Today we’re going to be taking a look at the HHKB Professional 2 Keyboard, a legendary keyboard for enthusiasts, let’s find out how it holds up.
This unit was provided for review by PFU, but does not alter the review in any way.
Unboxing and Overview
Starting with what you get in the box, it’s pretty minimalistic already. You get the Keyboard, a black USB cable and a small information card.
Now taking a look at the keyboard itself, the first thing you’ll notice is the layout. And this is part of what makes this keyboard so unique. It has a compact 60% layout with many small tweaks that should help you to be more productive.
This iconic layout is also the inspiration for boards you might already know such as the Ramaworks M60, Polaris, Duck Viper, and others.
Another thing that is so special about this keyboard, are the switches it uses. Other than most mechanical keyboards it has Topre switches. These are a very unique switch, as they are an electrostatic capacitive non contact switch. Essentially they use similar technology as rubber domes, but have a spring and more tactile feeling.
Now being topre switches, this has one downside, that is they are not compatible with cherry stem keycaps. So finding a keycap set for this keyboard can be a challenge. But speaking of keycaps, the HHKB has a very nice set. It’s made of PBT plastic and a spacebar made of ABS. I assume this is to avoid it from warped during production.
On the back side of the keyboard we can also find two USB A ports, these are low power only, so I would suggest using them for a wireless mouse dongle or connecting a headset. We also have a cover for the DIP switches, which allow the keyboard to be compatible with Mac, Linux or Windows, giving it the correct layout and functionalities for each system.
I have been using this keyboard for the past three weeks now, doing some coding, design and occasional gaming with it. And I must say, the Topre switches are quite an amazing experience. The layout does take some getting used to, especially the moved position of the control key, which is shifted to the top, to replace the caps lock key completely. There are also some more tweaks such as the delete key being moved down by one row, making it easier to reach.
Typing however has to be by far my favourite experience right out of the box, with no further modifications needed. Each switch feels very smooth, while being tactile, with an extremely satisfying “thock” sound.
When I started typing on it, I did not want to stop, as it was just such a nice experience. I tried to find every excuse to type more, and probably spent way too much time playing around on the Ten Fast Fingers typing test.
I would say, if you already are used to a 60% layout, then getting used to the HHKB won’t be such a big change. It took me about a few days to get fully adjusted to the new layout, coming from an Anne Pro 2 keyboard.
Although if you come from a full size or TKL, it might be a bit more tricky, as you have to deal with the arrow keys mapped to the FN layer in a diamond arrangement.
You can pick up the HHKB Professional 2 on Amazon right now for about 250$. This price may change in the future due to sales, etc.
The legendary HHKB is a solid choice for keyboard enthusiasts, programmers and everyone that wants to try something different. After getting used to the more unique layout it's hard to go back.
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