Best Topre keyboard from 2016
Topre switches are a electrostatic capacitive non-contact keyboard switch, which have been around since the 80s. Some people don’t consider Topre to be a true mechanical switch, but more of a hybrid of a mechanical switch and a rubber-dome switch. You can see in the diagram below, both a spring and a rubber dome are used in the design.
Most of the resistance of the Topre switch comes from the rubber dome, however, Topre rubber domes are built to a much higher quality and standard than your standard rubber membrane keyboard.
Topre is the biggest competitor to Cherry MX style mechanical switches, but have a decided disadvantage in that the keyboards that use them are so expensive! While prices have been dropping, many keyboards that use Topre switches are still over $200. There are a few notable exceptions, like the CoolerMaster NovaTouch, which we’ll talk about shortly.
Ultimately, whether or not a Topre keyboard is worth the money for you to spend on it will come down to your personal preference. It’s hard to say if Topre is right for you without trying one out yourself.
Below is a video where you can get a feel for the difference in sound of a mechanical switch vs Topre. Topre switches have a much deeper sound and are generally more quiet.
With all that background covered, let’s jump into the best Topre keyboards for 2016!
CoolerMaster Storm NovaTouch TKL
The CoolerMaster Storm NovaTouch TKL is both the best cheap Topre keyboard and best overall Topre keyboard on our list, not that the NovaTouch is cheap in comparison to non-Topre keyboards!
One thing we love about the NovaTouch is the tenkeyless layout, as well as the Cherry MX compatible stems. Unlike other Topre keyboards, you can use the same keycaps that you would use on a Cherry MX keyboard. This opens up a world of keyboard customization that is mostly shut off with standard Topre stems.
The CM NovaTouch TKL also comes with O-rings for the keycaps (you have to install yourself), if you want a more quiet typing experience.
Happy Hacking Keyboard Professional 2
The Happy Hacking Keyboard (or just HHKB) is a very popular, ultra-compact mechanical keyboard in the 60% form factor. For such a small keyboard, it may be hard for many people to stomach the high price tag.
The HHKB has a built-in USB 2.0 hub with 2 ports and a unique layout. For example, there’s no Caps Lock key, you must access that by holding down a function key and pressing Tab. Here’s how PFU describes the HHKB layout –
We eliminated dedicated CAPS LOCK, Windows key and numerical key pad. About function keys, we overlaid them on numerical keys. Some other keys such as PageUp, PageDown, Home are also overlaid on some keys on the right half of the keyboard. To generate these key codes, please keep holding “Fn” key located right below RETURN key and press appropriate keys.
This model has 65 keys because of addition of arrow keys and Fn key at left side of keyboard.
So clearly you’ll want to spend some time thinking about if such a compact layout will work best for you or not. Many people who prefer this keyboard are actually computer programmers.
Topre Realforce 104UB
The Realforce 104UB is made directly by the Topre company and is also available in a [amazon text=87-key&asin=B00MV84Y2Y] version. One interesting thing about the Realforce keyboards is the switches have different stiffness depending on where they are on the keyboard. Keys towards the center of the keyboard are more stiff, and keys towards the outside where primarily your pinky will do the typing are much lighter.
This makes for a more ergonomic typing experience that some will enjoy, but others may find annoying. Those that love it swear it’s the best typing keyboard they’ve ever tried, so if it sounds interesting it’s worth a shot.