back to article Vissles V84: Mechanical keyboard hits all the right buttons for Mac power users

Mechanical keyboard manufacturers have typically swerved Mac users. It's not personal, it's just business. The Mac has a fraction of the traditional PC market share, and a significant proportion of mechanical keyboards are intended for competitive gamers, rather than those who type for work (be they developers or writers, or …

  1. allan_code

    It’s so nice seeing budget Keebs that aren’t just Gateron. Great review as always!

  2. zapgadget
    Coffee/keyboard

    Keychron

    I just got a Keychron C2. Full keyboard. Defaults to Mac, switchable to windows, and no-solder swappable keyswitches. I'm running Gateron brown right now, which seems nice, but can change if I feel like it. Less than £65 for the fancy RGB backlight one (which I already switched to white)

    1. Sykowasp

      Re: Keychron

      I very recently got a Keychron K8 (wireless gatorade red, might take into work so needs to be a bit considerate in the noise dept).

      So far, so good.

    2. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      Re: Keychron

      I just got a Keychron C2.

      Nice but no full size return :(

      1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

        Re: Keychron

        Never mind - just found the K4 & K8

      2. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Keychron

        It's a shame they don't do the C2 in ISO format, so I went for a K8 instead. It can be connected with a cable if you like, no numberpad though. You'll probably need a wrist rest as well as it's not low-profile and the board is quite high up.

    3. Mike Richards Silver badge

      Re: Keychron

      Thumbs up for the Keychron K2 here - works well both as wireless and a wired keyboard.

      The Matias Pro wired keyboards are excellent into the bargain, using the same switches as the old IBM PC keyboards. They also double up as an offensive weapon.

  3. Craig McNeil

    Ugh! Why are there no decent full size Mac keyboards? I need that keypad!

    1. Zippy´s Sausage Factory

      My LMP is a great clone of the Apple one. It even has the built in USB connectors. Unlike a real Apple keyboard, however, they actually form a proper USB2 hub, rather than a USB1 hub, which is nice.

      I'm always on the lookout for something better and this Vissles would be tempting if it was USB rather than Bluetooth as mine plugs into a KVM and does duty for 4 computers, not just the Mac.

    2. Tom Chiverton 1

      Get a USB Sun keyboard. You get hardware copy/paste then too :)

      1. 45RPM Silver badge

        Except that the drivers don’t exist, and seldom have I used a cheaper feeling or mushier keyboard. Even Sinclair made better keyboards than those supplied with Sun workstations.

      2. oiseau Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Having gone through or used enough Sun Microsystems hardware to be able to evaluate or at least have reasonable expectations of good quality, a couple of years ago I paid good money (I'm cheap so YMMV) for a pair of lightly used Sun Type 7 keyboards.

        Mushy, fragile, bad quality plastics, poor Linux driver support.

        One word?

        --> POS.

        My daily driver now is a 1995 IBM Model 'M' I have recently refurbished.

        Save that I had forgotten how noisy they are, no complaints whatsoever.

        O.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Stick to Type 6

          All my Macs have Type 6 keyboards (and Sun mice). Much better than Type 7.

    3. idiot taxpayer here again

      @Craig McNeil

      I have used a Das mechanical keyboard for some time now. They are full size and have a number pad. The one I used is designed for Mac. And it has a very useable rotary volume pot as welland 2 usb3 ports

    4. DougMac

      I have a couple wasdkeyboards for my Macs, with a custom mac icons on them.

      Full sized 111-key keyboard.

      Works great. Not super pricey. Not flashy for gamers.

    5. Smirnov

      Ugh! Why are there no decent full size Mac keyboards? I need that keypad!

      I'm using a Redragon K580 mechanical keyboard I think I paid some GBP70 5 years ago. It's got replaceable Cherry style switches and works fine with both the two Macs and two PCs that it is connected to through a KVM switch.

      It does have the standard LED lightship but it can be programmed not only through a Windows tool but also through a direct programming mode on the keyboard itself, and I just set it to constant white so I got a nice backlight keyboard (and I can control the intensity with the volume roller).

      Build quality is excellent (like a tank) and even after half a decade of intensive use it still feels as solid as the legendary IBM keyboards from the old days.

    6. farvoyages

      I'm using an Apple Nimitz ADB keyboard with a ADB-USB adapter on High Sierra ... wrote my thesis on this keyboard in 1993 connected to a IIfx :)

    7. W.S.Gosset Silver badge
      Megaphone

      > I need that keypad!

      Here ya go: Matias Tactile Pro

      Unreserved recommendation. It's an exact remake of the old historical Apple Extended Keyboard, keys-wise. Absolutely brilliant to type on.

    8. luminous

      I'm using the Magic keyboard with numeric keypad from Apple and it's the best keyboard I've owned. I used to have the Logitech K750 solar keyboard which was gorgeous... unfortunately when the battery died... the keyboard did also (non replaceable).

      The Magic keyboard charges through USB-C and probably have to do this about once a month while using it several hours every day. It's a bit pricey but it's been worth every penny for me.

  4. coconuthead

    no, not all the Mac keys are there

    The keyboard is missing the right OPTION key.

    On macOS, OPTION Is another type of shift, and therefore to touch type characters accessible via it you need an OPTION key on both sides. To touch type an upper case A you press A with your left little finger (pinky) and right SHIFT with your right little finger. To touch type one of the characters on the OPTION layer you do the same thing, so you need OPTION keys on *both sides*.

    The pictured sample is a US layout. Using the default keymap for Australia (same as the US), the following characters cannot be properly typed: £, €, dead accent, dead grave. I don't even live in Europe and would miss those. At least the umlaut and curly quotes are possible, because those are on the right of the keyboard.

    Now perhaps you could remap the very rarely-used right hand CTRL, but (i) do they supply a keycap for that? (ii) as the article points out, you'd need a Windows machine, and (iii) why on earth isn't it the default if it's claimed to be a Mac keyboard?

    1. Irony Deficient Silver badge

      Using the default keymap for Australia (same as the US)

      If easy typing of £, €, dead acute, and dead grave is a priority for you, then the solution is to not use the default input source for Australia (and the US); use the “ABC Extended” input source (which was called “U.S. Extended” in older versions of macOS) instead. I was able to install it via System Preferences → Keyboard → Input Sources; I dont know if that path has changed in recent versions of macOS. With ABC Extended active, £ is Option 3, € is Shift Option 2, dead acute is Option e (e.g. é is Option e then e), and dead grave is Option ` (e.g. à is Option ` then a).

      As to Vissles’ design choices, they took a standard 84-key layout, installed macOS-friendly keycaps on the keyboard, and are marketing it as a Mac keyboard. If a right Option key is important to you, and you don’t want to remap keys using a program like Karabiner Elements so that its right Control key would function as a right Option key, then the V84 doesn’t meet your needs, and shouldn’t be on your to-buy list.

      1. coconuthead

        Re: Using the default keymap for Australia (same as the US)

        The key combinations you mention are all already supported by the Australian keyboard layout without any special configuration. If I go get a new Mac from the Apple Store 10 minutes down the road and turn it on, those will be active as soon as I select "English" in the setup screen.

        I'm guessing if you didn't know that, those characters aren't important to you, and that is why you think it's perfectly all right for them to be hard to type.

        And no, I don't want to install third party software like Karabiner into something as important and sensitive as the keyboard input processing.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: Using the default keymap for Australia (same as the US)

          Have a look at Keychron's keyboards. Similar price, similar idea (Mac support out of the box, PC support by replacing keycaps with others supplied in the box). The wider keyboards have all the ctrl/option/command keys.

        2. Irony Deficient Silver badge

          Re: Using the default keymap for Australia (same as the US)

          I’ve used the U.S. Extended input source for a very long time, so I don’t remember what’s available in the default Australian/US English input source. I don’t consider those key combinations to be hard to type. Given your focus on having a keyboard with a right Option key, do you not consider the use of an Option key to produce £, €, &c. as “properly typed”? Which keys are acceptable to you to press to generate £, €, &c.?

          Since you don’t want to install third-party software to obtain the functionality of a right Option key on a keyboard that lacks such a key, the V84 isn’t suitable for you.

  5. 2+2=5 Silver badge

    ;: [{ etc

    What is it with modern keycaps? Semi-colon colon and the various bracket combinations could easily be printed one above the other but for some unexplained reason they are printed side-by-side.

    At the moment I'm using an old Matias Tactile Pro keyboard which has extra USB ports on each side which I use to plug a headset in when I'm on calls. This works well when combined with an external monitor because the laptop is folded-up and tucked away at the side of the desk and I don't have to faff trying to plug the headset into one of its USBs when a call comes in.

    1. Sykowasp

      Re: ;: [{ etc

      If the keys are backlit, then the letters are where the light shines through.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: ;: [{ etc

        Can't understand why you've been downvoted for this.

        Switches and shine-through keycaps are "north facing" or "south facing" and both need to match otherwise the backlight won't shine through the keycap legend as strongly as it could.

    2. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Re: ;: [{ etc

      As Sykowasp indicated, Cherry-compatible switches can't illuminate the entire keycap with only one LED. This is because the mechanism was never designed for backlighting so the LED has to sit on the edge of the switch and illuminates only about half of the cap.

      One alternative is Logitech, which uses Omron mechanical switches (which it brands "Romer-G") in some of its keyboards. These have the LED in the middle of the switch, so they have normal looking keycaps and backlighting at the same time. They also don't splash light out the sides like Cherry switches either.

      The other alternative is simply a keyboard without backlighting, which is fine (possibly even preferable) in an office environment. One very normal option that I've stumbled upon recently that has Mac support and a choice of switch types is iKBC.

  6. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    Would love to have a decent, mechanical keyboard, one that goes <clickety><clack> like the BOFH's do.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge
  7. FBee

    2 thumbs up for Malvina Reynolds reference

    Little Boxes - Malvina Reynolds 1962

    Pete Seeger had a 1963 hit record during the Great Folk Music Scare but I have always preferred her own version with her slightly creaky-sounding voice adding even more authenticity.

    Little boxes on the hillside

    Little boxes made of ticky tacky

    Little boxes on the hillside

    Little boxes all the same

    There's a pink one and a green one

    And a blue one and a yellow one

    And they're all made out of ticky tacky

    And they all look just the same

    And the people in the houses

    All went to the university

    Where they were put in boxes

    And they came out all the same

    And there's doctors and lawyers

    And business executives

    And they're all made out of ticky tacky

    And they all look just the same

    And they all play on the golf course

    And drink their martinis dry

    And they all have pretty children

    And the children go to school

    And the children go to summer camp

    And then to the university

    Where they are put in boxes

    And they come out all the same

    And the boys go into business

    And marry and raise a family

    In boxes made of ticky tacky

    And they all look just the same

    There's a pink one and a green one

    And a blue one and a yellow one

    And they're all made out of ticky tacky

    And they all look just the same

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: All made out of ticky tacky

      The "Little Boxes" song describes modern houses in the UK. So-called Double Bedrooms that can only take a 4ft 6in Double. Single rooms where trying to swing a cat would lead to criminal charges and really shoddy construction.

      I looked at a new-build house costing £525,000 near my 1930's built semi. If the new build lasts 25 years then I would be very surprised. The builder was offering me £325,000 in part exchange. Daylight robbery as I had mine valued at £410,000 in April.

      Then there is the size of the plot. It was 1/3rd of the size of the plot that my current house is built on.

      The final straw was the total lack of parking. Only space for 0.5 cars per house. no garages either. The nearest bus stop (no Sat or Sun Service) is over a mile away. numpties.

      All this is less than 10 miles from the M25.

      They did look all the same and were definitely made out of ticky-tacky.

  8. FIA Silver badge

    The picture in this article poses too many questions, and doesn't quite add up IMHO....

    Notebook, presumably for quickly noting things down. (Oooo... a spy?)

    Coffee, for staying awake (.... a steakout, definitely a spy)

    Camera, for the subtle picture taking (recon!)

    Phone for net connectivity (Definitely recon!)

    Air freshener, to mask nearby bad smells??? (....from a dumpster!!)

    Then a loud as fuck keyboard? Which is hardly discreet??

    What are you doing??!?

    1. keithpeter Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      @FIA

      Quote from original article...

      "Linear key switches are preferable for those playing gaming titles, where you want to exert the least amount of force to register a keypress. They're also virtually silent, meaning you can use them in a crowded office without annoying your co-workers."

      Otherwise, I shared your logic almost step by step.

  9. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    Where do they make it?

    Why manufacturers no longer publish where their products are being made?

    Are they afraid of something?

    If you want to make an ethical choice when buying your equipment, then you have to spend a lot of time researching every single product, because information as simple as country of origin is not available. Some companies even use deceiving tactics like only showing "Designed in" on the specs sheet.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Where do they make it?

      It's pretty much like any other attribute: if they don't tell you, assume there's a reason for that. I have a policy of not purchasing goods made in China; if someone doesn't clearly label the country of origin or uses the slimy variants instead, I assume two things:

      1. The product was made in China, so I don't buy it.

      2. The corporation that branded it is dishonest, so I avoid other products bearing that brand also.

      Nothing to it really. People who have their goods made (or make them themselves!) in places like the EU or USA almost invariably state that proudly.

    2. FIA Silver badge

      Re: Where do they make it?

      Why manufacturers no longer publish where their products are being made?

      Probably because it's quite hard.

      Which bit do you mean? The overall assembly? The 'custom' bits? The underlying components? Or where were the plastics made; the metals mined?

      If you want to make an ethical choice when buying your equipment

      ...then once you scratch the surface it becomes virtually impossible.

      Even big ones like 'don't buy Chinese' aren't easy. It's easy to criticsise China for it's actions and human rights abuses but is the best policy to punish it's citizens, or does a wealthier and more savvy populace force internal change? If you blame a countries populace for it's actions, then do we have to look at our own places of residence? Or do you consider youself above the actions of your home country, in which case why not buy from a Chinese businessperson?

      Kudos for trying, it's a bloody minefield!!

      1. FIA Silver badge

        Re: Where do they make it?

        Or do you consider youself above the actions of your home country

        'above' was the wrong choice of words, I mean 'seperate from'.

        EG, I'm british, but my ancestors were down the pits mining the coal that powered the industry the rich people used to be a bit shitty to the rest of the world with.

  10. Eclectic Man Silver badge
    Joke

    All very well and good

    But is it compatible with the red "PANIC" button I bought in San Diego last century?

  11. PenGun

    Am I the only one who cracked up at 'Mac Power User'? Times sure have changed. ;)

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