Gear Keyboards

Keyboards, Layouts, QMK, Oh My!

So yesterday I was wondering whether or not I’m going to be fine with the Ducky One 2 Mini and it’s arrow key-less-ness.

Well, no. It sucks that it’s not quite possible (or requires crazy finger gymnastics) to be able to operate the arrow keys with Shift and Ctrl, which is something that’s not too uncommon when manipulating text.

So today I have another new keyboard, a loaner TADA68 from my old colleague Jaakko. And this blog post is the first test of this board.

The keyboard is kinda similar to the Ducky but at the same time miles apart;

  • This one is 65% instead of 60%, meaning there’s one extra column’s worth of keys, which in this case means the arrow keys (yes!) and Page Up & Down, Del and `.
  • TADA68 is fully programmable, meaning each and every key can be re-bound and fun & weird tricks can be employed. For example, the Caps Lock key could be mapped to act as Esc when pressed alone, but Control when pressed in a key combination.
  • Connects via mini USB (yuck).
  • This one is with ANSI layout, but apparently ISO layout is also available nowadays.
  • The TADA does not have RGB backlighting, just somewhat white LEDs.
  • The Ducky is slightly less tilted than the TADA.

I have to say I really, really enjoy the arrows as now it’s possible to switch chats in Telegram via Alt+Up/Down, select words with Ctrl+Shift+Arrows, minimize windows with Win+Down and do surprisingly many common little tasks with just one hand. I thought it’d be totally cool to every once a while push Fn (Caps Lock) with my pinky and IJKL for an arrow key, but alas, the need is far more common than I realized.

So this leads me thinking should I return the Ducky? If I did, what should I replace it with? TADA68 is great, but…

  • Both the keycaps and the chassis look (and to some extent feel) way cheaper than the Ducky.
  • Although ISO layout is available, Nordic keycaps out-of-the-box are not. Not that what it says on the keys matters that much, but still.
  • Did I mention it uses mini USB? It uses mini USB.
  • Also maybe it’s due to the fact that Jaakko’s keyboard is a year old, but the Ducky’s Cherry MX Browns feel way better (snappier) than the Gateron Browns on the TADA.
  • I do prefer the slightly smaller tilt on the Ducky.

So I’m 50-50 on this! Luckily I get to keep the TADA for a short while so I can get some hours on this to search my feelings.

Then again I just learned that Ducky has made a Nordic version of their Ducky One 2 SF, and that really would solve pretty much all of my problems – with the exception of not being totally programmable. But honestly, I’m not sure how much I’d really utilize such freedom.

Yet another option would be to forget Nordic and ISO layouts and learn to ANSI! That would open up the world of possibilities in both keyboards and keycaps…