Last year Skatter Tech reviewed the Das Keyboard Professional. Today, I present a review of the latest iteration, the Das Keyboard Model S Professional. The new version is almost entirely the same as the previous model, but it now comes with a few additions, changes, and improvements. For starters, the keyboard is no longer as loud when typing, but it still sounds like a typewriter. Other improvements include multimedia controls, powered USB ports, and compatibility for PS/2 ports and KVM switches. Although we took a look at the Professional model, an ‘Ultimate’ version is also available which is a completely blank keyboard without any printed text.
Comfort and Quality
As with the earlier model, the new Das Keyboard S Professional maintains its advertised guarantee of quality with precision, speed, and comfort. When they say this is the best keyboard to use for long hours of typing, they aren’t kidding. This is hands down the smoothest keyboard I have ever used. After some getting used to, I found myself typing faster and faster. Due to high sensitivity, there were quite a few accidental entries at first, but my accuracy increased as I spent more time with it. The feel of the keys is unlike any other keyboard. Instead of the immediate snap or click, the keys feel as though they are on a cushion. It actually accepts key presses before it finishes being pressed. There’s a special kind of fluid flow you feel with this keyboard that you won’t find on others. Plus, it’s comfortable. The Model S also sports the n-key rollover feature which accepts up to 6 presses at once. Most generic keyboards jam with more than 3-4 simultaneous key presses. This allows fast typers to do what they do best. The Das Model S makes the entire typing experience enjoyable by adding an aesthetically pleasing sound to each click. Although not as loud, it reminded me of the sound a typewriter makes and the confident feedback you get which each click. Unfortunately it’s still a bit too loud and may annoy others nearby.
Design and Look
The Model S once again retains the minimalistic look. It doesn’t have any extra text, icons, or nonsense other than the company’s name. The only visual difference on the S Model versus the original is the addition of a “Fn” button in the previous location of the left Windows key. The Fn key offers access to media functions which are secondary commands of the F1-F12 keys. Other than that, the keyboard looks almost entirely the same. The unit won’t budge an inch once placed on your desk. That’s because it weighs nearly twice as much as any keyboard I’ve used. Since this won’t ever leave most people’s desks, the weight is a non-issue. The Model S has a glossy reflective black coating which looks sharp. That also means that it does attract some fingerprints just like every other expensive shiny gadget on the market. That’s however not too big of a deal. Plus, you can wipe smudges off with the included cleaning cloth. Das Keyboard claims that each key can handle about 50 million strokes before it wears out.
Setup and USB Hub
The Das Keyboard S Professional is ready to use right out of the box. There’s no installation required. The device has two USB cables, one enables the keyboard component and the other for the USB Hub. My Dell Inspiron laptop, running Windows 7, detected everything instantly. It should be the same case for Mac OS X users. There’s a two-port USB hub on the right side. Although I wouldn’t recommend using any USB hub for any data heavy devices such as external HDDs, the ports are easy to access and great for flash drives. For the most part I didn’t notice any performance degradation due to the use of a hub. Also since the keyboard portion is independent of the USB hub, any freeze ups won’t affect your typing.
The addition of media keys are a great addition to this keyboard. They are accessible by pressing the ‘Fn’ key in combination with the corresponding Function key. There are keys for lowering volume, increasing volume, mute, play/pause, stop, previous track, and next track. There’s also a key to put your computer to Sleep. The media keys worked perfectly with Windows 7. They also worked smoothly with pre-installed Windows Media Player 12 and 3rd party programs such as VLC and Foobar 2000. They were quite responsive as well. The fact that no additional software was required is a big plus. After some use, I truly feel as though the media keys should be placed in a different location. Reaching across the keyboard to press two keys for each operation seemed time consuming. Either adding dedicated media keys or placing them elsewhere might yield a more productive typing experience.
While using this keyboard, the space bar randomly decided to stop working. After a couple rapid clicks, it still ceased to function. I decided to unplug the device and reboot my computer. It then started working again. Over the course of about two weeks of use, it never happened again. I just assumed it was a random bug and never bothered to look into it. However, I was soon informed that the Model S was being recalled shortly prior to publishing this review. There’s apparently a faulty component which causes random keys to stop functioning. It shouldn’t cause any harm to your computer, but when you pay for something it should work flawlessly. If a unit you own does have this issue, unplugging and plugging it should apparently solve the problem temporarily. I’m also glad to see that Das Keyboards is handling this issue quite appropriately. They are offering all the customers who already purchased one the option to receive a free replacement or a full refund. They are no longer shipping out the Model S, but are taking pre-orders for the working model with some minor revisions. It will be available in mid-December.
Overall, the Das Keyboard S Professional is much of what it used to be, a great keyboard. The minor improvements probably aren’t worth an upgrade from last years model, but is a great complement for new buyers. The slightly more silent keys will annoy your co-workers or roommates less. For the user, the aesthetics and the fast typing experience is great. It’s great for typing long papers or reviews such as this one. While the recall may turn off some potential buyers, keep in mind that Das Keyboards makes reliable products. Last years model worked perfectly and there was only one occurrence of the bug during my two weeks of use. Das Keyboards is taking responsibility and is addressing the issue properly. I’ll update this article when we get a hold of the working unit next month, but for now I’ll trust that they’ll fix it. The Model S is a great keyboard and is definitely worth a look at if you’re a serious writer, programmer, or just type a lot. It’s a quite pricey and will run you about $129. It’s a lot for a keyboard, but it’s a quality product and you’ll only appreciate it once you use it.