Leopold Tenkeyless Tactile Touch FC200RT/KB Review

Recently I sold my Macbook Pro, which was the first and only Mac I had (I know, saddening, right?) Because of this, I was forced to use a different keyboard other than the Apple Wireless Bluetooth keyboard. That particular Bluetooth keyboard just does not work with Windows 7, Windows XP, or anything but Mac OS. So, I was forced to use a completely awful keyboard that I had lying around that was made by HP. I had to punch down my fingers with great force to get any key to register. Because of this, I started researching. I wasn’t looking for just some temporary keyboard to use until I bought another Mac—I was looking for a keyboard that would last a lifetime. In my exploring I found a little known keyboard called the IBM Model M.

I’ve just recently had a problem with the caps lock led light! It no longer turns on, no matter what computer I use. I’m contacting support to see if I can get a replacement keyboard, because this is going to really bother me. I’ll let you know how it goes.

  • They fixed it and sent it back. It's been working ever since.

I found, however, with the help of a few helpful forum threads and posts, that the switches on the IBM Model M are a bit too stiff and clicky, and that the MX Brown switches were probably the best for me. I didn’t necessarily need something that clicked (though in the future that might be fun). I share an office with my Dad, so I didn’t want to bother him too much…

So, let’s begin the review. I’ve been using this keyboard for about a week now and I’m absolutely loving it. I want to type as much as possible just because it’s so fun! Looking at my WhatPulse stats, I’ve already typed a good 120,000 keystrokes since purchasing this keyboard; so, it should definitely be broken in enough to give you this review, which, by the way, is being typed up using the Leopold. It’s giving me inspiration.

Well, on first pick-up, the Leopold is nice and weighty. It’s plastic, but it feels solid, and you almost wonder where all this weight comes from. Even in comparison to the Apple keyboard which is pretty solid due to it’s aluminum casing, it felt even stronger. Because it’s so heavy (and the rubber feet on the bottom), it’s not going to slip around on your desk. As I was writing this review I decided to try to bend it by twisting each side in the opposite direction. It really didn’t flex too much—just a tiny little bit—but it was highly rigid. I don’t think you’ll ever have any issues.

Even though the keyboard is made of plastic, it has a very nice matte finish. It doesn’t follow the ugly cheap glossy trends that you see on most technological objects now-adays. If it had a glossy finish, I’d probably return it right away. Glossy plastic is a sin. However, there’s one thing I realized. The only problem with matte black is that it shows dust quite easily. But then again, glossy black will give you finger prints and smudges. Even though some of the pictures make it look like the keys are sparkly, they really aren’t. It’s just the texture. I wouldn’t call the texture rugged, but it’s not completely smooth either.

When typing, it definitely helped to use the built-in kick stands that are on the bottom of the keyboard. Typing on a flat keyboard isn’t terrible, but an angle is always nice. In either situation, your fingers conform to the comfortable shape of the keys quite well. Speaking of keys, unless you get the Otaku version (blank keys) you’ll have the white printing on the keys like most keyboards. They lasered each key, then filled it in with paint. You can literally feel the letters on your fingers, which is pretty cool. I do think that they should use a more modern font; it’s a little bit boring. There is one issue that more than one person has pointed out on forums, and that is the mold cut-offs on the back of the keys. You don’t normally see it while you’re typing, but if you look on the back of each key there is a slight indentation. I should also mention that they have integrated LEDs for the CapsLock and Scroll Lock buttons.

One thing to be concerned about is getting debris underneath the keys. You wouldn’t want to eat near this keyboard because of how open it is, especially in comparison to the Apple keyboard. On the thread I linked to earlier, this is what they said. “It be noted, however, that the tactile types are more easily disturbed by debris that finds its way into the switch. This is usually the cause when blues lose their click; some compressed air tends to remedy the problem.” It doesn’t sound too difficult to clean the keys out, but that is one thing to think about.

On the back you’ll notice that you have tracks for the cord to follow. You can reroute the cords through the middle, left, or right side of the keyboard depending where you’re keyboard is in relation to your computer. This is very helpful when you’re trying to keep all of your cords neat. Also, the cord is removable, so if your USB cord ever gets messed up you can easily replace it with a standard, USB Mini B to USB cable. If you order from there, you can use code 5FBE956 to get free shipping so it ends up being less than $3 for a replacement cable!

Leopold does not sell a full-sized keyboard (that I know of), but I realized I don’t need the keypad. You may not need it either. If you don’t use the keypad for work, I would definitely recommend picking up a keyboard without it. It allows you to center your keyboard with your monitor, and shortens the distance between your home row from your mouse while moving your hand to and fro. Basically, it’s a lot more comfortable.

Last but not least, the switches! I’m loving the Cherry MX Browns. They’re great German engineered* switches. You can feel the little “bump” made in the switch when you slowly depress the key. Being that they’re Browns, they don’t have that extra click or even tougher tactility to them like the Blues, but I think it’s a perfect amount of tactlessness. As far as the sound of the switch, even the larger keys project a nice sound. I’ve had keyboards which the space bar sound sticks out like a sore-thumb, which can be really bothersome. It makes it so you can’t even think. That is not the case with this keyboard. Every single key has it’s own personal satisfying sound—no key sounds exactly the same. Prove me wrong. Granted, it’s not because of the switch. It’s because you are bottoming out the keys. The switch itself is silent; so theoretically, you can type very quietly, though it’s difficult and slow to do so.

Overall the design of this keyboard is very simple. At first, you think it just seems completely focused on the switches. But when it comes down to it the quality of the case, keys, cord, texture, and finish are also very thought out—just understated. So there you have it! In the end, if you are looking to get your first mechanical keyboard, research what switch type you would like and pick this keyboard up. I think the reason my review ended up being so long is I absolutely love typing on this thing! I just really can’t stop typing. It’s too fun.

Also, make sure to take a look at all of the gallery images and the comments I’ve added! If you have anything to say, the comments section below is always open for discussion!

  • or are they? “Cherry was founded by Walter Cherry back in 1953 in the basement of a Highland Park, Illinois restaurant. With the passing of its founder, his son Peter took over the ownership of the organization. The headquarters of the company were moved to Auerbach in der Oberpfalz, Germany in 1979.” wikipedia
By Nathaniel Hirschler

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