Hello everyone! I'm going to continue my brief peripheral reviews with the
Matias Quiet Pro
Edgar Matias began his brand in 1989 as a source for high end computing accessories. From reinforced laptop cases to keyboards his products have survived periods of financial crisis which put a number of tech businesses large and small to close their doors. With an unprecedented appreciation for lost technologies Matias rescued the ALPS mechanical keyswitch from becoming a lost technology. Earlier this September Edgar refreshed his brand with the Quiet Pro which features a design-refresh of the Fuhua Alps Switch. Within the switch housing there is dampening material between all hard components which might hammer against one another. This seems like a simple concept, but to manufacture it can be a challenge. Matias is now the source for ALPS switches both silent and clicky as he has assumed responsibility for the design and manufacturing of these switches.
Packaging and Features
The Quiet Pro comes in a standard full-sized keyboard box which is notably featuring a more modern style font much like Apple would use on their products. The clean and professional look to the packaging further lends to the appeal of this product. The keyboard can be purchased as a PC (in black) or Mac version (in silver), but the versions are interchangeable with special drivers available from Matias. The version I purchased is the PC quiet pro which is a glossy black with windows and function keys as the special modifiers. There is a single affixed USB connector with which to connect the keyboard to your PC, and this connection provides USB-through to the PC for the 3 USB outlets in the Quiet Pro. Some other notable advantages of this keyboard are the built in media functions, 10-Key Rollover, and an extra tab key located on the number pad. This unique and innovative mechanical keyboard is available for $149.95+S&H from http://matias.ca and any of his authorized retailers.
Impressions and Observations
For nearly two months this Quiet pro has been used in an active IT analyst center. Nearly 100 keyboards and voices in a medium sized office can easily drown out the sound of any keyboard regardless of the noise, but it does not mean your neighbor is as deaf to the sound as the rest of your office. There have been folks in this environment who have gone nuts over the clicking of a pen or nervous tapping. Knowing how picky a few of my co-workers can be I felt this was the best place to test my new 'Quiet' keyboard. Without even a murmur from my co-workers I have worked through hundreds of hours as the quietest guy in the office. Ladies and gents here make rubber domes sound like a bulldozer overturning a mine field in comparison, and without the need to hammer my keys into submission I'm able to draw less attention to myself while enjoying the full mechanical experience. This design, while comfortable, comes with a few issues common to current generation keyboards. Previously keyboards could be connected to a computer by PS/2 connection or adapter for USB to PS/2. The Matias Quiet Pro is not compatible with PS/2 adapters. The antiquated but efficient PS/2 connection does not utilize the USB controller in the CPU, and is also not subject to any of the USB 2.0 restrictions for connected peripherals. A PS/2 connection will have less latency and also allow for full N-Key rollover. While this is not necessary I feel as though there are points where I miss the lower latency while writing reports which warm up my WPM to a bit over 100. Regardless of connectivity restrictions the Quiet Pro is impervious to ghosting or missing key-presses within the n-key limit. Such high quality internal components deserve the laser etched legends used on the keycaps. They are easy to read and will not fade over time. For the users looking for whisper quiet operation, smart design, and the comfort/sensitivity/stability of a mechanical switch keyboard the Matias Quiet Pro is an obvious choice.
For my keyboard reviews I want to objectify the key points into a scoring system I can explain. The globes represent RWLabs points in each category. The categories will not be averaged together. There is no reason to even look at the categories as having similar consequence. Just buckle up and enjoy!
Matias' Quiet Pro PC gets a perfect score for build quality. The single sided PCB is well laid-out and the discreet components are well soldered on the board. Matias Key-Switches have an estimated lifetime over 40 Million Keypresses, and the connectors will last a long time with the designed strain relief. Their packaging is informative, clean, and an industry standard which features the same durable legends they use on the keyboard. Sound design is not the only way a user will appreciate a product. For those who like their keyboards to do a little more for them the Matias falls a little short of being innovative, and while it uses modern USB connections it does not support lower latency PS/2 as a standard. Lacking a small feature, no matter how small, can not leave such a nice keyboard with a perfect score.
The more I have used the keyboard the more it reminds me that I've bought something that does not look the part of a high end board. The lack of branding is refreshing, and the lights are smartly placed. The thick rounded edges just seem play-school to me. I feel that the shape leaves a lot of room for minor design changes which could turn this functional design into something more executive. This plain look also translates into a thick casing. This might have an effect on my feel of the board as it sits as high as some of the old-old-school buckling spring boards I used back in the early 90s. For that reason I tend to type on this keyboard while it is in my lap as not to stress my wrists. While on my lap I noticed the key-stroke feels much MUCH better. Matias Alps switches may work much better when there is more vertical force applied to the switch. As this is a great feeling I can only experience it while my keyboard is on the lap, and so while it is a solid feeling experience I definitely believe these caveats are not for everyone. Now the Matias costs more than the most high end mouse and gaming pads, and I believe that is not a problem. Users spend hours behind their keyboard for which comfort and durability are key. The cost again comes in at $149.95 which is a great expense. Considering there are other full-sized keyboards on the market at two-thirds the price with as much durability and a feel which could rival the Matias this fits into my third most expensive category of keyboards. As justifiable as the cost is for the keyboard it is still not under $100 and does not make the 4 RWLabs points mark.
Matias Quiet Pro keyboard for the PC has a perfect score for quality and keeps the price for unique switches at an affordable range. Obviously the silent worker will not mind the price-tag while comparing noise levels to other mechanical keyboards, and that is where the Quiet Pro shines. This is one of my top choices for office environments, and I will continue to use this as a daily driver at my place of employment.
For the official product page of the Matias Quiet Pro PC follow this url for more product photos and sound-bites: http://www.matias.ca/quietpro/pc/