Sent to you by via Lifehacker by Jason Fitzpatrick
Today we've compiled the most popular keyboards into a handy list for your perusal. Consider yourself warned: reading the list may lead to you staring balefully at your generic OEM keyboard and wishing you had a keyboard worth waxing poetic about. Read on to see which keyboards took home the trophies.
Average Price: $70
While much has changed in the computing world since the introduction of the IBM Model M keyboard 24 years ago, the iconic keyboard has remained almost entirely unchanged. The design, through shift of patent holder and production runs, has retained all the qualities readers listed as their reasons for loving the Model M so much. Most beloved was the tactile feedback provided by a buckling spring, as opposed to a membrane, key system. The spring system is responsible for the clickety-clack crispness of the keys. While IBM has long since ceased manufacture of the boards, devoted users have several options. Scouring old computer shops and forgotten back rooms at the office and such can often lead you to a Model M. They were built so well many readers noted they had boards still in service from the 1980s. Alternately you can shop at ClickyKeyboards, a web site devoted to selling new and used vintage Model M keyboards. The patent for the keyboard changed hands and is currently held by a company called Unicomp. New Model M style keyboards can be purchased there, ranging from a perfectly faithful reproduction to more modern model types that have a Windows key and eraser head style mouse built in.
Average Price: $80
Backlit keys with customizable brightness, built-in LCD display? What could you love more about a keyboard? For those of you not in the clicky-key club coveted by the Model M users, the more modern Logitech G15 caught your attention. The built-in LCD isn't just for gamers, although it has support for dozens of games, and there are several mods you can download for the LCD, which makes it display everything from hard drive space to CPU temperature to instant messaging and email notifications. Visit G15Mods.com and G15Forums.com for more info on modding your G15 keyboard.
Average Price: $50
If a little back-lighting magic is good, then a lot is a recipe to make a top keyboards list. The Eclipse II has blue, purple, and red adjustable back lighting. Blood red for slaughtering of your enemies on the Field of Infinite Sorrows and blue for when it's time to buckle down and write your manifesto. Many readers showed a distinct preference for the Eclipse I, and were only narrowly edged out by Eclipse II users. Both groups noted that the keyboard was solid feeling and had strong tactile feedback for a very quiet membrane keyboard.
Average Price: $35
Approaching a decade since its first introduction, the split style ergonomic keyboard has a loyal following. The Microsoft Natural Elite was the only keyboard to make the top of the list with distinctly ergonomic styling taking precedent over flashier features. Lacking back lighting, extended gaming macros or any other embellishments beyond some USB ports, the lack of bling is easily overlooked by the Natural Elite's supporters in exchange for comfort and a decrease in the pain of RSI.
Average Price: $50
As with all things Apple, readers who voted for the new aluminum Apple keyboard were passionate. The design is sleek and extremely thin, the surface is easy to clean with no crevices for dust or debris to hide in, and according to the readers who love it the keys are pleasant and responsive despite their extremely low profile. While some people love the distinct click and longer key travel of older keyboards like the IBM Model M, readers who used the Apple keyboard found that the short key travel and low profile of the keys lead them to type faster and with less overall movement in their hands. Mileage may vary trying to get the keyboard to work with your PC. A cursory Google search on the topic revealed that some users found it as easy as plugging it in and having Windows detect it as an Apple keyboard while others found themselves searching for obscure drivers and even going so far as to map out to USB inputs from the keyboard to remap them to the proper keys. That alone should be a testament to the keyboard itself, its owners going to such lengths to use it.
Average Price: $130
Once upon a time, my friends and I took a standard black OEM keyboard and with a bit of patience and a buffing wheel smoothed the lettering right off the keys leaving behind a obsidian testament to our supreme geekdom and ninja-like typing skills. The fact that someone took that idea and applied it to a rock-solid keyboard with the crisp chops and key travel to make a IBM Model M fan stop and take notice, warms my nerdling heart. The Das Keyboard comes in two flavors: extra dark with light markings and extra dark without so much as a single labeled key. Readers who voted for the Das Keyboard voted almost entirely for the unmarked version and universally said that it radically improved their typing skills. When you can't jog your memory by looking at the keys, a bad habit even excellent typists will sometimes find themselves doing, you have to let your fingers all the work. If you loved the Model M but would like something more sleek, the solid build and mechanical switches in the Das Keyboard put it miles above a mushy OEM membrane keyboard.
Sound off in the comments below if you have one of the keyboards and love it, or if like me you've realized that it might be time to swap out the basic keyboard that came with your PC for something a bit more swanky.