Introducing Rosewill's RK-9000 Mechanical Keyboard

As enthusiasts and professionals we spend a lot of time checking out what's under the hood of the computers and devices we use, but thankfully more and more we're paying attention to how we actually interact with hardware, what the user experience is like. User experience has been a major selling point of Apple's products, but there's one place where even Apple has been a bit neglectful: the keyboard. On notebooks your options are limited, but on the desktop you have access to mechanical keyboards. Today we'll take a quick look at Rosewill's RK-9000 mechanical keyboard and see if it's worth the price premium.

Before we get started with breaking down the RK-9000, a brief explanation of what we mean by "mechanical keyboard." There are several different types of switches used in modern keyboards, but the most common is the "membrane" switch. At its most basic, there's a "bubble" under each key, and when you press down the bubble makes contact with a circuit board beneath and registers the keypress. The attraction to this design is simple enough: it's cheap and easy to make. The problem is that as far as tactile response goes, it sucks out loud.

Enter mechanical switches. If you're old enough to remember what keyboards were like in the eighties and prior, you'll remember big, heavy keyboards with loud springs and plenty of feedback. Obviously it's a hell of a lot more expensive to equip a bunch of keys with springs, and that's why mechanical keyboards remain a bit of a niche product. That's a shame, too.

Rosewill offers four different mechanical keyboards, each based on the four different types of Cherry MX mechanical switches available. The Cherry MX Blue is the clickiest, the loudest, and the most tactile of the four; we have Corsair's Vengeance keyboards with the Cherry MX Red switches due in house soon, and we'll be able to compare and contrast then.

Aesthetically, the RK-9000 series isn't much to look at and you wouldn't be faulted for thinking they at least appear cheap. These look like generic black keyboards; no shortcut keys, not even so much as a fancy design. Black keys, black frame, but man is the RK-9000 heavy. With a $99 price tag it's hard not to fault anyone for taking one look at the keyboard and thinking, "Seriously?" Even the package is pretty bare; the keyboard itself has a mini-USB port in the back, and the keyboard comes with two cables, one mini-USB-to-PS2, and one mini-USB-to-USB. That's it.

Of course, once you've actually typed on the RK-9000, your impression will change in a hurry. 

The Rosewill RK-9000 in Action
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  • _rob_ - Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - link

    A surprising number of people don't know how to touch-type. Reply
  • bobbozzo - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    FWIW, I have a couple of IBM Model M's (mfd for IBM by Lexmark in 1995).

    I have been using one at home and one at work for over 10 years each, and the lettering is not noticeably affected. I even give them a good scrubbing once in awhile to clean off dirt.

    They are definitely not double-shot keys (they do have a second layer, but the top is not cut out and the bottom is gray). I don't know if they're lasered or painted.

    I too would like to see a Model M compared against these new keyboards. My Model M's are not USB compatible so I'm thinking of buying replacements, although a few sites seem to sell adapters such as http://www.clickykeyboards.com/index.cfm/fa/items.... and http://zevv.nl/play/misc/ibm-usb/

    Otherwise, I'd probably get one from pckeyboard.com

    Thanks
    Reply
  • bobbozzo - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    btw, the ones from pckeyboard are cheaper than $99, so I'm wondering if there is anything remarkable about the Rosewill to make it more expensive. Reply
  • Pylon757 - Saturday, January 28, 2012 - link

    IBM Model Ms are dye-sublimation printed (about as durable as double-shot, but you can use better plastics and only essentially works on lighter colored keys).

    Geekhack has a great article on keys in general here:
    http://geekhack.org/showwiki.php?title=All+About+K...
    Reply
  • vailr - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    Why aren't there quality keyboards that are also high visibility?
    Such as: the "EZ Eyes Keyboard"
    http://sanfengxin.com/product/2012197442838686.jpg
    Similar idea sold online here:
    https://www.getezeyes.com/
    Reply
  • eruku - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    There are! http://www.keyboardco.com/keyboard_details.asp?PRO... Reply
  • cserwin - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    This is a Windows keyboard. I don't quite understand the relevance to Apple. Seems like a cute idea for a hook, but on editorial balance, you probably should have left that baby on the copy room floor. It doesn't strengthen your thesis, credibility, or (most importantly) serve to inform your member about the usefulness od the product you are reviewing.

    Sincerely,
    Your Journalism 101 TA
    Reply
  • Galcobar - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    The relevance is established in the same sentence as the reference to Apple is made: Apple's focus on the user experience, which most definately includes human input devices such as the keyboard.

    Much of Apple's cachet is built on enhancing the user experience through improvements in the peripheral devices -- the quality of the screens the company uses, for instance -- thus Dustin is using Apple both as a means of demonstrating to the reader the value of a good peripheral, and the rarity that is a good keyboard.
    Reply
  • NCM - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    I remember Apple's old mechanical keyboards, especially the seemingly indestructible "Saratoga" model. It acquired that nickname due to a size reminiscent of the eponymous aircraft carrier's flight deck. I know plenty of people who would like to see its return.

    But you know what? Apple's chiclet style keyboards, whether in freestanding form or the super-solid laptop version I'm using to type this, are terrific. I don't long for the past at all.

    But tastes in keyboard action and feel are a totally personal thing.
    Reply
  • Sabresiberian - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    Maybe you should find a "Reading Comprehension 101" TA.

    :D
    Reply

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