Keyboard Review: Hcman 87

Posted: May 29, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

hcman-87-keys-mechanical-keyboard-under-30-e1494904419595-960x494Sometimes, you just have to see how low you can go. In this case, I was looking for the least expensive true mechanical keyboard I could find. After poking around Amazon, the Hcman 87 keyboard I have here ended up being “the one”. Depending upon market factors, it may well not be the low-priced crown, or even available when you’re reading this. Nevertheless, it constituted the value winner at the inception of this test.

It is a tenkey-less design, or the 87% format, if you prefer. The device has an aluminum top plate, floating key layout, and features Outemu blue switches. These are clicky and tactile, like the Cherry switches of the same stem color. The keys are backlit. With the backlighting turned off, it looks okay. It looks really hokey with the backlights on.

The ‘board is quite light, but has good structural regidity, due to the aluminum top plate. With the LEDs lit, it has a “gamer” aesthetic, which is not my preference. That said, at this price, one takes what one can get.

The legends are clear enough with the backlighting on, but are quite difficult to read when the lights are turned off. Because of the design of this keyboard, it would be easy enough to change key caps, should you desire. That being said, there are secondary functions that would have to be remembered or noted elsewhere, should you remove the stock caps. Also, it should be mentioned that going to the expense of purchasing a new set of keycaps for a ‘board of this price point would likely be a questionable step. Many of the key cap sets you might select are more expensive than this keyboard in total.

Functional aspect:

Because of the key switches used in this ‘board, it provides a clicky and tactile typing experience. I find that the Outemu switches provide a similar feel to the more expensive Cherry switches. I have not found any cause to say negative things about them. They seem to do what they were designed to do. I don’t know if they will, in fact, have the same service life or retain their performance after long term use, but they seem to do just fine over a short course.

The layout of the Hcman is a standard ANSI design. All the keys will be in the same place you’re used to. They’ll be the same size and shape. There are no large hurdles here.

When one combines the fact that you have a true mechanical switch that acts as it should and a standard key layout, this is a solid typing platform. There are no strange sounds, squeaks, pings, or malfunctions to report. Because I was familiar with blue switches going in, there wasn’t a major learning curve. I have used it back to back with a few much more expensive keyboards, up to and including a Realforce that is the better part of ten times as expensive. It did not give me great feelings of sadness and regret while employing it.

Summation:

This is a lot of keyboard for the money. If you are willing to forgive some of its little quirks, like having dumb LED lighting that will make you look like a rube if you use it, this thing will give you typing feel equal to a much more expensive ‘board. If you find that you really, really like the Hcman, you could always throw some better caps onto it. Or, even better, some caps you’ve kept around from a previous craft project. Much better if anything you do with this ‘board be cheap or free, since the whole idea of this device is value.

Functionally, it’s a win. With the lights off, it’s okay. Lots of ‘board for the money.

Cheers, and happy typing.

Post Script:

After my initial review of this ‘board, I decided to recap it with keys I had hanging around. Now, it’s using the modifier keys from a Magicforce and the rest of the keys from my old DasKeyboard. While there are still a few slightly rough or cheap elements present, the change in the looks are huge. With the LEDs off and a good, legible set of key caps installed, it’s actually a nice looking ‘board. One interesting element I found during the switching of the key caps was that this board has a totally different type of stabilizer than anything I’ve seen. They work fine, so it’s just a data point.

I still believe that a slightly more expensive (an additional $5 to $10 will do) platform would provide you a better jumping off point for a customed-up board. I would say that the Magicforce 68 by Quisan is right up there with the best in this regard, while the Drevo Tyrfing is also impressive. For a full sized keyboard the Eagletec is also totally legit. For a cheap, dangerous duty ‘board or a loaner for friends, the HCman is pretty darned good, however.

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Comments
  1. Alan says:

    This is the one you lent me yes?

    I was pretty impressed, but the newer one you’ve loaned me is my favorite so far by a wide margin.

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