My old Honeywell keyboard died so I switched to a Cherry G81-3000 keyboard from their "Classic" line. How good is the G81-3000?
The key movement is not the same. Bring back Honeywell keyboards.
I purchased the Cherry keyboard for a Dell computer to replace the faulty cardboard keyboards that are shipped with many Dell computers. If you are about to buy a Dell computer, go into their shop, which they rather stupidly do not have, and try their professional keyboard before you buy. If the extra $90 for the Dell professional keyboard does not get you a decent keyboard then try Cherry and other brands.
The Cherry G81-3000 is too harsh for me and all the other people who try it. Many people chose to stay with the cheap Dell cardboard keyboard or try to get a Dell professional keyboard.
You cannot buy Honeywell keyboards any more as Honeywell stopped manufacturing keyboards in 1993 when Honeywell sold their factories to Keytronic. There are many other brands on the market but most are manufactured in a small number of factories then packaged as dozens of different brands. One factory sent me a sample keyboard with a bag full of the brand labels they apply on their assembly line for all their customers. I could label the keyboard as a brand under $20 or with a brand close to $200.
When you use a keyboard, you press a key down until you feel or hear a click then you release the key. Feeling the click is more important that hearing the click because your fingers can react immediately to the feel. Audible clicks are just distractions that jumble with all the other clicks in your office. The best keyboards have good feel and almost no noise.
You feel a very light springy resistance to the downward stroke, just enough to stop you accidentally pressing a key. On a great keyboard, you feel the click part way down and can immediately release the key, with the spring returning your finger and key to the original up position.
On the cherry keyboard you do not feel the click until the key hits the bottom of the stroke and your fingers go cluck into the key. If you use a very light touch, you can operate a key without crashing into the bottom of the stroke but a very light stroke often does not work the key. There is too little difference between too light and too heavy.
A professional typist might like this keyboard if the stroke weight exactly matches the typists typing force but for everyone else, this keyboard has a sudden jarring clunky feel.
The keyboard is almost quiet if I touch extremely lightly but the light touch produces tension in my wrists as I try to keep the weight of my hands off the keyboard. The keyboard might suit someone with skinny light hands, for everyone else it is noisy and the spacebar has a distracting clunk.
The Cherry keyboard uses their FTSC technology which is described as "worldwide unique film contact system", "durable", "exact contact-making", and "no-wear key caps". All I can say is that the keys feel dead and make too much noise. The movement is typical of thin membrane style keyboards with very little movement at the end of the stroke and no feel until too late.
I could not find the technical details for the G81-3000 so I looked at the specifications for other Cherry keyboards.
This keyboard uses their MX technology but there is not useful technical stuff in their specification sheet and the one time I tried to buy a G80-3000, there were none in stock.
- Total travel: 3.7 mm
- Pre travel: 2.4 mm
- Actuation force: 60 cN
"Total travel" is the distance form the top of a keystroke to the bottom. If you have large fingers then you want a proportionately large stroke. A long stroke also helps your muscles pump blood around your hands which helps prevent RSI, arthritis and other horrible stress related problems.
"Pre travel" is the distance form the start of the stroke to the point where the key activates. You want a short pre travel to save you time but not too short because the keys would be too sensitive and would type stuff as you move your fingers over the keyboard. A pre travel of at least 2 mm is enough.
The most important part is the post travel, which is total travel minus pre travel and any actuation distance. Post travel is the distance your fingers have to stop moving before crashing into the bottom of the stroke. The business keyboard would have a post travel of 1.3 mm (3.7 mm minus 2.4 mm) and is far too short. Post travel should be at least as far as the pre travel. On the G81-3000, post travel feels even shorter than 1.3 mm.
The actuation force of 60 cN appears to be average and ok. The best keyboards have a varying actuation force with the space bar requiring some extra force so that you will not type spaces when you have your hands out over the top rows of keys.
There is no mention of the feedback mechanism for the keyboard when the keys actuate and that is where membrane keyboards fall down.
I have a cheap Taiwanese Turbo-Media keyboard that is made in China, is as noisy as the Cherry, has a slightly cardboard feel but not nearly as bad as a Dell keyboard, and has slightly more give at the end of the keystroke. The Turbo-Media keyboard replaced the Cherry keyboard after about three hours use. The Turbo-Media keyboard has white lettering on black keys, which is easier to read, and has a bunch of special purpose keys for playing music, which initially attracted me to the Turbo-Media keyboard. If the Turbo-Media was a lot less noisy and had just a little more bounce at the end of the keystroke, I would continue using it and try out the music buttons.
Update: The Turbo-Media was used on another computer and went downhill quickly with some keys giving random results. The Turbo-Media keyboard went into the bin after less than a month of use.
I also have a very old Mitsubishi Diamond Touch keyboard that is almost as quiet as the Honeywell, is softer at the end of the keystroke, and is hardly used. Until I find the perfect keyboard, I will use the Mitsubishi keyboard in preference to the Cherry G81-3000.
Update: One of my computers received an i-rocks wireless keyboard and mouse combination. The i-rocks key movement is really nice and the keyboard AA batteries last forever. The mouse had a good key and wheel movement at the start with the mouse keys became unreliable after about 20 months of regular use, about three times the life of Dell and Logitech mice. The two AAA batteries in the mouse ran flat in about 2 months of continuous use. Rechargeable AAA batteries would be a good option.
The Cherry Web site is www.cherrycorp.com. Cherry is the switch, keyboard, and mouse brand of ZF Electronics, a subsidiary of ZF Friedrichshafen AG, a company well known for the ZF gearbox.
The Cherry G81-3000 keyboard feels more solid than it's nearest competitors but has the same clunky noisy key movement. Keyboards a fifth of the price have a similar feel and noise level. If you buy Cherry keyboards for your staff then line up several types of Cherry keyboards, including a G80-3000 if you can get one, and let the people feel the keyboards in action.