Tag Archives: Mechanical Keyboards

Das Keyboard’s Division Zero Is Gaming Gear that Makes Work Fun Too

Das Keyboard’s Division Zero Is Gaming Gear that Makes Work Fun Too

PC gaming gear can be fun, and even help you be more productive, but it’s rare to find ones designed to be customizable and high-performance for gaming but equally useful when it’s time to get things done. Das Keyboard’s new gaming line, Division Zero, manages both, with some caveats.

The Lineup

Division Zero is Das Keyboard’s first foray into gaming peripherals, a market already saturated by big names and popular brands. That doesn’t mean they didn’t bring solid gear to the table, but it does mean you have to weigh it against some well-known competition. Here’s the lineup:

  • The X40 Pro gaming keyboard ($149) is a low-rise, metal mechanical keyboard fitted with custom “Alpha-Zulu” switches. It features changeable aluminum top plates to customize the look of the keyboard, and red LED backlighting behind the keys turns itself off when idle. There’s a spare USB 2.0 port, and audio passthrough so you can plug in a microphone and headphones—which means you also have analog audio cables to plug into your PC, but you don’t have to use them.
  • The M50 Pro gaming mouse ($79) features an ambidextrous design, a 6400 DPI laser sensor, on the fly DPI control settings, and nine programmable macro buttons. It also features on-board memory to remember those macros and your per-application (or per-game) profiles, and a tilt-scroll wheel with multiple degrees of motion side-to-side.
  • The 47W Surface is Das’s flexible mousepad, designed for use with the M50, comes in three flavors, the Flex ($19), Control ($19), and Speed ($29). Das sent us the Control version, and it works beautifully with other mice as well as the M50. It’s a textured mousepad, thinner than a sheet of paper but even more flexible, and features a grippy underside that makes sure it won’t move, no matter how hard you move your mouse.

All in all, their prices are on par with other PC gaming peripherals: Pricey. If you’re rocking the keyboard and mouse that came with your PC, these aren’t for you. However, if you love features like programmable macro buttons, LED backlighting, customizable profiles, and sharp, enthusiast-focused design, then it’s nothing you’re not used to. If you’re a mechanical keyboard enthusiast, well. You’re definitely used to playing this much for a keyboard.

Where They Excel

After using all three, it’s safe to say they shine both for gaming and for getting work done, which is exactly how I prefer my peripherals. I want them to pull double duty on my desk, and for the amount of money you’d spend, you probably would too. They’re not perfect though, and have some glaring drawbacks that should make you think before pulling out your wallet. Let’s break them down into three big categories: build quality, customization, and usability, with special attention to those fancy custom switches.

Build Quality

Das Keyboard’s Division Zero Is Gaming Gear that Makes Work Fun Too
A mess of cables, but all braided, fabric-wrapped, and with their own velcro for easy management.

Both the X40 and the M50 are sturdy and feel like you could put them through a long gaming session or an arduous workday. That’s exactly what I did, since my work and gaming are in the same physical place. I wound up using the X40 and the M50 for work all day writing, and I would swap them over to my gaming PC for a few hours of blissful, cathartic destruction, puzzle solving, and exploration. The X40′s aluminum build and heavy body served it a little better than the M50′s mostly plastic (but still heavy) build. The braided cloth cables on both are great for keeping dust away and avoiding tangles, and the cords are nice and long with velcro wraps to keep the slack managed.

http://lifehacker.com/the-logitech-m…

The M50 is a quality ambidextrous gaming mouse, which is nice to see. I found the scroll wheel really stiff and tough use (especially compared to the Logitech MX Master I use for work and the Logitech Proteus Core I use for gaming) but it loosened up over time (or maybe I just got used to it.) The 47W is grippy and won’t move or slide around even a smooth desk surface (like mine), and is large and nicely sized.

Customization and Key Macros

If you’re going to spend this much on gear, you may as well get the most possible use out of their customization features. The programmable macro keys work with third-party tools like AutoHotkey, which we’ve shown you how to use with your gaming gear, by the way, just as well as Das Keyboard’s own software.

http://lifehacker.com/why-i-started-…

In Windows, all you need to do is press Fn + F12 to enable macro recording. Making the special buttons on the X40 and the M50 do whatever you want them to do, whether it’s an Excel macro or a spell rotation, is easy. If you prefer to use AutoHotKey or another utility, it’s just as simple—just tap the button you’d like to assign the action to, program it, and away you go. You can easily turn the five programmable keys on the left side of the X40 into web browsing actions or music controls (technically there are function keys for that, although I miss the Das Keyboard 4′s hardware audio controls and volume knob) and then switch them out for weapon loadouts in your favorite shooter or attack rotations in an MMO.

The other big customization feature on the X40 is one that’ll cost you money: aluminum top panels for your keyboard. Das sent us two to switch out with the default aluminum silver: the “Defamer” in mustard, and the “Stryker” in red. Both have subtly different designs, and there’s also a Defamer in silver and a Stryker in olive green if you prefer those colors. Each additional panel will set you back $39, which is a lot, but if a fresh top panel will give you that fresh-keyboard-feeling without actually buying a new keyboard, we say go for it and swap them out when the mood strikes.

Usability

Das Keyboard’s Division Zero Is Gaming Gear that Makes Work Fun Too
Each keyboard proudly displays the switch you chose. Linear is off-white, tactile is green.

Speaking of the keys on the X40, we discuss those new Alpha-Zulu mechanical switches that Das is so proud of. The switches come in “linear” and “tactile,” both offering the same 1.7mm travel distance and 45g actuation force, but the difference is how the two feel. The linear switches aren’t tactile or clicky, and the tactile ones still aren’t clicky, but they do require a little extra force to engage the key halfway through the travel distance. What that all means for you is that the “tactile” ones are for gamers used to half-pressing their keys and then engaging them fully at just the right time, while the linear ones are for people who hold those keys down and rely on long-presses. I tested the linear switches.

The switches are great, but they’re not perfect. They’re quiet but satisfying, and give you the depth and key traversal you want from a mechanical, but without the audible “clack-clack” that often comes with. However, if you’re a Cherry MX lover and you love that audible click, you’ll miss it. If you use the linear model and miss feeling the actuation point, you’ll miss that too.

http://lifehacker.com/how-to-choose-…

When I switched between the X40 and my trusty Corsair K70 with Cherry MX Red keys, I definitely missed the sound, but after even a few days I was more than used to the quieter profile. (Which was especially nice, since the linear switches are similar to the MX Red.) They won’t drive you or anyone else nearby nuts while you work, and they’re still fun to play on.

Where They Fall Short

Das Keyboard’s Division Zero Is Gaming Gear that Makes Work Fun Too
Even in low light, the keyboard is somewhat weak, but the mouse pulses brightly.

Division Zero line has its strengths, but it also has weaknesses. We wouldn’t be writing about it if we thought it sucked, but there are some things you should pay attention to if you’re thinking about buying.

  • The LED backlighting is weak, and not just brightness-wise. The mouse’s LED is bright and strong, but the keyboard’s LED backlighting is dimmer and nothing to write home about. It’s decent, but it’s all red, and in an age of RGB keyboards, it’s a bit of a bummer that you can’t customize the colors (especially at this price.) Plus, it’s not per-key backlighting, so keep that in mind. That all said, it looks nice behind the aluminum backplates, but consider that you can get more customization, colors, and brighter LEDs for less.
  • The price. Das’ Division Zero line is new, and as with all PC peripherals, they’re more expensive today than they’ll ever be. The X40 is $149, the M50 is $79, and the custom faceplates are $39 each. That’s a lot of money, especially considering most of the keyboards the X40 is competing with, like the Razer Deathstalker, the Rosewill RK-9000, and some other entry level mechanicals are all closer to $99. Similar mice to the M50, like the Logitech Proteus Core and the Razer Deathadder, are both slightly cheaper, closer to $70. It’s a tough sell, but expect to see prices come down as Amazon and other retailers get their hands on these and start competing for business.
  • The keyboard’s single USB 2.0 port and extra cables. This is a bit of a nitpick for me, but since I generally don’t use audio passthrough on a keyboard, the analog audio cables on the X40 were just wasted space, velcroed together on top of my desk. It’s a nice feature to have, but I just don’t know many people buying a keyboard wishing they could plug their headset into it. I would have much rather had a second USB port right next to it, get hardware audio and volume controls, or have that port be USB 3.0 instead of 2.0.

These drawbacks may be dealbreakers for some of you—especially the price. If you don’t mind splurging, or you’ll use yours for gaming and for work, then they may be a good buy, especially when compared to its more popular—and in some cases more affordable—competition.

The Bottom Line: Pricey, but Sturdy, Sharp, and Fun to Use

Das Keyboard’s Division Zero Is Gaming Gear that Makes Work Fun Too
The “Defamer” keyboard cover, which includes the wrench required to swap top plates.

So that leaves us with the big question: Should you buy these? Well, we can definitely recommend the 47W mousepad and the X40 keyboard. The M50 is a little trickier to tell you to buy.

The mousepad is huge and grippy, and will probably stay on my desk long after the M50 makes its exit in favor of the less-ambidextrous but smoother-to-use Proteus Core, which is still my favorite mouse for gaming right now, and I’ll probably continue to use my MX Master for work. In short, the M50 is great, and great for lefties or people who just prefer an ambidextrous mouse, but it’s stiff, a little heavy, and while it glides across your desk easily enough and has all the right DPI settings, I still felt myself missing the button layout of the Proteus Core, and if I had to run out and choose one from a store shelf, the Proteus Core is cheaper.

Getting back to the 47W control surface though: You’ll have to choose the surface you think is best for you. I liked the Control surface a lot, and the price there is about right for a “gaming” mousepad, if that’s what you want. If you don’t though, well, it’s an easy one to skip.

The X40 is a bigger deal though. I liked it, enough to push over my Corsair K70 sometimes. I like the idea of the changeable top plates, but I’m also a sucker for customization like that. Little ways to make something you own feel brand new are a great way to spend a little where you could have spent a lot. However, the X40 is definitely missing things I miss from other keyboards. And like the others here, it’s pricey. Even so, it’s fun to use, great to type on and play on, and it’s the first keyboard in a while that I enjoyed writing on as much as I enjoyed gaming on. If you can try it before you buy, definitely do, and make your own decision, but I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

The Clickiest Corsair K70 Mechanical Keyboard Is Cheaper Than Ever

The Clickiest Corsair K70 Mechanical Keyboard Is Cheaper Than Ever

Corsair’s K-series mechanical keyboards are some of your favorites for gaming, and for general use as well, and the Cherry MX Blue model of the popular K70 is down to an all-time low $100 on Amazon right now.

http://co-op.kinja.com/your-favorite-…

http://co-op.kinja.com/your-favorite-…

This Corsair K70′s clicky Cherry MX Blue switches are great for touch typists, its aluminum chassis lends it a premium feel, and its key-by-key customizable backlighting is just plain cool. For $100, you really can’t go wrong here. [Corsair K70 Mechanical Keyboard, $100]

http://www.amazon.com/Corsair-Mechan…


Commerce Content is independent of Editorial and Advertising, and if you buy something through our posts, we may get a small share of the sale. Click here to learn more, and don’t forget to sign up for our email newsletter. We want your feedback.

What’s Your Favorite Mechanical Keyboard?

What's Your Favorite Mechanical Keyboard?

Once you go mechanical, you never go back. Previously, the murdered out Das Keyboard Model S Ultimate took down the 2013 win in a close race. Now it’s time to revisit. Tell us, what’s your favorite mechanical keyboard?

http://www.amazon.com/Das-Keyboard-M…

http://lifehacker.com/five-best-mech…

http://lifehacker.com/top-10-superio…

1) Your nomination should contain:

  • The specific name of the product, not just a brand or series.
  • Why you think this item is the best.
  • A link where the item can be purchased.
  • An image of the item.

2) Vote by starring someone else’s nomination.

3) Please do not duplicate nominations.

What even are you talking about?

http://lifehacker.com/how-to-choose-…

How do I know what these switches feel like before I buy?

http://lifehacker.com/this-mechanica…

I’m a gamer though.

http://co-op.kinja.com/your-favorite-…

No really I do not want mechanical.

http://lifehacker.com/5933853/five-b…


Commerce Content is independent of Editorial and Advertising, and if you buy something through our posts, we may get a small share of the sale. Click here to learn more. We want your feedback.

Send deal submissions to Deals@Gawker and all other inquiries to Shane@Gawker.

Five Best Mechanical Keyboards

Five Best Mechanical Keyboards

Not all keyboards are alike, and not all keyboards cater to the same types of users. Mechanical keyboards—or keyboard with individual switches under each key—have exploded in popularity recently, and for good reason. This week we’re going to take a look at five of the best mechanical keyboards, based on your nominations.

Earlier in the week we asked you which mechanical keyboards you thought were the best, whether it was because of their switches, their added features, their bang for the buck, their overall typing comfort, or just their style and build quality.

You responded with way more keyboards than we have room to highlight, but here are the five that got the most nominations, in no particular order:

IBM Model M (and Variants)

Five Best Mechanical Keyboards

Ah, the IBM Model M – it’s the keyboard that started it all, and while it’s technically a buckling spring keyboard and not a mechanical in the way we’ve come to know mechanical keyboards, it’s all the same when you’re talking about keyboards that set themselves apart from the usual. If you have an old Model M in the back of your closet or an old one you’ve modded to use with modern PCs, enjoy it—they’re tanks, and won’t give up on you anytime soon. If you want one for yourself, you can still get them from Unicomp for around $80, depending on the model you choose. They’ll all come with buckling springs beneath each key, and your choice of connector to your computer. They’re even cross-platform, so you can use it with whatever computer you own.

The IBM Model M has been in production for decades, and many of you nominated the original Model M along with a number of variants that offer different quirks and features suited to your typing style. If it’s too big for you, try the IBM 5150, which also picked up a few nominations in the call for contenders thread. Whether you remember the old days of computing and miss the clack-clack of those old keyboards, or you’re interested in mechanicals for other reasons like ergonomics and tactile feel, you’d do yourself a favor by checking out the keyboards that started it all.


Das Keyboard Ultimate Model S

Five Best Mechanical Keyboards

Das Keyboard has been in the mechanical business for a long time—way before the current rise in popularity. For that reason, they’ve had time to refine their keyboards, stick to what works, incorporate new switch types and introduce models that work for more people, and overall just make really sleek looking, highly functional keyboards. There was a lot of love for the Das Keyboard Ultimate in the call for contenders thread, and as someone who’s used it myself, I can understand why. It’s a tank that’s designed for over 50 million keystrokes, packs a 2-port USB hub inside, features full N-key rollover (meaning pressing multiple keys at a time actually registers), and it’s available with your choice of Cherry MX Brown (quieter, softer) or MX Blue (louder, clicky) switches. You can pick one up direct from Das Keyboard for $139, or grab one at Amazon for a slight price break, around $130 depending on the switches you pick.

Of course, the Ultimate is actually a label-less keyboard, meaning the keys don’t have inscriptions on them. You’d better be good at touch-typing to use it, because you won’t be looking at your fingers. If you want your keys labeled, check out Das Keyboard’s other models, specifically the Professional (also available for Mac, although technically they all work on all platforms). The keys are labeled, you can choose between Cherry MX Brown (quieter, softer), MX Blue (louder, clicky), or MX Red (clicky, louder but not as loud as the Blues), and the keyboard sports media controls on the function keys, and more. Same price too—$139 direct, a few bucks off at Amazon.


Cooler Master Storm QuickFire

Five Best Mechanical Keyboards

The Cooler Master Storm QuickFire family of mechanicals are well regarded by gamers, and our own Whitson Gordon had one and loved it. Your nominations specifically came in for the Cooler Master Storm QuickFire Rapid, a tenkeyless model with Cherry MX Blue switches (although there’s a new model with Cherry MX Green switches), a little quieter than some of the ones that ship with MX Red switches, and space-saving since you don’t have the numberpad on the right side of the keyboard. Of course, if you prefer different switches, or you want the numberpad, you have plenty of options in the same family, including the full LED backlit QuickFire Ultimate that’s available with MX Blues, Browns, or Reds, whichever you prefer, and the unassuming QuickFire Pro, available with MX Brown, Black, and Red switches.

All on all though, the QuickFire line is known for being functional, affordable (the Rapid series is around $75-$80 at Amazon, depending on the switches you choose, and the Ultimate is $109 at Amazon with your choice of switches or backlighting), and rock solid. You get incredible flexibility in switch types (as you can see), backlighting options, full N-Key rollover, auto-disabling of the Windows key while gaming, removable braided USB cables, and more. Those of you who nominated it praised it for being a solid, affordable, and flexible entry-level option that’ll provide huge bang for your buck, regardless of what you plan to do with it—writing, gaming, working, coding, whatever.


Ducky Shine 2/Shine 3

Five Best Mechanical Keyboards

The Ducky Shine line was a bit of a sleeper hit in the call for contenders thread. Ducky, much like Filco, has a bit of a reputation for making incredibly high-quality mechanical keyboards that are sturdy and long-lasting without being bricks on your desk. They’re beautifully crafted, and generally targeted towards enthusiasts, keyboard geeks, coders and developers, and writers—people who live and die by their computers. The Shine 2 and the Shine 3 are no exception. The Shine series is one of the greats, available with your color choice of Cherry MX switches, and if you want one you’ll have to order from someone with stock or have them imported from Taiwan. The Shine 2 is tough to find at this point, and MechanicalKeyboards.com says they’re discontinued. If you do find one, expect to spend around $150 for it. However, the Ducky Shine 3 is widely available, over at MechanicalKeyboards.com for between $130 and $150 depending on the backlight color you choose, and the switch you choose.

That’s one of the beautiful things about the Ducky Shine series—not only can you customize the switches, you can customize the backlighting. You get all the great features of a good mechanical too: Full N-key rollover, reactive lighting to the ambient light in the room, a beautiful matte finish, and customizable backlighting profiles even on the same keyboard so you can set certain keys and areas to light up while the rest are dark, whichever you like. Those of you who praised the Ducky Shine series pointed to its heavy duty case and overall durability without being a massive, hulking keyboard, and the fact that it comes with two space bars—a flashy one with the logo on it, and a flat black one if you don’t like the default. If you can find one, it’s a solid keyboard that will stand the test of time.


Razer BlackWidow Ultimate

Five Best Mechanical Keyboards

Razer is pretty proud of its gaming cred, and while not all of its keyboards are mechanicals, the BlackWidow Ultimate and the BlackWidow Ultimate Stealth both are. They’re both $139 direct ($111 at Amazon). The Ultimate packs Cherry MX Blue switches, and the Ultimate Stealth packs the quieter Cherry MX Brown switches—Razer has a whole page dedicated to its switch selection options that makes for good reading if you’re curious what types of switches sound like what, which are louder, which are quieter, and which keyboards in their lineup have which features.

The BlackWidow Ultimate however is a full-sized mechanical with programmable keys on the side, individual-key LED backlighting with adjustable brightness, media controls on the function keys, a USB port on the side with USB passthrough along its braided cables, audio passthrough and headphone/microphone jacks on the keyboard, on-the-fly macro recording, and more. The BlackWidow Ultimate is a pretty solid keyboard, a bit of a tank, and while the keys are satisfyingly clicky, even the MX Blues aren’t horribly loud. Still, those of you who nominated it praised it for its heft, tactile feel, and build quality. Its price isn’t too shabby either, and since Razer updates the model on an annual basis, if you don’t like the color of the backlighting or the features in the keyboard, just wait a year—they may address your particular concern with it in the next model.


There you have it, those are your top five nominees! Seriously—there were so many great nominees that now’s a good time to go back to the call for contenders if you don’t see your favorite here. Still, we have honorable mentions listed below. Before that though, it’s time to put them to a vote to determine the Lifehacker community favorite:

Honorable mentions this week go out to the Rosewill RK-9000, an affordable (around $80 at Amazon depending on the switches you get) mechanical keyboard available with Cherry MX Blue, Red, Black, or Brown switches that we highlighted in our guide to mechanical keyboards. It earned more than a few votes from those of you looking for a simple mechanical model without a ton of bells and whistles that’s not necessarily focused on gaming, and still rocks a full numberpad. I’ve had the opportunity personally to play with the RK-9000, and it’s a great mechanical keyboard.

Another honorable mention this week goes out to the new Logitech G710+ Mechanical Keyboard for Gaming. It’s Logitech’s first mechanical keyboard, and it’s come remarkably well regarded. Logitech knows a thing or two about gaming keyboards, and this model sports Cherry MX Brown switches (with individual O-ring noise dampeners) that are quiet enough to not wake the house, but still have a firm clicky feel that you’ll love, especially if you’re a PC gamer. It sports dual-zone backlighting, programmable macro keys, a detachable wrist-rest, and more. It’s not terribly cheap though: it retails for $150 direct.

Finally, for those folks who want the ultimate in customization for their mechanical keyboard, whether they want a full-sized model with a numpad or a tenkeyless model, we have to extend a hand to WASD Keyboards (shown in the title photo), who earned praise in the nominations specifically for their tenkeyless model. They also offer a wide variety of other mechanical models that can be customized with whatever switches you prefer; browns, blues, reds, blacks, and clears. You can even get a key switch sampler pack from them to try out each type of switch before you buy a keyboard so you know what you’re getting into. Then, come back and use their customization tool to build the keyboard—keycaps and all—that’s perfect for you.

A few others that we love here at Lifehacker but didn’t pick up the nominations to make the top five (or really the honorable mentions) that we think you should consider if you’re in the market: The Corsair Vengeance K95 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard is a brilliant option if you’re a PC gamer looking for a high quality, well-built mechanical packing Cherry MX Red switches. It’s $150 at Amazon. Also, the Monoprice 9433 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard is a solid option for gamers on a budget, since it’s only about $50 and packs Cherry MX Blue switches.

Have something to say about one of the contenders? Want to make the case for your personal favorite, even if it wasn’t included in the list? Remember, the top five are based on your most popular nominations from the call for contenders thread from earlier in the week. Don’t just complain about the top five, let us know what your preferred alternative is—and make your case for it—in the discussions below.

The Hive Five is based on reader nominations. As with most Hive Five posts, if your favorite was left out, it didn’t get the nominations required in the call for contenders post to make the top five. We understand it’s a bit of a popularity contest. Have a suggestion for the Hive Five? Send us an email at tips+hivefive@lifehacker.com!

Photos by Robert Freiberger and Blake Patterson.

Five Best Mechanical Keyboards

Five Best Mechanical Keyboards

Not all keyboards are alike, and not all keyboards cater to the same types of users. Mechanical keyboards—or keyboard with individual switches under each key—have exploded in popularity recently, and for good reason. This week we’re going to take a look at five of the best mechanical keyboards, based on your nominations.

Earlier in the week we asked you which mechanical keyboards you thought were the best, whether it was because of their switches, their added features, their bang for the buck, their overall typing comfort, or just their style and build quality.

You responded with way more keyboards than we have room to highlight, but here are the five that got the most nominations, in no particular order:

IBM Model M (and Variants)

Five Best Mechanical Keyboards

Ah, the IBM Model M – it’s the keyboard that started it all, and while it’s technically a buckling spring keyboard and not a mechanical in the way we’ve come to know mechanical keyboards, it’s all the same when you’re talking about keyboards that set themselves apart from the usual. If you have an old Model M in the back of your closet or an old one you’ve modded to use with modern PCs, enjoy it—they’re tanks, and won’t give up on you anytime soon. If you want one for yourself, you can still get them from Unicomp for around $80, depending on the model you choose. They’ll all come with buckling springs beneath each key, and your choice of connector to your computer. They’re even cross-platform, so you can use it with whatever computer you own.

The IBM Model M has been in production for decades, and many of you nominated the original Model M along with a number of variants that offer different quirks and features suited to your typing style. If it’s too big for you, try the IBM 5150, which also picked up a few nominations in the call for contenders thread. Whether you remember the old days of computing and miss the clack-clack of those old keyboards, or you’re interested in mechanicals for other reasons like ergonomics and tactile feel, you’d do yourself a favor by checking out the keyboards that started it all.


Das Keyboard Ultimate Model S

Five Best Mechanical Keyboards

Das Keyboard has been in the mechanical business for a long time—way before the current rise in popularity. For that reason, they’ve had time to refine their keyboards, stick to what works, incorporate new switch types and introduce models that work for more people, and overall just make really sleek looking, highly functional keyboards. There was a lot of love for the Das Keyboard Ultimate in the call for contenders thread, and as someone who’s used it myself, I can understand why. It’s a tank that’s designed for over 50 million keystrokes, packs a 2-port USB hub inside, features full N-key rollover (meaning pressing multiple keys at a time actually registers), and it’s available with your choice of Cherry MX Brown (quieter, softer) or MX Blue (louder, clicky) switches. You can pick one up direct from Das Keyboard for $139, or grab one at Amazon for a slight price break, around $130 depending on the switches you pick.

Of course, the Ultimate is actually a label-less keyboard, meaning the keys don’t have inscriptions on them. You’d better be good at touch-typing to use it, because you won’t be looking at your fingers. If you want your keys labeled, check out Das Keyboard’s other models, specifically the Professional (also available for Mac, although technically they all work on all platforms). The keys are labeled, you can choose between Cherry MX Brown (quieter, softer), MX Blue (louder, clicky), or MX Red (clicky, louder but not as loud as the Blues), and the keyboard sports media controls on the function keys, and more. Same price too—$139 direct, a few bucks off at Amazon.


Cooler Master Storm QuickFire

Five Best Mechanical Keyboards

The Cooler Master Storm QuickFire family of mechanicals are well regarded by gamers, and our own Whitson Gordon had one and loved it. Your nominations specifically came in for the Cooler Master Storm QuickFire Rapid, a tenkeyless model with Cherry MX Blue switches (although there’s a new model with Cherry MX Green switches), a little quieter than some of the ones that ship with MX Red switches, and space-saving since you don’t have the numberpad on the right side of the keyboard. Of course, if you prefer different switches, or you want the numberpad, you have plenty of options in the same family, including the full LED backlit QuickFire Ultimate that’s available with MX Blues, Browns, or Reds, whichever you prefer, and the unassuming QuickFire Pro, available with MX Brown, Black, and Red switches.

All on all though, the QuickFire line is known for being functional, affordable (the Rapid series is around $75-$80 at Amazon, depending on the switches you choose, and the Ultimate is $109 at Amazon with your choice of switches or backlighting), and rock solid. You get incredible flexibility in switch types (as you can see), backlighting options, full N-Key rollover, auto-disabling of the Windows key while gaming, removable braided USB cables, and more. Those of you who nominated it praised it for being a solid, affordable, and flexible entry-level option that’ll provide huge bang for your buck, regardless of what you plan to do with it—writing, gaming, working, coding, whatever.


Ducky Shine 2/Shine 3

Five Best Mechanical Keyboards

The Ducky Shine line was a bit of a sleeper hit in the call for contenders thread. Ducky, much like Filco, has a bit of a reputation for making incredibly high-quality mechanical keyboards that are sturdy and long-lasting without being bricks on your desk. They’re beautifully crafted, and generally targeted towards enthusiasts, keyboard geeks, coders and developers, and writers—people who live and die by their computers. The Shine 2 and the Shine 3 are no exception. The Shine series is one of the greats, available with your color choice of Cherry MX switches, and if you want one you’ll have to order from someone with stock or have them imported from Taiwan. The Shine 2 is tough to find at this point, and MechanicalKeyboards.com says they’re discontinued. If you do find one, expect to spend around $150 for it. However, the Ducky Shine 3 is widely available, over at MechanicalKeyboards.com for between $130 and $150 depending on the backlight color you choose, and the switch you choose.

That’s one of the beautiful things about the Ducky Shine series—not only can you customize the switches, you can customize the backlighting. You get all the great features of a good mechanical too: Full N-key rollover, reactive lighting to the ambient light in the room, a beautiful matte finish, and customizable backlighting profiles even on the same keyboard so you can set certain keys and areas to light up while the rest are dark, whichever you like. Those of you who praised the Ducky Shine series pointed to its heavy duty case and overall durability without being a massive, hulking keyboard, and the fact that it comes with two space bars—a flashy one with the logo on it, and a flat black one if you don’t like the default. If you can find one, it’s a solid keyboard that will stand the test of time.


Razer BlackWidow Ultimate

Five Best Mechanical Keyboards

Razer is pretty proud of its gaming cred, and while not all of its keyboards are mechanicals, the BlackWidow Ultimate and the BlackWidow Ultimate Stealth both are. They’re both $139 direct ($111 at Amazon). The Ultimate packs Cherry MX Blue switches, and the Ultimate Stealth packs the quieter Cherry MX Brown switches—Razer has a whole page dedicated to its switch selection options that makes for good reading if you’re curious what types of switches sound like what, which are louder, which are quieter, and which keyboards in their lineup have which features.

The BlackWidow Ultimate however is a full-sized mechanical with programmable keys on the side, individual-key LED backlighting with adjustable brightness, media controls on the function keys, a USB port on the side with USB passthrough along its braided cables, audio passthrough and headphone/microphone jacks on the keyboard, on-the-fly macro recording, and more. The BlackWidow Ultimate is a pretty solid keyboard, a bit of a tank, and while the keys are satisfyingly clicky, even the MX Blues aren’t horribly loud. Still, those of you who nominated it praised it for its heft, tactile feel, and build quality. Its price isn’t too shabby either, and since Razer updates the model on an annual basis, if you don’t like the color of the backlighting or the features in the keyboard, just wait a year—they may address your particular concern with it in the next model.


There you have it, those are your top five nominees! Seriously—there were so many great nominees that now’s a good time to go back to the call for contenders if you don’t see your favorite here. Still, we have honorable mentions listed below. Before that though, it’s time to put them to a vote to determine the Lifehacker community favorite:

Honorable mentions this week go out to the Rosewill RK-9000, an affordable (around $80 at Amazon depending on the switches you get) mechanical keyboard available with Cherry MX Blue, Red, Black, or Brown switches that we highlighted in our guide to mechanical keyboards. It earned more than a few votes from those of you looking for a simple mechanical model without a ton of bells and whistles that’s not necessarily focused on gaming, and still rocks a full numberpad. I’ve had the opportunity personally to play with the RK-9000, and it’s a great mechanical keyboard.

Another honorable mention this week goes out to the new Logitech G710+ Mechanical Keyboard for Gaming. It’s Logitech’s first mechanical keyboard, and it’s come remarkably well regarded. Logitech knows a thing or two about gaming keyboards, and this model sports Cherry MX Brown switches (with individual O-ring noise dampeners) that are quiet enough to not wake the house, but still have a firm clicky feel that you’ll love, especially if you’re a PC gamer. It sports dual-zone backlighting, programmable macro keys, a detachable wrist-rest, and more. It’s not terribly cheap though: it retails for $150 direct.

Finally, for those folks who want the ultimate in customization for their mechanical keyboard, whether they want a full-sized model with a numpad or a tenkeyless model, we have to extend a hand to WASD Keyboards (shown in the title photo), who earned praise in the nominations specifically for their tenkeyless model. They also offer a wide variety of other mechanical models that can be customized with whatever switches you prefer; browns, blues, reds, blacks, and clears. You can even get a key switch sampler pack from them to try out each type of switch before you buy a keyboard so you know what you’re getting into. Then, come back and use their customization tool to build the keyboard—keycaps and all—that’s perfect for you.

A few others that we love here at Lifehacker but didn’t pick up the nominations to make the top five (or really the honorable mentions) that we think you should consider if you’re in the market: The Corsair Vengeance K95 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard is a brilliant option if you’re a PC gamer looking for a high quality, well-built mechanical packing Cherry MX Red switches. It’s $150 at Amazon. Also, the Monoprice 9433 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard is a solid option for gamers on a budget, since it’s only about $50 and packs Cherry MX Blue switches.

Have something to say about one of the contenders? Want to make the case for your personal favorite, even if it wasn’t included in the list? Remember, the top five are based on your most popular nominations from the call for contenders thread from earlier in the week. Don’t just complain about the top five, let us know what your preferred alternative is—and make your case for it—in the discussions below.

The Hive Five is based on reader nominations. As with most Hive Five posts, if your favorite was left out, it didn’t get the nominations required in the call for contenders post to make the top five. We understand it’s a bit of a popularity contest. Have a suggestion for the Hive Five? Send us an email at tips+hivefive@lifehacker.com!

Photos by Robert Freiberger and Blake Patterson.

Five Best Mechanical Keyboards

Five Best Mechanical Keyboards

Not all keyboards are alike, and not all keyboards cater to the same types of users. Mechanical keyboards—or keyboard with individual switches under each key—have exploded in popularity recently, and for good reason. This week we’re going to take a look at five of the best mechanical keyboards, based on your nominations.

Earlier in the week we asked you which mechanical keyboards you thought were the best, whether it was because of their switches, their added features, their bang for the buck, their overall typing comfort, or just their style and build quality.

You responded with way more keyboards than we have room to highlight, but here are the five that got the most nominations, in no particular order:

IBM Model M (and Variants)

Five Best Mechanical Keyboards

Ah, the IBM Model M – it’s the keyboard that started it all, and while it’s technically a buckling spring keyboard and not a mechanical in the way we’ve come to know mechanical keyboards, it’s all the same when you’re talking about keyboards that set themselves apart from the usual. If you have an old Model M in the back of your closet or an old one you’ve modded to use with modern PCs, enjoy it—they’re tanks, and won’t give up on you anytime soon. If you want one for yourself, you can still get them from Unicomp for around $80, depending on the model you choose. They’ll all come with buckling springs beneath each key, and your choice of connector to your computer. They’re even cross-platform, so you can use it with whatever computer you own.

The IBM Model M has been in production for decades, and many of you nominated the original Model M along with a number of variants that offer different quirks and features suited to your typing style. If it’s too big for you, try the IBM 5150, which also picked up a few nominations in the call for contenders thread. Whether you remember the old days of computing and miss the clack-clack of those old keyboards, or you’re interested in mechanicals for other reasons like ergonomics and tactile feel, you’d do yourself a favor by checking out the keyboards that started it all.


Das Keyboard Ultimate Model S

Five Best Mechanical Keyboards

Das Keyboard has been in the mechanical business for a long time—way before the current rise in popularity. For that reason, they’ve had time to refine their keyboards, stick to what works, incorporate new switch types and introduce models that work for more people, and overall just make really sleek looking, highly functional keyboards. There was a lot of love for the Das Keyboard Ultimate in the call for contenders thread, and as someone who’s used it myself, I can understand why. It’s a tank that’s designed for over 50 million keystrokes, packs a 2-port USB hub inside, features full N-key rollover (meaning pressing multiple keys at a time actually registers), and it’s available with your choice of Cherry MX Brown (quieter, softer) or MX Blue (louder, clicky) switches. You can pick one up direct from Das Keyboard for $139, or grab one at Amazon for a slight price break, around $130 depending on the switches you pick.

Of course, the Ultimate is actually a label-less keyboard, meaning the keys don’t have inscriptions on them. You’d better be good at touch-typing to use it, because you won’t be looking at your fingers. If you want your keys labeled, check out Das Keyboard’s other models, specifically the Professional (also available for Mac, although technically they all work on all platforms). The keys are labeled, you can choose between Cherry MX Brown (quieter, softer), MX Blue (louder, clicky), or MX Red (quieter but still tactile), and the keyboard sports media controls on the function keys, and more. Same price too—$139 direct, a few bucks off at Amazon.


Cooler Master Storm QuickFire

Five Best Mechanical Keyboards

The Cooler Master Storm QuickFire family of mechanicals are well regarded by gamers, and our own Whitson Gordon had one and loved it. Your nominations specifically came in for the Cooler Master Storm QuickFire Rapid, a tenkeyless model with Cherry MX Blue switches (although there’s a new model with Cherry MX Green switches) that’s space-saving since you don’t have the numberpad on the right side of the keyboard. Of course, if you prefer different switches, or you want the numberpad, you have plenty of options in the same family, including the full LED backlit QuickFire Ultimate that’s available with MX Blues, Browns, or Reds, whichever you prefer, and the unassuming QuickFire Pro, available with MX Brown, Black, and Red switches.

All on all though, the QuickFire line is known for being functional, affordable (the Rapid series is around $75-$80 at Amazon, depending on the switches you choose, and the Ultimate is $109 at Amazon with your choice of switches or backlighting), and rock solid. You get incredible flexibility in switch types (as you can see), backlighting options, full N-Key rollover, auto-disabling of the Windows key while gaming, removable braided USB cables, and more. Those of you who nominated it praised it for being a solid, affordable, and flexible entry-level option that’ll provide huge bang for your buck, regardless of what you plan to do with it—writing, gaming, working, coding, whatever.


Ducky Shine 2/Shine 3

Five Best Mechanical Keyboards

The Ducky Shine line was a bit of a sleeper hit in the call for contenders thread. Ducky, much like Filco, has a bit of a reputation for making incredibly high-quality mechanical keyboards that are sturdy and long-lasting without being bricks on your desk. They’re beautifully crafted, and generally targeted towards enthusiasts, keyboard geeks, coders and developers, and writers—people who live and die by their computers. The Shine 2 and the Shine 3 are no exception. The Shine series is one of the greats, available with your color choice of Cherry MX switches, and if you want one you’ll have to order from someone with stock or have them imported from Taiwan. The Shine 2 is tough to find at this point, and MechanicalKeyboards.com says they’re discontinued. If you do find one, expect to spend around $150 for it. However, the Ducky Shine 3 is widely available, over at MechanicalKeyboards.com for between $130 and $150 depending on the backlight color you choose, and the switch you choose.

That’s one of the beautiful things about the Ducky Shine series—not only can you customize the switches, you can customize the backlighting. You get all the great features of a good mechanical too: Full N-key rollover, reactive lighting to the ambient light in the room, a beautiful matte finish, and customizable backlighting profiles even on the same keyboard so you can set certain keys and areas to light up while the rest are dark, whichever you like. Those of you who praised the Ducky Shine series pointed to its heavy duty case and overall durability without being a massive, hulking keyboard, and the fact that it comes with two space bars—a flashy one with the logo on it, and a flat black one if you don’t like the default. If you can find one, it’s a solid keyboard that will stand the test of time.


Razer BlackWidow Ultimate

Five Best Mechanical Keyboards

Razer is pretty proud of its gaming cred, and while not all of its keyboards are mechanicals, the BlackWidow Ultimate and the BlackWidow Ultimate Stealth both are. They’re both $139 direct ($111 at Amazon). The Ultimate packs Cherry MX Blue switches, and the Ultimate Stealth packs the quieter Cherry MX Brown switches—Razer has a whole page dedicated to its switch selection options that makes for good reading if you’re curious what types of switches sound like what, which are louder, which are quieter, and which keyboards in their lineup have which features.

The BlackWidow Ultimate however is a full-sized mechanical with programmable keys on the side, individual-key LED backlighting with adjustable brightness, media controls on the function keys, a USB port on the side with USB passthrough along its braided cables, audio passthrough and headphone/microphone jacks on the keyboard, on-the-fly macro recording, and more. The BlackWidow Ultimate is a pretty solid keyboard, a bit of a tank, and while the keys are satisfyingly clicky, even the MX Blues aren’t horribly loud. Still, those of you who nominated it praised it for its heft, tactile feel, and build quality. Its price isn’t too shabby either, and since Razer updates the model on an annual basis, if you don’t like the color of the backlighting or the features in the keyboard, just wait a year—they may address your particular concern with it in the next model.


There you have it, those are your top five nominees! Seriously—there were so many great nominees that now’s a good time to go back to the call for contenders if you don’t see your favorite here. Still, we have honorable mentions listed below. Before that though, it’s time to put them to a vote to determine the Lifehacker community favorite:

Honorable mentions this week go out to the Rosewill RK-9000, an affordable (around $80 at Amazon depending on the switches you get) mechanical keyboard available with Cherry MX Blue, Red, Black, or Brown switches that we highlighted in our guide to mechanical keyboards. It earned more than a few votes from those of you looking for a simple mechanical model without a ton of bells and whistles that’s not necessarily focused on gaming, and still rocks a full numberpad. I’ve had the opportunity personally to play with the RK-9000, and it’s a great mechanical keyboard.

Another honorable mention this week goes out to the new Logitech G710+ Mechanical Keyboard for Gaming. It’s Logitech’s first mechanical keyboard, and it’s come remarkably well regarded. Logitech knows a thing or two about gaming keyboards, and this model sports Cherry MX Brown switches (with individual O-ring noise dampeners) that are quiet enough to not wake the house, but still have a firm clicky feel that you’ll love, especially if you’re a PC gamer. It sports dual-zone backlighting, programmable macro keys, a detachable wrist-rest, and more. It’s not terribly cheap though: it retails for $150 direct.

Finally, for those folks who want the ultimate in customization for their mechanical keyboard, whether they want a full-sized model with a numpad or a tenkeyless model, we have to extend a hand to WASD Keyboards (shown in the title photo), who earned praise in the nominations specifically for their tenkeyless model. They also offer a wide variety of other mechanical models that can be customized with whatever switches you prefer; browns, blues, reds, blacks, and clears. You can even get a key switch sampler pack from them to try out each type of switch before you buy a keyboard so you know what you’re getting into. Then, come back and use their customization tool to build the keyboard—keycaps and all—that’s perfect for you.

A few others that we love here at Lifehacker but didn’t pick up the nominations to make the top five (or really the honorable mentions) that we think you should consider if you’re in the market: The Corsair Vengeance K95 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard is a brilliant option if you’re a PC gamer looking for a high quality, well-built mechanical packing Cherry MX Red switches. It’s $150 at Amazon. Also, the Monoprice 9433 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard is a solid option for gamers on a budget, since it’s only about $50 and packs Cherry MX Blue switches.

Have something to say about one of the contenders? Want to make the case for your personal favorite, even if it wasn’t included in the list? Remember, the top five are based on your most popular nominations from the call for contenders thread from earlier in the week. Don’t just complain about the top five, let us know what your preferred alternative is—and make your case for it—in the discussions below.

The Hive Five is based on reader nominations. As with most Hive Five posts, if your favorite was left out, it didn’t get the nominations required in the call for contenders post to make the top five. We understand it’s a bit of a popularity contest. Have a suggestion for the Hive Five? Send us an email at tips+hivefive@lifehacker.com!

Photos by Robert Freiberger and Blake Patterson.

Mechanical Keyboards, Bad Bosses, and Saving Money on Computer Parts

This week on the podcast we’re talking about the noisy glory of mechanical keyboards, detecting a bad boss before you take a job, and saving the most money when building a computer. We’re also answering your questions about mobile app security, Android launchers, and building your own NAS.

How to Listen to This Week’s Episode

Here’s how you can listen to our episode:

News and Top Stories

  • Gmail for Android Adds New Inbox and Slide-Out Navigation: Gmail just got a new update with a brand new inbox featuring labels, contact images, and indicators for your promotional, update, and social notifications. Additionally, new slide-out navigation makes it easy to access whatever you need when you need it. The delete button has gone missing, but you can bring it back pretty easily.

  • LinkedIn Adds Two-Factor Authentication, Enable It Now: LinkedIn has just jumped on the (very important) two-factor authentication wagon. You can, and should, now enable this enhanced security layer for the professional network.

  • Feedly Will Support Syncing for Reeder, Press, and Other Apps: Feedly, our favorite Google Reader replacement, announced today that they’re opening their API to third party developers-including the people behind Reeder, Press, Newsify, and gReader-so you’ll be able to access your Feedly feeds in all of those apps and sync across devices long before Google Reader sunsets. They’re also planning on increasing their app’s speed, adding search, an extension-free webapp, and more. Head to Feedly’s blog post for more info.

  • Apple Updates OS X to 10.8.4, We Update Our Hackintosh Guide: Apple brought a lot of bug fixes with OS X 10.8.4, but also a couple of new (but minor) hackintosh issues. We’ve updated our guide to help get you through this latest update or start building a hackintosh from scratch with OS X 10.8.4.

  • How Can I Spot a Bad Boss Before I Take a Job? You just got a new job offer, and you’re excited to join the workforce again, but you don’t want to end up with a crazy boss. Before taking this new position, there are a few things you can do to find out if you’re in for trouble.

  • How to Choose the Best Mechanical Keyboard (and Why You’d Want To): Mechanical keyboards, or keyboards with full, individual switches under every key, have exploded in popularity recently, although the technology inside is as old as the keyboard itself. There’s really no substitute for that solid, clicking sensation under your fingers as you type, and the satisfying sound each key makes when you press it. However, choosing the best mechanical keyboard can be tricky, since there are dozens of models, different switch types, and more popping up every day. Here’s how to tell them all apart and pick the right one for you.

  • How to Save Money When You Build Your Own PC: Computers are expensive, and every dollar counts if you’re building one on a budget. If you pick the right parts, shop at the right stores, and use a few simple tricks, you can save quite a bit on that new PC.

Questions and Answers

  • How do I know apps aren’t stealing my login info when I login via Google, Facebook, or whatever? You can sometimes tell when an app uses OAuth, but if not you can just sign up with a Google (or whatever) account that you use for spam email (or one you don’t care about). If the app is legit, you’ll see it in your authorized apps settings in that account. If not, don’t trust that app. We’ve never actually heard of a mobile app trying to steal credentials this way, however, and we don’t think it’ll happen. Although not impossible to pull off, Apple and Google know a lot about developers through their developer accounts. There are much better password phishing strategies that involve less work and fewer risks.
  • I want to get a custom launcher for my non-rooted Android phone, but I feel like I’ll miss stuff from the OEM launcher. Any tips? Most launchers, such as NOVA, will handle all the features you want and you won’t miss much. Fortunately they’re free and you can try them out. If you don’t like a launcher, just switch back to the OEM one you’re used to. You don’t have to make a commitment unless you want a pro version of one of them.
  • I am attempting to build a NAS for myself, but I’m not really sure where to start. I have seen plenty of guides on how to create a desktop computer but very few on NAS. Do you have any suggestions on a place to start? Yes! Our NAS Building Guide and our Computer Building Guide (which actually shows a NAS being built as a demonstration).

Tips of the Week

Downloads of the Week

DOWNLOADSLIST

How Do I Submit a Question?

There are two ways to send in your question:

Please keep your questions as brief as possible. This means about 3-5 sentences for emails and 30-60 seconds for calls and videos. Your questions can be specific, but broader questions are generally better because they’ll apply to more people. For example, "how can I breathe new life into my old PDA?" is much better than "what can I do with an old HP iPAQ 210?" Either way, we look forward to hearing from you!

Mechanical Keyboards, Bad Bosses, and Saving Money on Computer Parts

This week on the podcast we’re talking about the noisy glory of mechanical keyboards, detecting a bad boss before you take a job, and saving the most money when building a computer. We’re also answering your questions about mobile app security, Android launchers, and building your own NAS.

How to Listen to This Week’s Episode

Here’s how you can listen to our episode:

News and Top Stories

  • Gmail for Android Adds New Inbox and Slide-Out Navigation: Gmail just got a new update with a brand new inbox featuring labels, contact images, and indicators for your promotional, update, and social notifications. Additionally, new slide-out navigation makes it easy to access whatever you need when you need it. The delete button has gone missing, but you can bring it back pretty easily.

  • LinkedIn Adds Two-Factor Authentication, Enable It Now: LinkedIn has just jumped on the (very important) two-factor authentication wagon. You can, and should, now enable this enhanced security layer for the professional network.

  • Feedly Will Support Syncing for Reeder, Press, and Other Apps: Feedly, our favorite Google Reader replacement, announced today that they’re opening their API to third party developers-including the people behind Reeder, Press, Newsify, and gReader-so you’ll be able to access your Feedly feeds in all of those apps and sync across devices long before Google Reader sunsets. They’re also planning on increasing their app’s speed, adding search, an extension-free webapp, and more. Head to Feedly’s blog post for more info.

  • Apple Updates OS X to 10.8.4, We Update Our Hackintosh Guide: Apple brought a lot of bug fixes with OS X 10.8.4, but also a couple of new (but minor) hackintosh issues. We’ve updated our guide to help get you through this latest update or start building a hackintosh from scratch with OS X 10.8.4.

  • How Can I Spot a Bad Boss Before I Take a Job? You just got a new job offer, and you’re excited to join the workforce again, but you don’t want to end up with a crazy boss. Before taking this new position, there are a few things you can do to find out if you’re in for trouble.

  • How to Choose the Best Mechanical Keyboard (and Why You’d Want To): Mechanical keyboards, or keyboards with full, individual switches under every key, have exploded in popularity recently, although the technology inside is as old as the keyboard itself. There’s really no substitute for that solid, clicking sensation under your fingers as you type, and the satisfying sound each key makes when you press it. However, choosing the best mechanical keyboard can be tricky, since there are dozens of models, different switch types, and more popping up every day. Here’s how to tell them all apart and pick the right one for you.

  • How to Save Money When You Build Your Own PC: Computers are expensive, and every dollar counts if you’re building one on a budget. If you pick the right parts, shop at the right stores, and use a few simple tricks, you can save quite a bit on that new PC.

Questions and Answers

  • How do I know apps aren’t stealing my login info when I login via Google, Facebook, or whatever? You can sometimes tell when an app uses OAuth, but if not you can just sign up with a Google (or whatever) account that you use for spam email (or one you don’t care about). If the app is legit, you’ll see it in your authorized apps settings in that account. If not, don’t trust that app. We’ve never actually heard of a mobile app trying to steal credentials this way, however, and we don’t think it’ll happen. Although not impossible to pull off, Apple and Google know a lot about developers through their developer accounts. There are much better password phishing strategies that involve less work and fewer risks.
  • I want to get a custom launcher for my non-rooted Android phone, but I feel like I’ll miss stuff from the OEM launcher. Any tips? Most launchers, such as NOVA, will handle all the features you want and you won’t miss much. Fortunately they’re free and you can try them out. If you don’t like a launcher, just switch back to the OEM one you’re used to. You don’t have to make a commitment unless you want a pro version of one of them.
  • I am attempting to build a NAS for myself, but I’m not really sure where to start. I have seen plenty of guides on how to create a desktop computer but very few on NAS. Do you have any suggestions on a place to start? Yes! Our NAS Building Guide and our Computer Building Guide (which actually shows a NAS being built as a demonstration).

Tips of the Week

Downloads of the Week

DOWNLOADSLIST

How Do I Submit a Question?

There are two ways to send in your question:

Please keep your questions as brief as possible. This means about 3-5 sentences for emails and 30-60 seconds for calls and videos. Your questions can be specific, but broader questions are generally better because they’ll apply to more people. For example, "how can I breathe new life into my old PDA?" is much better than "what can I do with an old HP iPAQ 210?" Either way, we look forward to hearing from you!

Mechanical Keyboards, Bad Bosses, and Saving Money on Computer Parts

This week on the podcast we’re talking about the noisy glory of mechanical keyboards, detecting a bad boss before you take a job, and saving the most money when building a computer. We’re also answering your questions about mobile app security, Android launchers, and building your own NAS.

How to Listen to This Week’s Episode

Here’s how you can listen to our episode:

News and Top Stories

  • Gmail for Android Adds New Inbox and Slide-Out Navigation: Gmail just got a new update with a brand new inbox featuring labels, contact images, and indicators for your promotional, update, and social notifications. Additionally, new slide-out navigation makes it easy to access whatever you need when you need it. The delete button has gone missing, but you can bring it back pretty easily.

  • LinkedIn Adds Two-Factor Authentication, Enable It Now: LinkedIn has just jumped on the (very important) two-factor authentication wagon. You can, and should, now enable this enhanced security layer for the professional network.

  • Feedly Will Support Syncing for Reeder, Press, and Other Apps: Feedly, our favorite Google Reader replacement, announced today that they’re opening their API to third party developers-including the people behind Reeder, Press, Newsify, and gReader-so you’ll be able to access your Feedly feeds in all of those apps and sync across devices long before Google Reader sunsets. They’re also planning on increasing their app’s speed, adding search, an extension-free webapp, and more. Head to Feedly’s blog post for more info.

  • Apple Updates OS X to 10.8.4, We Update Our Hackintosh Guide: Apple brought a lot of bug fixes with OS X 10.8.4, but also a couple of new (but minor) hackintosh issues. We’ve updated our guide to help get you through this latest update or start building a hackintosh from scratch with OS X 10.8.4.

  • How Can I Spot a Bad Boss Before I Take a Job? You just got a new job offer, and you’re excited to join the workforce again, but you don’t want to end up with a crazy boss. Before taking this new position, there are a few things you can do to find out if you’re in for trouble.

  • How to Choose the Best Mechanical Keyboard (and Why You’d Want To): Mechanical keyboards, or keyboards with full, individual switches under every key, have exploded in popularity recently, although the technology inside is as old as the keyboard itself. There’s really no substitute for that solid, clicking sensation under your fingers as you type, and the satisfying sound each key makes when you press it. However, choosing the best mechanical keyboard can be tricky, since there are dozens of models, different switch types, and more popping up every day. Here’s how to tell them all apart and pick the right one for you.

  • How to Save Money When You Build Your Own PC: Computers are expensive, and every dollar counts if you’re building one on a budget. If you pick the right parts, shop at the right stores, and use a few simple tricks, you can save quite a bit on that new PC.

Questions and Answers

  • How do I know apps aren’t stealing my login info when I login via Google, Facebook, or whatever? You can sometimes tell when an app uses OAuth, but if not you can just sign up with a Google (or whatever) account that you use for spam email (or one you don’t care about). If the app is legit, you’ll see it in your authorized apps settings in that account. If not, don’t trust that app. We’ve never actually heard of a mobile app trying to steal credentials this way, however, and we don’t think it’ll happen. Although not impossible to pull off, Apple and Google know a lot about developers through their developer accounts. There are much better password phishing strategies that involve less work and fewer risks.
  • I want to get a custom launcher for my non-rooted Android phone, but I feel like I’ll miss stuff from the OEM launcher. Any tips? Most launchers, such as NOVA, will handle all the features you want and you won’t miss much. Fortunately they’re free and you can try them out. If you don’t like a launcher, just switch back to the OEM one you’re used to. You don’t have to make a commitment unless you want a pro version of one of them.
  • I am attempting to build a NAS for myself, but I’m not really sure where to start. I have seen plenty of guides on how to create a desktop computer but very few on NAS. Do you have any suggestions on a place to start? Yes! Our NAS Building Guide and our Computer Building Guide (which actually shows a NAS being built as a demonstration).

Tips of the Week

Downloads of the Week

DOWNLOADSLIST

How Do I Submit a Question?

There are two ways to send in your question:

Please keep your questions as brief as possible. This means about 3-5 sentences for emails and 30-60 seconds for calls and videos. Your questions can be specific, but broader questions are generally better because they’ll apply to more people. For example, "how can I breathe new life into my old PDA?" is much better than "what can I do with an old HP iPAQ 210?" Either way, we look forward to hearing from you!