If you recall, in our prior WFH roundup I mentioned a keyboard as something to consider. At the office, I’m used to using a work-provided external keyboard at the desk. Of course, at home, that wasn’t the case. So, we reached out to some brands to see what we could check out, and one of the first in was the Das Keyboard 4 Professional.
If you’re familiar with Das Keyboard at all, you’ll know that this is a mechanical keyboard. What this means is that there are actually mechanical switches under each key cap, rather than a membrane like you have on your laptop. This provides for an amazing amount of travel, and also brings some noise to the mix, depending on what “color” of switches are used (this one uses the brown ones, if you’re keeping score at home).
Now, prior to this, I was familiar with a mechanical keyboard due to my past (that’s the just the sort of keyboards every beige brick used to have), but haven’t used one in modern history. Frankly, I thought it was something that folks just really got into to hold to the “old ways”, sort of like folks who are super into vinyl records or, say, wristwatches (guilty of that last one).
After using the Das Keyboard 4 Professional for the last two weeks (and writing this review on it, actually), I’ve become converted. Sure, it’s noisier than you’re used to, but that turns into this audible feedback that, yes, I AM doing work here! Simply put, I just found it fun to write with the Das Keyboard 4 Professional, and the brown switches provide a quieter response, so I’m not necessarily bothering my family as I’m working on things.
The Das Keyboard 4 Professional has some other features that I find pretty keen as well. First off is how the keyboard is raised. Rather than using flimsy plastic feet, you’ve got a chonky ruler that magnetizes to the back of the keyboard (never know when you need a straight line or to measure something). Oh, and speaking of plastic – while the keys are certainly plastic, you’ve got a heavier top plate made of anodized aluminum. Well, actually, the whole body of the keyboard is made of it, so you’ve got a decent heft that means this keyboard does NOT move around on your desk.
Or if you like, it could be on your lap, as the Das Keyboard 4 Professional comes with a 6.5-foot cable on it. That cable – along with giving the inputs to your laptop – also provide you with two powered USB 3.0 ports in the upper right, which is always handy to have close-to-hand. Up there, you’ve got some bonus features as well. Most prominently, of course, is that oversized volume knob which, much like the keys themselves, is so much nicer to use than the volume controls on the laptop. You’ve also got the media controls there, and then the dedicated sleep button to help close things down at the end of the day (maintain those boundaries!)
Now, you may have noticed that with the Das Keyboard 4 Professional, I didn’t talk about lighting at all. Sure, there is a bright blue LED up by the media controls (letting you know you’re typing in ALL CAPS NOW) but otherwise, this is a stealthy board. In other words, you know, professional. I do miss the backlit keyboard a tiny bit if the workspace is dark, but not enough to sink things (and don’t worry, Das does have backlit boards, including ones that are programmable and can be used for alerts, which looks amazing).
So, yes – I went into this review of the Das Keyboard 4 Professional thinking of a mechanical keyboard as just a gimmick, or something that people get hung up on. Through my time with it, that opinion has changed, and I really, really enjoy typing on the keyboard, whether it be emails, database code, or writing articles like this one. Now, at $169 this is a premium keyboard – but it feels like it’s well deserved (at least, that’s what my fingertips and eardrums would have you know). Also, for Mac users, be reassured that the Mac-specific keys on this version worked like a charm (no remapping or anything).
So, sure, you can pick up some cheap inexpensive keyboard off of Amazon, or you could go to your default preference (which prior to this experience was Logitech), but if you’re on a keyboard for a living (which so many of us are) the Das Keyboard 4 Professional feels like it’s built for the long haul, and will be with you for a good long time to come. Just choose wisely with your switches, to account for the noise levels that will be acceptable. For me, these brown switches were perfect, and I am a unequivocally afan, and would definitely recommend checking out the offerings from Das Keyboard. daskeyboard.com
Tech Specs from Das Keyboard
- Cherry MX mechanical key switches with gold contacts
- Dedicated media controls with oversized volume knob
- Two-port USB 3.0 SuperSpeed hub – Up to 5Gb/s, 10x the speed of USB 2.0
- Mac OS specific key functions
- Instant sleep button to save energy
- UV hard coat-protected key caps to prevent fading
- 104-key US layout, 105-key DE layoutOutside the US? Click here
- Anodized aluminum top panel
- Extra long 6.5 ft (201 cm) USB cable with single USB type-A connector
- Dimensions: 18 x 6.8 x .80 inches (45.72 x 17.272 x 2.032 cm)
- Elevated height: 1.2 inches (3.1 cm)
- Weight: 2.9 lbs (1.3 kg)
- NKRO over USB for faster typing and programmingFootbar to raise keyboard also functions as a ruler (you’ll thank us later)
- System requirements:Designed for Mac OS X
- One USB 1.1., 2.0 or 3.0 port
- No driver required
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