Tisha Talks Switches
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Introduction

Overview
Duration: 37m 37s

ā€œIt's the thing that lets your keyboard send stuff to your computer.ā€

Transcripts

Duration: 37m 37s
Erez
00m 03s
Hello and welcome to Tisha Talks Switches. I'm Erez from ZSA and with me here today is Tisha, our resident switch expert and support lead. How's it going, Tisha?
Hello and welcome to Tisha Talks Switches. I'm Erez from ZSA and with me here today is Tisha, our resident switch expert and support lead. How's it going, Tisha?
Tisha
00m 08s
Hi. it's going okay. How are you?
Hi. it's going okay. How are you?
Erez
00m 10s
Not too bad.
Not too bad.
Tisha
00m 10s
[laughs].
[laughs].
Erez
00m 11s
Okay. So , today, I guess let's talk about some things that people who are new to mechanical keyboards might want to know before we dive in deep into what the differences between key switches are, what are key switches, right? Like what's a mechanical key switch anyway?
Okay. So , today, I guess let's talk about some things that people who are new to mechanical keyboards might want to know before we dive in deep into what the differences between key switches are, what are key switches, right? Like what's a mechanical key switch anyway?
Tisha
00m 21s
Mm-hmm [ Affirmative]
Mm-hmm [ Affirmative]
Erez
00m 22s
So what's, what's your take on it?
So what's, what's your take on it?
Tisha
00m 23s
[laughs]
[laughs]
Erez
00m 24s
What's a mechanical key switch?
What's a mechanical key switch?
Tisha
00m 25s
Well very basically it's the thing that lets your keyboard send stuff [laughs] to your computer. There's there's an individual switch, an individual separate switch per key. A very small device with a spring and metal contacts inside and, depending on the switch, maybe some other stuff.
Well very basically it's the thing that lets your keyboard send stuff [laughs] to your computer. There's there's an individual switch, an individual separate switch per key. A very small device with a spring and metal contacts inside and, depending on the switch, maybe some other stuff.
Erez
00m 41s
Right. So you kind of emphasize the individual switch there, that I guess is in comparison to, say, rubber dome keyboards and things like that?
Right. So you kind of emphasize the individual switch there, that I guess is in comparison to, say, rubber dome keyboards and things like that?
Tisha
00m 48s
Right. Where in a rubber dome keyboard, you've got basically a rubber sheet that has a little dome in the position of each key and when you press the key it hits the dome and on the underside of the dome makes contact with the PCB and that's what sends the signal to your computer. But this is a single, I think, kind of like a single piece of hardware for all of the keyboards keys, as opposed to an individual piece of hardware for each key.
Right. Where in a rubber dome keyboard, you've got basically a rubber sheet that has a little dome in the position of each key and when you press the key it hits the dome and on the underside of the dome makes contact with the PCB and that's what sends the signal to your computer. But this is a single, I think, kind of like a single piece of hardware for all of the keyboards keys, as opposed to an individual piece of hardware for each key.
Erez
01m 09s
Right, right. You know, when I was 14, I had this early, maybe even the original Microsoft natural ergonomic keyboard.
Right, right. You know, when I was 14, I had this early, maybe even the original Microsoft natural ergonomic keyboard.
Tisha
01m 13s
[laughs]. Right.
[laughs]. Right.
Erez
01m 14s
And I, of course, spilled something all over it and it was an expensive keyboard, right. I wanted to salvage it. So I ended up taking it apart and I actually kind of Jerry rigged like a clothesline in my room and I hung the rubber sheet to dry.
And I, of course, spilled something all over it and it was an expensive keyboard, right. I wanted to salvage it. So I ended up taking it apart and I actually kind of Jerry rigged like a clothesline in my room and I hung the rubber sheet to dry.
Tisha
01m 26s
[laughs]. Right.
[laughs]. Right.
Erez
01m 26s
And that's when I was like, "Oh, so that's, that's how it works." It's like, and it worked later, like I could actually dry it out and I got it back to working, so right. But okay. So mechanical key switches, well they're individual. Right. And they have moving parts inside, but you know, if you look at, for example, modern day laptops, they don't have those rubber sheets. Right?
And that's when I was like, "Oh, so that's, that's how it works." It's like, and it worked later, like I could actually dry it out and I got it back to working, so right. But okay. So mechanical key switches, well they're individual. Right. And they have moving parts inside, but you know, if you look at, for example, modern day laptops, they don't have those rubber sheets. Right?
Tisha
01m 38s
Right. For the most part, they don't. Partially because they're, you know, there just isn't room. They have a different type of mechanism. I tend to think about it as a middle ground between rubber dome and mechanical key switches, because there is an individual mechanism per key.
Right. For the most part, they don't. Partially because they're, you know, there just isn't room. They have a different type of mechanism. I tend to think about it as a middle ground between rubber dome and mechanical key switches, because there is an individual mechanism per key.
Erez
01m 51s
So it's basically, you have like a mechanism per every key, but it's not, it doesn't work like that. It's not like a metal leaf and a spring and that kind of thing?
So it's basically, you have like a mechanism per every key, but it's not, it doesn't work like that. It's not like a metal leaf and a spring and that kind of thing?
Tisha
01m 58s
Right. There is not a spring. Again, there wouldn't really be, if you think about how flat most laptop keyboards are, there isn't room for a spring or very many things at all.
Right. There is not a spring. Again, there wouldn't really be, if you think about how flat most laptop keyboards are, there isn't room for a spring or very many things at all.
Erez
02m 06s
Right. So really, mechanical key switches the way we think about them, they actually predate laptops. Right? I mean, we're talking about Eighties or earlier technology. Right?
Right. So really, mechanical key switches the way we think about them, they actually predate laptops. Right? I mean, we're talking about Eighties or earlier technology. Right?
Tisha
02m 14s
Right. Totally. Yeah.
Right. Totally. Yeah.
Erez
02m 15s
Why, why are they still a thing, do you think? Like, why do people like us obsess over mechanical key switches where, you know, I'm not clamoring to use like an EGA monitor. Yay. You know?
Why, why are they still a thing, do you think? Like, why do people like us obsess over mechanical key switches where, you know, I'm not clamoring to use like an EGA monitor. Yay. You know?
Tisha
02m 24s
[laughs].
[laughs].
Erez
02m 24s
What's, what's the appeal?
What's, what's the appeal?
Tisha
02m 25s
Boy, I think there are a lot of reasons. But I'm sure for most people, the biggest reason is because they feel, well for most people, they feel better. They feel different. They are in at least some keyboards easily replaceable. So if you want your keyboard to feel different, you can just, in many types of keyboards, just pop those switches out and put new ones in. Or if you, [laughs] if you spill something and maybe you get liquid inside the switch, well, that might not be the end of the world. If everything else is okay, you can just put a new switch in. But I think mostly it's just that they feel... they're just so much more satisfying to type on than other types of keyboards, at least to the people who like [laughs] right, to the people who like mechanical key switches, it's because they feel more satisfying.
Boy, I think there are a lot of reasons. But I'm sure for most people, the biggest reason is because they feel, well for most people, they feel better. They feel different. They are in at least some keyboards easily replaceable. So if you want your keyboard to feel different, you can just, in many types of keyboards, just pop those switches out and put new ones in. Or if you, [laughs] if you spill something and maybe you get liquid inside the switch, well, that might not be the end of the world. If everything else is okay, you can just put a new switch in. But I think mostly it's just that they feel... they're just so much more satisfying to type on than other types of keyboards, at least to the people who like [laughs] right, to the people who like mechanical key switches, it's because they feel more satisfying.
Erez
02m 58s
Right. So, so you say, feel.
Right. So, so you say, feel.
Tisha
02m 59s
Mm-hmm [affirmative].
Mm-hmm [affirmative].
Erez
02m 59s
Would you say they also sound different? Like, are they loud? Is that a part of the appeal? Like the, the loudness there?
Would you say they also sound different? Like, are they loud? Is that a part of the appeal? Like the, the loudness there?
Tisha
03m 05s
Certainly for some people it is. There is quite a range of noise level in mechanical key switches. The quietest , which are specialized switches that have built in sound dampening, those can be almost as quiet as a normal laptop keyboard. Possibly a little bit quieter than something like that old original Microsoft Natural, which I also used. And if you really got [laughs] if you really got typing on it, you know, that thing could, could make a good amount of noise. [laughs].
Certainly for some people it is. There is quite a range of noise level in mechanical key switches. The quietest , which are specialized switches that have built in sound dampening, those can be almost as quiet as a normal laptop keyboard. Possibly a little bit quieter than something like that old original Microsoft Natural, which I also used. And if you really got [laughs] if you really got typing on it, you know, that thing could, could make a good amount of noise. [laughs].
Erez
03m 26s
Yeah. It would be like a plastic on plastic kind of noise running, I means, as I whack the keys, I would, you know, I remember long nights in IRC and whatever, it would like, it's a plastic on plastic type of thing. Right?
Yeah. It would be like a plastic on plastic kind of noise running, I means, as I whack the keys, I would, you know, I remember long nights in IRC and whatever, it would like, it's a plastic on plastic type of thing. Right?
Tisha
03m 34s
Yep. Totally.
Yep. Totally.
Erez
03m 34s
You still get that the mechanical keyboards today though, even if you use a relatively quiet key switch, you're still going to get this plastic on plastic "thwack". No?
You still get that the mechanical keyboards today though, even if you use a relatively quiet key switch, you're still going to get this plastic on plastic "thwack". No?
Tisha
03m 39s
You definitely can. That a lot of times will come down to how you type. How I type, which is pretty percussively and hitting the switches, hitting the keys pretty hard then, yes. Any keyboard is going to be noisy because I'm pounding the heck out of it.
You definitely can. That a lot of times will come down to how you type. How I type, which is pretty percussively and hitting the switches, hitting the keys pretty hard then, yes. Any keyboard is going to be noisy because I'm pounding the heck out of it.
Erez
03m 51s
Mm-hmm [affirmative].
Mm-hmm [affirmative].
Tisha
03m 51s
Maybe someone with a more [laughs] disciplined or restrained typing style is not going to get so much of that plastic-on-plastic because they're just not getting that "thwack, thwack, thwack" as they hit the keys hard. If you hit the key softly, you keyboard overall is probably going to be a little, a little quieter.
Maybe someone with a more [laughs] disciplined or restrained typing style is not going to get so much of that plastic-on-plastic because they're just not getting that "thwack, thwack, thwack" as they hit the keys hard. If you hit the key softly, you keyboard overall is probably going to be a little, a little quieter.
Erez
04m 03s
So this is actually interesting 'cause you mentioned your own personal typing and I can't help, but mention... your words-per-minute is insane. Right? What's like your words-per-minute typing rate more or less?
So this is actually interesting 'cause you mentioned your own personal typing and I can't help, but mention... your words-per-minute is insane. Right? What's like your words-per-minute typing rate more or less?
Tisha
04m 10s
I would say for just everyday typing, like I'm not trying super hard because I'm being measured , maybe in the 140 to 150 range, maybe 140. And I've maxed out at around 160.
I would say for just everyday typing, like I'm not trying super hard because I'm being measured , maybe in the 140 to 150 range, maybe 140. And I've maxed out at around 160.
Erez
04m 19s
All right. So 140 words. That's words per minute?
All right. So 140 words. That's words per minute?
Tisha
04m 21s
Right.
Right.
Erez
04m 22s
When you're not trying so hard.
When you're not trying so hard.
Tisha
04m 23s
Right.
Right.
Erez
04m 23s
So, [laughs] so would you say that using a mechanical keyboard makes any sort of difference speed wise? Are you just as fast on the laptop say, or does the keyboard make any sort of difference for you?
So, [laughs] so would you say that using a mechanical keyboard makes any sort of difference speed wise? Are you just as fast on the laptop say, or does the keyboard make any sort of difference for you?
Tisha
04m 32s
That is a tough question to answer because there's kind of more than one dimension at play here. I have, I would, before I switched to ... well let me back up for a second and say that the 160 max-out was on a Moonlander.
That is a tough question to answer because there's kind of more than one dimension at play here. I have, I would, before I switched to ... well let me back up for a second and say that the 160 max-out was on a Moonlander.
Erez
04m 43s
Mm-hmm [affirmative].
Mm-hmm [affirmative].
Tisha
04m 43s
So we're talking about a split keyboard that I have tented that has the straight columns of keys. Those things all for me have, have made at least some difference.
So we're talking about a split keyboard that I have tented that has the straight columns of keys. Those things all for me have, have made at least some difference.
Erez
04m 54s
Mm-hmm [affirmative].
Mm-hmm [affirmative].
Tisha
04m 55s
When I go back now... I still do use a laptop keyboard fairly regularly, but not heavily. And I type more slowly on it than I do on a Moonlander or an Ergodox.
When I go back now... I still do use a laptop keyboard fairly regularly, but not heavily. And I type more slowly on it than I do on a Moonlander or an Ergodox.
Erez
05m 03s
Mm-hmm [affirmative]. Mm-hmm [affirmative].
Mm-hmm [affirmative]. Mm-hmm [affirmative].
Tisha
05m 04s
If I would...
If I would...
Erez
05m 05s
The funny thing is also, obviously those boards are shaped different. Right. But do you think some of that is also due to the switches, like the actual keys?
The funny thing is also, obviously those boards are shaped different. Right. But do you think some of that is also due to the switches, like the actual keys?
Tisha
05m 10s
I do think so. In my case, and you know, I kind of have to qualify that, to say that everyone's different, everyone types differently, everyone's hands and fingers are different. Because I find the deeper key depth, the longer key travel, which is something we'll talk about in a second , works better for me than the really short travel, the really flat keys on a laptop. There's something about, I think the, I guess the recoil action on my key that's deeper that is beneficial for my typing.
I do think so. In my case, and you know, I kind of have to qualify that, to say that everyone's different, everyone types differently, everyone's hands and fingers are different. Because I find the deeper key depth, the longer key travel, which is something we'll talk about in a second , works better for me than the really short travel, the really flat keys on a laptop. There's something about, I think the, I guess the recoil action on my key that's deeper that is beneficial for my typing.
Erez
05m 32s
Mm-hmm [affirmative]. What key switches do you use right now?
Mm-hmm [affirmative]. What key switches do you use right now?
Tisha
05m 34s
In my Moonlander, I am using the Kailh Box Brown.
In my Moonlander, I am using the Kailh Box Brown.
Erez
05m 37s
Hmm. Tactile. Well, actually before we, before I start throwing around like terms... tactile, and you touched on key travel. Let's talk a little bit about these terms of arts.
Hmm. Tactile. Well, actually before we, before I start throwing around like terms... tactile, and you touched on key travel. Let's talk a little bit about these terms of arts.
Tisha
05m 42s
Mm-hmm [affirmative].
Mm-hmm [affirmative].
Erez
05m 42s
So , as you know, as people dig into key switches... key switches are, I think interesting because they are hard to describe. That's kind of why we decided to have this format rather than play some recordings because really they're subjective to a degree. Right? And as you dig into it, you're going to find a whole bunch of terms being thrown around. Obviously there's the more informal, like a "thock" versus a "thwack" and people really trying to capture the acoustics there, but also more, you know, there's a bunch of terms that you will find on the spec sheets. Like for example, yeah, what's key travel or pre-travel, what are those, for example?
So , as you know, as people dig into key switches... key switches are, I think interesting because they are hard to describe. That's kind of why we decided to have this format rather than play some recordings because really they're subjective to a degree. Right? And as you dig into it, you're going to find a whole bunch of terms being thrown around. Obviously there's the more informal, like a "thock" versus a "thwack" and people really trying to capture the acoustics there, but also more, you know, there's a bunch of terms that you will find on the spec sheets. Like for example, yeah, what's key travel or pre-travel, what are those, for example?
Tisha
06m 05s
Well, key travel is the total distance that you can press the key before it physically stops. And that physical stop point is the bottom out, which is another term that you'll see if you... And this is, this is the way I type, which is part of that percussive typing style. If you press your keys all the way down until they stop because they've hit bottom, that's bottoming out. And that means your, that's the maximum, that's the total key travel distance is from the, the neutral, "not-touching-it" position [laughs] to pressing it all the way down. And most let's say standard "normal key switches", all of the switches that we carry for our keyboards, the total key travel distance tends to be two around millimeters.
Well, key travel is the total distance that you can press the key before it physically stops. And that physical stop point is the bottom out, which is another term that you'll see if you... And this is, this is the way I type, which is part of that percussive typing style. If you press your keys all the way down until they stop because they've hit bottom, that's bottoming out. And that means your, that's the maximum, that's the total key travel distance is from the, the neutral, "not-touching-it" position [laughs] to pressing it all the way down. And most let's say standard "normal key switches", all of the switches that we carry for our keyboards, the total key travel distance tends to be two around millimeters.
Erez
06m 38s
Mm-hmm [ affirmative]. And then somewhere along there, like it's not going to actuate at the very bottom. Right. I don't have to like do the whole two millimeters to get something to show on my screen?
Mm-hmm [ affirmative]. And then somewhere along there, like it's not going to actuate at the very bottom. Right. I don't have to like do the whole two millimeters to get something to show on my screen?
Tisha
06m 44s
Right. Oh, I'm sorry. Four millimeters for the...
Right. Oh, I'm sorry. Four millimeters for the...
Erez
06m 46s
Four millimeters?
Four millimeters?
Tisha
06m 46s
Right. Yup.
Right. Yup.
Erez
06m 47s
Okay. So then, so I don't have to go all the way down to get it to actuate.
Okay. So then, so I don't have to go all the way down to get it to actuate.
Tisha
06m 50s
Right.
Right.
Erez
06m 51s
So somewhere along there is what we call the actuation point. Right?
So somewhere along there is what we call the actuation point. Right?
Tisha
06m 53s
Mm-hmm [affirmative]. And here is another difference between a mechanical key switch and other types of keyboard mechanisms with both rubber domes and laptop keyboards, you do have to push the key all the way down to actuate it because the circuit isn't closed until the key is pressed all the way down.
Mm-hmm [affirmative]. And here is another difference between a mechanical key switch and other types of keyboard mechanisms with both rubber domes and laptop keyboards, you do have to push the key all the way down to actuate it because the circuit isn't closed until the key is pressed all the way down.
Erez
07m 07s
Right.
Right.
Tisha
07m 07s
With a mechanical key switch, the actuation point isn't at the very bottom. Where it is depends on the switch, on the type of switch and the distance between, I guess the, the downward distance you have to press the key before it actuates is the pre-travel.
With a mechanical key switch, the actuation point isn't at the very bottom. Where it is depends on the switch, on the type of switch and the distance between, I guess the, the downward distance you have to press the key before it actuates is the pre-travel.
Erez
07m 19s
Okay. So however... Let's say we have four millimeters, whatever, however much it is. And I kind of, I'm being very gentle with it and I go very, very slowly and I pass like one millimeter and then I get the letter A on my screen. So that was like a one millimeter pre-travel.
Okay. So however... Let's say we have four millimeters, whatever, however much it is. And I kind of, I'm being very gentle with it and I go very, very slowly and I pass like one millimeter and then I get the letter A on my screen. So that was like a one millimeter pre-travel.
Tisha
07m 28s
Right.
Right.
Erez
07m 29s
Okay. I guess maybe one thing worth, worth noting is that often when you look at spec sheets, you have like a little plus minus sign next to it, right?
Okay. I guess maybe one thing worth, worth noting is that often when you look at spec sheets, you have like a little plus minus sign next to it, right?
Tisha
07m 35s
Mm-hmm [affirmative]. Yeah. These are these are mechanical things with a lot of moving parts. And so they're not 100% identical. There are tiny variances. So yeah, you're, there's going to be, there's going to be small differences switch to switch. And they should be, you know, if you've got a keyboard full of the same type of switch and you're just typing along normally, these are not differences that you're going to notice.
Mm-hmm [affirmative]. Yeah. These are these are mechanical things with a lot of moving parts. And so they're not 100% identical. There are tiny variances. So yeah, you're, there's going to be, there's going to be small differences switch to switch. And they should be, you know, if you've got a keyboard full of the same type of switch and you're just typing along normally, these are not differences that you're going to notice.
Erez
07m 52s
Mm-hmm [affirmative].
Mm-hmm [affirmative].
Tisha
07m 53s
But if you put them in some sort of tester, or [laughs] if you very meticulously, you know, press your switches extremely slow and pay a lot of attention, then you might notice.
But if you put them in some sort of tester, or [laughs] if you very meticulously, you know, press your switches extremely slow and pay a lot of attention, then you might notice.
Erez
07m 59s
Right. Right. So, okay. That makes sense. So that's, that's our travel. And then another term that people come across, I think is actuation force. Right?
Right. Right. So, okay. That makes sense. So that's, that's our travel. And then another term that people come across, I think is actuation force. Right?
Tisha
08m 05s
Right. I did want to mention regarding pre-travel that there are kind of two big categories of switches that, and again, I'm going to use the word "normal" or "standard". Maybe "default" is a better word. Most key switches have an actuation point about halfway down, I guess. So their pre-travel distance tends to be about half of their total travel distance. If your switch's total key travel is about four millimeters, then its actuation point is going to be about two millimeters down usually. But there are speed switches, and we carry a few of these and there are a whole lot more out there with a high actuation point, meaning that their pre-travel tends to be more like, and, and this is something you may want to look at in the switches spec, the pre-travel is more like between 1 and 1.5 millimeters.
Right. I did want to mention regarding pre-travel that there are kind of two big categories of switches that, and again, I'm going to use the word "normal" or "standard". Maybe "default" is a better word. Most key switches have an actuation point about halfway down, I guess. So their pre-travel distance tends to be about half of their total travel distance. If your switch's total key travel is about four millimeters, then its actuation point is going to be about two millimeters down usually. But there are speed switches, and we carry a few of these and there are a whole lot more out there with a high actuation point, meaning that their pre-travel tends to be more like, and, and this is something you may want to look at in the switches spec, the pre-travel is more like between 1 and 1.5 millimeters.
Erez
08m 46s
Mm-hmm [affirmative]. So like almost half, a half as much.
Mm-hmm [affirmative]. So like almost half, a half as much.
Tisha
08m 49s
Right.
Right.
Erez
08m 49s
And actually, let me pull up, I want to pull up a spec sheet real quick here, because this is interesting. So let me just, if I go to our own key switches page, even. So for example, okay. Yeah. So I'm looking at the Cherry MX Brown here, which is the first switch on our page, and I see your pre-travel of two millimeters, plus-minus 0.6. So the plus-minus there, the, the margin is actually pretty generous.
And actually, let me pull up, I want to pull up a spec sheet real quick here, because this is interesting. So let me just, if I go to our own key switches page, even. So for example, okay. Yeah. So I'm looking at the Cherry MX Brown here, which is the first switch on our page, and I see your pre-travel of two millimeters, plus-minus 0.6. So the plus-minus there, the, the margin is actually pretty generous.
Tisha
09m 06s
Mm-hmm [affirmative].
Mm-hmm [affirmative].
Erez
09m 07s
And then, okay, so here is a speed switch, the Kailh bronze, for example. So that's, pre-travel 1.4 mil with plus-minus 0.3. So it's almost half as much. So would these actually... So they're called speed switches. Will they actually make me faster?
And then, okay, so here is a speed switch, the Kailh bronze, for example. So that's, pre-travel 1.4 mil with plus-minus 0.3. So it's almost half as much. So would these actually... So they're called speed switches. Will they actually make me faster?
Tisha
09m 19s
I think [laughs] that that's a matter of opinion and maybe of perception. I think that there are some people who do, who do feel that they make them a little faster. That may be when gaming, they give them a little bit of a faster response time.
I think [laughs] that that's a matter of opinion and maybe of perception. I think that there are some people who do, who do feel that they make them a little faster. That may be when gaming, they give them a little bit of a faster response time.
Erez
09m 31s
Right.
Right.
Tisha
09m 31s
For me, they don't make me feel like I'm typing faster or that my typing is somehow faster, but, you know, again, there's this really is kind of a subject-, even, [laughs] even though it has an objective measure, the effect can, I think be a little subjective.
For me, they don't make me feel like I'm typing faster or that my typing is somehow faster, but, you know, again, there's this really is kind of a subject-, even, [laughs] even though it has an objective measure, the effect can, I think be a little subjective.
Erez
09m 42s
Right. Because it's still a human being using the thing. Right. So...
Right. Because it's still a human being using the thing. Right. So...
Tisha
09m 44s
Right.
Right.
Erez
09m 44s
Mm-hmm [affirmative]. Mm-hmm [affirmative]. Okay.
Mm-hmm [affirmative]. Mm-hmm [affirmative]. Okay.
Tisha
09m 46s
And, yeah. And there's a lot going on aside from just what's going on in the keyboard [laughs] between you pressing a key and your computer doing something. So...
And, yeah. And there's a lot going on aside from just what's going on in the keyboard [laughs] between you pressing a key and your computer doing something. So...
Erez
09m 54s
Okay. So whatever speed... So yeah, there's a bunch there, right. I mean, there, there's the whole like fine motor skills aspect of it, right, of those keys are touchier in a sense.
Okay. So whatever speed... So yeah, there's a bunch there, right. I mean, there, there's the whole like fine motor skills aspect of it, right, of those keys are touchier in a sense.
Tisha
10m 00s
Right.
Right.
Erez
10m 00s
More, are they, would you say they're more prone to like accidental activation and like getting stuff...?
More, are they, would you say they're more prone to like accidental activation and like getting stuff...?
Tisha
10m 04s
I think they can be, especially if you ... like if you rest your hands on your keyboard when you're not typing and you're just thinking, and your fingers are just kinda there, maybe you tap or wiggle your fingers a little bit. Yeah. Some of them you could end up with, with some accidental key presses more, more easily, I think. Or if you type such that you sometimes bump another key with your finger, sort of [laughs] like on the way to a different key, you bump one between your home row and the other key. You might. That is another thing that's very dependent on your own typing style and the way you move your fingers and so forth.
I think they can be, especially if you ... like if you rest your hands on your keyboard when you're not typing and you're just thinking, and your fingers are just kinda there, maybe you tap or wiggle your fingers a little bit. Yeah. Some of them you could end up with, with some accidental key presses more, more easily, I think. Or if you type such that you sometimes bump another key with your finger, sort of [laughs] like on the way to a different key, you bump one between your home row and the other key. You might. That is another thing that's very dependent on your own typing style and the way you move your fingers and so forth.
Erez
10m 28s
Right. Right. Okay. So now looking at this page I just pulled up, our own key switches page, for every switch we note also actuation force. Do you want to talk about that a little bit?
Right. Right. Okay. So now looking at this page I just pulled up, our own key switches page, for every switch we note also actuation force. Do you want to talk about that a little bit?
Tisha
10m 35s
Sure. And that really is just the amount of force required to make the switch actuate.
Sure. And that really is just the amount of force required to make the switch actuate.
Erez
10m 40s
As in, so... so there's a fine point here as in actually, not necessarily bottom out. It's however much force I need to push down with, just to get a character on the screen. It's possible that getting the switch all the way down would require more force than that?
As in, so... so there's a fine point here as in actually, not necessarily bottom out. It's however much force I need to push down with, just to get a character on the screen. It's possible that getting the switch all the way down would require more force than that?
Tisha
10m 49s
Sure. That is possible just depending on various characteristics of the switch. For some of them the actuation force and the, I guess "bottom-out force" is going to be pretty much the same. But yeah, but not all of them.
Sure. That is possible just depending on various characteristics of the switch. For some of them the actuation force and the, I guess "bottom-out force" is going to be pretty much the same. But yeah, but not all of them.
Erez
10m 58s
Mm-hmm
Mm-hmm
Tisha
10m 59s
And it's, there, there are a lot of numbers [laughs] and honestly, I don't pay a whole lot of attention to the actual number because, you know, what does 45 grams of force mean for my hands and fingers? I don't know. [laughs]. But they're useful, you know, again, to me, they're much more useful in relative terms, kind of compared to each other. Okay. So there are a bunch of switches that I see that are in the maybe 40 to 50 grams range. And then you have, let's say, you know, 45 to 50, and then you have lighter ones that are maybe more like 40 and you have heavier ones that are 50 and above. That is the, the more useful thing to pay attention to, for me.
And it's, there, there are a lot of numbers [laughs] and honestly, I don't pay a whole lot of attention to the actual number because, you know, what does 45 grams of force mean for my hands and fingers? I don't know. [laughs]. But they're useful, you know, again, to me, they're much more useful in relative terms, kind of compared to each other. Okay. So there are a bunch of switches that I see that are in the maybe 40 to 50 grams range. And then you have, let's say, you know, 45 to 50, and then you have lighter ones that are maybe more like 40 and you have heavier ones that are 50 and above. That is the, the more useful thing to pay attention to, for me.
Erez
11m 29s
Right. So how they sit in relation to each other, like one that's 45 versus one that's I dunno, 80. So the 45 is definitely going to be noticeably easier to press.
Right. So how they sit in relation to each other, like one that's 45 versus one that's I dunno, 80. So the 45 is definitely going to be noticeably easier to press.
Tisha
11m 35s
Right.
Right.
Erez
11m 36s
Mm-hmm [affirmative]. All right. So then another, I guess three key terms is like linear, tactile and clicky. Clicky kind of makes sense. Right? Clicky switches are switches that you press down and they click?
Mm-hmm [affirmative]. All right. So then another, I guess three key terms is like linear, tactile and clicky. Clicky kind of makes sense. Right? Clicky switches are switches that you press down and they click?
Tisha
11m 44s
Right.
Right.
Erez
11m 45s
Okay. And then linear and tactile, those are maybe a little bit less obvious.
Okay. And then linear and tactile, those are maybe a little bit less obvious.
Tisha
11m 49s
Right? Well, clicky switches, clicky and tactile have a lot in common.
Right? Well, clicky switches, clicky and tactile have a lot in common.
Erez
11m 53s
Hmm.
Hmm.
Tisha
11m 53s
They both provide tactile feedback. And what that means is that near, at or near [laughs] the point that the switch actuates, th- there's a little bump that of extra resistance. So as you're pushing the switch down, you kind of feel an increase in resistance. And then it, if you keep pushing through that, then the resistance becomes lighter because you've gone past the tactile bump. It's kind of like a little hill as you're pressing the switch down, you're sort of climbing the hill. And then after you pass or press through the tactile bump, you've crested the hill and now you're back on your way down.
They both provide tactile feedback. And what that means is that near, at or near [laughs] the point that the switch actuates, th- there's a little bump that of extra resistance. So as you're pushing the switch down, you kind of feel an increase in resistance. And then it, if you keep pushing through that, then the resistance becomes lighter because you've gone past the tactile bump. It's kind of like a little hill as you're pressing the switch down, you're sort of climbing the hill. And then after you pass or press through the tactile bump, you've crested the hill and now you're back on your way down.
Erez
12m 19s
How noticeable is that in practice? Like when you were going 160 words per minute, can you, you know, that's a ton of key presses. Can you feel it?
How noticeable is that in practice? Like when you were going 160 words per minute, can you, you know, that's a ton of key presses. Can you feel it?
Tisha
12m 25s
I would say a little bit. And again, it depends on the switch because some of them have a very light, gentle, tactile bump, and some of them have quite a firm sharp bump or their bump is, I guess, you know, bigger... kind of the increased resistance. I don't know really how to say this. The resistance is increased through more of the downward distance, if that makes sense. Some of them, you have a small, maybe sharp tactile bump where you feel a quick ... a quick increase in resistance. And some of them is...
I would say a little bit. And again, it depends on the switch because some of them have a very light, gentle, tactile bump, and some of them have quite a firm sharp bump or their bump is, I guess, you know, bigger... kind of the increased resistance. I don't know really how to say this. The resistance is increased through more of the downward distance, if that makes sense. Some of them, you have a small, maybe sharp tactile bump where you feel a quick ... a quick increase in resistance. And some of them is...
Erez
12m 49s
Like a, like a little spike. Like a hard spike, but if we're looking at an actuation graph, a hard spike, but a short one, is that what you're getting at?
Like a, like a little spike. Like a hard spike, but if we're looking at an actuation graph, a hard spike, but a short one, is that what you're getting at?
Tisha
12m 55s
Right. Yeah. And some of them it's longer, the increase in resistance would be more of kind of a rounded bump shape.
Right. Yeah. And some of them it's longer, the increase in resistance would be more of kind of a rounded bump shape.
Erez
13m 00s
Yeah. More of a rounded graph rather than like a sharp spike.
Yeah. More of a rounded graph rather than like a sharp spike.
Tisha
13m 02s
Right. So both tactile and clicky switches have that increased ... That resistance bump that is there to tell your fingers when the switch is actuating.
Right. So both tactile and clicky switches have that increased ... That resistance bump that is there to tell your fingers when the switch is actuating.
Erez
13m 12s
Right.
Right.
Tisha
13m 12s
Clicky switches have...
Clicky switches have...
Erez
13m 13s
That's, that's...
That's, that's...
Tisha
13m 13s
Oh, I'm sorry, go ahead.
Oh, I'm sorry, go ahead.
Erez
13m 14s
No, sorry. Just that one is actually interesting. 'Cause you say, "tell your fingers when the switch is actuating", but I guess it's almost when the switch is actuating. Right? 'Cause it's not actually at the same point, is it?
No, sorry. Just that one is actually interesting. 'Cause you say, "tell your fingers when the switch is actuating", but I guess it's almost when the switch is actuating. Right? 'Cause it's not actually at the same point, is it?
Tisha
13m 21s
Right. And again, this is generally only something that most people will be able to detect if they're very carefully and slowly pressing a switch to see exactly when everything happens. Most standard switches, the peak of the tactile bump and the actuation come at basically the same time.
Right. And again, this is generally only something that most people will be able to detect if they're very carefully and slowly pressing a switch to see exactly when everything happens. Most standard switches, the peak of the tactile bump and the actuation come at basically the same time.
Erez
13m 35s
Mm-hmm [affirmative].
Mm-hmm [affirmative].
Tisha
13m 37s
With a speed switch, the ones with the high actuation point, the short pre-travel distance... the peak of the tactile bump comes just after the switch actuates. Because the actuation point is so high, it comes so soon, it comes just before the tactile bump.
With a speed switch, the ones with the high actuation point, the short pre-travel distance... the peak of the tactile bump comes just after the switch actuates. Because the actuation point is so high, it comes so soon, it comes just before the tactile bump.
Erez
13m 50s
So if I'm being like, if I have a tactile speed switch and I'm being, featherlight when I'm typing, I could theoretically get stuff on my screen without getting the tactile bumps even?
So if I'm being like, if I have a tactile speed switch and I'm being, featherlight when I'm typing, I could theoretically get stuff on my screen without getting the tactile bumps even?
Tisha
13m 58s
Right. Yes.
Right. Yes.
Erez
13m 59s
Mm-hmm [affirmative]. Interesting.
Mm-hmm [affirmative]. Interesting.
Tisha
14m 02s
I, for me, that would be difficult. [laughs].
I, for me, that would be difficult. [laughs].
Erez
14m 04s
Right.
Right.
Tisha
14m 05s
But, you know, again, everyone, everyone types differently. So, sure. Yeah.
But, you know, again, everyone, everyone types differently. So, sure. Yeah.
Erez
14m 07s
I think for me, I, I type in a linear switch, which I guess we're going to get to now.
I think for me, I, I type in a linear switch, which I guess we're going to get to now.
Tisha
14m 10s
Right. Yeah. Just quickly the, the clicky switches, the main difference between clicky and tactile is that clicky switches have an, an extra thing in the switch literally that makes them click. [laughs].
Right. Yeah. Just quickly the, the clicky switches, the main difference between clicky and tactile is that clicky switches have an, an extra thing in the switch literally that makes them click. [laughs].
Erez
14m 18s
So that's an extra thing. It's not like a part of the switch that's differently designed. It's actually like a little clicker thing?
So that's an extra thing. It's not like a part of the switch that's differently designed. It's actually like a little clicker thing?
Tisha
14m 23s
Right.
Right.
Erez
14m 24s
Mm-hmm [affirmative].
Mm-hmm [affirmative].
Tisha
14m 24s
And you know, I don't know a lot about the specific types. There are some different types of click mechanisms. [laughs]. But yeah, there's just, there's an extra little, extra little thing in there. A click bar is a common one. Yeah, so it makes, it just makes an extra little bit of noise. [laughs].
And you know, I don't know a lot about the specific types. There are some different types of click mechanisms. [laughs]. But yeah, there's just, there's an extra little, extra little thing in there. A click bar is a common one. Yeah, so it makes, it just makes an extra little bit of noise. [laughs].
Erez
14m 37s
Mm-hmm [affirmative]. Cool.
Mm-hmm [affirmative]. Cool.
Tisha
14m 38s
And so linear switches don't have the click and they don't have the tactile bump. They feel smooth. And the resistance is the same throughout their whole travel distance. So you press switch down, it feels the same until you hit bottom.
And so linear switches don't have the click and they don't have the tactile bump. They feel smooth. And the resistance is the same throughout their whole travel distance. So you press switch down, it feels the same until you hit bottom.
Erez
14m 50s
All right. That's straightforward.
All right. That's straightforward.
Tisha
14m 51s
Yeah.
Yeah.
Erez
14m 52s
So then if I'm new to mechanical keywords and I'm just trying to kind of narrow the field a little bit, because there is such an overwhelming number of switches in each of these categories and I'm trying to decide. Okay. Should I go linear? Should I go tactile? Should I go clicky? I'm trying to narrow the field. I guess, I guess one thing I always tell people is clicky is only if you're working by yourself, right? Like office mates, spouses, even some pets, not big fans of clicky switches. Right?
So then if I'm new to mechanical keywords and I'm just trying to kind of narrow the field a little bit, because there is such an overwhelming number of switches in each of these categories and I'm trying to decide. Okay. Should I go linear? Should I go tactile? Should I go clicky? I'm trying to narrow the field. I guess, I guess one thing I always tell people is clicky is only if you're working by yourself, right? Like office mates, spouses, even some pets, not big fans of clicky switches. Right?
Tisha
15m 09s
Right.
Right.
Erez
15m 09s
Are there any kind of like quick rules of thumb that you could offer for people looking to narrow the field? Oh, If you're like this then maybe look at linear, if you're like that, maybe look at tactile and stuff like that?
Are there any kind of like quick rules of thumb that you could offer for people looking to narrow the field? Oh, If you're like this then maybe look at linear, if you're like that, maybe look at tactile and stuff like that?
Tisha
15m 16s
Right. So I'd say if you want something very light feeling, if you type with a light touch already, or if you just want a key that's really easy to press, [laughs] you may like a linear switch better. So you don't have that increased resistance of the tactile bump.
Right. So I'd say if you want something very light feeling, if you type with a light touch already, or if you just want a key that's really easy to press, [laughs] you may like a linear switch better. So you don't have that increased resistance of the tactile bump.
Erez
15m 28s
Right. That's, I sometimes recommend that... sometimes we get people with, who already have RSI or arthritis or conditions like that. And for them, I tend to also recommend linear I guess. Yeah.
Right. That's, I sometimes recommend that... sometimes we get people with, who already have RSI or arthritis or conditions like that. And for them, I tend to also recommend linear I guess. Yeah.
Tisha
15m 34s
Right.
Right.
Erez
15m 35s
Maybe specifically a speed switch even.
Maybe specifically a speed switch even.
Tisha
15m 36s
Sure. , I think is can be a good, a good first switch. You know, you've got a nice, as long as, [laughs] as long as you're working in an environment or as long as you'll be using your keyboard in an environment where some noise is okay, they're not as loud as a clicky switch, but they're not particularly quiet either. You can hear the typing.
Sure. , I think is can be a good, a good first switch. You know, you've got a nice, as long as, [laughs] as long as you're working in an environment or as long as you'll be using your keyboard in an environment where some noise is okay, they're not as loud as a clicky switch, but they're not particularly quiet either. You can hear the typing.
Erez
15m 50s
Right.
Right.
Tisha
15m 51s
So if that's okay, and if you want something that "feels like a mechanical keyboard", then a tactile switch is a nice ... is a nice option. You get some some tactile feedback as you're typing.
So if that's okay, and if you want something that "feels like a mechanical keyboard", then a tactile switch is a nice ... is a nice option. You get some some tactile feedback as you're typing.
Erez
16m 01s
Right. So ins- instead of like trying to let say like most people will, if you come from a laptop keyboard, so instead of going linear that, you know, maybe is at least nominally closer to a laptop experience, you would say, let's actually lean into the mechanical aspect here and go with tactile and kind of embrace that, that well more tactile feeling basically.
Right. So ins- instead of like trying to let say like most people will, if you come from a laptop keyboard, so instead of going linear that, you know, maybe is at least nominally closer to a laptop experience, you would say, let's actually lean into the mechanical aspect here and go with tactile and kind of embrace that, that well more tactile feeling basically.
Tisha
16m 17s
Right. Right. And if you're really old, like me [laughs] and typed on you know, typewriters, the ultimate mechanical typing experience , so maybe not so much your manual typewriters, but if you remember electric typewriters, if you remember typing on an IBM Selectric or something like that, where you felt when that, you know, depending on when it was, when that daisy wheel or when that ball hit the paper, you felt that in the keys.
Right. Right. And if you're really old, like me [laughs] and typed on you know, typewriters, the ultimate mechanical typing experience , so maybe not so much your manual typewriters, but if you remember electric typewriters, if you remember typing on an IBM Selectric or something like that, where you felt when that, you know, depending on when it was, when that daisy wheel or when that ball hit the paper, you felt that in the keys.
Erez
16m 38s
Right.
Right.
Tisha
16m 38s
A tactile switch, you know, it's, it's going to be different. Obviously you're not talking about a metal ball and a piece of paper, but a tactile or a clicky switch does give you a feeling, you know, it provides tactile feedback when the switch actuates basically. When the letter shows up on your screen [laughs].
A tactile switch, you know, it's, it's going to be different. Obviously you're not talking about a metal ball and a piece of paper, but a tactile or a clicky switch does give you a feeling, you know, it provides tactile feedback when the switch actuates basically. When the letter shows up on your screen [laughs].