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Filco Majestouch FKBN105M/UKB review

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8

As we've espoused many times before, performance keyboards aren't just for gaming nuts and they don't have to be covered in silly gimmicks like flashing lights, and LCD screens. If you just want a hard-working tool that will make you type faster and more accurately and will stand the test of time then you'll be wanting something like the Filco Majestouch keyboard.

Like the Steel Series 7G gaming keyboard we looked at recently, the Majestouch range is all about having a simple functional design but building it from the best quality components. So instead of the flimsy rubber membrane switches (that wear out quickly and offer poor responsiveness and feedback) used on most conventional keyboards, the Majestouch range use individual mechanical switches for each key. In particular, they're the renowned MX switches made by Cherry.

Most keyboards use conductive contacts mounted on rubber membranes for their switch mechanism.

These switches are rated to last up to 50 million keystrokes and thanks to sturdy slide mechanisms they will operate even if you approach the key at an acute angle – many normal keys jam if you don't press them directly down. They're available in three different types; linear (black), soft tactile (brown), and click tactile (blue). As you'd expect the click tactile gives a response just like your classic clicky keyboards of old, while the soft tactile has a similar feeling whereby the key has a light initial resistance but then 'breaks' after you've pressed it a couple of millimetres. The linear, meanwhile, is the key used on the Steel Series 7G and it has a firmer overall action but without the break, for it's full 4mm of travel you get the same resistance. The switch triggers when you've pressed the key about half way down.

To correspond with this choice of key switches, Filco/Diatec, the Japanese keyboard manufacturer has created three otherwise identical keyboards all under the same general banner of Majestouch. The FKBN105M/UKB we're looking at today uses the soft tactile switch while the FKBN105MC/UKB uses the click tactile switch, and the FKBN105ML/UKB uses the linear switch. Other variations are available including 'tenkeyless' designs (referring to the lack of a number pad) and ones with non-UK layouts, all of which are available at the Keyboard Company, who has exclusive distribution rights here in the UK.

Getting onto the keyboard itself then, it's based on a completely conventional UK keyboard layout. So you get a full-size Enter key, large Right Shift key, and everything else where you'd expect. What you don't get, however, is any sort of multimedia shortcuts – even as secondary functions of the F keys – or even a simple volume control. Neither do you get audio pass-through cables or USB extension ports. This is a keyboard only.

Simple it may be, but the Majestouch makes up for this with incredible build quality. It's built entirely on a steel chassis and finished in thick layers of textured plastic. The result is a keyboard that could probably stop bullets and certainly doesn't know the meaning of the word 'flex'. One consequence of this is it weighs a hefty 1.2kg but, along with four sizeable rubber pads on the bottom, it means the keyboard certainly won't start shifting around your desk as you type.

philehidiot

June 9, 2010, 9:52 pm

I'd have bought the steel series 7 or this had either of them simply offered a single row of extra function keys. I loved the old clicky keyboards - bring one of those into the modern world with some short cut keys and I'd be almost happy.

Tony Walker

June 9, 2010, 11:06 pm

Neighbourhood keyboard facist here...





Sounds like a nice keyboard. Would be nice if there was somewhere to try one of these out.





To those who balk at the price - run the crappiest CPU, lowest memory, smallest hard drive, but never compromise on the holy trinity of computing. Monitor, Keyboard and Mouse. Get these right and you'll protect your precious body and eyes.





For the record mine are a Dell 2405WFP monitor, an IBM model M keyboard (the one they supplied with PS/2 systems), and a Logitech MX620 mouse.

stranded

June 10, 2010, 6:56 am

This looks a pretty nice keyboard. That's the kind i like. I am extremely happy there are no extra keys (gaming and multimedia) on it, they are just a waste of space and creative time.


I think its time to replace my no name 5 euro Chinese keyboard with something like this for games and everyday use.





@Tony Walker


Never heard anybody else sounding so good. Totally agree with you.

gurnaik

June 10, 2010, 1:26 pm

You can still buy the original IBM keyboards from a company called Unicomp http://pckeyboards.stores.yaho...

PoisonJam

June 10, 2010, 9:01 pm

The only problem with this is I can't try before I buy! Something I'd want to do before spending £100+ on a keyboard purely for its function.





Oh, that and the awful model number ;)

Tony Walker

June 11, 2010, 3:44 am

@PoisonJam - re model no.





You looked on the back of an IBM model m :)

Paxo

June 11, 2010, 3:56 pm

PoisonJam - Re the model number I agree it does not role off the tongue but there is some method to the madness. FKBN105M/UKB FKB – Filco Keyboard, N stands for NK Rollover, 105 is the number of keys (104 is a US layout). M is the type of Cherry switch – Brown’s in this instance, and finally UKB – UK Black. Makes sense…





I know Filco keyboards have been at the iSeries LAN events held at Newbury Race Course. Not sure if they will be there later in the year. Maybe the guys at Keyboard Co can tell you.

JaiSan

June 11, 2010, 5:58 pm

I wouldn't totally agree with the statement that it's 'incredible build quality' as there's an issue of the key legends wearing out after a couple of Months typing resulting in shiny key-caps. I do agree that it is a good keyboard but not outstanding, the Cherry G80-1863/5 HUMUS is better, IMHO. It's a 19" keyboard as used by the most prolific World gaming champions, Team wNv. These 19" KBDs which uses the Cherry MX switches with options of all Blue/Brown/Black, but most importantly it has high quality Double-Shot key-caps and in a smaller format. Note that Cherry-Corp has just announced that Double-Shot key-caps will no longer be produced in the future. MX Blues 50cN for typing, MX Blacks 60cN for gaming, MX Browns 45cN for both. Some people may find the Black Linear switches to be too heavy and like the lighter MX Browns but without the Tactile touch, there's the option of Cherry G80-3494 (MX Red Switches=Linear 45cN) with PBT key-caps.


For those who wish to purchase a Majestouch but prefer more options, Diatec will provide all.


NB: Full NKRO is only with PS/2 Socket.

Horhay

June 11, 2010, 6:42 pm

@TonyWalker Good call, the IBM model M rocks!

JaiSan

June 12, 2010, 4:26 pm

The IBM Model M does "rock" but the Model F arguably rocks even more.


If "...but never compromise on the holy trinity" then the Model M isn't going to protect your hands/arm @ 65-70cN, it's too heavy for long hours of typing, but each to their own preferences.


There'll be a keyboard to be released in the 3rd Quarter of 2010, design inputed by people who "Live, Eat and Sleep keyboards" for people who "Live, Eat and Sleep keyboards". It is called The MiniGuru and it's also configured to suit all preferences. Arguably the ultimate keyboard, considered to be better than Topre 86/87U and HHKB2


For those who are interested in all keyboards produced in the past and maybe in the future, please visit Geekhack where the people who "Live, Eat and Sleep keyboards" congregate.

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