GCN Lab Review: Das Keyboard Ultimate

Pros: Fun to type on, gorgeous style adds Euro-class to your humble cubicle
Cons: Rich typing sound could disturb quiet office, unmarked keys might intimidate some
Performance: A
Features: A
Ease of use: A
Value: B+
Price: $129

Metadot’s Das Keyboard Ultimate is a marvel of German engineering: sleek and shiny, with a few glowing blue LED dashboard lights. Pulling it out of the box and plugging it in, I suddenly felt cooler, more existential. I felt like I should be wearing a black turtleneck and smoking Gauloises.

The striking thing about the keyboard is that the keys are completely blank, like one of those minimalist watches without numbers. The company’s theory is that by not seeing the letters on the keys, you will become a better touch typist in a few weeks because you will have memorized the keyboard.

The Ultimate has two USB ports on the side so you can recharge your iPhone and other devices while you type. We used the included 6.5-foot USB cable to plug the keyboard into our Dell OptiPlex GX280 desktop PC running Microsoft Windows XP. You can start typing immediately on the gold-plated key switches because no software or power cables are required beyond the USB connection.

It was a joy to type on the Ultimate. As a touch typist since high school, I didn’t have a problem with the unmarked keys, but one of my co-workers found it intimidating. The satisfying clackety-clack of the keys while I typed made me feel like the kind of journalist in old movies who fell in love with Cary Grant and/or Spencer Tracy while uncovering corruption at City Hall. I almost wished the company had added a bell sound when you came to the end of a line, like old typewriters had. The old-timey clacking sound got me into a typing groove that I don’t remember ever experiencing with a traditional computer keyboard.

The gold-plated backing on the keys keeps them from corroding, unlike the baser metals used in standard keyboards. It adds to the keyboard’s longevity — and its price.

The Ultimate keyboard is impossible to confound. If you try to jam it by pressing all the keys at once, the keyboard records each key separately and in the order pressed, which is helpful for fast typists.

I wondered if using a Rolls Royce of a keyboard like the Ultimate could make me a better writer. I found myself wanting to type more, so it definitely increased my productivity. Anything you can do to make a day of dreary telecommuting or proposal writing more engaging is a good thing, even if it costs a few dollars more.

Metadot, 512-346-0360, www.daskeyboard.com

About the Author

Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.

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