Monday, June 17, 2013

Keyboard Review: Leopold FC660M (Cherry MX Red Switches)

So, hot off the heels of my ecstatic experience with the FC660C, I decided to check out the FC660M, which is the same 60% Leopold keyboard, but with Cherry MX Red switches.  In my mind, the result would be a FC660C with a seemingly lighter actuation force, which is how the Reds in my Majestouch 2 Tenkeyless feel.  Less than a week later, having received the FC660M from a reputable eBay seller, I found the reality to be somewhat different.

To start off with, the C and M models have a few more differences than the keyswitches they use.  The keycaps on the FC660C are virtually identical in shape, texture, and color to the black keycaps from my Realforce 87U.  The FC660M's are markedly different.  They feel flatter when typed on, as they don't cradle the pads of your fingers the way that the Topre-style keycaps do.  Also, for some reason the normal-sized Windows key on the FC660C is swapped out on the FC660M for a 1x-sized key with a keyboard pictograph.  The DIP switches, along with the USB Mini-B ports are also located in different spots on the C and M models.

The result is that despite its virtually identical layout, the FC660M feels like a vastly different keyboard from the FC660C.  For someone who absolutely fell in love with all aspects of the FC660C, this results in a measurable degree of disappointment.  Worse yet, for someone who likes the feather-light actuation that Reds can provide, the Red switches on the FC660M feel heavier than the Reds I've used on Filco boards.  I'd almost say it feels stiffer than the Topre switches on the FC660M, and without the benefit of the Topre's snappiness, the result feels clumsier and unresponsive.

I planned to take advantage of the seller's generous return policy, until I realized that return shipping back to China would take a $30+ chunk out of that refund.  Instead, I've posted it to eBay so that I can recoup a bit more of my investment and someone else can snag a brand new (minus a few test sentences) FC660M for less than the going rate among Chinese sellers.

Before plunking down for the FC660M, I was torn between it and the Filco Minila.  I went with the FC660M because of my satisfaction with the FC660C, but now I wonder if I should try the Minila to see how I like Filco's Reds in a compact format.  It's even possible that I might prefer the Minila's layout - particularly its dual function keys - to the FC660C's.  Only time - and this blog! - will tell if I recoup some of my FC660M investment and use it toward giving the Minila a try.

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