I am a big fan of proper real decent mechanical tactile clickety-clack keyboards. Writing is my means of communication, creation, and commercial contribution to the world. I write a lot of text – both code and normal language, and I feel that I type faster, more accurately, and produce better text when using a tactile keyboard. I cannot understand how anyone cannot love them once they have their fingers on them. However, mechanical keyboards have a bad reputation for being NOISY. The rest of my family thinks my CoolerMaster Trigger Cherry MX Brown is a bit too noisy when I use it at home. Thus, when I read about the Matias Quiet Pro keyboard, I spent the money and gave it a try. If I could have the feeling of a tactile keyboard without the noise, it would be a wonderful compromise!
I have long and varied history with keyboards. I learned to type on a ZX Spectrum rubber keyboard, where I believe I managed to wear out three or four keyboard membranes. I learned to type hard and pretty fast, but with an emphasis on hard. Thus, I need keyboards that can take a pouding and keep going (I have worn out a couple of laptop keyboards).
After the Spectrum, I changed gears entirely and got myself a Macintosh SE/30, and remember making sure to buy not just the standard keyboard, but the strikingly wonderful Apple Extended Keyboard II. That was a fantastic piece of kit, featuring ALPS switches and a build quality you just do not get today no matter what you spend. Those were the golden days of keyboards!
Then I spent quite a few years with various half-decent but standard-dome keyboards, including an old Logitech that I have had at work for the better part of a decade.
A few years ago, I bought the CoolerMaster Trigger keyboard on a trip to the US, and it was a huge improvement to my home keyboard setup. I must say I like the red backlight, and the Cherry MX Brown switches were selected as they were supposedly a bit quieter than other Cherry switches. Suffice to say the family did not think it was anywhere near “quiet”.
Another attempt to combine good feeling with low noise resulted in buying a Logitech Illuminated Keyboard K740. It is a beautiful very low-profile device, with a nice backlight, and its feel is good for a standard keyboard. But seriously, it is not a properly tactile keyboard.
Which brings me to the Matias Quiet. I found out about it earlier this year, and decided that if some unexpected bonus came my way, I would buy it. An unexpected bonus did indeed materialize, so I went ahead and bought one. Interestingly, the Keyboard Company in the UK where I bought it first managed to send me a regular Matias Tactile Pro keyboard. This features the same ALPS switches as used in the Apple keyboard – and the feeling was just fantastic. But it was suspiciously noisy, and I quickly realized that I had been shipped the wrong thing. After a quick check of the serial number, the Keyboard Company had me ship the wrong keyboard back and shipped me a new one. Their customer support is quite outstanding and I would not hesitate to buy more keyboard from them, should the need ever arise again.
Finally, I had the Matias Quiet Pro for PC in hand. All made up in black plastic. At first I was concerned that it would feel cheap with the plastic – the CoolerMaster Trigger actually feels a bit more solid with it slightly textured plastic and slightly higher weight. But in practice, it does not matter, and the keys are very nicely done. So how does it feel?
It feels really good. It is not as excellent as the ALPS switches, but those were loud enough to break a marriage and make colleagues forcibly evict you from the office. I would not hesitate to have a Matias Tactile Pro in the office provided I have my own room and can close it behind me – but for any kind of environment where you share the space with other people, it is not the right choice.
What about the sound? The Matias Quiet is way quieter and has a”soft” sound that is less likely to aggravate other people. Calling it “quiet” is not really correct; an average dome-based cheap keyboard is actually noticeably less noisy. Compared to the CoolerMaster Trigger, it is less noisy and less “clicky”, which is a plus. The cost for this is a certain softness to the touch, but it comes very close to the brown Cherry MX switches on the Trigger keyboard, while making less noise.
I brought it in to work for testing by some keyboard aficionados there, and they were quite impressed with the feeling of the keyboard. Compared to a standard keyboard, the Matias Quiet Pro is clearly way better. Without being anti-socially noisy. We all thought real ALPS or Cherry switches felt just slightly better, but in terms of “feeling per click”, the Matias Quiet is probably a real winner.
The only real complaint I have is that it lacks a wristrest, but so far that has not led to any extra fatigue that I have noticed. It is also a bit boring that it is not back-lit, as I have started to really like that feature on keyboards.
In summary, the Matias Quiet is not really quiet, but it is definitely far less loud than keyboards with comparable tactile feel. It might a bit soft for some, but I am sufficiently happy with it to have made it my standard working keyboard at home.
Just heard about the new Cherry “Silent” switches that are coming out in a wonderful-looking keyboard from Corsair. I would like to try it before I buy it, it might be just the thing I want, but I doubt it can be that much better than the Matias. It is so sad that there is no shop in Stockholm that specializes in this kind of kit so that you could go and actually try things. Internet shopping has the huge disadvantage that you cannot really shop around and try things out – which is what you want for a keyboard.