ABS M1 Mechanical Keyboard
Overview & Features:
The ABS M1 is a standard IBM layout 104 key USB keyboard with simplified black Alps mechanical key switches. Mechanical key
switch keyboards boast longer life and a more satisfying keystroke. This keyboard is all black with white lettering. There is nothing too fancy about the layout,
but it is a Mechanical USB keyboard for well under the standard average price point of $100 USD. The ABS M1 can be bought from a number of well known
retailers. I purchased mine from Newegg.com for $30 (free shipping).
This keyboard came in a standard keyboard box colored royal blue and black with white text. On the face of the box is a photo of the
keyboard, and a diagram of a black Alps mechanical switch in white to match the text. It's sort of easy to see ABS is really selling the mechanical switches with
the size of the diagram. I grabbed a few pictures from inaneframe's ABS M1 review @ geekhack.org, and I will replace some of them with my own once I get a
new camera. For now I'll use these as a visual reference. Packaging was simple. There was a foam wraping around the keyboard and the USB cord was left
separated visually by a cardboard divider.
This 2nd picture is actually the back of the box, but it still carries the asthetics of blue on black with white text.
A good look at the... goods:
The keys and chassis share the same black matte finish, but the chassis has a very distinct coarse texture. The chassis texture not something I see too often from
keyboard manufacturers. I noticed on the box there was a braided cable mentioned and gold plated USB connector. The cord being a cloth braid is probably the
nicest touch to the keyboard. To the eye this is a subtle and satisfying quality, it's beautiful.
Honestly I was very excited to try out this keyboard. My close friend owns a Das III Professional keyboard, and I honestly felt a supreme jealousy
after a bit of typing. The feel of a good mechanical switch is first determined by the tension the key first exerts while your finger rests on top. After a weight is applied
to the key it travels toward the bottom of the key switch. In the course of key travel there are switches that will "knock" and that tactile response means that you've
registered a key stroke. The registering distance will change depending on the switch, but most register a stroke at half distance to bottom. If you're heavy handed a
"heavier" key is preffered, and one would assume people who appreciate light touch would appreciate the light keys. The weight of a key as well as the feedback in
tactility is determined by the type of mechanical switch used in each key.
The consumer description of the Alps black switches (coded black by the color of the center piece of the key switch) are non-clicky with tactile feedback. My first
observation while using the ABS M1 was that the keyboard had heavy keys. My fingers can fully rest on the keyboard without the keys giving into travel. The second
observation is that the key switches are very tactile. I can sense when the key stroke has registered without much thought, and I notice myself feeling for this sensation
while typing. I type by muscle memory and not visual memory so this does help. The keys did not make a sound durring key travel to the point of registering, but it
made a LOUD thock
sound as the key bottomed out. It's a decently crisp sound, so I'm really not bothered by it. In fact the sound of typing is pretty soothing to me.
The sound made by the ABS M1 is not made by the switch, but it is caused by the way the switches have been mounted to the backplate. A key that is considered
clicky would have a mechanism in the key that creates an audible noise in order to signal a keystroke along with the tactile sensation most mechanical switches offer.
Black Alps switches do not have such a mechanism.
The ABS M1 mechanical keyboard is definitely solid feeling. A combination of overall weight with durable grippy rubber feet kept the board from moving around on just
about any surface I tested (wood, aluminum, glass, and plastic). The ABS M1 cured an annoyance I had when I would type with my previous keyboard. With the Saitek
Eclipse II I would make a keystroke it would slightly rock my table, causing my mouse to move if I took my hands off of it. This was probably because I thought I had to
use a lot more effort to register a keystroke. There was no sensation when the keyboard would register a key and only the character appearing on the screen would tell me
that I could move to the next. In that time I had already bottomed out the key with the full weight of my finger. Using an ABS M1 as a daily typer is something I will enjoy.
If anyone wishes their keyboard had a little more tension in the keys, but would allow for less overall force to type should look into the ABS M1
mechanical keyboard. It's average footprint and standard keyboard layout is a quality I look for rather than excessive buttons or strange ergonomic shapes. The practicality
of this particular keyboard is easily put into a catagory of excellence because of the layout and quality of the black Alps keyswitches.
BiNGE recommends this to typists and enthusiasts alike! 8/10
I'm only giving this keyboard an 8/10 because of it's lack of consistant rollover. Rollover is best understood by how many keys can be simultaniously pressed and still end up
registered by the PC. I wrote the following on Geekhack.org in response to a thread about the ABS M1 and rollover.
Originally Posted by Binge
I just recieved my ABS today and I am actually pretty happy with the construction and overall build. I game pretty regularly and n-key is really nice.
After a bunch of testing I found a bunch of rollover issues.
The problems I found:
-The "Q" key when used with any number of keys from other rows (except for keys shift, ctrl, alt, and space) beyond a total of 2 keys will produce nothing.
-The "W" key when used with any number of keys from other rows will produce the same results as the "Q" key.
-The "E" key when used with the "D" key in any arrangement of 3 or more keys will produce nothing (except for keys shift, ctrl, alt, and space).
-Most 4+ button combinations that use keys from separate rows will produce nothing. The key combinations that do work for 4 keys are asdv qwef zxc (that is zxc(SPACE)) 123r 234y 789p 890\ q890 q789 asdv asdb asdn... I'm not sure if you guys can see the pattern from this but for some reason keys directly beneath any given set of keys (from multiple rows) pressed simultaniously do not work. If you were to map the keyboard into a grid then it's easy to see that for some reason there is a pattern.
-The three button combinations 345, 456, 567, and 678 return nothing when pressed simultaniously. Oddly some combinations like 346 work while others like 457 do NOT work. The number row is the only spot on the keyboard that exhibits this behavior. The number pad on the otherhand is spotless.
I think I've covered everything I've found in the past 20 minutes.
Feel free to use this information for your benefit, geekhack. I'm happy to contribute.
Originally Posted by Binge
The following 6 key strokes also work asdjkl asdkl; zxcm,. zxc,./ qweuio qweiop 789123 123890.