When comparing Topre Realforce 104UB vs CODE Keyboard, the Slant community recommends CODE Keyboard for most people. In the question“What are the best keyboards for programming?” CODE Keyboard is ranked 1st while Topre Realforce 104UB is ranked 14th. The most important reason people chose CODE Keyboard is:
The CODE keyboard uses Cherry MX mechanical key switches, regarded as top-quality switches. They have impressive levels of durability and consistently pass, with high marks, all the performance tests they are subjected to. There are 4 kinds to choose from: Blue, Brown, Green or Clear. The MX Blues are the most common kind. They are responsive, but soft, and quite noisy. The MX Browns feel similar to the Blues, but slightly less noisy. The MX Greens are often described as heavy Blue switches. They still make the click sound and offer tactile feedback, however the activation force is 80g (for the Blue switches, it's 50g). The MX Clear switches have medium stiffness and a tactile response but are non-clicky (similar to Brown switches but heavier and with a greater tactile feedback). It's characteristics make it fantastic for general typing in office environments.
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Pro Uses Topre key switches
Topre switches are a mix between mechanical switches and rubber dome switches. They have mechanical components, however they are covered beneath a rubber dome which protects the switch. They bring a mechanical feel, and mix it with the durability of a rubber dome switch.
Pro Variable key weights
Variable weights under each specific groups of keys was done in a bid to prevent RSI (repetitive strain injury). For instance, the groups of keys that the pinky finger hits are much lighter/softer than the rest of the groups of keys that are pressed by the rest of the fingers. Variable weights are achieved by having either heavier or lighter rubber domes. Whilst this idea is very useful for normal typing, for gaming it's not so great: for instance, when dealing with First Person Shooter games that requires WASD keys, those sets of keys feel very light when fingers other than the pinky are used to actuate them.
Pro PBT keycaps
PBT (polybutylene terephthalate) keycaps last longer than other keycap materials, and are more durable. They are more expensive than ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene), which is why they are less commonly found.
Pro Silenced option are available
Silenced Topre switches are designed for those who do not particularly like the sound of keyboards being tapped on or for those who may be concern over disturbing others when using a noisy keyboard. Silencing is done mainly by placing a material that absorbs the sound of the slider when it makes contact with the slider housing. This thereby prevents excessive noise when the key has been released after it has been actuated. The overall effect of a silenced Topre is quite astounding as it may give the impression one is on a cheap keyboard (obviously, the reality is actually the opposite).
Pro Available with 4 different kinds of Cherry MX switches
The CODE keyboard uses Cherry MX mechanical key switches, regarded as top-quality switches. They have impressive levels of durability and consistently pass, with high marks, all the performance tests they are subjected to.
There are 4 kinds to choose from: Blue, Brown, Green or Clear. The MX Blues are the most common kind. They are responsive, but soft, and quite noisy. The MX Browns feel similar to the Blues, but slightly less noisy. The MX Greens are often described as heavy Blue switches. They still make the click sound and offer tactile feedback, however the activation force is 80g (for the Blue switches, it's 50g). The MX Clear switches have medium stiffness and a tactile response but are non-clicky (similar to Brown switches but heavier and with a greater tactile feedback). It's characteristics make it fantastic for general typing in office environments.
Pro Full white backlighting
The CODE keyboard comes with backlighting that feels similar to the one found on Apple products. You can pick from seven brightness levels and the onboard memory saves your lighting preferences. They also have gone to a lot of trouble getting the backlighting even by painting the backplate white and positioning the key symbols just right.
Pro Solid construction
This keyboard is built solidly, using sturdy parts made of robust materials. It's mounted on a solid steel backplate, weighs over 2 pounds and has a dual layer PCB board. In this aspect, it’s comparable to other keyboards renowned for their build quality, such as those from the Ducky series.
Pro Minimalistic design
The CODE keyboard has a textured finish that resists fingerprints and scratches. It has no stickers or logos and the back-lighting is very clean and elegant.
Pro Removable/replaceable USB cable
Many keyboards come with a permanently attached cable, meaning that if it gets damaged, you need to get it fixed or replace the whole board. CODE keyboards come with removable cables, which means they're easy to replace if broken. This also has the added benefit of allowing for more customization options: braided cables, different coloured cables, or longer/shorter cables for different setups without having excess cables hanging around.
Pro DIP-Switches allow quickly disabling or switching certain keys and changing the layout completely
DIP-switches on the back of the keyboard can be used to disable the Windows key, switch Caps Lock with Ctrl, swap Alt with Command (if you're on macOS), and change to QWERTY, Dvorak, or Colemak layouts.
Pro Available with or without a numeric keypad
Users can choose between versions that have and don't have a numeric keypad.
Pro Saves time with complex key combos
Key combos can be configured, supporting combinations of up to six keys. However, Ctrl, Alt and Shift don't count to this total. As a result, using these keys actually increases the combo key limit to nine.
Pro Media control
Even though there aren't any dedicated media keys, the navigation cluster has secondary media control functions. To access these functions, the keys should be pressed in combination with the Fn key.
Pro Consistent design
FN labels are on the front of the keycaps (i.e. media labels). This improves the user experience.
A consistent design is an outstanding aspect in this keyboard.
Pro Very portable
This keyboard’s detachable cable, dimensions, and weight make it extremely easy to carry around.
Con Generally not cheap
When the keyboard is not sourced directly from Japan the price may vary (usually higher). At the same time, sourcing directly from Japan may only save one a couple of dollars here and there (after including the forwarding/proxy costs). Ideally, the best solution is to shop around and do one's homework, to see what is more viable in the long run.
Con Lack of customisation available
As is the case with virtually every Topre based keyboard, the 104UB comes with the disadvantage of lacking customisation options. This is mitigated by the fact Realforce generally sells a wide range of coloured keycaps for their keyboards.
Con Keys can occassionally chatter
It's pretty rare (maybe once every 3 months), but Realforce keyboard keys can "chatter" (at least on the Realforce 87u and 103u keyboards). The key is not physically stuck in the keydown position, but nevertheless, the input will continuously and endlessly repeat as if the key was being held down. Further keyboard input is ignored until you unplug the USB cable. It's an uncommon annoyance, however an annoyance nonetheless.
Compared to alternatives which offer RGB lighting, USB passthrough or other features, this keyboard is pretty expensive.
Con Sculpted keys make switching to Dvorak difficult
Dvorak is a keyboard layout that's an alternative to the commonly used QWERTY layout. While QWERTY was designed in the early days of typing, Dvorak is a more comfortable, modern layout which is technically superior. It is designed to have more flow than QWERTY, where the left hand does most of the work. Here, keys are strategically placed to spread the typing out more evenly. This creates better flow (left hand types a letter, then the right hand, then back to left and so on). In this keyboad, the keycaps are sculpted for the QWERTY layout, which means that, when you switch the keys around, each of the keys is at a slightly different angle than the one next to it.
Con Spare parts and keycap sets can only be obtained from third parties
The manufacturer doesn’t sell spare parts or keycap sets, so if users want to change the layout, they have to get these components from a third party.
Con Too small for some, particularly those with big hands
This keyboard's small size may prove difficult for some people to get accustomed to.
Con It's hard to source the MX Clear version
The version of the CODE keyboard that comes with the MX Clear switches is constantly out of stock.
Con No wireless connection
CODE keyboards connect via USB. No Bluetooth or any other form of wireless connection is available.