8BitDo’s new IBM-like keyboard is all show but hits me in my mech heart

I love a good re-skin or fresh coat of paint, and I can be a sucker for a little nostalgia bait just like anyone else. But let’s not mince words here: there’s no way 8BitDo’s upcoming $100 M Edition of its Retro Mechanical Keyboard will stand up to the legendary IBM Model M keyboards of yore — not in sound, typing feel, or relative chonkiness. However, it certainly looks the business, especially with the slick new wireless numpad / calculator combo pad 8BitDo will sell alongside it for another $44.99.

Somebody tell 8BitDo it doesn’t need to write “Retro” on everything. The design speaks plenty.
Image: 8BitDo

The M Edition has the same exact specs as 8BitDo’s previous Retro Keyboards, right down to the top-mount internal design, hot-swap PCB, dual wireless / USB-C wired connectivity, and the included Kailh Box White V2 clicky switches. It’s even got the same big, customizable A and B macro buttons as the NES, Famicom, and Commodore 64 versions (albeit in more subdued colors) — the joyously oversized buttons my former colleague Jon Porter said “stole the show” from the keyboard when he featured them in our ongoing Button of the Month series.

What made the original Model M keyboards so special was their unique buckling spring mechanism, which made a loud and chunky sound with every keypress that was oh-so-pleasing to the ear (and the bane of many co-workers, roommates, and spouses). Any standard clicky Cherry-style switch, while still loud and fun, pales in comparison. 8BitDo demos this itself in its promo video for the M Edition, showing brief typing clips of an original Model M followed by the M Edition. I can appreciate that 8BitDo has no qualms with telling on itself here or trying to pretend the M Edition is anything more than a fun retro vibe.

Personally, I gave up on numpads when I fell in love with small-format mechanical keyboards. But I’m prepared to love again for some sweet calculator action.
Image: 8BitDo


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