The Drop CTRL Mechanical Keyboard Hands-On Experience
Think about the way you’d go about buying a new car. You’d put some thought into it, right?
Fuel efficiency, safety rating, cool factor … it doesn’t matter if you only drive around town or you’re planning your next cross-country road trip – if you’re going to use it a lot, you put a lot of thought into what makes the most sense for your specific needs. It just makes sense.
What about your keyboard? Depending on your day-to-day, you might spend more time tapping at your desktop than you would behind the wheel.
Sure, it’s a smaller purchase with fewer considerations, but ultimately, you deserve to get some enjoyment out of the tools of your trade.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t always make as much sense to us. Despite the amount of time we spend typing emails, writing code, designing, gaming, or searching through streaming services, the reality of what we ask out of our tech gear might not resonate as loud as, say, the $.099 toothbrush sitting in a cup on your sink that desperately needs replacing. (Replace that.)
So – a customizable keyboard? If you bought blue-light glasses over quarantine, you’re halfway there. You use your computer all the time. A good work-from-home setup is equal parts tricked out for efficiency and dolled up to make the responsibility feel more feasible.
But where does a keyboard play into the equation? Well, hear me out – whether you know it or not, there are options. And if you let yourself, you’ll have a good time figuring it out, too. I’d like to introduce you to Drop.
The Drop Difference
Drop is a leading force in the world of online communication – in part a forum and community of creators, do-ers, and bootstrappers that are as proud of the work they do as they are the equipment that gets them there, and in part the best-in-class resource for high-end, highly-customizable keyboards.
In 2019, Drop announced the biggest drop to date – their first stab at a mechanical keyboard of their own. Utilizing a deep understanding of both the technical specs and the needs of the digital community, Drop brought CTRL to life – a customizable, user-friendly keyboard that was prepared to meet the challenge of any user’s dreams.
I had never used a mechanical keyboard before making the jump to the CTRL keyboard I use now. Truthfully, I hadn’t put much thought into options outside of what either came with the computer or whatever was cheapest at the nearest tech retailer.
Personally, I’ve spent the last handful of years really dialing in an ethos when it comes to consuming clothing and other hard goods, but have dragged my feet in other categories. Tech felt like the right place to start, and Drop feels like the right first move to make in streamlining my technical investments.
The rest, as they say, was history. Drop’s options began to layer on top of options – tactical advantages per unique industries joined forces with colorway preferences, weight, and useability.
I mean, that’s REALLY cool, right? That’s the thing about this digital age – we’re connected in a different way than history has ever seen before. Drop has brought us together, found a common denominator, and created something that reminds us we’re not all that dissimilar while still honoring our unique, individual differences and preferences.
I have a deep appreciation for the ethos that Drop has adopted over the scaling of their brand. I don’t think we see many companies these days that manage to balance an up-curve of product offerings while maintaining the quality they were first known for.
I think that is, in part, thanks to the community they’ve rallied around their initiatives. There’s something equally gutsy and admirable about building a community around your product and catering your offerings to the ebb and flow of the tide. Fortune favors the bold, I think.
Drop has also hit on the head a market factor that not many others have figured out… speed. In a world where we’ve come to expect today’s toilet paper order to be delivered by tomorrow morning, we’ve lost the bygone luxury of holding off on our responsibilities and deliverables until the pieces come together.
Drop has an impressive collection of Ready To Ship products, contradictory to the model of other brands in the same sphere that source bulk pre-orders and keep you waiting for months at a time before your keyboard arrives. Wait no more.
But we haven’t even brushed the best part yet – wait until you see the options. Which artisan-designed colorway suits your gaming suite? Maybe it’s a Marvel theme? I’d be partial to the Thanos keycaps, but you’re welcome to have your own preference. The choice is yours.
Choosing Your Keyboard
Let’s face it – how often do we really have a choice? Lean into it, enjoy it! Here are a couple of high-level recommendation points for choosing a keyboard from Drop:
- Be clear with what you’re using your keyboard for. Typing, obviously, but what would you improve about your experience as it stands today? Functionality is guaranteed wherever you end up, so take the time to look into the features behind each base and each distinct “feel” that goes along with it.
- When it came to choosing our keyboard to test out, the choices were abundant while also abundantly clear. Drop’s CTRL Mechanical Keyboard is one of their most trusted workhorses – and you could take our word for it, or their 21k+ keyboards sold across the world. (And not to be forgotten, they’re ready to ship today.) We chose this one for its lightweight sturdiness.
- Where’s it going? Is this your keyboard for a stationary place or for on-the-go? Pick a colorway and design that compliments your aesthetic, and will stand out while fitting in.
Once you’ve made your base choice, make sure you set aside some time to sift through the customizable aesthetic add-ons and options. We went with the Blue Samurai keycaps – couldn’t say no to the rich, deep blue in contrast with the accented golds and grays.
While nice to look at, these keys also don’t mess around. Manufactured with 1.5-millimeter doubleshot ABS plastic, they’ll be durable enough to withstand your most passionately-typed manifesto.
Customizing Doesn’t Stop at the Checkout
So, your keyboard arrives on your doorstep. This is when the fun really begins.
Unlike the Christmas morning of your childhood, you likely may not need to look too deep into the directions before you’re putting the pieces together. The sensory experience around the building of the keyboard, though, isn’t too far from those early memories of tearing LEGO boxes apart and dumping their contents on the floor.
Despite the fact that we aren’t all hyper-technically minded, know that the process of putting together your keyboard is designed to be easy, and is designed to be fun, too. Popping the mechanical switches into the base is super satisfying, in the same way, you’d be visually satisfied by videos of kinetic sand or hydraulic presses on TikTok.
I was immediately impressed by the feel of the keyboard – lightweight enough to not be burdensome, but heavy-duty enough to feel like it could withstand the most vigorous typing of my boldest ideas.
A little research proved the base is manufactured with CNC aluminum – a low-density, high-strength material that you might find being used in aerospace exploration as common as you’d find it on my desk. That struck me as very cool, and very intentional.
If I had one of those YouTube channels where I cut boots in half to show durability or dropped watermelons off of buildings, I’d probably make a video to see if I could destroy my old keyboard with my Drop one. That’s for another day.
And then came the real magic – a quick plug-in through the USB drive and I was knocked off my feet by the light show. In a moment of reflection with the soft tones reflecting off my face, I accepted the joy to come from a little extra intentionality that Drop had put into the design of their keyboard – something that, before this, was usually so casually mundane. Game changed.
I have nested my Drop keyboard with my desktop iMac I keep in my office at a local coworking space, where I do the lion’s share of my copywriting and design projects, though I have unplugged a few times to take home in my tote bag for late-night laptop sessions at the dinner table.
The thing I can’t get away from now that I’ve had a taste is the weight of the keys – maybe it’s just psychological, but the added weight makes the weight of the words I’m typing feel a little more important.
But another key to the joy of the keyboard is that the customization doesn’t stop after checking out your cart online and waiting for it to arrive. Accompanying the completed rig is now a small Tupperware of additional keys in different sizes, colors, and configurations – as time progresses with the keyboard, you’ll figure out exactly how you’re going to make it yours.
Here’s a pro-tip: while you’ll use your own experience to guide your customization, you’ve got an entire army behind you, too. Be sure to stay active with Drop and gain insight from other members of the online community. Who knows – someone else’s great idea might be a home run for you, too.
Now That You’ve Chosen Your Weapon…
It’s hard to separate the amount of time we spend in front of screens from the amount of time we aren’t in front of them. If we’re going to think about it metaphysically, the internet is really the last frontier (well, minus space, but that is a different story).
Our devices have become our best pallet for moving our worlds forward – creatively, progressively, artistically, or recreationally – and our gear becomes our equivalent of sword and shield. Romantic? Maybe. Cheesy? Possibly. But not inaccurate.
We are made better by the things we surround ourselves with, and thereby make better work ourselves.
I am in front of a keyboard sometimes five, six, seven, ten hours a day. Even so, my phone has become so primary for me that a few hours long block of time dedicated to working on a desktop computer feels like some kind of refuge.
Like the toothbrush that’s sat in the ceramic cup next to the bathroom sink for longer than it should without replacement, my desktop computer sat with a sub-$10 conventional big-box keyboard for a few years before making the move to upgrade with a Drop keyboard. I can say, with confidence – it’s worth it.
From a high level, here are a few concise thoughts on my experience with the CTRL keyboard
What I Really Love:
- From shopping to building to using, the CTRL keyboard has been really fun. Both from the perspective of jazzing up my professional life and from the perspective of kicking into little-kid-on-Christmas mode.
- The weight of the keys. Seriously, a little extra punch has been both motivating and made me feel a little cooler.
- The potential to improve/upgrade/change things up as I go – though it’s hard to know exactly how I’ll customize with only a few thousand words under my belt, it’s great to know I’ll have the option to make it work smarter for me.
What I Think Is Missing:
- Portability – I really want to take this keyboard everywhere with me, but haven’t found a delicate way to pack it in a backpack along with my laptop, camera, notebook, or whatever else I need to be carrying around with me that day.
- A mouse! This feels silly, but pairing up my computer with a fancy keyboard and retaining my cheap, strip mall mouse feels out of place. Looks like the hunt is on for my next tech accessory, until Drop makes one of their own!
Here’s the truth – it’s a weird world these days. Whether the last chunk of time has you spending more time at home unexpectedly, hybridizing a workspace with your personal space, seeking refuge from the day to day in a digital safe space, or leaning on creative vices to express how you’re feeling, we deserve to seek comfort in those moments – and ultimately, deserve to treat ourselves in those moments, too.
Drop has taken a process in our regular, day-to-day lives and made it fun, engaging, and thoughtful. A seemingly small change in routine can make a pretty big difference in the grand scheme of things.
Never thought I’d say “back when I used a regular keyboard” – look at me now.
Make sure to check out Drop’s CTRL Mechanical Keyboard on sale starting October 29 until November 4, 2021!
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