TaoBao Haul – July 2019

TaoBao makes me feel like a kid in a candy store – lots of weird keyboard stuff I’ve never tried before. So I put together a big haul of a bunch of items (ordered through Superbuy) and decided to do a mini-review of everything. Let me know if you have any questions on Discord: Crokto#7766.
SKCL Yellow (with and without LED), White Alps, SKBM Grey, SKBM Black, Unknown Alps 4-pin switch, Omron B3G-S White
  • Yellow Alps: decent enough that I think I’ll try to make a fully backlit Alps board.
  • White Alps: I’m not sure what they are, exactly. Is there such a thing as SKBL Whites? It definitely says ALPS on the top housing, and it’s definitely the simplified alps contact mechanism with no click or tactile leaf, and they definitely kinda suck.
  • Grey Alps: simplified and clicky, and I really like their tactility (notably better than Matias imo – I really like that they don’t have the issue with a second tactile event) but they’re very scratchy. Might look into swapping the click leaf around between a few switches.
  • Black Alps: simplified and use a tactile leaf, but they’re clicky when you press them fast enough. I think I prefer Matias.
  • The 4-pin switch has the old script Alps logo on the bottom, and are pretty smooth, but with a squishy bottom out that lasts for at least .5mm. Confirmed with a multimeter that they’re not contact based, so capacitive foam & foil seems likely. Couldn’t find a way to actually open the switch, but I didn’t look that hard. e: I’ve been informed that these may be rubber domes. It makes sense, as there’s the slightest bit of tactility, but man that bottom out is spongy even for rubber domes.
  • White Omrons: pretty decently tactile. Not super scratchy (though not smooth) and with a pretty nice tactile event (though it’s a bit far into the switch travel for my liking). Very wobbly.
An MX Red and some Omron/Logitech Romer-Gs (I believe those are Gen 1 tactile, Gen 2 tactile, and Gen 2 linear)
  • Gen 1 tactile: These are the ones that still have that bit of squishiness at the bottom out. It’s a relatively quiet switch, but I don’t have much else nice to say about it.
  • Gen 2 tactile: These seem identical, but without the squishy bottom out. Still pretty bad.
  • Gen 2 linear: Ok so, the two things I’ve heard in defense of these switches are the light pipe design, and their durability (two sets of contacts or something like that? Could be misremembering this), but the linear in this switch tester is broken. Like, halfway down the travel you run into a wall, but you can force your way past it. For a second I thought it was just a really bizarre tactility, but none of the loose switches had this problem. Anyways, on the functional switches, these actually aren’t bad. Much smoother than the tactiles, and a bit smoother than the MX red in the switch tester (though not as smooth as, say, gaterons).
Choc Jades, Choc Pale Blue, Choc Keycaps
  • Choc Jades: I’ve been meaning to try these for the longest time, and I am not disappointed. Decently smooth, nice tactility, and so tiny. Can’t wait to design a choc board.
  • Choc Pale Blue: I mean, they’re fine. I ordered navies, though…
  • Keycaps: the clear ones are kind of interesting; very smooth, but yeah I hope choc cap availability gets better.
Choc Browns, Reds, and Whites; Kailh PG1280 Blues, Reds, and Browns; acrylic switch tester
  • Choc Browns: these aren’t offensively bad, but they remind me of MX Browns in a bad way – barely any tactility, and not terribly smooth.
  • Choc Reds: not quite as smooth as Box Reds, but close. Would love to try lubing these.
  • Choc Whites: definitely prefer Jades, but these aren’t bad.
  • 1280 Blues: this line of switches is like a slightly-low-profile switch with an MX-keycap-compatible slider. These blues are less tactile than MX Blues, and don’t seem terribly special in general. I’m definitely biased against click jackets, though.
  • 1280 Reds: not very smooth, but not offensive.
  • 1280 Browns: a bit more tactile on the upstroke than the downstroke, and more tactile than the choc browns (or MX browns even), but not great overall.
  • Switch tester: it was included with the chocs, but kind of hilariously, the cutouts are for MX switches instead of chocs, so it just came loose in the bag.
Kailh Speed Golds
  • A few people have independently recommended these to me. It’s kind of interesting that they’re a clicky with the click right at the top of the travel, but they’re less tactile than MX Blues. Not a fan.
Everglides! Emerald, Coral, Cherry Blossom, and Amber
  • Emeralds: just the tiniest bit less tactile than Zealios v1, but otherwise very similar. Seems like a great alternative to switches like MX Browns for people that don’t want all the tactility of HPs or Zeal v2s.
  • The Rest: are all just different weightings of linears – pink (cherry blossom) being the lightest and red (coral) the heaviest. Decently smooth (about the same as gaterons). Can’t speak to sound. I think I’d rather get gat yellows, but they’re not bad for $0.35/ea.
POM Keycaps
  • These are taken off an 1800, so compatibility is super limited (I think I might design a cheapo FR-4 sandwich keyboard just so I can use these), but I’ve wanted to try POM caps for a while. The legends seem to be lasered & infilled, and you can feel them very clearly, so I might look into a way to remove them without damaging the caps (before I clean them because they’re kinda gross).
Cherry MX Datasheet Deskmat
  • The quality of the deskmat itself is not the best (not nearly as thick as, say, a Dixie, and the printing and stitching is only okay), but for the price it’s pretty nuts. Great beater mat, especially since having a Cherry MX datasheet on your desk at all times sounds pretty useful.
Keycap Box
  • So there are 3 trays in this box. I put a KPR Dye-Sub set in, and I shook it around a bit, and the keycaps on the top layer just went everywhere – the top tray is too far from the lid to keep them in place. Fortunately, it came with sheets of foam between each layer for protection in shipping, and putting them between each layer keeps the keycaps secure even when I shake it.
  • Since there’s no clips or anything to hold it closed (only friction), I put these rubber bands around it to be safe. It doesn’t seem like it’d open up randomly on its own, but I tend to drop things, so better safe than sorry (though it might just break if I drop it – it’s kind of thin plastic and it seems brittle).
  • I was thinking about buying more of these and storing all of my keycaps this way, but these have the same issue as GMK trays – annoying to get out the lower profile keycaps. Haven’t tried it with SA caps yet, though, so maybe that’s its niche. The big upside is that there is plenty of storage – this took a full KPR set with all the add-on kits except spacebars, and then another set of KPR alphas, and there’s plenty of room inside still. Quick math says it holds 268u worth of keycaps, plus each row is oversized by maybe .5u so if you can get creative you can fit a bit more.