Anyone who remembers when a "laptop" computer looked more like a suitcase-size nuclear weapon may recall the old IBM Model M-style keyboard. With its distinct "clacky" sound and the amazing responsiveness of its buckling spring keys, many typists, gamers, and enthusiasts lament that that old design has become more or less instinct. We expect that many keyboard cranks out there will applaud the new Das Professional keyboard, which recreates that old typing magic perfectly. Too bad its prohibitive $130 price tag will likely scare away all but the most serious typist.
The Das Professional (and the blank Das Ultimate) won't be available until later this month. You can actually preorder now from the Das Web site for $99, an enticing discount. Either price puts the Das Professional in the rarefied company of high-end gaming and lifestyle keyboards from Logitech and Razer. Unlike those typically fancy keyboards, the Das Professional lacks any remarkable extras. A pair of USB ports on the right side is the only nod to this keyboard working as anything other than a typing device.
Fortunately it excels at its primary function. For word processing, gaming, or any other typing tasks, the Das Professional simply feels right. Every key press has satisfying tactile feedback and resistance, to the point where it almost feels as if the keyboard is launching your fingers from each key to the next. Many people have become fond of laptop-style keys in recent years, with their shallow profile and their near-silent operation. The Das Professional moves in the exact opposite direction from that dainty trend. The keypress action is anything but shallow, and the clicking noise when you type is so loud that it very well may irritate co-workers, family members, and roommates.
Unlike other keyboards in this price range, the Das Professional has no specialized media control buttons, no separate keys for making macros, and the only LEDs it has are the blue Num and Caps lock indicators. The USB 2.0 ports on the side are a welcome addition. It also boasts of a special n-key rollover function, which lets you press up to 12 keys simultaneously. Gamers in particular will appreciate that function.
With only a single USB connector and no special software, the Das Professional is easy to set up, and it works with Windows, Mac, and Linux-based systems. For $100 or so, you might expect this keyboard to deliver a bit more functionality, but it's also one of the best pure typing devices available.