If there’s a keyboard that screams customization, it’s Alps64. It’s a pleasant bundle of functionality and gives off the ideal performances and experience.
Of course, you have to learn how you can get the best out of it.
Let us put you through that with a review of what it carries and offers to modern-day users.
Alps64 Specifications Table
|Case material||PCB substrate|
Alps64 Review: Here Is All You Need to Know
- Nice overall design
- Quality PCB material
- Customizable with macros
- Fast responses
- Odd layout
A keyboard is as essential as it gets for anyone who wants a complete rig. That is why we think alps64 makes a lot of sense to have. It’s a great kit that can be converted into many profiles, including 65% and 70%. However, it is predominantly suited to 60% profile sizes.
You can liken this product to the original Apple extended keyboard, which is popular for several reasons. Much like it, the alps64 features key switches, which are Alps SKCM Orange or more commonly called Orange Alps.
These switches are a sort of rare and unavailable tactile key switches. We have gone through a lot of keyboards and key switch types to know that the ones in this product offer a great feel and feedback.
Further, the first alps64 switches have been out of production for many years. As such, there is no modern switch that is really the same. However, you can get them with the most common way being from a few very old Apple keyboards.
In addition, they were used in PC keyboards by a company called Wang. Other PC keyboards have used them, but these are all quite rare.
If you want to use any mechanical switch here, it’s also possible provided you follow certain directions. An old Apple keyboard is the best way to have a throwback feel. You can get switches individually for them at cool prices. In comparison to other options, you’d find that you won’t be paying much for them.
Beyond the switch, you’ve got keycaps and a layout that is terrific at best. Those two are the best parts of any keyboard, and this one doesn’t disappoint.
Even if it appears weird at first, you’d learn to appreciate the layout. That is because the Alps is a keyboard built into the Apple IIc. In line with that, it comes with weird keycaps and layout. What’s more, this product isn’t a standalone keyboard but built into the IIc, so it probably offers little benefit.
The Alps64 comes in handy for those who want a good option that offers a steady divide between different functions. As such, it’s suitable for gaming, programming, and typing experiences.
The 60% keyboard is called that, as it is about 60% of the size of a full-size standard keyboard. That is, a keyboard, much like the Apple extended keyboard.
In the case of this alps64 mechanical keyboard, when converted to 60% size, it also has exactly 60 keys. Now, 60% keyboards make up a great part of the modern custom keyboard community. However, it isn’t really a form factor that existed in earlier made keyboards.
The thing is, the original Macintosh keyboard has a 58-key layout. This keyboard’s layout is further influenced by Steve Jobs and is a fairly popular tool with programmers.
Further, the 60% form factor removes anything right of the Enter key, including the function row. These functions are usually accessible when you hold down the FN keys while initiating another keypress. With this form factor, you only get about 61 keys, depending on the layout.
By opting to use a 60% form factor keyboard, you enter the world of minimalism and anesthetics. That is in stark contrast to pragmatism and functionality. Also, this form factor is fantastic if you want to customize your mechanical keyboard or just take it along anywhere you go.
Using it, you’ll get to learn that the function key gives you access to F-keys, arrow keys, Page Up/Down, and others. That way, users mostly have all the same keys available, just like a full-size keyboard.
The idea behind this is that all your keys are closer to your home row fingers. As a result, users will notice the improved speed. Having fewer keys should also help to increase muscle memory. That is because there are fewer keys your fingers need to remember the placement of or position.
Since 2011, the modern introduction of the 61-key 60% keyboard has only gone on to feature on top brands. That is all the way from KBC with their Poker keyboard. The particular keyboard is almost a cross between a modern PC layout and the HHKB keyboard.
The PBT keycaps won’t get yellow. All it needs is a good scrub in the kitchen sink to remove 30 years of grime. You can use something like a comet or soft scrub to gently scrub away grime and restore the shine of the caps.
However, the ABS plastic space bar definitely yellows, but the spacebar with a UV LED Bulb inside adding glow.
If you’re familiar with many custom PCB’s, including the alps64 PCB out there, you will find that this keyboard is “programmed” using a web-based GUI Keymap Editor. As such, you only have to point and click to choose what each key does.
Follow that up by downloading a binary file to flash onto the keyboard using a DFU utility. That does seem a little techie, though, but if you can handle soldering, flashing firmware is quite easy.
If your aim is to customize your keyboard, perhaps you can try using a DFU utility pre-compiled for Windows. It won’t fit a macOS, though. However, rather than compile it from source code, you can download the version made specifically for Windows OS in a Parallels VM, attached the keyboard to the VM, and proceed.
Typing and Feeling
When you type on a vintage keyboard every day, you cannot but notice the fluidity and ease of use that come with the cut-down steel plate, vintage orange switches, and vintage PBT keycaps feels of the board.
That is much like typing on the M0115 keyboard. You will be happy to have the same experience on a modern form factor, especially when you can slip it in your backpack and get going.
Getting Your Board Together
As a keyboard enthusiast building your rig, only the best suffices. The Alps64, as it is, makes it necessary to have diodes soldered into every switch position. Similarly, the switches are installed on the steel plate and soldered to the PCB.
You may find that installing the diodes takes longer than installing switches. However, these operations are simple, and anyone with patience can handle this kind of soldering. Ensure that all the keys register as expected before loading up the keycaps. You can go on to mount the board in the case and customize the firmware.
Mechanical Keyboard for Typing and Gaming
Depending on the intended use for your alps, there might be different kinds of keyboards suitable for you. As such, if you are a typist, you possibly might want to get an ergonomic mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX switches or clones.
If you desire to get a mechanical keyboard solely for programming purposes, then a fully programmable keyboard like the Alps64 will come in handy. That means you can set them up perfectly in all development environments.
As for gaming, the 60% and gaming form factor is usually a proprietary form factor that incorporates macro- and media keys. Also, it sometimes deviates from the ANSI or ISO standard.
Most of the time, however, they come closest to the full-size form factor, but that is when there’s added macro- and multimedia keys. That is the case with the hasu alps64.
Frequently Asked Questions
What makes the ideal alps keyboard?
There are many reasons why we think the Alps64 keyboard ideal for many users. Firstly, it’s suitable for mechanical components. They also feature strong keycaps and an overall quality layout. Another thing is the adjustable macros. That helps you customize your keyboard.
While you can’t have a keyboard exactly like other personal rigs, you can make this one fit your style. The key switches you could use are some of the best ever made to get the best out of your rig. Every alps board presents the opportunity to get the best out of any task you put it to.
For those who have used Orange Alps and Apple keycaps in a new case, they’d find this one a right fit. Keeping the case means you can always restore it to its original condition. Not that many people will actually go ahead to keep theirs.
Overall, this is one great keyboard fit for a number of uses including for playing games and programming.