Rating: ★★½☆☆

Pros:

  • Great feel, contoured keys, excellent feedback
  • Included USB ports and symbols are excellent

Cons:

  • Ridiculously loud
  • Caps lock is poorly designed
  • Expensive

As far as mechanical keyboards go, there is no better typing experience. Well, unless you want to go really old school with typewriters. Even then, most typists these days don’t have the stomach for a mechanical keyboard. They love the feel, but hate the noise. This dying, and nearly dead breed of keyboard, is barely a remnant in today’s keyboard marketplace.

So what about the Matias Tactile Pro 3?

Matias, well known for making mechanical keyboards specifically for Macs (which likewise work for PCs – this one was tested mostly on a PC), has come back with their acclaimed Tactile Pro with a new, updated version. The Tactile Pro 3 is the keyboard that makes you feel like a human being again, not just Data on a touchscreen.

Why? The buttons are real. They feel real, and they sound real. As a mechanical keyboard, typing on the Tactile Pro 3 feels like a dream. The keys give way and bounce back comfortably, much better than any other feedback design, even though they’ve closed ranks over the years. Each keypress has that resounding click, the one that can’t be imitated, the one that makes you know not just by the sense of touch, but by sound that you pressed the key.

This all, the exceptional typing experience, comes at a high price. At $150, you’re paying more than most gamers pay for a high-end keyboard and mouse. It’s not the most expensive keyboard on the market, but this price tag is nothing to snuff at. But perhaps the bigger price is the taxing sound pollution. At first the heavy sound will bring back warm memories of typing on an old IBM model M keyboard, but after a few hours it becomes painful to listen to. Writing this review and testing the keyboard, I often reverted to listening to loud music, often wearing headphones (Logitech’s G930’s, for obvious reasons).

More importantly, I’ve spent a lot of effort into protecting my hearing from loud noises, and typing too much on the Tactile Pro 3 actually hurts my ears. This starts to happen after about 20 minutes, though it doesn’t get unbearable…just annoying pain, like hearing a high-pitched but quiet whine, or a mild toothache. It’s not only the noise level, but the sharpness of the clicking that makes it so uncomfortable to listen through. As good as the typing experience is, it’s not even close to being worth it due to the noise. For me, this is a clear deal-breaker.

If, however, you’re older, a bit hard of hearing, listened to too much loud music as a child, partially (or fully) deaf, or in any other way hearing impaired, or if you use noise cancelling or sound-protected headphones regularly, then I highly recommend this keyboard.

Made for Mac but also functional on PCs, the Tactile Pro 3 has two secondary functions for every major key on the keyboard, all of which are accessible by holding down the option key, or the shift and option key while typing. While briefly testing on a Mac, these secondary functions proved useful. Unlike on a Windows machine, where most of these symbols have to be searched for or the alt code remembered (does anyone even use those anymore?), these symbols are all readily available. Just a quick look on the keyboard and bam, whatever symbol you need is typed out in seconds.


The contoured keys feel great

Matias planned well, including three USB 2.0 ports on the keyboard, which has proven on several occasions during testing to be excellent. My desktop switches between 4-8 simultaneous USB connections at a time, thanks to a huge influx of hardware peripherals and external devices to test, like cameras and phones. Having three additional ports, even if they aren’t full-speed (especially when connecting multiple devices simultaneously), is great.

One particular annoyance with the Tactile Pro 3 is its caps lock key. As someone who never uses the shift key (I know there are others out there), I instead use the caps lock for uppercase. The problem? It isn’t tactile like the rest of the keyboard. While all of the keys feel mechanical, this one feels rubber…and not just rubber, but extremely uncomfortable. The problem with it is the built-in light, which the numlock key has an identical problem with. My typing is seriously diminished whenever a capital letter is required because the caps lock is just so different from the rest of the keys, though I don’t expect most users to find this to be problematic.

What it really comes down to for the Matias Tactile Pro 3 is noise disruption. If you’re OK with sharp sounds, then there is little wrong with this board save for a few annoyances. Besides that, and the steep price, the Tactile Pro 3 is a great keyboard, and excellent to type on, save for the caps lock. Frankly there’s plenty to hold it back, but the typing experience is still one of the best you can find on any keyboard out today.










James Pikover

 
Spawned in the horrendous heat of a Los Angeles winter, James was born with an incessant need to press buttons. Whether it was the car radio, doorbells on Halloween or lights, James pushed, pressed and prodded every button. No elevator was left unscathed, no building intercom was left un-rung, and no person he’s known has been left un-annoyed.