I make no apologies to anyone. Razorock soaps are the most numerous in my stable. Why? Because they work well for me, come in at a great price, and allow me to try a lot of different scents. Also, Italian Barber has always treated me right in terms of getting the stuff to me on time and in good condition. I have no direct relationship with the IB people. I’ve never spoken directly to them, and I am provided no promotional considerations. Everything I review here was purchased for normal cost.

I am a big fan of sandalwood scents. That said, my tastes run to a woody scent without too much musk or foofy cologne scent along with it. Proraso Red or Captain’s Choice, for instance, are my ideal examples of what I like.

Santal Royale is…different. It’s a good scent. A complex scent. It might be just a bit pungent for me. This isn’t an issue with the soap itself. The transitory nature of a soap scent will typically not cause an issue, even when stronger than normal. This is the case with the Santal Royale.

I found that, though there is a component of sandalwood here, there are so many other elements at play that it doesn’t quite give me that “thing” I am looking for. I would call the scent more of a “dark” cologne scent than exactly a sandalwood. I get the sense that there is some similarity to the Oud scent profile you might find in “The Stallion”, but it isn’t quite as powerful as that particular soap.

Performance of the soap is up to the standard for this line of products, and I have no complaints about it.

Overall, this is a recommended product, as long as you’re not looking for the Proraso Red style, or the Taylor’s style sandalwood. It is very different from Proraso, and far more potent than Taylor’s. This is all related to how my nose works. You may have much different feelings about all of this.

I ended up PIFing this soap to a friend, as I have a number of scents that I prefer over the Santal Royale. Particularly with the companion aftershave, I just found it a bit too pungent for my taste. We try things. They don’t always suit us. It’s part of the game, and part of the fun (provided that you’re not spending yourself into the poor house.)

Cheers, and Happy Shaving!

Keytronics rubber dome review:

Posted: October 13, 2017 in Uncategorized

My friend Dave is always on the lookout for an interesting old keyboard for me to try out. Recently, he found two old Keytronics models at a second hand store. I don’t have all the information on them, but they are old enough to have the DIN 5 pin connection. They do, however, have the Windows key, so my guess is that they were from the era of keyboards that came out with Windows 95.

Dave purchased two of them with the same form factor and of the same outward appearance. They are altogether bog standard keyboards, with rubber dome switches and standard plungers to actuate the rubber domes. The keys themselves are fairly nice, with a clean legend and nice, conical shape, taller and slightly narrower at the top than is the standard today. Basically the same shape as an IBM M series. The chassis and layout is much the same as the “M”, as well. Full keyset, large format with a lot of bezel around the key clusters.

The shape, however, is about as far as the similarities goes. Picking the keyboards up, they weigh less than half what a vintage IBM keyboard does, and have a good bit of chassis flex if you test them out. Being rubber domes, they have a chance to be somewhere between absolute rubbish and passable in terms of typing mechanics. While not absolute rubbish, I wouldn’t say that these old Keytronics keyboards have anything special to offer. Other than being in the vintage beige and having the old fashioned look/form factor, there’s nothing really special here.

Can you type on them? Sure.

Are they great? No.

Brass Tacks:

This era of keyboard had the “Big Ass Enter” key, and the little backspace. This is a rare design choice right now, but once held a big place in the market. Being DIN connection, you’ll need one or even two adapters to get it working on your modern PC. All in all, not really worth it. Not to me, anyway. There are better keyboards being sold for twenty bucks right now, without the need for weird adapters. Not all the old stuff is great. In this case, it was a mediocre product when it came out (most certainly build to minimize cost but appear to be the same as more expensive ‘boards.), and it has not gotten any better with age.

Cheers, and Happy Typing!

RazoRock Son Of Zeus Artisan Shaving Soap-RazoRock-ItalianBarber

I know, I know. All these Razorock soaps? What the heck?

If asked to account for my actions, I can only say that, for my use, RR soaps work great, lather quickly, and have a ton of different interesting scents. All of them are priced well, and my interactions with Italian Barber have always been positive. Joe A. even sent me a letter, thanking me for repeat purchases. I like their style.

The Son of Zeus scent is based upon the cologne Terre d’Hermès, from what I understand. It is, to my nose, a wonderful scent. It has a component of orange, as well as some sweetness and spice. There are elements of “cologne” scent below that, but it isn’t pungent or overpowering. I’d call it reminiscent of the Colonia-style Italian scents. In the same ballpark as Aqua Di Parma Colonia. A little less intense than something like Creed Aventus. Masculine citrus, but not too musky or skunky.

To me, this is one of the best scents RR does. It’s up there with The Dead Sea, Emperor, Santa Maria Del Fiore, and XXX. The soap performed just as expected, and I had great shaves with it. The matching aftershave splash matches the scent well.

This stuff is great. Perhaps emblematic of how good it smells is that I was almost underwhelmed when I A/B tested it with XXX, which had always been my favorite in the RR lineup, in terms of scent.

The price versus performance quotient, as always with this brand, is killer. If you like the original scent, or a citrus-infused profile, this should be an easy win for you. As a side note, this stuff blends great with Lucky Tiger aftershave tonic.

Overall, one of my very favorites from RR (I know, I’ve said that a few times.) There are other makers using this scent profile, such as Fine’s L’Orange Noir, which are also excellent, and will be reviewed as time permits.

Cheers, and Happy Shaving!

The IBM Model M is a vaunted, classic design. Perhaps the crown jewel in the pantheon of easily-had vintage keyboards. And, may I say, deservedly so.

Being the owner of a Unicomp Ultra Classic, I already knew what buckling spring keyboars with membrane switches felt like. I hadn’t, however, had a chance to really play with a classic one since they’d been standard fare in front of actual IBM computers. That’s a long time gone, y’all. The 80s. I was just a wee lad then. No more than, like 240 or so.

My friend, Dave, had a few old keyboards kicking around. He let me borrow them, and asked if I could tune them up and get them working again. I said, “Heck, yeah,” and off I went.

The Model M he gave me had no cord, and it looked a bit rough around the edges. Not filthy, but the keys were dirty, and the whole thing loked like it could benefit from a going over.

Dave let me know that his aspiration was to find a way to make the keyboard a high-visibility device for his father, whose vision isn’t what it used to be.

On the case, I researched how best to get this stuff going. And, not surprisingly, Unicomp had what I wanted. They had a cap set in bright white, with big, block legends, and they had replacement cords that would fit the plug design on the back. Credit card smoking, I was off to the races.

IBM keyboards of this era have two-piece key caps. The top part is thin PBT, while the interior piece, which has the slider element that sits over the coiled spring, is a thicker, beefier piece of PBT. Together, they’re quite a heavy plastic element, and lend something of the solid element that people love so much about these keyboards. It does make them a bit more laborious to take apart, but not too bad. A normal key puller works fine, it just has to work twice as much.

It took me perhaps an hour to install the new cable, test all the keys, and install the new key caps. Everything worked fine, and I quickly got down to typing. I can’t say there’s really any qualitative difference between the original IBM and the Unicomp. They feel and sound just about the same. The build, however, is a different story. The original M I have here, built in 1988, is a huge and heavy beast. I’m not going to say that the Unicomp is small or light, because it isn’t. The original, though, is bigger in all the dimensions, and dominates a desk surface. The fact that it works with absolutely no sense of wear after all these years might give you some clues. None of the switches stick in the slightest, or have a weird force curve. Everything feels just as tight as it must have on the day it left the factory.

The new key caps fit on without any problem, but for two stabilized keys on the numeric keypad. Those use a different stabilization technique, with a metal bar, rather than the conical stabilizer that became common in the later years. With a conical insert, I’m sure I could get those installed, as well. Also, the key set didn’t come with a space bar, which I think is fine, because the OEM spacebar still looks great and doesn’t detract from the looks, to my eyes.

What do we get out of it? Well, you get a keyboard that looks and functions almost like brand new, and one that has the cache of a vintage piece. Really, the only thing it lacks is Windows keys and a Menu button, but both of these things can be overcome with a few mouse clicks. The typing feel is just what you’d expect, with a stiff, solid action and great tactile feel. A typist’s keyboard. It’s good and loud, again, as one would expect.

If you don’t mind putting forth a little effort in the typing process, there’s a lot to be said for one of these old bad boys. They are essentially inestructible, and they are fantastic typing tools. Remember that the old ones will be PS/2, so you may need a USB adapter for them in the modern idiom. Other than that, not much bad can be said.

I would say that, if you can find one for cheap at a yardsale or recycling center, jump on it. Buying them off of Ebay is probably the most expensive way to do it, and you may be just as happy with a new-built ‘board. If you love the idea of the old “M”, but want something with zero miles on the odometer, look at Unicomp. They’ll sell you one, still built in the USA, for reasonable money, as these things go. All the feels, none of the worries about ancient hardware.

Cheers, and happy typing!

Ease of Lathering: As with every other Razorock soap I’ve ever used, this soap springs into lather quickly. It can be loaded quickly, taking no more than twenty or thirty seconds to get a productive amount of soap. Perhaps even less than that, with a firm hand and a brush with some backbone. It does appear to be a little thirsty compared to many other soaps in the same line. More on that later.

Protection: After getting enough water into the soap, this is another voluminous lather, a feature that Razorock soaps typically evince. Once again, this is another alternative version of the RR soap base. They seem to have any number of slightly different formulas. In this case, it appears to start as a vegan formulation, then features argan oil, shea butter (which is a newer thing for RR) and lanolin (which sort of runs against the idea of a vegan soap). It’s an interesting formula, as most soaps that feature lanolin are a tallow base, in my study of these things. In any case, this is a good soap base, and has the face feel you might expect of a soap which features the ingredients listed above. The main difference you might notice, though, is that a little extra water is needed.

Residual Slickness: Very good slickness and face feel is on display here. Despite all the different variations of the soap formula you might find in the Razorock line, they are trustworthy, and all of them work well. (In my experience. I have heard of some shavers who do not get along with Razorock. Sometimes this takes the form of being sensitive to an ingredient, others having issues with lather or slickness. There is no single product that will suit everyone, and I can only give you my own experiences here.)

Your favorite will likely have as much to do with your preference for the scent. Most of the formulas perform well, right from the older, simpler formulas to the “Super Tallow” they recently unveiled. It’s just a matter of degree.

Scent: The Don Marco soap is a bergamot and neroli scent. I’m told that this is a scent that has a long history in the realm of Italian scents. Many have said that this combination smells like a one of those orange dreamsicles. That’s an apt enough description, but I don’t know if it does absolute justice to the scent.

Bergamot is a fresh, citrus smell. If you’ve smelled a freshly-brewed cup of Earl Grey tea, you’ve smelled it. The neroli element seems to add a sweetness, a mellow, vaguely vanilla flavor. The scent strength on Don Marco is present, but somewhat mild. If you would prefer a scent to not reach up and drive a punch up your nostrils, this one isn’t too potent. A fresh smell will suffuse the bathroom during the shave, but you’re not going to think to yourself, “Is this scent ever going away?” To me, I really like it. I didn’t have huge hopes for this soap, but it’s probably one of my favorites of the recent acquisitions from Razorock.

Production/Value: Razorock has made a name for themselves with the value of their products. This is no exception. This soap is less expensive than some of their “premium” normal soaps, such as the ones that have the “super tallow” formula. It could be said that this formulation is just as good as the RR tallow soaps that are more expensive. The inclusion of lanolin and shea butter is unusual in a soap of this price. No reservations about the value here.

Notes: Razorock knocked it out of the park when they created the scent profile for the Don Marco soap and aftershave. It’s truly a treat, at least for me. I like the fact that it isn’t so powerful as some of their other scents, and that it gradually fades away over the course of several hours. If you put this on before breakfast, it’ll still be hanging around a bit by lunch. By dinner, though, it will have basically faded down. That’s perfect for me. If you like a bright, fun scent with some sweetness, I would highly recommend the Don Marco.

Thanks, and Happy Shaving!

IMG_20170819_200808

If you’re a vintage razor fan, now and then you’ll find one that is the exact model you want, but there’s a hitch. Yeah. It’s all beat to hell, and looks like it’s ready for the trash can. Many of these razors are old. Fifty years old, or more. Beyond that, they were consumer items that weren’t that expensive when purchased. For instance, the vaunted Gillette Fatboy was only a few bucks when it came out in the late 50’s. As a result, many owners didn’t take very good care of them. In fact, some treated them in a way that our hygienic current era would look at as a health hazard. Shrug. Things become collectible because people treat their stuff like rental cars.

So where does that leave us, when we have an otherwise-desirable piece, but it’s seen better days?

If you have a little patience, sure, you can rehabilitate them to some extent. Sometimes, stuff that you can do as an average duffer at home will get the razor up and running, and even get it most of the way toward looking sweet again. That’s actually one of the joys of yard sale or antique store finds. The challenge of cleaning off the gunk and polishing away the verdigris.

You can’t altogether turn back the clock, however. There’s only so much you can accomplish with elbow grease, solvents, and polish. Actual physical damage, pitted finish, and so forth will always tell the sordid tales of yesteryear.

Lucky for us, there are a few services out there that will take an old razor, even one that looks like a total derelict, and tune it up for you. They’ll do the things that we may be unable or unwilling to do. The things we don’t have the time, mechanical acumen, or possibly equipment to accomplish.

One of those services is called Delta Echo Razor Works. You can buy a razor straight from them (depending on what they have in stock), or you can send a razor to them, pay the cost, and they’ll fix it up.

Here’s what they do:

1) They disassemble and clean up the razor, killing off all the accumulated grunge of the ages. Yeah. Even inside the mechanisms, such as they are.

2) They strip down the coating to make the piece ready for “a new coat of paint”… (As it were.)

3) They coat the razor with a type of hard-shelled coating that is usually used on firearms. I’m not sure if it is Dura-Coat, specifically, but it is something along those lines. Essentially, it’s a sort of finish that will withstand extreme rigors. There are a number of different color schemes available, from quite subtle to highly colorful.

4) After the coating is cured, they reassemble and re-tune the razor, setting the blade gap and alignment.

Depending upon the design of the razor in question, the complexity and resultant cost of the operation can vary quite a bit. With a standard 3-piece razor, it’s all pretty simple. An adjustable Gillette? Not so much.

I sent my F2 Fatboy, which had iffy alignment, less-than-perfect adjustment, and a lot of cosmetic damage, to Delta Echo. I ordered the Ink Edition colors (as seen above), and waited about two months. Currently, (Summer ’17) that’s about what to expect in terms of interval.

Here’s what happened:

Delta Echo fixed everything with my razor.

The finish looks great. It is a slightly matte finish, with just a hint of texture. The character of the coating seemed to fill in virtually every battle scar on the old veteran.

The movement of all the parts is smooth, the blade gap is even and correct, and the alignment of the razor is right on. The coating lends a slightly different feel, both in tactility and in sound when the moving parts rub together. This has no negative impact on the glide of the razor when in use, however.

After having used the razor as my primary for weeks, I can tell you that it performs great, and is easy-care in terms of keeping it clean. Unlike some paints, the rubbing alcohol I use to clean off the soap scum doesn’t seem to have any negative reaction to the Dura-Coat type finish.

Would I recommend this treatment to others?

Yes – if you’re willing to sink that kind of cash into a vintage razor. (Many new razors can also be sent in to have this treatment done to them, if you like the snazzy colors, but would prefer a new-made base razor. Please check with Delta Echo for models they are able to work on.)

You can buy a really nice razor, like a Rockwell 6S for the same cost as the refinish. That’s if you have the razor already. It’s more if you want Delta Echo to furnish the donor. Probably not the thing to do if you are a shaver on an extremely tight budget.  On the other hand, if you have a vintage razor much in need of refinishing, it is less than the services that replate razors with precious metal. It also, of course, lets you have fun with exciting color schemes and so forth.

So, it’s expensive. Cheaper than some other options, but expensive.

What do you get?

The exact razor that you want, in perfect running order. The qualities that allow the coating to survive the impact, heat, chemical solvents, and general abuse of a firearm should make it survive just fine on a razor. Unless your razor lives a highly interesting life, it shouldn’t encounter anywhere near the same rigors that a gun would.

I’m super pleased with the service. If you have the patience to wait for the turnaround and the cost doesn’t deter you, I’d recommend it highly.

Cheers, and Happy Shaving!

There are a few different services out there that will tune up and cosmetically improve old razors. If your preference is to have the razor brought back to original or “aspirational” conditions, Razor Emporium may be the service to look at. They will tune up and replate your razor, or sell you one from their own stock.

What Razor Emporium’s Revamp consists of:

1) The razors are cleaned, disassembled, and their old finish removed.

2) Once everything is down to “bare metal”, they electroplate the parts. Razor Emporium offers nickle, rhodium, 24 carat gold, and sometimes rose gold.

3) Finally, they assemble the razor and set all the tolerances to where they should be.

By the time Razor Emporium is done, the razor is as good as it can possibly be, considering that they are vintage models from the days of yore.

I ordered razors from RE’s stock, using the “Made to Order” methodology. I ordered a Fatboy, a Slim, and a Superspeed Red Tip. I had them plated with rhodium, gold, and nickel, respectively.

Short story: they’re all beautiful. Better plating than you would have seen from the factory, in all likelihood. They all shave great and look fantastic.

Downside? This service ain’t cheap. At all. You have to commit to it if you’re going to go this direction. You really have to be into vintage razors to go in this direction. If you’re willing to fork over the long green, you’ll find yourself the owner of some pretty amazing razors. Money no object? Highly recommended.

Cheers, and Happy Shaving!

The Lengthy Preamble: 

There’s a certain cachet about titanium. It’s a strong, fairly light, non-ferrous metal. It’s biologically inert for most people, doesn’t corrode in water (even salt water), and has exceedingly good heat resistance. It’s come to be synonymous with high technology, jet-age coolness. It appears in racing cars. The SR-71 was built from it. ‘Nuff said.

In the usage case of a razor handle, there’s nothing particularly compelling about titanium. It’s a low duty cycle part. It doesn’t need high hardness or heat resistance. Biological inertness is great for something that touches the skin, especially for people with nickle allergies. The corrosion resistance is on point, of course. Plenty of upside, but probably overkill, considering the requirements of the application.

The classic metals for razor handles are brass, stainless steel, and zinc alloy. Zinc is a cheap material, and corrodes easily if the coating (usually chrome) is compromised. It has decent weight. It’s very easy to work with and common. It suffices for an inexpensive build, but isn’t necessarily optimal.

Brass is typically coated with gold, nickle, or a few other options. Brass is quite heavy, and though it can corrode, it doesn’t rust. The coating will typically protect it. Brass is easy to work with, having a much lower melting point and being far more ductile than some other options. Nickle or gold plated brass isn’t a cheap choice of materials, though. It’s also not particularly sturdy. Impact stress can harm a brass razor. Treat it right…it’ll last forever, but not everyone treats their stuff right. Some barbarous heathens leave their stuff dirty, and sometimes hurl their razors upon the floor. It is possible that they have forgotten the faces of their fathers. That’s not for me to say. Moving on…

Stainless steel isn’t super expensive to buy, but it’s expensive to machine, because it’s…steel. High melting point. High hardness. If you want to machine it, you have to use harder steel, with tungsten carbide or the like. Steel has great weight, great toughness, lots of finish options, and no need to coat the material. It’s generally considered to be the best material around. It’s not particularly workable for complicated parts, unless you have really significant engineering acumen. This is why no one is making a twist-to-open razor out of the stuff. The razor would cost something like 300 bucks.

Back to titanium. It’s lighter than steel, but not feather light, like aluminum (another material you’ll sometimes see). It can be polished, bead blasted, coated, or anodized, so many finish options are available.

Why do we like it? Long and short – just because it’s cool. It’s a space-age material that just gives us the warm fuzzies. Titanium, even the very name itself, evokes a mythic bad ass nature.

The Actual Review:

Which brings be around, at last, to the actual topic of this review. The HALO handle. Razorock has managed to bring us a titanium handle for a great price. From the the promotional material, I couldn’t determine if this is pure titanium, or if it’s the more typical 6AL4V alloy. That, I suppose, has little or no bearing upon its quality as a razor handle. The Halo handle features milled bands, rather than standard knurling, and has a smooth, hard finish.

I find the weight to be just about right, the length to be comfortable, and the traction to be better than it has any right to be. Even with wet and soapy hands, there is no issue with keeping a grip on the handle. It doesn’t have any “twist”, like some traction patterns do. Overall, it’s a surprising and effective design.

The finish is a polished gunmetal gray, and has no flaws or imperfections on the model I have. At least with my example, the photos online make it seem like a much brighter, chrome-like finish. I have no positive or negative feelings about this. Just a data point.

I’ve used the handle with both the German 37 from Razorock, and the Maggard V3A (with which it matches perfectly, color-wise), and the Razorock Hawk. In all cases, it acquitted itself beautifully. It’s right up there, in my book, with the best handles I’ve used on 3-piece razors (AS-D2; Maggard M11). For those familiar with those models, that’s not an inconsiderable statement.

Verdict: We may not NEED titanium for any rational reason, but this is a great handle. I could confidently say that I could put all my other handles in a shoebox and use this as my dedicated handle for all 3 piece razors. Yet another home run for Italian Barber/Razorock.

Cheers, and Happy Shaving!

 

I owned a Merkur 39c razor for some time. It was my first slant bar razor, and I always got good shaves with it. In my experience, it has some of the best first pass performance of any double edge design out there.

My issues with the 39c were really related to the handle. It has a barber pole twist knurling pattern, a chrome finish, and no real traction on the end of a heavy handle. They don’t call it the sledgehammer for nothing. Being a two piece razor, there wasn’t much that could be done about those quibbles.

I ended up selling the big Merkur to a friend some time ago, and he loves it. I did kinda miss the big lug, and looked at the RR dupe of the Merkur head design enough times that I had to finally make the purchase. (Had to, I tell you. It was a moral imperative to do so.)

To my eyes, the Razorock has the exact same blade torque, head angle, and bar pattern as the original Merkur. It’s just a three piece, so you can put whatever handle you like on there. Big bonus.

How does it shave?

Dead ringer for the Merkur, with the caveat that the mechanics of your handle of choice will have an impact on the shave. As slants go, it’s medium aggressive. If you go easy, you can daily shave with this design. If you’re reckless and wild, there will be blood and irritation. It’s capable of a very close shave, and good comfort, if used with a gentle hand.

This is a great razor head, and available for something like $12 right now. Highly recommended, if you are in the market for a slant that has a little bite to it. If you don’t already have a razor handle, Razorock sells several, both together or seperate from the head, as you require. I’ll review the handle that I chose in an upcoming article (probably tomorrow).

Cheers, and Happy Shaving!

(Great thanks to my friend Dave who let me borrow this keyboard to do the review. Good luck getting it back, my friend! I’m fleeing the country with it!)

Much has been made of the wonder and beauty of the IBM model M keyboard. They are often held up as the best typist’s keyboard of all time.

And, for many, that’s exactly what they are. Or, at least, they are the best keyboard they’ve been able to use. Before the Model M, there was a similar set of keyboards that used the buckling spring technology that defines the Model M. These, the Model F keyboards, were employed in the XT and AT eras of the IBM PC. Thus, these are old keyboards, ones that take a bit of effort to find and get working today, all these many years later. Imagine any other element from the early to mid 80’s computers still being applicable to today’s tasks. Think of any? Yeah, there aren’t many afoot.

A Little History:

A guy named Richard Hunter Harris invented the buckling spring mechanism that was used on the Model F, then on the Model M. In the F, it was employed with a capactive switch below it, while the M made due with a membrane switch that required an actual physical action to employ. This changes both the sound and the feel of the keyboards, though they obviously have a strong familial resemblance.

The Model F is simply a little smoother, a little higher in pitch, and a little lighter. Just a bit. Still not a model for those who don’t want to put forth any effort.

The Model F came out in 1981, and was produced in some form up until 1994. That said, the Model F largely fell into obscurity after 1986, when the Model M came out. It was used in a lot of different keyboard types and applications, but the best known are probably the XT, the AT, and the 122 Key Terminal board.

The AT keyboard that I have for review is in great shape, and has no poorly-working keys. I can’t tell you if it differs from when it was new, but it doesn’t betray its age in any mechanical way.

The AT layout went with, not surprisingly, the PC AT era computers. These were predominanly 80286 PCs. The layout carries Function keys on the side, numbering from one to ten. No Windows keys, because that wasn’t yet a thing. Caps lock, Control, Alt, Escape, and a few other keys are in different places. There are no arrow keys. The space bar is the biggest thing you’ve ever seen.

The AT carried a 5-Pin DIN connection, and “spoke” the AT keyboard language. This means that it could take two-way communication from the PC, such that the Num Lock settings and so on could be set on the computer side. The somewhat more modern PS/2 keyboard interface (that purple, round connection that is largely disappearing now) talks this same language, so it is possible to adapt the AT keyboard to a modern computer.

Getting It Working:

I discovered that my current desktop computer didn’t have a PS/2 port after bringing a few old ‘boards home to try. Yep. It’s a fairly current, fairly high spec Dell XPS, and it doesn’t feel that it needs to bother with ancient connections that are not plug and play.

Hmm. I wondered if I could bridge the gap. Not being willing to be held away from my goals by a simple matter of incompatibility, I reared back my head and yelled, “To the Internet!”

After having taken a look around, I found that it wasn’t difficult to find an adapter that went from PS/2 to USB. At the same time, I also found a few adapaters from DIN to PS/2 (which, actually, was also called “mini DIN”). The big question in my mind was whether or not one adapter running into another adapter would work. I’d seen stuff like that fail. A lot.

Well, the good news is that everything went along swimmingly. The bad news is that it cost about $20 to get the two adapters. Thus, making it possible to use this ancient keyboard cost as much or more than a whole keyboard of no pedigree.

But…but…it was worth it. Oh, great shivering paroxysms of joy. It was worth it. (Er, spoiler alert.)

All the Feels:

So, let’s talk about where this thing ranks in terms of keyboards. Well, let me be frank. It’s pretty much the best thing I’ve ever had my grubby hands on. The sound, the feel, the almost unheralded sense of solidity you get with this mighty beast? Yeah. It’s amazing. Maybe ten or twelve percent better than a really good Model M. If you like buckling spring keyboards, or enjoy the higher-effort switches in the modern market, this thing is going to give you dreams of longing if you ever get to try it.

However, it isn’t perfect. The layout is odd in the current era. It lacks buttons. Other buttons are in odd-ball places. The Shift key on the left side has some binding issues. It has the Big Ass Enter Key and tiny backspace. The space bar is absurdly high effort. It’s even louder than a Model M. (For me, this is not a negative, unless I had to use it around other biological organisms. Not kidding, this would drive house pets to another room.) For a lot, some part of the typing experience may be a bit too high effort.

All that said, this is an amazing device. I think of it like a Vincent Black Lightning or something. It requires some things of the user. It has some drawbacks. It is also legendary and totally amazing at the thing that it does.

Final Thoughts:

The Model F is not going to be for everyone. They are harder to find and more difficult to employ in a modern world than the Model M, which can be had new from Unicomp, with USB interface. If you’ve tried an M and didn’t like it, the F won’t necessarily change your mind. On the other hand, if you are already a fan, this one will serve as kind of the epitome of that idea.

I’m sure that, when I was a young man, I had a chance to used these keyboards. I probably didn’t notice, because I didn’t touch type. That, and whatever IBM did was sort of just the expected business norm at that time. The world hadn’t moved on and become a sadder, cheaper place yet.

Could I use this ‘board as my daily driver? Yes. With caveats. At home, sure, and especially if I did a limited amount of typing on it per day. I can’t tell you for sure, but the higher effort nature of of the ‘board might begin to cause fatigue after hours of typing. All in all, the great things about the Model F far outweigh the shortfalls. It may be the ultimate clicky keyboard. Ever. If it isn’t, it’s certainly on the podium.

Cheers, and Happy Typing!