Tad’s Thursday Thing Tech Writing

Typing on the Nostromo: The Matias Tactile Pro USB Keyboard

In my mind, this is what using a computer keyboard should be like:

OK, maybe not the beeping on each keystroke, but damn, you know when you hit a key and if you missed.

The first computer I ever used was a Commodore PET in my elementary school library.

There was nothing quiet about using this computer in a library.

The first computer I ever owned was an Apple IIe, which also had a suitably clacky keyboard:

Apple IIe

Even before that, I learned to type on my dad’s IBM Selectric typewriter (you could correct your mistakes!):

IBM SelectricAdd many hours on a VT 100 at UCSC and you see why I have been conditioned to feel and hear my keystrokes when I type.

Since 2001, I’ve used a chunky Matias Tactile Pro™ keyboard with whatever Mac I’ve owned at the time and have either dragged it to work with me or asked my employer to purchase one for my office. Beca got one of her own soon after I got mine.

Matias Tactile Pro

I found the Tactile Pro™ when trying to find an Apple Extended Keyboard II, which I’d used with my Quadra 700.

Matias’ stated goal for the Tactile Pro was to recreate the experience of using the Extended Keyboard II. Mission accomplished!

We used the hell out of our Tactile Pros. Quite a few of the letters have rubbed off the Beca’s, but it still works. Mine has been repaired several times and looks it.

I had to replace the USB cord a few years ago (harvested from a broken mouse), and the case never quite went back together properly. An orange zip tie and some white electrical tape did the job.

Old Tactile Pro Detail

But what I’ve been using is the visual equivalent of taped up nerd glasses. Two weeks ago, it stopped functioning all together, so I dropped US$130 on a new one. There has been some noticeable progress since I bought my first one.

New Matias Tactile Pro

It looks great, has a three-port USB hub in it, and has laser-etched keys that have all the Mac special characters printed right on them!

Mataias Tactile Pro v.3 Keys
Look! Now you don’t have to remember or use the “Special Characters…” tool in OS X!

All well and good, but what you’re buying this thing for is the keyboard action and the clacky action. Look and listen:

Now, if you live or work with people who are sensitive to loud repetitive noises, this is not the keyboard for you. If you need a quiet keyboard for your Mac, I suggest Apple’s own USB keyboard with numeric keypad (or it’s wireless cousin):

Apple Aluminum Keyboard

But if you want a responsive, loud, clacky keyboard that announces to the world: “I am working in here!” you want a Tactile Pro.

UPDATE: ROCCAT has announced their own, more sinister deluxe mechanucal keyboard:

1 comment on “Typing on the Nostromo: The Matias Tactile Pro USB Keyboard

  1. Pingback: Tad’s Podcast Recommendations | LOS ANGELES: 2019

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