Monday, June 10, 2013
Keyboard Review: Leopold FC660C (Topre Capacitive Switches)
I seem to have the devil's own luck when it comes to keyboards. (Whether that is a good or bad thing, though, is open to debate.) Several years ago, I managed to snag one of the limited edition Filco tenkeyless keyboards with Cherry MX Red switches back when reds were very hard to come by. I did so by happening upon the Amazon link only hours before fellow enthusiasts at GeekHack.org and other internet forums swarmed in and emptied Keyboard Co.'s stock on Amazon. Likewise, after nearly a year-long hiatus from acquiring new keyboards, a chance visit to GeekHack a few weeks ago led me to discover that Leopold had released a 60% (66-key) mini keyboard using Topre capacitive switches called the FC660C, and that it had been stocked by EliteKeyboards.com. Having learned my lesson from Cherry Red Filco all those years ago, I purchased one before it could go out of stock - which it did a few days later.
My main reason for picking up the FC660C was the interesting layout. It occupies the middle ground between standard tenkeyless and compact keyboards like the Happy Hacking Keyboard, in that it includes dedicated directional buttons and a two-button island for the Insert and Delete keys. As I usually remap my Insert key to open up My Computer, this unique layout seemed custom-made for my purposes. While I occasionally miss having dedicated Page Up and Page Down buttons, the Function button is situated close enough to those keys that I quickly picked up the two-button combinations. The only maneuver I can't perform on the FC660C that I used to on a tenkeyless is a two-finger Alt-F4, which requires two hands now due to the wide space between the Function and F4 buttons.
I'm not sure why, but the FC660C's switches feel snappier than those on my Realforce 87U and HHKB2 Pro. Others who have reviewed the keyboard on GeekHack have expressed similar impressions. That, added to the solid sub-$200 price (a relative bargain when it comes to Topre switches), makes the FC660C a very attractive introduction to the world of capacitive switches.
While the FC660C has been elevated to my favorite capacitive switch keyboard, I'm still on the fence in comparing it to my previous favorite switch, the Cherry MX Red. I decided to settle matters by purchasing a FC660M with Reds on eBay. When it arrives, with all else being equal, I should be able to compare the switches themselves to come up with a clear determination.