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punchy71

Rank the best keyboard to the worst

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Rank by model (in your opinion) the best keyboard to the worst in the entire Atari 8-bit family of computers (400/800, XL series, XE series).

 

Thank you

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Here's the ranking as I see it:

 

The 1200XL is the best keyboard in terms of feel, but it's not reliable. I still give it the top spot, though, because it feels just right to me in terms of springiness, ease of depressing the keys, and the distance they travel. And let's not forget you get the F1, F2, F3, and F4 keys, plus the L1 and L2 lamps. :P

 

The 800's keyboard would be next best in terms of feel...and it's pretty reliable. So I rank it just barely under the 1200XL model.

 

The 600XL/800XL keyboard would be next for me. They're fine. Nothing great, nothing awful about them.

 

Then would come the XE series keyboards. They're mushy and cheap-feeling to me.

 

Finally, the one I started with -- the 400's membrane keyboard. It may be spillproof, but it's hard on your fingers if you're a touch typist!

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By far the worst of all are the later XE keyboards (used in the XEGS, 800XE, and later 65/130XEs), which used rubber cups and no springs. Typing on them is like kneading dough. The sprung Mitsumi mechanisms found in the earlier XEs aren't so bad, IMO.

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The XE's keyboard get a bad rap.

 

The stock ones *are* mushy. However, if you buy the "XE Touch" upgrade from Best electronics they become quite pleasant to use. There is also a set of new springs but I have not tried these.

 

I did the same upgrade in the past to an STe which as stock is also mushy.

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This doesn't make much sense as, for example, 800XL's can have different keyboards, rated from excellent to a POS.

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[quote name=Sub(Function(:))' timestamp='1324407015' post='2428350]

The XE's keyboard get a bad rap.

 

The stock ones *are* mushy. However, if you buy the "XE Touch" upgrade from Best electronics they become quite pleasant to use. There is also a set of new springs but I have not tried these.

 

I did the same upgrade in the past to an STe which as stock is also mushy.

I completely agree. I have modded my 3 130XEs, and plan to do the same to my 1040 once I start using it.

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This doesn't make much sense as, for example, 800XL's can have different keyboards, rated from excellent to a POS.

Exactly, 5 different 800XL keyboards exists.

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[quote name=Sub(Function( :))' timestamp='1324407015' post='2428350]

The XE's keyboard get a bad rap.

 

The stock ones *are* mushy. However, if you buy the "XE Touch" upgrade from Best electronics they become quite pleasant to use. There is also a set of new springs but I have not tried these.

 

I did the same upgrade in the past to an STe which as stock is also mushy.

I completely agree. I have modded my 3 130XEs, and plan to do the same to my 1040 once I start using it.

 

The fact is, there are two variants (that I know of) of XE keyboard. One's crap out of the factory, and one's quite good (the Mitsumi). I'm sure the rubber-cup keyboards aren't so bad if you add the touch springs, and these stiffer springs - if added to the already decent Mitsumi keyboards - probably make them somewhat better too.

Edited by flashjazzcat

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I think both XE keyboards are crap, but one is a little better than the other. I'm not a fan of the half-pipe shape of the XE/ST keycaps either. The TT/MSTe keyboards weren't bad, though.

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Hmm, I am actually really glad this thread was started.. Debating on which Atari 8-bit to get...

*I am thinking of an 800XL BTW*

 

Look for an XL with the Black Label on the bottom, these are made in Hong Kong and have ALL IC's socketed (helps in repairs and upgrades)...

 

Jay

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This doesn't make much sense as, for example, 800XL's can have different keyboards, rated from excellent to a POS.

 

Then rank and describe the 5 different variations in 800XL keyboards from best to worst.

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Exactly, 5 different 800XL keyboards exists.

 

Maybe more when you consider that 600XL and 800XL keyboards are interchangeable. I believe that I've got more than five types, but they may be sub-types from other suppliers of the same keyboard "family."

 

-Larry

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I consider a 600XL and 800XL keyboard to be the same thing, although some types may not have been used in both models.

 

I've also seen sub-types with slightly different appearances (one example is that the mylar keyboards came with both smooth and textured keys)

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Then rank and describe the 5 different variations in 800XL keyboards from best to worst.

 

No.

 

I think it's pointless as everyone has his own opinion and they are all right. The description "best keyboard" is also a bit vague. Best in what? Durability? Water resistancy? Price?

 

Besides all of this, there are already several keyboard (and their differences) threads over here and up till now this thread is only a repetition of the others.

 

 

Just saying. But feel free to continue.

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This doesn't make much sense as, for example, 800XL's can have different keyboards, rated from excellent to a POS.

 

That's right... in fact based on mine (and I have at least 3 of all models except 400), the best keyboard is on one of my 800XLs - it is a joy to type on it. But I only have one of them. It is one of the XLs I bought new in 1985 - in fact I bought two at the same time from the same store on the same day. But only one of them has the great keyboard.

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I agree that the XE (and ST) keyboards are not ideal. However, I think too much emphasis is placed on this, nowdays. Back in the days where you'd spend hours (days?) coding on it, perhaps. Everyone uses cross-compilers and/or emulators, and nobody uses 8-bit computers for word processing. So the situation is a bit reversed from the old days. In the old days, I'd desire the 1200XL keyboard the most, for its excellence in use. Today, its unreliability makes it the worst, and since comparatively little typing is actually done on 8-bit machines, who cares? As long as the 8-bit keyboard WORKS, I'm happy.

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Some of the XL keyboards are about as mushy as the XE ones . . . the 800XL Apolloboy has seems almost as mushy as the 130XE, though that's obviously not the case for all XLs.

 

Aside from feel/action, there's also the shape/size of the keys, and I personally find the keys of the XL/earlier a bit too small and close together. The XE's aren't great either (compared to Apple/Tandy/IBM-style keyboards at least), but they're not quite as bad.

They're wider, which is good, but they're a bit to sharp on the edges and too tightly packed . . . and still not tall enough -not in terms of height from the board, but tall/deep as seen from the top . . . ie, if they were square rather than rectangular, I'd be a bit happier -more so if they weren't so close together. (I think the ST's keyboard is like that -larger, square keys otherwise similar to the XE, but I haven't actually seen one in person)

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