My Happy Hacking Keyboard Pro 2 review

A keyboard is something nearly everyone using a computer use, yet most of the people use the keyboard bundled with their computer. I was one of them, for the last years I used the keyboards Apple included with their macs.

Last month, after a period where I wrote at my mac for more than 5 hours a day I decided it was time to buy a “better” keyboard than my Apple Bluetooth keyboard.

After some searching on the web I found the Happy Hacking Keyboard Professional 2, it was the right size (I don’t like extended keyboards) and with a nice keyboard layout.

I bought mine on EliteKeyboards, you can also find it on Amazon (affiliate link).

The keyboard

Packaging and bundle

The keyboard arrives in a black box, the quality is not Apple-level but it’s still better than other companies’ boxes.

The box contains:

  • A manual written in japanese
  • The keyboard
  • The USB cable

After unboxing the keyboard you should customize the keys layout using the switches in the back, I choose to use the mac layout and to use the delete key as backspace.

How it feels

The HHKB is not very heavy but it feels very solid, I tried to apply force on the edges and it didn’t flex. The only thing that looks fragile are the switches on the back but it’s something you don’t touch very often, so you shouldn’t worry about them.

The keys are a pleasure to use, they are easy to activate and make a nice noise.
The keyboard does not feels like a mechanical keyboard, nor like a scissor-switch keyboard. It’s really hard to describe it and it’s something you should try for yourself.

The layout

The HHKB has a layout different from most other keyboards, it doesn’t have a caps-lock key and it has the Control key in its place.
Near the 1 key there is the Esc key, the numbers row is also the last row — to use the function keys you have to use the Fn key with a number key.
The Delete key is over the Enter key, it’s an unusual place but I like it, I use delete a lot more than \.
The HHKB doesn’t have the arrow keys, to use them you have to press Fn + the keys near enter, it takes only a couple of hours to get used to it.
I bought the blank version because I don’t use the QWERTY layout — I use Dvorak — and I found it’s very hard to press the correct number key, probably I only need some more experience. If you use QWERTY I think you should buy the labeled version.

Conclusion

The HHKB Pro 2 is the best keyboard I’ve ever used, but every review has to answer the question: “Is it really worth the €300 price tag?”.
I think that it’s a really tricky question and depends mainly from how much you can spend on it and how much you will use it.
A keyboard won’t make you a better programmer/gamer/writer, it can only make you time spent programming/gaming/writing more pleasant.

  • Ufo22940268

    Very good artical. I'd like to buy one. It's made for UNIX programmer.

  • Erik Potter

    It's worth every penny. I want another one. Beware the unmarked keys, they're a little hard when entering masked passwords and whatnot. The price of leetness

    • http://francesco-cek.com/ Francesco

      Indeed, when I have to enter numeric passwords(like the secret pin on my bank) I usually write it somewhere else and then cut-paste.

      But as time pass I'm getting better and better at it 🙂

  • rjrich

    Before trying the HHKB Pro 2 for myself, I thought that the seemingly strange layout and absence of dedicated arrow keys would be too difficult to learn. However, despite years of using a full-sized IBM Model M, I adjusted within the first few hours. I am now enjoying the elegant simplicity of this beautifully designed keyboard. I've posted a review here:
    http://deskthority.net/news-reviews-f4/finally-tried-the-hhkb-pro-2-a-reluctant-convert-t6553.html

  • http://aaroncalzado.com/ Aaron Calzado

    I know this post is a few years late, but how is the experience typing in Dvorak? How are you remapping your keys? Are all the other key layers messed up because of the key remapping?

    • http://francesco-cek.com/ Francesco

      Well, after all this years I still use it 😉
      I use the simple dvorak layout on both OS X and Linux (not the layout that leaves shortcuts as default), only difficulty is that some games don't work with dvorak so I have switch to the qwerty layout just to play (because I can't be bothered to remap all keys in-game, unless it's a game I plan to play for months).