Friday, October 04, 2013

WASD Code Keyboard Review

The CODE Keyboard by WASD Keyboards arrived yesterday! Shipping through USPS took about a week. Not too bad for a normal postal service. The package is pretty normal. Just your normal box within a box. The CODE box is white, with the branding on the box. Even the white box is made of normal recycle paper. Pretty normal stuff. Minimalist. I like it.
The keyboard is protected by a flimsy plastic. No bubble wrapper. Could be an issue if the handling by the courier was rough. But they do have those pink styrofoam stuff to protect.

Unlike the Matias, there was no 'fragile, handle with care' sticker. Maybe those will increase shipping cost?







Underneath the cover though, is one of the most beautiful keyboards I have laid my eyes on. It is pretty heavy, perhaps one of the heavist keyboard I owned, which explained the US$50 shipping cost. The heft gave it a high quality feel. 

This is the BMW of keyboard. Unwrapping the plastic, I finally laid my eyes on it and, wow, it is a beauty. Each of the key caps are made of a matte material but thankfully, it didn't attract any fingers grease or finger print. The textured case is minimalistic. Even the bezel is very thin. 

There is no branding on the keyboard; you can't tell it is a CODE except for it's white backlighting. The CODE was a brain child between Jeff Atwood of Stack Overflow fame and WASDkeyboards. It is based upon WASDkeyboards new V2 design. So what you read about CODE is about the same as a WASD V2 except for the backlighting and Clear switch.

It is as unassuming as it can be except that one look at it and you know it is not your normal keyboard. This is one high end stuff. A BMW has very distinctive frontal headlights, you know that eye-liner that is signature of the BMW? Well, the CODE has its white backlighting. It's what defined a CODE as a CODE.

It came with a key cap puller, a micro USB/USB cable and a PS/2 and USB adapter. The key cap puller was a great thought, thanks WASDkeyboard!

The ultra rare MX Clear switch is built on top of a white-coated steel plate, which explained the weight of the keyboard. MX Clear is as tactile as the Blue, more heavier than the Blue when pressing it and very quiet. So if you think Blue is too light, this is the switch to go to especially if you wanted something quiet. I'd say it is the same heaviness as the Matias Quiet Pro which I reviewed here as well.

Don't mistaken the MX Clear with the MX White. The both looked the same but are two different key switches. I think MX White is milk white in colour while the Clear is slightly translucent.

The keycap is made of ABS material. That's the material used to make Lego bricks. Because of the fact that it is a backlight keyboard, they have to use a transparent plastic, paint them black, lazer etch the character and then put a coating over it. It looks really nice. But I worry how long the coating can last. Will it come off after years of usage? It's even madness to consider this point - I mean, on a US$10 Logitech keyboard, it never occurs to you that the key cap will peel or the character will come off. So why is this worrying for a US$150 keyboard? Yup. I need help for spending so much on a keyboard!! It shouldn't even be a question at all. You don't ask whether the BMW paint will fade under the strong tropical sunlight - do you?

Behind the keyboard, the cable is detachable, which is pretty cool as you can easily transport the keyboard. And if the cable broke? No problem, you can replace it with any micro-USB and USB cable. There are enough rubber in all four corners for good grip. Even the legs which is used to prop the keyboard is made of some rubber materials. No slippage here no matter how hard you type. There is also 5 opening in which you can arrange your cable. Very thoughtful design.

There is also a DIP switch. Do you know that the normal keyboard we are using is called QWERTY, because of how the row of keys are arranged? It seems that there are DVORAK key arrangement which people claimed will increase your typing speed and there is COLEMARK, which, um, a lot of programmers used. So this CODE keyboard supports QWERTY, DVORAK and Colemark setting just via a DIP switch.

There is no USB port, which some may take concern with but the CODE keyboards are built based on standard key configurations, meaning you can just order any other keycaps and change them. This may sound like a simple thing but many keyboards, eg the Razer BlackWidow Ultimate, Noppoo and some others have a different sized Space Bar or SHIFT Bar or CTRL and ALT. That makes them incompatible and not able to be replaced easily. CODE though, is built on standards, so even these modifier keys are replaceable.

So, there you have it. A review. And I need to stop this addiction. Having 4 mechanical keyboards with two being utilized (at home and in office) and two collecting dust is just too mental and too much. I am very satisfied with the Code, so much so I have decided that this is the last one and I am not going to satisfy any curiosity I have.

I already have three of the best switches around: MX Blue, MX Clear and Quiet alps. I am done.


P.S. The Code keyboard is based on the same design as WASD V2 keyboard. The only difference is the Cherry MX Clear and the backlighting. But the Code is also sold out as of this writing. In fact it was sold out the moment it was launched. The pre-order was so great.

I still remember when I read about the Code for the very first time. I was led to this because of a tweet by John Gruber. In that instant, I knew I wanted it. It was a great write up/marketing page. And at that time, it was still available for pre-order. What made me hesitate is the price tag - US$150.


I contemplated on this a few days. Then I saw, to my dismay, that it was out of stock. The reason it was out of stock is because of the rare MX Clear switch. Cherry is not making much and the back order takes around 6-12 months. So I put this aside but I was also considering the WASD V2 keyboard - same make except a Cherry of my choice and no back lighting.


So when I saw in a forum that it was not available, I instantly jumped on it and placed my order for this ten-key-less model (i.e. without Num Pad). I had buyer's remorse after that, sure.. it is an expensive keyboard and I should be saving money now. 3 hours after I placed the order, it was gone again! That made me feel slightly better - this is a prized possession now :) I found out from the owner of the company that the reason it was temporary available was due to the cancellation of people who pre ordered who cancelled before it was shipped. Probably they, too, have buyer's remorse. I wonder if they are kicking themselves. If you are one of them, drop me a comment :D




1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review. There's not much stuff on the new WASD's anywhere. I'm choosing between the v2 versus Filco, but can't make up my mind... (It's my first and I want the blues. I've tested them in a shop, so I know how loud they are.)

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