The feel of a mechanical switch keyboard is something much sought after in a certain segment of the technical world. The resistance of the keys as they travel, the spring back to their original positions -- these are things that touch typists value, always chasing after the ultimate keyboarding experience.
It's something of a secret group of fellow travelers. "Oh," one says, with a raised eyebrow and a knowing nod. "You prefer ... the mechanical switch."
For years, I've been buying Matias. My initial USB 2.0 was a gateway drug. It felt so much better than the cheap keyboards I'd been typing with. Soon, I needed more -- I needed better. It wasn't long until I was haunting back alleys in search of the ultimate typing high. The Tactile Pro.
Matias' premium keyswitch technology offered the kind of responsive clickiness my mechanically trained fingers had been longing for. One premium-priced Matias followed another, as it became my typing choix de poison.
But like other habits, it came with a price. The sound. The unbearably loud sound -- the audible track marks of a Tactile Pro "user."
Soon others began to drift away. They tried to be tactful. "It's not you, it's me. I'm just not good with loud noises." Or they would ask, "Maybe you could type after we get off the phone?" Some were simply honest. "I refuse to suffer through CLACKITY-CLACKITY-CLACKITY when the two of us are brainstorming."
There was nothing to do but stand my ground. "But... but... I need my mechanical switches. I need the type-feel. I need my Matias." In response, there were sad looks, sighs and resignation. It seemed a hopeless situation. I would surrender my keyboard when it was dragged from my cold, dead, highly-muscled fingers.
That is, until Matias announced the new line of Quiet Pro. Available for both Mac and PC, the US$150 Quiet Pro is the methadone of the mechanical typing world. Created with new "Quiet Click" mechanical keyswitches, the Quiet Pro balances feel against sound, providing a softer typing experience without overly sacrificing tactile feedback.
I received my review unit, and immediately put it to work. Although not a quiet keyboard in any sense of the real-world meaning of "quiet," compared to the Tactile Pro, the Quiet Pro is a gentle rill of a stream next to the raging Mississippi.
There are, of course, sacrifices. The key travel isn't as crisp, isn't quite as clean as the Tactile Pro. The bounce back feels slower, a little more muffled. But when juxtapositioned with other keyboards, the Quiet Pro is clearly mechanical. It stands well above the experience you get from standard keyboards. It's, after all, a Matias.
The Quiet Pro is ideal for office scenarios, for teleconferencing, and talkcasts -- situations where data entry must be "social," and where concern for other persons' well-being must take precedence over the perfect typing high.
It's a really good keyboard, too. It has excellent bounce and a nice clicky feel. If it weren't for my side-by-side testing, I might not even have noticed how the perfection of the Tactile Pro ever so slightly takes away the blue ribbon from the excellent performance of the Quiet Pro. Nearly anyone who loves the mechanical experience will value the sound / feel balance the Quiet Pro offers.
So how quiet exactly is the Quiet Pro? The video below demonstrates the difference in sound levels.
All in all, the $150 Quiet Pro represents an excellent entry in the mechanical keyboard arena and a wonderful innovation for anyone who has to balance sound against key feel. Recommended.