I wasn't expecting to be impressed. Mechanical keyboards are great, but they're rarely practical. It feels badass to mash into a great keyboard with Cherry switches when I'm playing games, or for a brief session of pseudo typing, but when I actually want to be a productive writer I typically default back to thin, mushy laptop-style keyboards.
Razer decided to blend mechanical switches and rubber domes to make the best of both worlds, and in fact has created a Frankenstein's monster that's an absolute joy to use and a terror to listen to. Razer calls this new tech "Mecha-Membrane," and has built it into its all-new Razer Ornata keyboard. Here, let's look at this GIF for a while:
Got it? Wrong, you don't understand anything. This is the clickiest keyboard known to man! I know there are clicky keyboards out there, many of them based on the Cherry MX Blue switches which are specifically described as "clicky," but Mecha-Membrane is a whole other species. Here, just watch this video and maybe you'll understand:
Did you hear that? It sounds like I'm typing like a madman! It sounds like I'm popping the world's tiniest bubble wrap at 1,000 bubbles per minute. Part of what makes the keyboard sound so distinct is that it "clicks" both on the way down, and on the way up, at identical volumes. Which makes it sounds like I’m typing at double speed. The other thing that's distinct is that unlike many mechanical keyboards, the keys feel really "tight" so you don't hear a lot of plastic moving around aimlessly — you push, they click, they unclick, and that's it. No wiggle.
The other design choice that's neat about this keyboard is that it's "mid-height" so you don't end up traveling as far as a traditional mechanical keyboard. Still, there's a satisfying amount of motion so you feel like you're doing something. This I think is the key for me, because I find most mechanical keyboards too much work. Even if they have a hair trigger and I don't have to bottom them out to register my keypresses, years of laptop typing has trained me to bounce off my keys and Razer Ornata is all about bounce.
I should note that this specific feel isn't for everybody. A bunch of my co-workers have tried out the keyboard, although I never let them get too comfortable. While most of them have found it pleasant, I've heard a couple people say "ew." So that's understandable, a keyboard is a matter of taste, and Razer just happens to have found mine.
You know what else is nice? This keyboard isn't even $1,000. The RGB version, Ornata Chroma, is $99.99 but I really have no desire to look at my keyboard ever so that's a luxury I don't need. The monochrome green backlit version, though, is $79.99. It also comes with a sweet wrist rest that affixes itself magnetically to the base of the keyboard, which is convenient and very comfortable. There are macros and anti-ghosting and a gaming mode and "10-key roll over" but to be honest I don't care. I just like typing, and this keyboard makes me love typing.
I think my desk neighbors hate me now. For the past two days I've basically been the clickiest clackiest man alive. And I don't even want to stop. What if they never speak to me again? Will it be worth it when I write the Great American Novel on the backs of these sweet, sweet Mecha-Membranes?
I sure hope so.
Both the Razer Ornata Chroma and the boring but practical Razer Ornata ship in worldwide in October, and should be available now on Razer's own website.