Keyboard Enthusiast Trendsetting & Trends

We’re always in the middle of trends, at the start of new trends, and simultaneously seeing trends die down.

What are you thoughts of various trends in the keyboard community?

Trends like…

  • 65% customs featuring a top right blocker for logo
  • deskmats available with every keyset gb (the old trend back in the day was cables)
  • recoloring a linear switch from a manufacturer every which way
  • keyboards with 5heads
  • Gradient keysets
  • the discontinuing of ergodox support from sets with alice support being the new hot ‘ergo-ish’ layout
  • Will we start seeing more Vickrey auction style runs like we saw for Bauer extras and how Keycult operates?

My Random Thoughts:

  • Recolored linears sometimes feel like someone is charging extra to put some food coloring in your vanilla ice cream and then claim it is radically different.
  • Gradient keysets - don’t do it
  • Gasket mounts - more hits than misses. I’m okay with this
  • Ditching MAO white for e-white; I’m okay with this. Although I wish we could have that nice cool grey of Mao white without that texture and the ease of damage. Maybe someone can find an equivalent cerakote color :thinking:
  • It feels like the wild west of 40%s has mostly stabilized into a certain popular layouts with much less random experimenting and this is probably good for them.
  • low profile keyboard cases had some popularity 6 years ago… thank god we’re not in those dark ages anymore :stuck_out_tongue:

What are your thoughts about random trends in this community? Are there particular trends you have noticed?

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Some things I’ve seen in OEM/customs:

  • 65 with blocker seems to be king. Good layout, but there will be a lot of duplication going forward.
  • 75 (ID80/7V/Evolv) is picking up steam. I like this layout a lot.
  • TKL GBs are few and far between. This is a shame.
  • Full size is out of fashion. Good riddance.
  • Alice layouts are like Hansen. They’re hot!
  • There are too many different GMK colorways being produced. For every Nautilus, Striker, or Red Samurai, there are 2 or 3 ham and eggers. Not really a problem unless the less interesting stuff blocks production of really interesting sets.
  • QMK (and now Via) are more accessible than ever. Excellent!
  • Switches - Additional colors don’t make switches unique, but they do appeal to those that desire a certain a s t h e t i c. Generally, that isn’t me.
  • GBs - More people competing for the same amount of slots in limited group buys results in 4 minute buy windows and a lot fo disappointment. Basic economics, but it can sting sometimes.

For the most part, I like where the hobby is going. Flipping and r/mm is one notable exception to that and I don’t have an answwer or recommendation for that.

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Agree :point_up_2:

Dislike:

  • Obsession with GMK - Obviously GMK is awesome but it’s overkill. I’m glad we are getting some new stuff from ePBT, MT3, and SA profile.
  • Cherry mount supremacy - I wish there was more available in topre and alps mount.
  • <40% form factor. Ytho? Niche I guess.

Like:

  • 1800 layouts. I hope we key more layouts that pay tribute to vintage layouts (Left F-keys anyone?)
  • Innovators - Hats off to Rama, TX, key.co, crazydesigners, Norbauer and pretty much anyone else that is willing to do something to do something new and different and aesthetic.

Hopes:

  • rise of contactless linears that you can buy loose and install like any other switch. There’s a limit to how smooth a switch with a contact leaf can get. I think this is coming with the keystone.
  • two stage spring for a ‘tactile’ feel in a linear switch. I’m actually looking into this but have been short on time.
  • Keep innovation coming!
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sometimes usually. You don’t see the switch 99% of the time, I don’t really care that much.

Agreed. 1976 was cool, I got vilebloom, put it on a board, took it off the next day and it’s been in the closet since, I should probably sell it. I def won’t buy another gradient set.

My favorite one of the last few years is plate foams, I won’t build a board without one anymore. My least favorite is desk mats, I just really don’t get it, it makes it impossible to write on paper or cut things or do a lot of stuff on the desk, and is a pain to swap/store; but I just don’t buy them, if people like them (and it seems like they do) then that’s cool though.

Gasket mount is cool, but I think it’s way overblown. I have two gasket boards at this point, and to be honest, I don’t notice that much of a difference to top mount.

I’m kinda happy that so many kits are opting for GMK these days competition is nice and such, but it really is just the best to type on imo. epbt, jtk, and whatever that one the key company gets theirs from look nice too, so hopefully cherry profile options will continue to diversify.

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  • I would rather have cables available with keysets instead of deskmats. Deskmats RN only come in one size per GB, and it doesn’t seem like something that absolutely has to ship with the GB. They could be warehoused for a year somewhere, maybe in China, since they’re just rubber mats. Or even just printed-on-demand. Save the designs, print them when ordered. I don’t think they need to be elevated to such importance.

Cables, OTOH, are harder to find. Plus, I’d rather their shipping cost be absorbed into the keycap GB. It’s nice to order keycaps knowing that there are similar cables available. Nautilus 2 being a good current example.

  • I used to be skeptical of the excessive recolours of linear switches. I still think it’s overboard, but I’ve come to see the value of it. If you have Durock linears that are mostly the same, except for weight, it’s helpful to have Alpacas, Mauves, H1s, etc… looking the way that they do. Zeal PC has a similar philosophy, and it’s good for differentiating between tactiles, for example.

  • I don’t think gradients are a good way to colour keycaps. Sure, they look cool in photos and renders. But Dolch-patterns are much better for differentiating alphas, mods, and stabilized keys. I doubt gradients help touch-typing.

  • Full-size never was in fashion, at least when I got into customization 2 years ago. It’s an obsolescent form-factor, but there are still some desk setups where it’s ideal. So I wish there was at least one common option for full-size customs.

  • 75% is a good compromise, but I am glad that the ‘exploded’ layouts are emerging. I don’t think it’s healthy to just have one giant clump of keys.

  • There’s too much flipping of keycaps, and now entire custom boards. Given the supply difficulties we are already facing, flipping further endangers the accessibility of keyboard customization.

  • GMK has a lot of brand recognition for new people, because they’ve seen all the photos. But other manufacturers continue to grow in capability. The problem is, they are creeping towards GMK prices. Why buy JTK if it costs nearly as much as GMK? Availability, and different colourways, I guess.

GMK is priced pretty fair for a German-made customization product. I don’t mind their GB prices [aftermarket is killer]. But the kits get expensive, especially when too much is taken out of the base kit. I think Honeywell at $135 represents good value, for example. 9009 R3 was about $100 or $110 base kit, but they took out the numpad, which is $35 separate. So to get Honeywell coverage with 9009 costs more.

Oblivion git base also represented good value, you’d get good coverage for $115.

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I’m one of the few in this community that likes full sized and full size plus (all hail the battleship) However, I will concede that they don’t look as cool as smaller form factors with the exception of vintage boards. The problem is full size tends to lack character and modern full size tends to look bland unless something creative is done with it. Would anyone ever say an AEK or Model M are ugly? Nope :sunglasses: Plus, boards with larger bezels make hi-pro caps look the best imo.

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We have a ton of options. Some even in stock! You can get switches, films, springs, lube, and stabilizers almost any time you need them. It’s awesome.

I pick up 70 of each new switch to come out because I like the variety. Colors don’t matter much to me.

@norbauer has moved to manufacturing in the US and now keycult has ventured into their own machining. Both have connections to good finishing manufacturers, something we most recently saw from TKC with their 1800 board. That’s very cool and promising. I find it encouraging that makers in the community have made it to the point where they can do things locally and get support from the community to do so.

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I’m hoping for a cheaper 75% kit with arrow blockers and F-keys because a friend of mine really wants one of those.

This topic is very useful for someone like me, who has been out of the mechanical keyboards loop for quite a while.

And also remembered me why my interest in mechanical keyboards faded considerably. But don’t mind me, please, keep doing awesome stuff.

Actually, one that kind of annoys me and has sort of always been a thing but seems especially prominent lately are all the weeb keysets. I just don’t get it. I don’t speak Japanese, I will never type in Japanese, why would I want legends for it on my keyboard? Do any of these tons of people that buy the kits type in Japanese? It almost seems like cultural appropriation to me… A lot of them seem like just a generic color set with the name of some anime character slapped on. I’ve even seen several where they don’t even tell you what anime it’s from and the name is generic enough it’s not obvious when you search it. Some of them even have pretty nice colorways, but I just won’t spring for the Japanese sublegends. Really though I just don’t get why there are so many of these sets……………… /rant

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I suspect that keyset designers are either giving their intended audience what they want, or they are directly expressing what they want. There is a segment of keyboard enthusiasts that are into anime or japanese culture, and hey want keysets that reflect their interests.

Regarding cultural appropriation, I personally dont see the issue being any more of a problem than someone designing keysets based on other sports, cultural, or military interests. But I suppose it comes down to a question of design intent, so /shrug

I will tell you that I personally do like sets like GMK Striker, GMK Red Samurai, and other keysets that have alternate characters on their caps in addition to the normal arabics. And I recently bought into MT3 Serika with katakana. For me, it is all about the a e s t h e t i c.

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Lol, I bought one. Will probably buy more. I have also bought caps with Russian characters. I just think they look cool :smiley: simple and shameless as that. :grin: You make good points though.

I mean, look at these. It’s like watching Rocky IV with every keystroke.

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  • The first couple 65%s that came out with the blocker in the top right corner I did actually like. It was something different & unique that would separate those boards from other designer’s boards. Now though I think it is just been done to death & I am not a fan of it.

  • I like having deskmats to match certain sets! Cables to match sets have been making a come back to from what I have noticed. Although I wish more straight cables would be offered. The matching cables have been mostly expensive ones with some type of connector on it, which is a trend I am not a fan of TBH.

  • I don’t have a problem with recolors of switches. As long as the price stays the same or very close to the regular version & there are no claims of it being anything more than a recolor I’m ok with it. Honestly I kinda like having the ability to match your switches to your build nowadays. It used to be the switch was colored how it was colored & everything beyond the stems was either black or clear for the most part.

  • Personally I am not a fan of boards with 5heads or very thick bezels, but i don’t have anything against them. If it fits a design & is not done just for memes why not. I like when designers take chances, some of the most interesting stuff comes out of not playing it safe!

  • Never been a fan of gradient sets. There has been a few that looked cool, but I never pulled the trigger on one cause I know I’ll use it for 5 min then put it back in it’s box to collect dust. Although again, I don’t got anything against them. If designers play it safe & stick to a basic template, we wouldn’t have seen half of the cool & crazy keysets we have.

  • I think overall moving away from Ergodox kits isn’t a bad thing. I don’t think the Ergodox kits were selling to well & it really helps to declutter ICs & GBs. The move towards Alice support is a no brainer since it’s just three keys to support (an extra B, a 2.25u space, & a 2.75u space) & very popular in the community right now. Do I think the two correlate to each other? No, I honestly think it’s just the timing that makes it seem like that.

  • I do believe we’ll see more Vickrey auctions in the future with limited number GBs for boards. There is the potential for a huge amount of income beyond just pricing a kit with a certain return percentage in mind for them to not stick around & become more common IMHO. I can’t say I’m a fan of them when that is the only way to get your hands on a kit, although I can’t blame designers/companies for going that route if their project or brand has the hype to support it. It’s actually a tough subject to me, cause I dislike how high they push prices. On the other hand though that is what the market will bear for a product so it can not be called unfair or price gouging. :thinking:

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Sure, I get that, it just seems disproportionately large to me, like I know very few people in real life who have seen more than like pokemon and yugioh, but seems like a huge percentage of keyboard people. Maybe just an effect of so much of the community being on reddit etc and than demographic. I was a big fan of the colorways of both striker and gmk serika, but ended up passing on them.

I dunno, it just seems silly to put another language on there because it looks nice. I did have one japanese set at one point, and one of my coworkers was like ‘oh, you know japanese?’ and I was like ‘no…’ and he was like ‘oh, well that’s cool you can type in japanese on there’ and I was like ‘well actually it’s just a regular keyboard with a nice set of paint’. tbh I had mostly just bought the set because I wanted the sushi keys, and I kinda realized how silly it was.

tbh I’ve never seen any of the rocky movies, what’s the reference?

I’m right there with ya on that my dude.

Yeah, I’m really not a fan of it either, it seems kinda exploitative to push people to pay as much as they’re possibly willing for a chance to get the item. I don’t really follow streetwear/hype stuff like that much, is that something that is common with those? tbh I’d almost prefer just like high price like supreme etc, at least that’s a fixed price.

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tbh I’d feel a lot less weird about all the hiragana sets if there were stronger inroads between the mechanical keyboard community in the west and the mechanical keyboard community over in Japan; if those sets aren’t being made with that community in mind, and that community isn’t being consulted or seeing any support/benefit from it, then their culture is simply being mined for… what? Aesthetic? Could these sets truly not live without their hiragana kits, and are they really worth making if not?

I don’t intend to come off high and mighty, or imply that I’ve come to some kind of universal answer to them that everybody should adopt, but I think they’re questions worth asking with personal answers worth interrogating.

“Wow cool culture” is not a mindset I’d ever feel comfortable leaving unexamined in myself. “Is there a more appropriate shepherd for this idea, or a partner I could include to ensure it’s done right and well” are two questions I generally find myself asking in other contexts when I’m doing design work, and I find them enormously helpful to ask when approaching projects. Maybe I’m just a weirdo?

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You just did a much better job of verbalizing what I was thinking.

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I don’t undestand it either tbh. The ratio is pretty high.

This entire hobby exists so people can implement their version of “looks nice.” Otherwise, we would all be using some form of Wob. :slight_smile:

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Re: Westerners interest in Hiragana Sets (Too many to reply to)

This is really interesting, because even though you can type using the hiragana legends, most of the population in Japan uses the English alphabet to spell out their letters phonetically.

Ex: they type the characters ‘m’, ‘a’ for the character ま (pronounced “ma”)

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