Review of the Ducky One keyboard

Back in 2014 I posted a review of the Cooler Master QuickFire Ultimate mechanical keyboard. I really liked this keyboard, but it has two disadvantages for me: it was a full size keyboard with a numpad and had appearance which was aimed at gamers. Because I never use the numpad and preferred a more formal look I decided to sell it and buy the Ducky One DKON1687. It’s mechanical keyboard as well, but it’s tenkeyless (TKL, or 80% of the width of a full size keyboard) so it doesn’t have the numpad.

The Ducky One DKON1687 uses the same Cherry MX brown switches for the keys as the Cooler Master QuickFire Ultimate. It is said that it depends on personal preference which types of switches are most desirable. Except for the Romer-G switches of the Logitech G613 keyboard I’ve never tried any other switches, so I can’t compare them well with other choices. All I can say is that I like the Cherry MX brown switches more than the Romer-G switches. Both are tactile switches, but I prefer the Cherry MX brown switches because they offer more resistance before they register a key press. I take complaints that the Cherry MX brown switches are relatively noisy for granted.

The fact that the Ducky One DKON1687 is a TKL keyboard is its key advantage for me. With the Cooler Master QuickFire Ultimate I occasionally bumped into the keyboard with my right hand on the mouse, which is uncomfortable. I don’t have a small desk, but it comes more natural that I don’t have to extend my right arm so far to the right as I used to. The Ducky One DKON1687 doesn’t have backlighting like the Cooler Master QuickFire Ultimate, but I’m not missing it at all. Backlighting is no more than a gimmick without added value. I can just turn on a light in my computer room or touch type if it’s too dark to distinguish the keys.

Unfortunately the Ducky One DKON1687 still isn’t the ultimate keyboard for me because it’s corded. I like the aesthetic of not having any wires running to the back of my desk. The Logitech G613 keyboard I mentioned is used by Stephanie and is wireless. It uses Logitech’s Lightspeed technology, which is very impressive. It has a delay of just 1 millisecond according to Logitech. This is practically indistinguishable or equivalent to a corded keyboard. Equally impressive is that the G613 can last for eighteen months on two AA batteries according to Logitech. It also uses a small wireless USB receiver, barely larger than the USB port itself, to connect the keyboard to a computer. Its appearance also matches well with the Logitech G603 wireless mouse, which is also used by Stephanie and uses Lightspeed too.

We can’t have it all though. The deal breaker for me is that the Logitech G603 is even larger than a full size keyboard because it contains a column of macro keys on the far left side. And then I haven’t even mentioned its unnecessarily large palm rest. The Logitech G613 is not ideal either because it contains a rough groove near the mouse wheel, which irritates the skin of my finger. The old Logitech G5 corded mouse which I currently use has a nicely finished edge near the mouse wheel which doesn’t do that, so I don’t understand the design choice.

Ducky One DKON1687 versus Logitech G613

More recently Logitech released the G915 TKL mechanical keyboard during the summer of 2020. This keyboard had a lot going for it because it is TKL with Lightspeed, backlighting and low profile switches. But once again I’m disappointed: it contains an internal battery which lasts for forty hours with the backlight at 100%. While we can assume that the battery will last longer if the backlight is disabled, my problem here is that the internal battery. Eventually the battery will degrade as it ages and become unusable. I assume it can’t be replaced, unlike the G603’s AA batteries. But my main gripe is with the price: at least € 220 for the black version with US QWERTY layout and tacticle switches. Total madness, considering that I paid € 90 for the Ducky One DKON1687 and € 100 for the Logitech G603.

I wish Logitech would just produce a TKL version of the G603, without the macro keys on the left and without the palm rest. They should also fix the rough edge near the G613’s mouse wheel as well. Alternatively, I hope Ducky would implement wireless technology in their TKL keyboards which could vie with Logitech’s Lightspeed technology.

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