy a dedicated number pad if it became an issue.

Currently I'm leaning toward the CODE. Much quieter, the font is much nicer and overall it just seems very well thought out. They are both similarly priced.

Someone (maybe my wife :)) commented I was crazy to spend this much money on a keyboard. I'm a programmer. I spend ALL DAY typing so I consider it a tool. If I'm a carpenter, plumber or mechanic I'm going to spend hundreds of dollars on tools to do my job more easily and efficiently. Why wouldn't I do the same if I'm a programmer?

What keyboard / mouse combo are you using? Have you evaluated your tools lately?

I'll post a follow-up in a few months and will also be keeping an eye on Keyboard.io. I'm really looking forward to what they are going to come up with and how affordable it will be.

Update: Mechanical Keyboard Follow-up