Keyboard: Roccat vs Logitech


Last year I finally decided to swap my Trust Ergo Track for a new keyboard. The ergo track is hands the down the best keyboard ever made but it's also about 20 years old. There's only so many plugs you can add to a 9 pin DIN connector to USB. Well, the bigger problem is getting a clean new version I guess. So anyways, after about 15 years or so I traded ... up?

Roccat Ryos MK Pro Brown

After quite some consideration I went with the Roccat Ryos MK Pro last year, the brown key version. In the time since my last keyboard I missed the hype that is mechanical keyboard. To be honest, I don't really get the hype myself, but the mechs are solid so why not. While I kind of liked the clicky blue caps, they were simply not practical in the living room. Or while doing calls. Or recording. Or ... well just too loud.

The black caps seemed to silent and I figured the activation with brown caps would be a better match. I wasn't exactly disappoined. I liked how it typed. But being used to one type of keyboard for all the time does leave you with a certain way of typing.

So initially I got super annoyed by the left range of macro keys on the board. My hands want to go to the bottom-left corner for the ctrl and instead they end up with the macro keys. Which mapped to a shift-6. Lot's of sixes in the beginning. But you get used to that, slowly. And I knew I had to bite the bullet so I let that go. This problem happens on some laptops as well, when some designer gets the brilliant idea to put the fn key in the bottom-left corner rather than the ctrl. Super frustrating when that happens.

Another thing I kept confusing is that my right hand seemed to be one key too far to the left a lot of the time. Even now, a year later, that happened a lot. The numeric keys (the top ones, not keypad) are still hopeless, blind at least. While this is a common problem for me on keyboards, the ergonomic keyboards tend to break up the numbers, so you can more easily find the middle. Of course whether this middle is 45 or 56 depends on the keyboard...

I guess I got used or had no problem with the other keys. Even the backslash, which no keyboard manufacturer puts to the right of the right shift anymore, wasn't a real problem. Probably because I've used other keyboards as well.

The audio levels of the keyboard when typing on it were still a small problem though. The keyboard was still kind of loud. Not a problem for me alone, but when other people were in the room or when I was using a mic, it's quite obvious.

The keyboard also had a visual problem; the keyboard boasts individual leds for the keys. This is kind of nice and at first may be an appealing reason to buy such keyboards, but you'll soon realize that you don't really care about the rainbow. By default this keyboard is configured to light up the last typed keys. Sure, that looks kind of nice. However there is one obvious problem, although it's kind of ironic that it was my wife who attended me to it; when typing passwords your password pretty much lights up on the keyboard. Ouch. All configurable though.

I suppose that's another issue. I actually never configured the keyboard with its software. I only used it on linux, it never even seen windows. So I guess in hindsight a lot of the shiny features of that keyboard were never used by me. I did remap the macro keys though. Served nicely as monitor enable/disable keys for dual monitor setup. Can sometimes be a hassle in linux. And as a recording start/stop. But that's pretty much all I used them for. Kind of a waste, maybe.

The keyboard does have some kind of capslock key but it doesn't work as normal. To be honest, I've never really used it. There were just a few times where I kind of missed having it so it wasn't a big deal. I believe you can configure it to do whatever you want, though, so that's mostly on me. But out of the box it works more like a macro activator and not as capslock.

The keyboard also boasts a mic and headphones (extension) plug, as well as a double usb extension. The only thing I can say about that is that hooking up some bluetooth headphones to the usb in the keyboard rendered the keyboard dead, even though the headphones kept playing. Have to replug the keyboard to get it to work again. Kind of weird but okay, once you know to avoid it ;) The usb worked fine otherwise, as you'd expect.

The last thing to mention about the hardware is that the keyboard has a nice palm rest, which may have been the thing that swayed me over to pick it last time. It's nice, large, and fixed. Part of the keyboard rather than something you can take off. I was used to that on the Ergo Track and it felt nice over the other keyboards that had none or a stick on. I like to rest my hands on it, gives it a better angle and reduces RSI for me.

In final conclusion the Roccat Ryos MK Pro Brown was a nice though heavy keyboard that never completely felt right to my hands. I can't say I was too unhappy when I spilled my coffee over the damn thing ;) Which really was an accident btw, first time in years that happened to me.

Logitech G710+

So, exit the Roccat and enter the Logitech. This was a more quick decision (ok, I still dilly dabbled in the store for an hour or so). I don't like the Razer keyboards and some of the others that were there also didn't quite tickle my fancy. I almost went for a Roccat with black keys when I noticed the Logitech G910.

The keyboard looked nice and after googling why to pick the G910 over the G710+, which they also had, I actually went with the G710+ because it seemed to fit my needs better. I had to keep in mind that I didn't use most of the fancy features of the Roccat either and let's face it, probably won't start using them now.

So the Logitech G710+. (I have this one...)

First things to notice is that they have, I believe, black keys brown keys. Hmm that's odd. Having used the Roccat for about a year I can definitely feel the difference between the two keyboards but the keys should be the same? Okay, no, but whatever.

The Logitech keys have a white (only) backlight. Kind of a nice change from the blue backlight (remember, I never reconfigured the Roccat). Especially since all the fancy hardware uses blue or red LEDs nowadays. So the white is nice and "quiet". I don't think they can be configured individually. And don't care. The backlight only lights the upper range of keys. I find that decision a little weird. It makes keys with alternative characters look a little half-assed.

The keyboard seems to have had some linux trouble in 2012, but it plug'n'played fine for me (Xubuntu 15). Though.. I guess I haven't had a full reboot yet so maybe I'll find myself in some trouble later. Okay well that was fast. System crash after suspend recovery. Keyboard works fine for me at boot. The macro keys don't really work under linux out of the box, though. They map to 1..6 and the recording keys don't work at all. This seems fixable though my quick attempt didn't do the trick. Maybe later. And maybe not.

The keyboard has no calc shortcut, which may be the key I'll miss most, even when I didn't use it that often and can map it to another macro key anyways. There's a weird key next to the macro recording keys which, turns out, toggles the "windows" key. That's kind of nice, I guess, and useless for me :) Under my Xubuntu that "super" key does flat out nothing anyways.

There are some keys to change the lighting level for the backlight, one for the wasd and arrow keys, and one for the rest. Okay that seems a bit like a waste but whatever. There are some media play/stop/etc keys that I probably won't use. They don't seem to do much under linux, but that may be due to my playback software. Either way, whatever. Then there's a mute button and a scrollwheel for audio level. That's kind of nice, actually. But I'm not sure how often I'll use that in my setup.

Now to the bad parts. Who the hell figured it would be great to put the /| key TO THE RIGHT OF THE QUOTE KEY ('") (and left of the return). Seriously. And, oh good, there's another copy to the left of the z. If you're a programmer (and there's a good chance that reading this blog you are) you'll know that this key is quite vital for my job. And quite a clusterfuck in its current position.

To the right of the single/double quote means I'll be missing the quote most of the time, as well as this key when I want to. To the left of the z means I'll often be hitting ctrl-| when undoing. Although this seems to happen way more often when trying to "redo" (ctrl-shift-z). Even when typing this little paragraph I've missed the | key at least five to ten times. Logitech, please fire the QA responsible for slipping this one through, argh.

WHAAAAAT. Looking up a link for the keyboard I see screenshots to the US version that doesn't have this problem. OMG. Seems I have a .. Dutch or EU version (check the screenshot in that link). Well, then I am so getting a US version and solve my number one frustration. Wow! :D

The other problem is more one of my own. I'm noticing that I activate the shift too long when typing fast. So often there will be two characters with shift held, rather than one. A common practice when typing fast, but it wasn't a real problem for me before and I'm seeing it a bit too often now. I'll get used to hitting the shift lighter, I guess.

Other than that... I really enjoy the Logitech right now. It types much lighter and quieter than the Roccat did. I can't really tell yet whether I can live with the fucked up position of the backslash(es) though. They may end up a deal breaker, but I want to give it a good chance first. Like I did the Roccat.

Why couldn't they just put that backslash right of that huge right-shift. Ugh, designers *rolls eyes*