I've been a fan of mechanical keyboards for many years now, and let me tell you, when the time comes to buy a new keyboard, finding one that suits my needs is a nightmare.
This is my list of requirements:
I assure you, there isn't a single keyboard out there that fits all these requirements.
While I was looking for a new keyboard, the CODE Keyboard V2 from WASD Keyboards caught my attention, and seemed to have all of those features except the italian layout so I decided to give it a try. I went for the UK version with Cherry MX Clear switches.
The CODE keyboard comes at a pretty high price of $155, plus $55 for shipping it to Italy, and another €43 for customs. In the end, I ended up paying around €225 for this keyboard. Was it worth it? Let's find out.
We're greeted with a minimalistic box, slightly pretentious. Let's open it up.
Inside the box we find the keyboard itself, a keycap puller, a cable tie, an USB to PS/2 adapter, and a WASD Keyboards sticker.
The build quality seems to be pretty good. The keyboard is almost as heavy as my Model M, it doesn't bend, and it doesn't use that rubberised plastic that turns to sticky goo after a few years, which is unforunately what happened to my previous keyboard.
On the back of the keyboard we have a detachable Micro-USB cable. The included cable is ok, but I'll probably replace it with a braided cable for a more premium look.
Also on the back we have 2 pretty sturdy feet and rubber pads to prevent slipping. They do their job pretty well and the keyboard doesn't move at all while typing.
Finally, we have 6 dip switches to change some of the settings of the keyboard. The settings are explained in the tiny user guide that comes with the keyboard.
I chose the version with MX Clear switches. They're heavy and tactile, not very noisy (but still too noisy to use in an office environment).
WASD Keyboards should really consider offering more options for the switches (at the time of purchase I could only choose between MX Blue and MX Clear, and I'm not particularly fond of either), and more keycap layouts.
Here's a sample of how they sounds like:
After a few days of typing, I really wish they made this keyboard with MX Black switches. I like heavy switches but the tactile bump on these MX Clear switches really takes a while to get used to; my first impression was "it feels like typing on a 20 year old membrane keyboard, stiff and bumpy". I'm still not sure whether I like them or not, but I type pretty heavily so I'll probably get used to it.
The keycaps that come with this keyboard are made of light white translucent ABS plastic, with a black coating. They feel good but not particularly high quality. I thought about changing them and buying a set with the italian layout, but it seems to be impossible to find an italian set for backlit keyboards.
The white backlight has 7 levels of brightness, and the keyboard stores which preset you selected even if you unplug it, which is good.
Personally, I keep it on the lowest setting, which is quite bright at night and still visible during the day. The highest level is insanely bright. These 2 pictures show the lowest and highest level of backlight:
And now we get to one thing that I really don't like about this keyboard: the Fn key is shared with the Menu key. This is fairly common these days, and there's a switch (dip 6) that lets you choose betweek Fn and Menu key, but the problem is that if the key is assigned to Fn, I can't use the Menu key, and I use it a lot, and if it's assigned to the Menu key, I can't use the media keys, and I also use them a lot. The keyboard has 2 Windows keys, they could -and should- have replaced the right Windows key with the Fn key. I don't know what they were thinking. What's worse is that I couldn't see it from the picture on their website when I bought it, if I had known, I wouldn't have bought it.
I worked around this problem by using an open source tool called SharpKeys, and I reassigned the right Windows key to the Menu key. That way, I can keep the Menu key assigned to Fn and use the right Windows key as a Menu key. Either way, what the hell were they thinking...
All things considered, it's not a bad keyboard, but we need to consider the high price tag, especially outside of the US, and the dumb decision they made with the Fn/Menu key. I wouldn't buy it again.
I can't give it more than a 7/10 unforunately.
Purchase link: CODE Keyboard V2 on WASD Keyboards