Posted On 08/07/2015 By In Keyboard Reviews

REVIEW: WASD V2

Page Contents:

  1. Introduction
  2. Typing Test
  3. Packaging, Unboxing, and Contents
  4. External Build
  5. Internal Build
  6. Switches
  7. Layout and Function Keys
  8. Summary & Conclusion
  9. Full Gallery
  10. Where to Buy

Introduction

The WASD V2 is a no frills keyboard that looks good in home and professional environments. Unlike the previously reviewed CODE, the V2 doesn’t have any backlighting, but still shares the same visual aesthetics as the CODE. The CODE really lived up to expectations and I was very curious how the V2 would compare. I received a 104 key V2 with Cherry MX Clears that has a street price of $150. Being on the higher end of the pricing spectrum, the V2 has its own expectations to live up to, so let’s find out if it does.

Typing Test

Packaging, Unboxing, and Contents

Much like the CODE, the V2 comes in very simple, yet elegant box. The box is completely black except for the WASD logo on the front of the box. Simplicity is definitely the name of the game here. WASD keyboards aren’t sold in retail locations, and saving money on flashy packaging actually makes a lot of sense, though you do loose a bit of the wow factor when first laying eyes on the box. Still, I personally think the packaging is quite fitting for the keyboard inside, and it does have some elegance to it. I should also mention that the keyboard secured nicely when shipped, and the box did a fine job of keeping everything protected and secured in place.

Inside the box

Inside the box the keyboard is wrapped in a thin foam and held securely in place by cardboard spacers. The key puller, cable, USB to PS/2 adapter, and manual that were included came under a section of cardboard at the back of the box.

On top of the keyboard was a piece of paper stating:

WARNING:
Please note that new keycaps fit very snugly on Cherry MX Clear switches. To avoid damage to your switches we strongly advise waiting two weeks before removing any new keycaps that have been put on your Clear switches. If you have any questions regarding keycap removal on Clear switches, please email our support team at [email protected]

After owning quite a few MX Clear keyboards I can definitely attest to the fact that they do fit quite a bit more snugly than other switches into the keycaps, so this is a welcomed warning message. I can’t however confirm that waiting any amount of time actually helps make removing the keycaps safer (due to the nature of reviews I took the caps off the day I received the keyboard) but, it surely can’t hurt to wait. It is worth keeping the tighter fit in mind anytime you remove keycaps from an MX Clear keyboard. Make sure to always pull the keycaps off with slow/firm movements, never yank them or you may pull the stem clear out of the switch, which normally requires desoldering the switch, putting the stem back in, and resoldering it.

Now, the included accessories are all relatively plain, but there isn’t anything to find fault with either. The included instruction manual is a single sided piece of paper that tells what the dip switches on the back of the keyboard do and what the Fn layer key combinations are. The PS/2 adapter works just fine, though remember your keyboard will need to be plugged in before the computer is booted to be recognized when using a PS/2 connection. The wire keypuller is one of the nicer keypullers I’ve gotten with a keyboard, it has a nice rough texture and sports the WASD logo on one side. Finally the 6ft USB micro cable comes wrapped in a branded cable tie. All in all a good bill of health for all included accessories.

External Build

Case

The case is constructed of thick plastic, with the top and bottom halves being held together by 3 screws and 12 clips. The case is very sturdy and is highly resistant to torsional flexing. The seam between the halves is also very slim, giving the keyboard a very clean look. I will say that the V2, like the CODE, is not a keyboard that I would recommend opening up unless you really have to. Unlike the KUL, the V2 is not made to have the case removed, and removing it will almost inevitably cause some small blemishes on the outside of the case. To open the case you have to insert a thin flat object between the layers to pop the clips, which did leave small divots on my case.

Reverse side (rubber pads, feet, etc.)

On the back of the keyboard there is a USB Micro connection that has 3 cable runs (left, center, right) to choose from, each of which secure the cable nicely in place. As usual, I wish this was a USB micro connection instead of a mini connection, but that is all personal taste. My biggest issue with micro connections are when they are left to dangle like on the Novatouch. The smaller connector feels extremely flimsy in those cases, but due to the secured cable runs, this will never be an issue with the V2. There are also 6 dip switches on the back recessed nicely into the case so no accidental switching happens. Thanks to the 4 thick rubber pads up front, and rubberized back legs, the V2 stayed on every surface I tried it on without slippage.

Keycaps

Before going into detail on the included V2 keycaps, I am doing to digress a bit to talk about keycaps in general to help explain what makes WASD’s approach to them so unique.

For many casual buyers stock keycaps are more than adequate, but enthusiasts are often quick to replace stock keycaps with higher quality offerings. There is currently a huge range of aftermarket keycaps that range in colors, materials, and profiles, and often cost as much per set as an entire keyboard. WASD has acknowledged this fact by having a “Barebones” variant of the V2 available, which is just a V2 without keycaps. The price is a very significant $50 cheaper as well. I personally wish other manufacturers would all have this option for their keyboards, but applaud WASD for recognizing that there is a market for keyboards without keycaps.

Now, on to the V2’s actual keycaps. The V2 comes with UVprinted ABS keycaps. They are not exceptional in terms of quality, and are pretty much the same thickness as all the other stock keycaps I’ve tested. The exceptional part is what you can do with the keycaps. If you order the V2 directly from WASD, you’ll see a section on the bottom of the product page that allows you to completely customize the keycaps to your liking, for no additional cost. You have a choice of 19 colors, with per-key customization. You can then choose layout options for the alphanumeric keys, which are:

  • Blank
  • Modern
  • Classic
  • Centered
  • Large font
  • Mac
  • Mac Colemak
  • Mac Dvorak
  • Dvorak
  • Colemak
  • Programmers Dvorak
  • Cyrillic
  • Hebrew
  • Korean
  • Turkish
  • US International
  • Vim Programmers Dvorak (Black & White)
  • Vim (Black & White)
  • 4 Camo Colors

But, there’s still more. You can now select what kind of modifier keys you want, with combinations of classic, modern, and symbols being offered, as well as 8 different choices of symbols for your OS key including a blank option. Even after all of those options, there are still infinitely more available as WASD will UV print your own designs. You could utilize this feature to print something fun, perhaps a set based on your favorite movie, or for work, and have a set with shortcuts printed on the keys for a program you use constantly (for me, it would be Pro Tools).

WASD asked me ahead of time if I wanted anything special on my keycaps, though I didn’t have time to create a set with their editor. I did however send them over a color scheme and .svg files from Jukebox and let them create a set based on what they saw. I must say that I quite enjoyed the outcome.

After 2 weeks of fairly heavy use I didn’t notice any signs that the printed legends wearing off, and saw no signs of shine that didn’t wipe off with cleaning. If you do clean your keycaps make sure to very gently clean them, as it is possible to scrub the legends right off. The UV printing process does leave a bit of a raised legend on the surface, and though this personally doesn’t bother me it is worth mentioning.

My V2 also came with o-rings already installed on the keycap stems. O-rings are installed to prevent the audible clack when the plastic keycaps bottom out and hit the plate, though they also reduce travel distance and make make the keys feel mushy. O-rings are completely personal preference, and I usually don’t enjoy them very much on anything but linear switches. The o-rings are extremely easy to remove though, so if you order them and don’t like them you can take them off in a matter of minutes. You can add o-rings to any keyboard, though it will cost you $25. You should also keep in mind that o-rings will not silence clicky switches either.

Internal Build

Like the CODE, I had no issues with the internal build quality or any reason to worry about the longevity of this keyboard. The only thing I did notice was that the switch stems weren’t trimmed as closely as some of the other keyboards I’ve inspected, though this is honestly not an issue as long as none of the stems are touching, which wasn’t close to happening on the keyboard I received. The controller was very neatly soldered into place as well.

When removing the case to access the internals you will need to void the warranty of your keyboard by removing the sticker on the back to access a screw. There are also screws under each of the legs, so you will need to pry those off as well. Once you remove the 3 screws, you will need to slide a thin object (I use a micro flathead screwdriver) into the seam of the case and pop the clips. You do not need to pry up and down to pop the clips, but rather push straight in on the clips. There are 4 clips on the front and back, and 2 on each side. After opening the case the PCB and top plate are held onto the bottom case by a single screw on the left side between the number row and F-row.  After you remove this screw carefully remove the PCB, as you will need to unclip the USB connector on the bottom case from the PCB, making sure to pull the plastic connector and not the wires.

Switches

WASD only uses genuine Cherry MX switches, so the I’d never worry about the quality of the switches themselves. The model I was sent had MX Clears which are a heavy tactile switch without the click. Personally, MX Clears are one of my favorite switches that Cherry makes. The tactile bump is much more noticeable than MX Browns, which is something that I really like. MX Clears have an actuation force of 55g, making them one of the heavier Cherry switches. The larger keys use Costar stabilizers. Compared to Cherry stabilizers, Costars often feel a little more even and crisp, but they can be a bit more of a pain to deal with when swapping keycaps.

Layout and Function Keys

The V2 has a standard ANSI layout (with ISO layouts also available in the store) so just about any aftermarket keycaps will fit on nicely. The DIP switches on the back also offer quite a bit of functionality in terms of layout. No extra keys are included with the V2, but because you can create a custom set that will fit your desired layout for free, I don’t see any reason for extra keycaps to be included.

To switch modes with the DIP switches the keyboard must be turned off, if you flip a dip switch while the keyboard is plugged in the effect will not take place until you unplug the keyboard and plug it back in.

Here is a full list of the function key combinations and DIP switch options:

Function Keys

  • Fn+Insert: Play/Pause
  • Fn+Home: Stop (Not supported by OS X)
  • Fn+Delete: Previous Track
  • Fn+End: Next Track
  • Fn+Page Up: Volume Up
  • Fn+Page Down: Volume Down
  • Fn+Pause: Mute
  • Fn+F11: Adjust LED backlight brightness (LED Models Only)
  • Fn+F12: Turn LED backlight on/off (LED Models Only)
  • Fn+F13: Eject (Mac mode only)

Dip Switches

Switch StateFunctionNotes
SW1 Off, SW2 OffStandard Qwerty modeSwitches the defaul position of the Command and Option Keys
SW1 On, SW2 OffMac mode
SW1 Off, SW2 OnDvorak mode
SW1 On, SW2 OnColemak mode
SW3 OffCaps Lock = Caps Lock, (L) CTRL = (L) CTRL
SW3 OnCaps Lock = (L) CTRL, (L) CTRL = (L) CTRLCaps Lock function is removed
SW4 OffScroll Lock = Scroll Lock
SW4 OnScroll Lock = OS Key LockUse this key to enable/disable your OS keys
SW5 OffOS Keys Enabled
SW5 OnOS Keys DisabledIf OS keys are disabled, OS key Lock mode will be disabled
SW6 OffMenu Key = Menu Key
SW6 OnMenu Key = FN KeyUsed to access built-in function commands

Summary & Conclusion

In my opinion the V2 is even a better option than the CODE. Why, you may ask? For me the V2 has a huge win in the keycap department. Enthusiasts can get the Barebones V2, and casual users can get the standard V2 and are free to customize the caps however they want, resulting in a much more personalized keyboard than they would be able to get otherwise. The price, while on the higher end of the spectrum, gets you a quality keyboard that feels built to last. Unlike the CODE, I would recommend buying this keyboard directly from the WASD online store so that you can take full advantage of designing your own keycaps. As normal, I also field tested this keyboard in my office, and it was a huge hit. It was hard to tell if people were more smitten with the V2 itself, or the Clear switches, but it was a hit nonetheless.  I personally really liked the V2 and would have no problems recommending it to someone that was looking for a more premium experience out of a keyboard.

Pros

  • Excellent build quality
  • 6 DIP switches
  • Free to customize keycaps
  • Barebones version availability
  • Genuine Cherry Switches
  • Good included accesories
  • Option to add o-rings

Cons

  • Relatively thin keycaps
  • Case not made to open
  • On the pricey side
  • USB Micro connection (personal preference)
  • o-rings are expensive
  • Expensive shipping

Final score: 8.8/10

 

Full Gallery

 

 

 

Where to Buy

WASD online store

Disclaimer: The same keyboard was provided courtesy of WASD Keyboards, and is in no way a paid review/advertisement. 

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