Keyboardio vs Unicomp: Comparison

Hi,

I like the feel of the Unicomp keyboards that mimic the old IBM keyboards. (I could do with less sound, but I manage.)

How does the Keyboardio compare, feel and force wise? Its my understanding that the quiet models require a little more force on the keys? Is this correct?

Any help is greatly appreciated!

Thaks,

Russ

Which type of Unicomp/IBM keyboard do you mean — Quiet Touch or buckling spring? I’ve got both types, and even the “quiet” model could be considered noisy.

To me, the keys on my Model01 with Matias Quiet Click switches don’t feel particularly heavier or lighter than my buckling spring IBM model M’s keys. The one exception is that there are several keys on the Model01 that it is possible to strike somewhat far from the switch underneath, and that can increase the friction in the switch enough to be noticeable.

Then again, I’m not as sensitive as many people are to small differences in force required on keyswitches because I don’t rest my wrists when typing.

Hi, I have the buckling spring type of Unicomp keyboard. As I said, while loud-ish, to me, that is really not important to me. I like how the keys have the right amount of resistance, for me. Am I correct that you are saying, for you, your Keyboardio QC keys feel similar to your Model M with buckling springs?

Thanks,

Russ

I don’t perceive a difference in the effort required to press the keys on a buckling spring Model M and a Quiet Click Model01. That is not to say that the two feel the same (I prefer the sensation of pressing keys with buckling spring switches or Cherry MX blue switches). There is a significant qualitative difference, though I would not say the Model01’s keys are unpleasant to use — I just don’t like them as much as buckling springs.

I have a IBM model M made by Lexmark/ Unicomp circa 1996 era and a MP1 model 1 with quiet click switches. The model M is slightly heavier feeling for sure, and has less key travel after the spring buckles. The Model 1 is easier to press and has more key travel after activation which I like, a lot easier to not bottoming out. They are both fantastic boards.

Keyboardio Model 1 Pros:

Amazing layout, I am learning to touch type on this board for the first time, the layout and sculpted keycaps just makes sense once you get use to it, I really did start to type better. I did and continue to do 5 mins a day of intentional touch typing practice. I finally made it to the point where I can type things and think I a made a mistake and I actually typed it correctly, especially with passwords.

If you learn the qwerty layout and proper touch typing technique on here it will help you type better on most keyboards, especially a Model M.

You can program it, I did not change much, I moved space to the left side of the keyboard since I am a left hand side spacebar user. And put delete in its place on the right side. Also changed the lighting order making my favorite one by default keyboard power on and my next favorite as LEDs off as the second in the default order, since thats where I leave it at most often. LEDs are overrated in a bright office. Thats all I had to change so far.

As a vim user my self I really enjoying the arrow key layout via the function keys, now standard arrow keys seem out of reach.

Keyboardio Model 1 Cons:

Keycaps shine up with use, paint is wearing off on the top of the tactile bump on the delete key.

Wood case cracked, I am pretty sure work was so dry this past winter that it cause the case to crack. Now that its summer back with rampant humidity the crack is still there but barely noticeable, minor character flaw right, adds value right to an heirloom item.

This board sits high even when flat on a desk, if your desk is your keyboard tray and its fixed height too high like most of corporate America, you may have to t-rex type on it aka arms angled upward slightly. At work I had to get a footrest and put my chair in its highest position to get more level arms, still a bit too high. I noticed no issues using the Model M in the same condition with out a footrest etc. And not using the legs on the Model M.

This keyboard requires frequent maintenance to stop it from chattering, every 3-4 months it requires a comprehensive cleaning, since by that time several keys will start chattering aka doing repeated letters. A couple times I typed my password wrong so many times that it trigged automated alerts at work since they were thinking someone was trying a brute force hack a password. So yes I know when its time to clean it. It really is quite a lot of work, run diagnostic a few times note keys that are chattering. Do the Keyboardio recommended process for cleaning out each switches that is chattering. I modified the recommended procedure to include removing all the keycaps first before I start flipping the thing over and back. I do this just so I can turn the thing over with all the keycaps off and have all the dust and gunk fall out over a trash can. Then I brush it out clean with a small paint brush. So far this has reduced chatter popping up in other keys that were not chattering before the cleaning. But either way its usually about 5 or so keys per side that trip red on the diagnostic that need to be flushed out. The good news is that once its cleaned up it types like it should. But ya this is not a set it and forget it board, it will tell you when it needs cleaned.

IBM Unicomp Model1: I laugh at your Matias ALPS dust, dirt, over lubricated at the factory sensitivity, 23 years and going strong on a membrane.

IBM Model 1 Pros:

This thing is made to type on, curved plate, great switches, excellent keycaps that never show wear. I am surprised at how my Model 1 learned touch typing skills back port to this thing, its kind amazing makes no sense how that works.

It built like a tank, super solid has lasted 20+ years and still works likely just as good as it did new.

IBM Model M cons:

  • This thing is massive, takes up a tons of space on my desk, cramps using the mouse on right side. And getting the thing to where it needs to be to get it centered under my hands, it really eats into and pushes the mouse to the right a lot. Now I see why a Model M SSK Space saver is north of $300. This may be less of a problem now that I have a trackball, but still need to test that out with the Model M on the desk or learn how to use a mouse on the left side.

  • Standard non split staggered layout, some keys just feel unnatural to reach, like Backspace, model 1 does a fine job of putting all you need in easy reach without the
    constant shifting of hands here and there.

  • not programmable without 3rd party software/ hardware

Cracking wooden cases are a known issue of the first manufacturing run, IIRC. I had one, too, and it was replaced absolutely no issue under warranty. You might try reaching out and seeing if you could get a replacement wooden enclosure.

I did I was unfortunately out of warranty timeframe and it’s not worth the extra $50 at this time, just like the keycaps let’s see how it wears…