How a keyboard should be

And now for something completely different. My rather pricey Logitech G910 keyboard has broken down after only 18 months with no less than 3 of the keys currently stuck on the wrong colour. Looks like a physical issue with the LEDs rather than anything software related. It’s actually not a very nice keyboard to type on, and frankly Logitech have gone down in my estimation for the lack of quality in their products over the last 15 years.

So what’s the alternative? As a developer I’m quite particular about my keyboards and their functionality. There are literally thousands of combinations to choose from, and yet I still haven’t found my perfect keyboard.

Yes I’ve seen Jeff Atwood’s Code Keyboard and in many respects it comes so close to being what I want, USB-C, cable management, black, backlit, but they only ship the cherry version to the UK and and if the reviews are to be believed, a few of their keyboards have issues.

The CodeKeyboard is an expensive keyboard, built by a guy that wanted to build a keyboard; so it should be a great keyboard! Yet only 60% of people rated it 5 Stars. Glossing over the fact that it costs a fortune to actually ship it to the UK, and that’s if they have it in stock, which right now, they don’t!

So what now? Spend my nights learning to build mechanical keyboards? Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That!

Instead, I’m going to set out what I think a keyboard should be, and then compromise on something - probably the backlight as working in an unlit room is superbad for you and I should probably not do it.

This wishlist for a keyboard is a bit of lighthearted fun and a way to convey my frustration at a universe of keyboards in which my perfect keyboard does not exist.

Power and Connectivity

  • Ships with a detachable USB-C braided cable. The DAS-4 keyboard actually comes pretty close to my overall keyboard requirements, unfortunately the cable is made of nasty rubber and is fixed to the back of the keyboard rather than being detachable. Filco Convetable 2 also comes pretty close since their cable is actually detachable so I could provide my own braided cable. Sadly they missed a trick and supplied a Micro-USB connection instead of USB-C. This is unfortunate as being behind the keyboard it would be nice if the socket was reversible so that I do not have to deal with the USB Superposition problem.
  • Recessed connector. The connector should be recessed so that the cable head doesn’t stick out.
  • Open recess. The recess should be open so that you can disconnect the keyboard without having to turn it upside down. An open recess should also allow the cable to exit via the rear of the keyboard.
  • Ducts on the underside running parallel allowing an exit to the left of the keyboard.
  • Duct runs parallel with the length of the keyboard. This means that the cable terminator won’t stick out the back of the keyboard.
  • Wireless Mode. While USB-C allows the keyboard to be ‘wired’, detaching it should put it in wireless mode.
  • Use while charging. May be obvious but I’ve seen devices that can’t be used while they’re charging.
  • Lithium-Ion Battery would provide 6 months of 8 hour a day use (without back-lighting).
  • Headroom for magnetically detaching usb systems as nobody wants to snag a usb-c connection. Apple implemented this as ‘MagSafe’ for their power systems and there are some options out there for doing this with USB-C (with data transfer).

Lighting, Colour, Materials

  • Back-lit in white This is one thing I admire about Jeff Atwood’s Code Keyboard, a nice back-lit white.
  • Adjustable brightness with dip switches or similar.
  • White under-key backplate. Again this is one thing that makes ‘Code Keyboard’ look beautiful - a solid white backplate for light to reflect back.
  • Fixed colour back-light. No flashing rainbow colours just because the host OS isn’t connected yet. Looking at you Logitech. This is a keyboard not a mario kart level.
  • Black Double Shot Keycaps Throughout Because Double Shot requires no printing, there’s no print to wear away. Yes this includes the swappable keycaps like the OS key and the Menu key. I’d look to MaxKeyboard for this.
  • Black anodised steel case. This thing should be rugged and heavy.
  • Illuminated keycaps. Back-lights are no good if you can’t see the keys.
  • Soft cap design. A lot of people complaining about Code Keyboard caps being ‘sharp’ and painful to type on.
  • Caps/Scroll/Num lock lights would be within line of sight, dim, and either white (to match the rest of the keyboard) or red like on a BBC Computer. No idea why people choose blue. It’s no good placing them behind a back row of tall keys if I can’t see it at the angle I’m working at.


  • Made of steel Did I mention this already?
  • Cherry MX do all the hard work of producing moving parts that withstand 50 million strokes, so there are no other moving parts, so it should be easy to slap a 10 year guarantee on it. Right?
  • 10 Year Warranty I’m tired of having to re-evaluate the keyboard I want every 2 years. On top of that think of all the electronic waste from Logitech keyboards breaking after 1 year.
  • Steel Keyboard Hinges. Ever had a keyboard hinge break off? These ones should be made from steel too.
  • Hefty. This thing should not slide around the desk. Not even for pair programming.
  • Thick grippy firm rubber feet - seriously this thing should not slide around the desk.
  • Sprill Proof. This is a big ask, but why can’t keyboards be spill proof?, if they were, they’d also be easier to clean.
  • User Servicable Parts. Ok maybe a PCB isn’t that servicable but I should be able to unscrew this keyboard to clean it, and maybe even replace the USB connector that will inevitably get damaged somehow.


  • Cherry MX Brown. I plan to use this keyboard in an office, blues are out of the question and reds give no feedback.
  • O Rings by default so that again, this thing is quiet.
  • OS Key Deactivation toggle. I still like to game, and this is a really great feature that Logitech have incorporated into most of their gaming keyboards. Trying to implement this at the software level requires a machine reboot which is impractical for most people.
  • Big Fat Instant Mute toggle - sometimes a call comes in; got to know where your mute button is.
  • [Optional] Play pause rewind forward media buttons - make them easy to press, in fact, make them actual keys like this.
  • [Optional] Tactile volume wheel exactly like the one on DAS 4, exposed fully like a hi-fi wheel. The partially exposed ones on Corsair and Logitech keyboards are not as great as they don’t enable fast and precise adjustment of volume. A full wheel like some old school 1980s stereo is what you need.
  • Exactly 5 Custom keys. In logitech land they’re known as G-Keys. Five. No more. No less. These are incredibly useful.
  • Comes in 105 UK form. Yes with a menu button. No, not with an FN button. Full size Enter key with the @ and “ in the right place.


  • Ships to UK It’s no good having the best keyboard in the world if you don’t have partners around the world who can ship it.

Definite No-Nos

  • No hello kitty prints. I said black. Black looks professional. Try and blend
  • No screens. You already have a screen in front of you. This is a keyboard. It takes input. Need more output or indicators? get a second screen! Or an Elgato console - Seriously. Logitech G15 required drivers to be installed for the screen to operate and nobody writes code for these sorts of things anymore.
  • No embedded wrist wrest. Again this is orthogonal to a keyboard. If you’re desperate then have your custom wrist-wrest 3D printed
  • No speakers. I already have speakers, and my computer is already spoilt for choice from the plethora of tinny sounding audio output devices. This is largely due to ASUS’s unhealthy obsession with stuffing speakers in their monitors or every other device they manufacture. A toaster does not need a speaker. A kettle does not need a speaker. If your kettle has something to say then let it speak its peace by having it connect to your network’s smart speaker.
  • No Gaudy branding. Ever seen a SuperDry t-shirt? Loud and obnoxious, isn’t it? They say pets are like their owners, well the same seems to be true for keyboards. Subtle and refined, classy and tasteful and professional. Leave the ‘FRAGZ_GAMER_WINZOR_STEALTH_PRO_ALPHA_9_EDITION’ branding at home.
  • No Power Buttons. Whose idea was it to place a shutdown button next to media keys? I’m looking at you DAS 4. Really this is exceptionally bad design, so bad that I simply cannot contemplate the DAS 4 as an option.


In short, the ideal keyboard would have

  • DAS 4 media controls.
  • Code Keyboard’s backlighting and elegant form with quiet Cherry MX Browns.
  • Would use a detachable USB-C not Micro USB cable to charge/toggle its wired and wireless form.
  • Would have a 105 UK layout.
  • Would be subtle and understated i.e. black except for the back-light which would be white.
  • Would be made of rugged materials like steel.
  • Would not have anything that is orthogonal to the form and function of a keyboard.
  • Would actually exist.

I think I’ll settle for the UK Filco Convertible 2 MX Brown Tactile when it’s back in stock. I can at least add my own magneticly detachable and reversible USB cable and substitute the lack of backlighting and illuminated keycaps for a keyboard lamp.