Some Observations on the HHKB Pro2

This will not be a full-blown review; there are enough of those from people with better perspective and writing skills than I.  This will simply be some observations made while I had an HHKB Pro2, and hopefully someone can glean some meaning from it.

Yeah, I said had an HHKB Pro2.  I don’t have it anymore.  No, it wasn’t stolen.  No, it isn’t broken.  I sent it back.

First, some context on my keyboard purchases and preferences so far:

Purchased boards and their outcomes:

  • SteelSeries 6GV2 (Cherry Reds) – ended up thinking reds were “flimsy,” board was sacrificed to the “learn to desolder/solder” gods (and most importantly, learned that I absolutely hate doing it)
  • Pok3r (Cherry Blues) – used for a long while, loved it, sold a while ago because I actually don’t care for the aluminum case and I swung over to a desire for TKL layouts
  • Leopold FC750R (Cherry Blues) – used for a while, loved it, currently selling because I’ve swung away from TKL layouts
  • CoolerMaster Novatouch (Topre 45G) – First Topre, used for a while, still using it, love it except for the rattle, haven’t decided whether I want to mod it with landing pads or sacrifice it to another Topre board for the MX sliders
  • TADA68 (Gateron Blues) – Love the layout, love the customization ability, will probably be my go-to for home use (gaming, primarily)

Other boards I’ve tested or otherwise experienced:

  • KUL Es-87 (clears, great board, sort of liked clears but not enough)
  • Filco Majestouch 2 (browns, excellent board, don’t like browns, too light/not enough bump)
  • Pok3rs with other switches (browns, see above, and greens, too heavy)
  • RealForce 55g (Phenomenal, but a bit too heavy for what I use Topre for, which is extended periods of typing)

So, my typing needs and preferences can be summed up like so:

  • I adore both tactile and aural feedback, which is why MX Blues have long been a strong preference of mine.
  • Topre is definitely my preference for long-term typing.
  • At least with MX Blues, I prefer plastic cases to aluminum; something to do with the sound of it.  Very hard to describe.
  • My work needs are to be comfortable typing for long periods.
  • My gaming needs are largely unknown, aside form the fact that I don’t like Topre for it.  It would be fine, but not my preference.
  • I still don’t really know my preferred layout.

OK, with that out of the way, here’s my primary impression of the HHKB Pro2:

It’s the best typing experience I’ve had, so far.

That sounds crazy coming from a guy who sent it back, but while I was thoroughly enjoying the layout and the typing experience in general, I found that I just cannot live without a dedicated arrow cluster.

Key foibles with this include the following, for me:

  • Hitting Up to re-run previous command line inputs
  • Using Ctrl+arrows and Ctrl+Shift+arrows to quickly move the cursor or highlight chunks of words

I thought just using the Fn-layer with the arrow cluster would be fine; I was wrong.  In this light, I should update my preferences to include “must have arrow cluster.”  I didn’t know; now I do.

So, here’s my “review”:

The HHKB Pro2 is among the best typing experiences available.  It is a unique brand of Topre, which is already a unique experience to start with.  It is super comfortable for long typing sessions, and while its layout involves some drastic changes, the right person can reap the rewards of what is a phenomenal board.  It doesn’t look like a $225 board at first glance, but it certainly feels like one.

It’s just not for me.

Slightly related news: I have a Leopold FC660C on order.  Review will occur.

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