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Nowak

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  • Content Count

    4,150
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Reputation Activity

  1. Like
    Nowak got a reaction from Bombastinator in Will gddr6 graphics cards work in a Gddr5 slot?   
    Do you have a PlayStation 4? There are no PC motherboards that use GDDR5 as system RAM.
  2. Funny
    Nowak reacted to WereCatf in Dear Americans, is it true you don't get paid holidays?   
    Ah, so you figured that your life isn't miserable enough yet and you want to make everything even worse?
  3. Like
    Nowak got a reaction from sowon in The ALL-METAL Keyboard   
    Good job on finally discovering and even recommending non-Cherry switches! Hope this trend continues.
  4. Agree
    Nowak got a reaction from minibois in The ALL-METAL Keyboard   
    Good job on finally discovering and even recommending non-Cherry switches! Hope this trend continues.
  5. Like
    Nowak got a reaction from seon123 in The ALL-METAL Keyboard   
    Good job on finally discovering and even recommending non-Cherry switches! Hope this trend continues.
  6. Agree
    Nowak got a reaction from wolfxtr3m in The ALL-METAL Keyboard   
    Good job on finally discovering and even recommending non-Cherry switches! Hope this trend continues.
  7. Like
    Nowak got a reaction from FezBoy in Mechanical Keyboard Club!   
    I wouldn't call Inks "standard" Gateron switches due to the plastics used, but it was nice that he used non-Cherry switches for once and also lubed the switches.
  8. Like
    Nowak got a reaction from geo3 in The ALL-METAL Keyboard   
    Good job on finally discovering and even recommending non-Cherry switches! Hope this trend continues.
  9. Like
    Nowak got a reaction from Derkoli in The ALL-METAL Keyboard   
    Good job on finally discovering and even recommending non-Cherry switches! Hope this trend continues.
  10. Like
    Nowak got a reaction from kelvinhall05 in The ALL-METAL Keyboard   
    Good job on finally discovering and even recommending non-Cherry switches! Hope this trend continues.
  11. Informative
    Nowak got a reaction from Bombastinator in Ultimate boomer law - "joke" bill bans phones for people under 21   
    Wait, people in Vermont have phones?

    Last time I was there, cellular service was so spotty outside of a more urban area like Montpelier that I ended up not touching my phone a lot of the time.
  12. Like
    Nowak got a reaction from Pascal... in Keychron K4 keyboard review: a budget-priced 96% with a decent feature set   
    It's not every day you see a wireless optical keyboard with RGB, but here we have one. The Keychron K4 is a 96% keyboard priced at under $100 depending on the configuration you get, but there's no reason to write it off because it's cheap. Over my week of using it, I have found some quirks I like about it, but there's also things not to like about this board. The standout feature is that it's offered with optical switches by LK, a type of contactless switch, along with traditional contact-based Gateron switches. Mine is configured with the Blue variant of these optical switches, as well as a plastic frame and RGB lighting; altogether, it came to $90. Without further ado, let's get on with it.
     
    A lot like the Hexgears Impulse I previously reviewed, the Keychron K4 is pretty no-frills. It comes with rather thin, laser-ablated ABS keycaps, which do not feel very great, but they are shine-through. There's also no ugly "gamer" font, so thanks for that, Keychron! This is a 96% keyboard with 100 keys, so compared to a traditional full-size keyboard it's more compact, albeit missing some nav cluster keys. Well... actually, it's more of a 99 key keyboard, because Keychron for whatever reason puts a dedicated backlighting key in the upper right corner. This key does nothing but change what backlighting pattern the keyboard is using. As a result, the home, end, pgup, pgdn and delete keys are shifted over a key, and the print screen key is deleted. I do not like this, as I found this key rather useful for allowing me to be precise with what I screenshot.
     
    Now, you might be saying "Oh, you can just program the missing keys onto layers!" to which the answer would be... no. There's no official software from Keychron for this keyboard. Instead, they include a slip in the box that tells you that if you want to remap your keyboard, you need to download this third party software, the Windows version of which depends on Registry hacks! No thanks, especially since I'm one of those nerds who owns more than one keyboard.
     
    Perhaps most bizarre though is where the USB port is. It is Type-C, which is very nice to see, but unlike most other keyboards where the USB port is on the back, the USB port of the K4 is on the side. Not wanting to risk breaking my only USB-C to -C cable, I bought a right angle USB-C to -C adapter to reduce the stress put on it.
     

     
    Perhaps mercifully, Keychron includes a right angle USB-C to -A cable in the box, but I found it too short for my desk setup.
     
    Due to the lack of dedicated software, there isn't much in the way of RGB customization. You can hit the backlighting button to change between 18 presets, and then use the Fn key + left and right arrow keys to swap between colors, but... compared to what I can do with a keyboard with dedicated software, it's pretty limited. The backlighting does look nice and vivid though, and running a preference poll between this board and the similarly-sized Input Club Kira on Twitter resulted in me learning that people prefer the way how the lighting on the Keychron K4 looks.
     
    As for the switches, these are a type of contactless switch, as in there is no contact leaf used to register a keypress, a la most keyswitches. Keychron says these are rated for 100 million keypresses, but in more accurate terms, tens of thousands of hours, due to the limiting factor being the lifetime of the optical sensors rather than the switch mechanism, which simply consists of a plastic slider and spring. If you need more on how these work, the spring blocks a laser from an infrared LED, and when pressed the slider allows the laser to shine through to a receptacle, which then registers the keypress and sends it to the computer. Being that these are optical, they are insanely quick to respond, with Keychron stating that their response time is only 0.2 miliseconds. However, these switches are very light, and I often found myself making mistakes when typing. It actually put some strain on my fingers the first time I tried using it! If this isn't up your alley, the K4 does come with a choice of four Gateron MX clone switches: Blue, Brown, Red and Yellow. This reduces the price by $10, so you are paying a bit of a premium for optical switches over traditional contact switches.
     
    I got mine with the clicky variant of the optical switches, but I can't seem to figure out what makes them, well, click. I can't find any evidence of a click bar in them, a la Kailh switches, nor can I find a more traditional click jacket in them. There probably is a click leaf in the assembly, which would ruin the point of a contactless switch, but if there is I can't feel it. The click isn't very strong and easily gets overshadowed by the sound of the keycaps clacking and the insane amount of ping. I don't know if my board has bad springs or what, but the springs are very pingy and sometimes squeak a bit. Keyfeel is very smooth regardless, but if you aren't a big fan of ping, this is not the keyboard for you.

    Also, it's worth noting that contactless does not mean guaranteed smoothness; there are enough Soviet-era keyboards floating around to disprove that theory.
     
    Now as for another headlining feature of this keyboard, Bluetooth connectivity! At least on my PC, this seems to be a mixed bag. A lot of the time it works pretty great, but there are times when the signal gets weak and the keyboard begins inputting wrong, repeating characters or missing them altogether, with output on my computer delayed. Not great, guys. However, the keyboard comes with an integrated 4000mAh battery, which does last a good few days before you need to plug in the keyboard again; Keychron estimates up to 70 hours working time with Bluetooth and RGB lighting enabled. If you disable the backlighting, which can be done by pressing Fn + the backlighting key, this gets extended to 4 weeks. Damn son. Also, unlike the Anne Pro 2, wherein you could only have it plugged in or wireless, but not both, the K4 allows you to have it plugged in while using it wirelessly. Switching between wired and Bluetooth modes is quick and easy, being done with a switch on the side.
     
    Speaking of switching modes, by default this keyboard is configured for MacOS, but for Windows and Linux users, reconfiguring the board for non-Apple operating systems is as easy as swapping a few keycaps on the bottom row and moving a switch also on the side, right below the USB port. As mentioned before, this keyboard comes with laser-ablated ABS caps, but what I didn't mention before is this keyboard is MX-compatible, even with optical switches. Keycap replacement will be hard, though, due to the non-standard layout and most aftermarket cap sets that don't cost over $100 being designed for a standard ANSI/ISO 104/105 key layout. If you wish to get some aftermarket caps, be prepared to spend at least $100 on a GMK set as I can't find much else that will fit on this keyboard, or many other 96% boards for that matter.
     
    As for ergonomics, this keyboard is both great and not great. While the 96% form factor saves room on your desk compared to a traditional full size keyboard, this is a very high profile keyboard. The caps are OEM profile, rather than something smaller like Cherry profile, and with the flip-out feet up, it has an 8.5° angle. The rather steep profile required me to use a high profile wrist rest to avoid straining my arms as well as my fingers, so keep that in mind. Without the feet flipped out, the keyboard assumes a 0° angle, but, again, it's rather high profile. You will need a wrist rest to comfortably use this keyboard.
     
    So, after about a week of use, how do I feel about the Keychron K4? Well, considering the features you get for the price, I do feel it offers a lot of value for your money, and the optical switches do provide it even more if you're a hardcore gamer. However, the Bluetooth performance, at least in my case, left a lot to be desired, and the horrible pinging can get maddening over longer typing sessions. Also, the rather high profile strained my fingers, which made longer typing sessions uncomfortable, especially for my bad right arm, and the light optical switches led to me making more mistakes than usual when typing. However, the Bluetooth mode is nice to have, and if you're a Mac user, this keyboard does come configured for it by default. Perhaps if you're looking at using a keyboard other than the terrible keyboard Apple usually includes on their laptops now, you could look into this board, just saying. Considering this comes in below $100 though, for the features you get it's hard to complain, but there are some things that left me wanting better from Keychron. Perhaps switching to lower profile caps, using heavier springs in the optical switch variant and including a second, less extreme angle for height adjustment could go a long way towards improving ergonomics.
     
    Anyway, thank you for reading. No typing recording this time, but to give an idea of what it sounds like, you can hear a bit of it in this tweet of mine. I'll probably write a few more keyboard reviews in the future as I have some ideas for what I want to check out, but in the meantime, I wish you guys a nice 2020, and may you get some decent keyboards this year.
  13. Informative
    Nowak got a reaction from Airdragonz in Keychron K4 keyboard review: a budget-priced 96% with a decent feature set   
    It's not every day you see a wireless optical keyboard with RGB, but here we have one. The Keychron K4 is a 96% keyboard priced at under $100 depending on the configuration you get, but there's no reason to write it off because it's cheap. Over my week of using it, I have found some quirks I like about it, but there's also things not to like about this board. The standout feature is that it's offered with optical switches by LK, a type of contactless switch, along with traditional contact-based Gateron switches. Mine is configured with the Blue variant of these optical switches, as well as a plastic frame and RGB lighting; altogether, it came to $90. Without further ado, let's get on with it.
     
    A lot like the Hexgears Impulse I previously reviewed, the Keychron K4 is pretty no-frills. It comes with rather thin, laser-ablated ABS keycaps, which do not feel very great, but they are shine-through. There's also no ugly "gamer" font, so thanks for that, Keychron! This is a 96% keyboard with 100 keys, so compared to a traditional full-size keyboard it's more compact, albeit missing some nav cluster keys. Well... actually, it's more of a 99 key keyboard, because Keychron for whatever reason puts a dedicated backlighting key in the upper right corner. This key does nothing but change what backlighting pattern the keyboard is using. As a result, the home, end, pgup, pgdn and delete keys are shifted over a key, and the print screen key is deleted. I do not like this, as I found this key rather useful for allowing me to be precise with what I screenshot.
     
    Now, you might be saying "Oh, you can just program the missing keys onto layers!" to which the answer would be... no. There's no official software from Keychron for this keyboard. Instead, they include a slip in the box that tells you that if you want to remap your keyboard, you need to download this third party software, the Windows version of which depends on Registry hacks! No thanks, especially since I'm one of those nerds who owns more than one keyboard.
     
    Perhaps most bizarre though is where the USB port is. It is Type-C, which is very nice to see, but unlike most other keyboards where the USB port is on the back, the USB port of the K4 is on the side. Not wanting to risk breaking my only USB-C to -C cable, I bought a right angle USB-C to -C adapter to reduce the stress put on it.
     

     
    Perhaps mercifully, Keychron includes a right angle USB-C to -A cable in the box, but I found it too short for my desk setup.
     
    Due to the lack of dedicated software, there isn't much in the way of RGB customization. You can hit the backlighting button to change between 18 presets, and then use the Fn key + left and right arrow keys to swap between colors, but... compared to what I can do with a keyboard with dedicated software, it's pretty limited. The backlighting does look nice and vivid though, and running a preference poll between this board and the similarly-sized Input Club Kira on Twitter resulted in me learning that people prefer the way how the lighting on the Keychron K4 looks.
     
    As for the switches, these are a type of contactless switch, as in there is no contact leaf used to register a keypress, a la most keyswitches. Keychron says these are rated for 100 million keypresses, but in more accurate terms, tens of thousands of hours, due to the limiting factor being the lifetime of the optical sensors rather than the switch mechanism, which simply consists of a plastic slider and spring. If you need more on how these work, the spring blocks a laser from an infrared LED, and when pressed the slider allows the laser to shine through to a receptacle, which then registers the keypress and sends it to the computer. Being that these are optical, they are insanely quick to respond, with Keychron stating that their response time is only 0.2 miliseconds. However, these switches are very light, and I often found myself making mistakes when typing. It actually put some strain on my fingers the first time I tried using it! If this isn't up your alley, the K4 does come with a choice of four Gateron MX clone switches: Blue, Brown, Red and Yellow. This reduces the price by $10, so you are paying a bit of a premium for optical switches over traditional contact switches.
     
    I got mine with the clicky variant of the optical switches, but I can't seem to figure out what makes them, well, click. I can't find any evidence of a click bar in them, a la Kailh switches, nor can I find a more traditional click jacket in them. There probably is a click leaf in the assembly, which would ruin the point of a contactless switch, but if there is I can't feel it. The click isn't very strong and easily gets overshadowed by the sound of the keycaps clacking and the insane amount of ping. I don't know if my board has bad springs or what, but the springs are very pingy and sometimes squeak a bit. Keyfeel is very smooth regardless, but if you aren't a big fan of ping, this is not the keyboard for you.

    Also, it's worth noting that contactless does not mean guaranteed smoothness; there are enough Soviet-era keyboards floating around to disprove that theory.
     
    Now as for another headlining feature of this keyboard, Bluetooth connectivity! At least on my PC, this seems to be a mixed bag. A lot of the time it works pretty great, but there are times when the signal gets weak and the keyboard begins inputting wrong, repeating characters or missing them altogether, with output on my computer delayed. Not great, guys. However, the keyboard comes with an integrated 4000mAh battery, which does last a good few days before you need to plug in the keyboard again; Keychron estimates up to 70 hours working time with Bluetooth and RGB lighting enabled. If you disable the backlighting, which can be done by pressing Fn + the backlighting key, this gets extended to 4 weeks. Damn son. Also, unlike the Anne Pro 2, wherein you could only have it plugged in or wireless, but not both, the K4 allows you to have it plugged in while using it wirelessly. Switching between wired and Bluetooth modes is quick and easy, being done with a switch on the side.
     
    Speaking of switching modes, by default this keyboard is configured for MacOS, but for Windows and Linux users, reconfiguring the board for non-Apple operating systems is as easy as swapping a few keycaps on the bottom row and moving a switch also on the side, right below the USB port. As mentioned before, this keyboard comes with laser-ablated ABS caps, but what I didn't mention before is this keyboard is MX-compatible, even with optical switches. Keycap replacement will be hard, though, due to the non-standard layout and most aftermarket cap sets that don't cost over $100 being designed for a standard ANSI/ISO 104/105 key layout. If you wish to get some aftermarket caps, be prepared to spend at least $100 on a GMK set as I can't find much else that will fit on this keyboard, or many other 96% boards for that matter.
     
    As for ergonomics, this keyboard is both great and not great. While the 96% form factor saves room on your desk compared to a traditional full size keyboard, this is a very high profile keyboard. The caps are OEM profile, rather than something smaller like Cherry profile, and with the flip-out feet up, it has an 8.5° angle. The rather steep profile required me to use a high profile wrist rest to avoid straining my arms as well as my fingers, so keep that in mind. Without the feet flipped out, the keyboard assumes a 0° angle, but, again, it's rather high profile. You will need a wrist rest to comfortably use this keyboard.
     
    So, after about a week of use, how do I feel about the Keychron K4? Well, considering the features you get for the price, I do feel it offers a lot of value for your money, and the optical switches do provide it even more if you're a hardcore gamer. However, the Bluetooth performance, at least in my case, left a lot to be desired, and the horrible pinging can get maddening over longer typing sessions. Also, the rather high profile strained my fingers, which made longer typing sessions uncomfortable, especially for my bad right arm, and the light optical switches led to me making more mistakes than usual when typing. However, the Bluetooth mode is nice to have, and if you're a Mac user, this keyboard does come configured for it by default. Perhaps if you're looking at using a keyboard other than the terrible keyboard Apple usually includes on their laptops now, you could look into this board, just saying. Considering this comes in below $100 though, for the features you get it's hard to complain, but there are some things that left me wanting better from Keychron. Perhaps switching to lower profile caps, using heavier springs in the optical switch variant and including a second, less extreme angle for height adjustment could go a long way towards improving ergonomics.
     
    Anyway, thank you for reading. No typing recording this time, but to give an idea of what it sounds like, you can hear a bit of it in this tweet of mine. I'll probably write a few more keyboard reviews in the future as I have some ideas for what I want to check out, but in the meantime, I wish you guys a nice 2020, and may you get some decent keyboards this year.
  14. Like
    Nowak got a reaction from seon123 in Keychron K4 keyboard review: a budget-priced 96% with a decent feature set   
    It's not every day you see a wireless optical keyboard with RGB, but here we have one. The Keychron K4 is a 96% keyboard priced at under $100 depending on the configuration you get, but there's no reason to write it off because it's cheap. Over my week of using it, I have found some quirks I like about it, but there's also things not to like about this board. The standout feature is that it's offered with optical switches by LK, a type of contactless switch, along with traditional contact-based Gateron switches. Mine is configured with the Blue variant of these optical switches, as well as a plastic frame and RGB lighting; altogether, it came to $90. Without further ado, let's get on with it.
     
    A lot like the Hexgears Impulse I previously reviewed, the Keychron K4 is pretty no-frills. It comes with rather thin, laser-ablated ABS keycaps, which do not feel very great, but they are shine-through. There's also no ugly "gamer" font, so thanks for that, Keychron! This is a 96% keyboard with 100 keys, so compared to a traditional full-size keyboard it's more compact, albeit missing some nav cluster keys. Well... actually, it's more of a 99 key keyboard, because Keychron for whatever reason puts a dedicated backlighting key in the upper right corner. This key does nothing but change what backlighting pattern the keyboard is using. As a result, the home, end, pgup, pgdn and delete keys are shifted over a key, and the print screen key is deleted. I do not like this, as I found this key rather useful for allowing me to be precise with what I screenshot.
     
    Now, you might be saying "Oh, you can just program the missing keys onto layers!" to which the answer would be... no. There's no official software from Keychron for this keyboard. Instead, they include a slip in the box that tells you that if you want to remap your keyboard, you need to download this third party software, the Windows version of which depends on Registry hacks! No thanks, especially since I'm one of those nerds who owns more than one keyboard.
     
    Perhaps most bizarre though is where the USB port is. It is Type-C, which is very nice to see, but unlike most other keyboards where the USB port is on the back, the USB port of the K4 is on the side. Not wanting to risk breaking my only USB-C to -C cable, I bought a right angle USB-C to -C adapter to reduce the stress put on it.
     

     
    Perhaps mercifully, Keychron includes a right angle USB-C to -A cable in the box, but I found it too short for my desk setup.
     
    Due to the lack of dedicated software, there isn't much in the way of RGB customization. You can hit the backlighting button to change between 18 presets, and then use the Fn key + left and right arrow keys to swap between colors, but... compared to what I can do with a keyboard with dedicated software, it's pretty limited. The backlighting does look nice and vivid though, and running a preference poll between this board and the similarly-sized Input Club Kira on Twitter resulted in me learning that people prefer the way how the lighting on the Keychron K4 looks.
     
    As for the switches, these are a type of contactless switch, as in there is no contact leaf used to register a keypress, a la most keyswitches. Keychron says these are rated for 100 million keypresses, but in more accurate terms, tens of thousands of hours, due to the limiting factor being the lifetime of the optical sensors rather than the switch mechanism, which simply consists of a plastic slider and spring. If you need more on how these work, the spring blocks a laser from an infrared LED, and when pressed the slider allows the laser to shine through to a receptacle, which then registers the keypress and sends it to the computer. Being that these are optical, they are insanely quick to respond, with Keychron stating that their response time is only 0.2 miliseconds. However, these switches are very light, and I often found myself making mistakes when typing. It actually put some strain on my fingers the first time I tried using it! If this isn't up your alley, the K4 does come with a choice of four Gateron MX clone switches: Blue, Brown, Red and Yellow. This reduces the price by $10, so you are paying a bit of a premium for optical switches over traditional contact switches.
     
    I got mine with the clicky variant of the optical switches, but I can't seem to figure out what makes them, well, click. I can't find any evidence of a click bar in them, a la Kailh switches, nor can I find a more traditional click jacket in them. There probably is a click leaf in the assembly, which would ruin the point of a contactless switch, but if there is I can't feel it. The click isn't very strong and easily gets overshadowed by the sound of the keycaps clacking and the insane amount of ping. I don't know if my board has bad springs or what, but the springs are very pingy and sometimes squeak a bit. Keyfeel is very smooth regardless, but if you aren't a big fan of ping, this is not the keyboard for you.

    Also, it's worth noting that contactless does not mean guaranteed smoothness; there are enough Soviet-era keyboards floating around to disprove that theory.
     
    Now as for another headlining feature of this keyboard, Bluetooth connectivity! At least on my PC, this seems to be a mixed bag. A lot of the time it works pretty great, but there are times when the signal gets weak and the keyboard begins inputting wrong, repeating characters or missing them altogether, with output on my computer delayed. Not great, guys. However, the keyboard comes with an integrated 4000mAh battery, which does last a good few days before you need to plug in the keyboard again; Keychron estimates up to 70 hours working time with Bluetooth and RGB lighting enabled. If you disable the backlighting, which can be done by pressing Fn + the backlighting key, this gets extended to 4 weeks. Damn son. Also, unlike the Anne Pro 2, wherein you could only have it plugged in or wireless, but not both, the K4 allows you to have it plugged in while using it wirelessly. Switching between wired and Bluetooth modes is quick and easy, being done with a switch on the side.
     
    Speaking of switching modes, by default this keyboard is configured for MacOS, but for Windows and Linux users, reconfiguring the board for non-Apple operating systems is as easy as swapping a few keycaps on the bottom row and moving a switch also on the side, right below the USB port. As mentioned before, this keyboard comes with laser-ablated ABS caps, but what I didn't mention before is this keyboard is MX-compatible, even with optical switches. Keycap replacement will be hard, though, due to the non-standard layout and most aftermarket cap sets that don't cost over $100 being designed for a standard ANSI/ISO 104/105 key layout. If you wish to get some aftermarket caps, be prepared to spend at least $100 on a GMK set as I can't find much else that will fit on this keyboard, or many other 96% boards for that matter.
     
    As for ergonomics, this keyboard is both great and not great. While the 96% form factor saves room on your desk compared to a traditional full size keyboard, this is a very high profile keyboard. The caps are OEM profile, rather than something smaller like Cherry profile, and with the flip-out feet up, it has an 8.5° angle. The rather steep profile required me to use a high profile wrist rest to avoid straining my arms as well as my fingers, so keep that in mind. Without the feet flipped out, the keyboard assumes a 0° angle, but, again, it's rather high profile. You will need a wrist rest to comfortably use this keyboard.
     
    So, after about a week of use, how do I feel about the Keychron K4? Well, considering the features you get for the price, I do feel it offers a lot of value for your money, and the optical switches do provide it even more if you're a hardcore gamer. However, the Bluetooth performance, at least in my case, left a lot to be desired, and the horrible pinging can get maddening over longer typing sessions. Also, the rather high profile strained my fingers, which made longer typing sessions uncomfortable, especially for my bad right arm, and the light optical switches led to me making more mistakes than usual when typing. However, the Bluetooth mode is nice to have, and if you're a Mac user, this keyboard does come configured for it by default. Perhaps if you're looking at using a keyboard other than the terrible keyboard Apple usually includes on their laptops now, you could look into this board, just saying. Considering this comes in below $100 though, for the features you get it's hard to complain, but there are some things that left me wanting better from Keychron. Perhaps switching to lower profile caps, using heavier springs in the optical switch variant and including a second, less extreme angle for height adjustment could go a long way towards improving ergonomics.
     
    Anyway, thank you for reading. No typing recording this time, but to give an idea of what it sounds like, you can hear a bit of it in this tweet of mine. I'll probably write a few more keyboard reviews in the future as I have some ideas for what I want to check out, but in the meantime, I wish you guys a nice 2020, and may you get some decent keyboards this year.
  15. Informative
    Nowak got a reaction from leo1798 in Keychron K4 keyboard review: a budget-priced 96% with a decent feature set   
    It's not every day you see a wireless optical keyboard with RGB, but here we have one. The Keychron K4 is a 96% keyboard priced at under $100 depending on the configuration you get, but there's no reason to write it off because it's cheap. Over my week of using it, I have found some quirks I like about it, but there's also things not to like about this board. The standout feature is that it's offered with optical switches by LK, a type of contactless switch, along with traditional contact-based Gateron switches. Mine is configured with the Blue variant of these optical switches, as well as a plastic frame and RGB lighting; altogether, it came to $90. Without further ado, let's get on with it.
     
    A lot like the Hexgears Impulse I previously reviewed, the Keychron K4 is pretty no-frills. It comes with rather thin, laser-ablated ABS keycaps, which do not feel very great, but they are shine-through. There's also no ugly "gamer" font, so thanks for that, Keychron! This is a 96% keyboard with 100 keys, so compared to a traditional full-size keyboard it's more compact, albeit missing some nav cluster keys. Well... actually, it's more of a 99 key keyboard, because Keychron for whatever reason puts a dedicated backlighting key in the upper right corner. This key does nothing but change what backlighting pattern the keyboard is using. As a result, the home, end, pgup, pgdn and delete keys are shifted over a key, and the print screen key is deleted. I do not like this, as I found this key rather useful for allowing me to be precise with what I screenshot.
     
    Now, you might be saying "Oh, you can just program the missing keys onto layers!" to which the answer would be... no. There's no official software from Keychron for this keyboard. Instead, they include a slip in the box that tells you that if you want to remap your keyboard, you need to download this third party software, the Windows version of which depends on Registry hacks! No thanks, especially since I'm one of those nerds who owns more than one keyboard.
     
    Perhaps most bizarre though is where the USB port is. It is Type-C, which is very nice to see, but unlike most other keyboards where the USB port is on the back, the USB port of the K4 is on the side. Not wanting to risk breaking my only USB-C to -C cable, I bought a right angle USB-C to -C adapter to reduce the stress put on it.
     

     
    Perhaps mercifully, Keychron includes a right angle USB-C to -A cable in the box, but I found it too short for my desk setup.
     
    Due to the lack of dedicated software, there isn't much in the way of RGB customization. You can hit the backlighting button to change between 18 presets, and then use the Fn key + left and right arrow keys to swap between colors, but... compared to what I can do with a keyboard with dedicated software, it's pretty limited. The backlighting does look nice and vivid though, and running a preference poll between this board and the similarly-sized Input Club Kira on Twitter resulted in me learning that people prefer the way how the lighting on the Keychron K4 looks.
     
    As for the switches, these are a type of contactless switch, as in there is no contact leaf used to register a keypress, a la most keyswitches. Keychron says these are rated for 100 million keypresses, but in more accurate terms, tens of thousands of hours, due to the limiting factor being the lifetime of the optical sensors rather than the switch mechanism, which simply consists of a plastic slider and spring. If you need more on how these work, the spring blocks a laser from an infrared LED, and when pressed the slider allows the laser to shine through to a receptacle, which then registers the keypress and sends it to the computer. Being that these are optical, they are insanely quick to respond, with Keychron stating that their response time is only 0.2 miliseconds. However, these switches are very light, and I often found myself making mistakes when typing. It actually put some strain on my fingers the first time I tried using it! If this isn't up your alley, the K4 does come with a choice of four Gateron MX clone switches: Blue, Brown, Red and Yellow. This reduces the price by $10, so you are paying a bit of a premium for optical switches over traditional contact switches.
     
    I got mine with the clicky variant of the optical switches, but I can't seem to figure out what makes them, well, click. I can't find any evidence of a click bar in them, a la Kailh switches, nor can I find a more traditional click jacket in them. There probably is a click leaf in the assembly, which would ruin the point of a contactless switch, but if there is I can't feel it. The click isn't very strong and easily gets overshadowed by the sound of the keycaps clacking and the insane amount of ping. I don't know if my board has bad springs or what, but the springs are very pingy and sometimes squeak a bit. Keyfeel is very smooth regardless, but if you aren't a big fan of ping, this is not the keyboard for you.

    Also, it's worth noting that contactless does not mean guaranteed smoothness; there are enough Soviet-era keyboards floating around to disprove that theory.
     
    Now as for another headlining feature of this keyboard, Bluetooth connectivity! At least on my PC, this seems to be a mixed bag. A lot of the time it works pretty great, but there are times when the signal gets weak and the keyboard begins inputting wrong, repeating characters or missing them altogether, with output on my computer delayed. Not great, guys. However, the keyboard comes with an integrated 4000mAh battery, which does last a good few days before you need to plug in the keyboard again; Keychron estimates up to 70 hours working time with Bluetooth and RGB lighting enabled. If you disable the backlighting, which can be done by pressing Fn + the backlighting key, this gets extended to 4 weeks. Damn son. Also, unlike the Anne Pro 2, wherein you could only have it plugged in or wireless, but not both, the K4 allows you to have it plugged in while using it wirelessly. Switching between wired and Bluetooth modes is quick and easy, being done with a switch on the side.
     
    Speaking of switching modes, by default this keyboard is configured for MacOS, but for Windows and Linux users, reconfiguring the board for non-Apple operating systems is as easy as swapping a few keycaps on the bottom row and moving a switch also on the side, right below the USB port. As mentioned before, this keyboard comes with laser-ablated ABS caps, but what I didn't mention before is this keyboard is MX-compatible, even with optical switches. Keycap replacement will be hard, though, due to the non-standard layout and most aftermarket cap sets that don't cost over $100 being designed for a standard ANSI/ISO 104/105 key layout. If you wish to get some aftermarket caps, be prepared to spend at least $100 on a GMK set as I can't find much else that will fit on this keyboard, or many other 96% boards for that matter.
     
    As for ergonomics, this keyboard is both great and not great. While the 96% form factor saves room on your desk compared to a traditional full size keyboard, this is a very high profile keyboard. The caps are OEM profile, rather than something smaller like Cherry profile, and with the flip-out feet up, it has an 8.5° angle. The rather steep profile required me to use a high profile wrist rest to avoid straining my arms as well as my fingers, so keep that in mind. Without the feet flipped out, the keyboard assumes a 0° angle, but, again, it's rather high profile. You will need a wrist rest to comfortably use this keyboard.
     
    So, after about a week of use, how do I feel about the Keychron K4? Well, considering the features you get for the price, I do feel it offers a lot of value for your money, and the optical switches do provide it even more if you're a hardcore gamer. However, the Bluetooth performance, at least in my case, left a lot to be desired, and the horrible pinging can get maddening over longer typing sessions. Also, the rather high profile strained my fingers, which made longer typing sessions uncomfortable, especially for my bad right arm, and the light optical switches led to me making more mistakes than usual when typing. However, the Bluetooth mode is nice to have, and if you're a Mac user, this keyboard does come configured for it by default. Perhaps if you're looking at using a keyboard other than the terrible keyboard Apple usually includes on their laptops now, you could look into this board, just saying. Considering this comes in below $100 though, for the features you get it's hard to complain, but there are some things that left me wanting better from Keychron. Perhaps switching to lower profile caps, using heavier springs in the optical switch variant and including a second, less extreme angle for height adjustment could go a long way towards improving ergonomics.
     
    Anyway, thank you for reading. No typing recording this time, but to give an idea of what it sounds like, you can hear a bit of it in this tweet of mine. I'll probably write a few more keyboard reviews in the future as I have some ideas for what I want to check out, but in the meantime, I wish you guys a nice 2020, and may you get some decent keyboards this year.
  16. Agree
    Nowak got a reaction from 8uhbbhu8 in Gamefreak lies about not reusing models in pokemon sword and shield (spoilers)   
    Y'know it's really cool how people saw an opportunity to say "Hmm, maybe crunch, yearly releases and being rushed to hell by a greedy rightsholder company that wants to ensure new merchandise every year isn't good for both the developers' health and the quality of the resulting games" and instead just took it as an opportunity to say "lol game freak lazy hashtag gamefreaklied hashtag bringbacknationaldex"
     
    Fuck the Pokémon community. Like what are people expecting Game Freak to say, that The Pokémon Company screwed them over? Because they can't, otherwise heads'll roll at Game Freak.
  17. Agree
    Nowak got a reaction from dalekphalm in Gamefreak Announces Pokemon Expansion Pack   
    It used to be that each would cost something like $30 or $40 each and you had to buy each separately. It got... rather expensive for games that had a lot of expansions, like The Sims. This is just, you pay once and you get both expansions.
     
    To be fair, Pokémon has never really pushed graphical boundaries.
  18. Agree
    Nowak got a reaction from dalekphalm in Gamefreak Announces Pokemon Expansion Pack   
    Have you ever bought an expansion pack before?
  19. Like
    Nowak got a reaction from dalekphalm in Gamefreak Announces Pokemon Expansion Pack   
    You wanna know what "greedy" is?

    If Game Freak released entirely new $60 games that are just retreading the same ol' ground like they used to instead, and also requiring you to own the games to get the returning Pokémon. Using DLC to expand the existing games in terms of Pokédex and content is a much better outcome.
     
    btw the OP didn't mention this, but you don't need the DLC to get the returning Pokémon. They can just be traded to you by someone with it instead. So, if anyone here with SwSh but can't afford the DLC wants... I dunno, a Zorua or Lycanroc, hmu after the DLC releases.
  20. Funny
    Nowak got a reaction from Soppro in Notices bulge - New Pixel 4a leaks   
    That big camera hump for a single camera... what the hell, Google?
  21. Like
    Nowak got a reaction from Flying Sausages in Notices bulge - New Pixel 4a leaks   
    That big camera hump for a single camera... what the hell, Google?
  22. Agree
    Nowak got a reaction from Septimus in Notices bulge - New Pixel 4a leaks   
    That big camera hump for a single camera... what the hell, Google?
  23. Like
    Nowak got a reaction from seon123 in Mechanical Keyboard Club!   
    Logitech has a hotswap board, the G Pro X, and afaict they're the only mainstream keyboard maker offering this feature right now. Probably a result of their partnership with Kailh, since it uses Kailh's hotswap sockets.
  24. Agree
    Nowak reacted to TetraSky in Ban on LTT can I get unban   
    Oh wow, you've managed to be that obnoxious person who wants to be friends with everyone and got banned for it.
  25. Agree
    Nowak got a reaction from will4623 in Boss makes a dollar, I make a dime; They changed the toilet, it hurts my behind - New Toilet design aims to uncomfortably reduce work bathroom breaks   
    Remember how Microsoft's Japan office reduced work weeks down to 4 days a week for an entire month and found that greatly improved employee morale and boosted productivity by 40%?
     
    yeah, me neither
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