Tsukasa reviews: Cherry eVolution STREAM vs. Cherry G80-3000

A while ago something terrible happened to me: My beloved old keyboard reached it’s critical mass and gave up. A catastrophe for me, I always considered that keyboard as "just right" for me. Sure, the insides were corroded after all these years, the keys had lost their printing and you wouldn’t want to look into the thing because it was yuck… but it was "just right".

So I had to get a new keyboard. And not just any keyboard would do. I don’t fancy things like displays or buttloads of extra keys on my keyboard, for a very simple reason: First of all, they probably don’t work out of the box in Linux and even more important — I simply don’t use shit like that.

I spent some time doing research and came up with my two choices:

  • Cherry eVolution STREAM
  • Cherry G80-3000

Let’s take a look at each of the keyboards. You can find photos of the devices on my flickr account.

The Cherry eVolution STREAM is a very flat, notebook-like keyboard. It features 6 extra hotkeys (of which none work in Linux out-of-the-box). It isn’t as flat as Apple’s grotesque creation but way smaller than the G80-3000. Included is a PS/2 adapter so you can use your brand new USB keyboard on the good ol’ PS/2 port as well. Price was about 20 Euro.

Typing on the eVolution STREAM is a breeze for people who’re used to notebook keyboards. Personally I find it quite irritating that the Windows key is so big and the spacebar so small, but I’m probably just nitpicking. Really nasty and a showstopper is the fact that some keys start acting funny when you pour dirt and other stuff (i.e. salt) onto them, the keys get stuck, it’s a pain.

The keys have a hard, greasy feedback just as I’d expect it from something that resembles a notebook keyboard.

The Cherry G80-3000 is a monster. I decided to get it because it is the base for Das Keyboard II, a gadget I admire a lot but I’m too much of cheapskate to get it. I said it is a monster. If you take a look at the photos I uploaded you may get an idea of what dimensions this keyboard has. It is less of the width but more the height that make it so nice; the keyboard resembles the old IBM ones I always enjoyed typing on.

The G80-3000 does not have any fancy extra keys. Just as the eVolution STREAM it is a USB device and comes with a PS/2 adapter. Price hits the 50 Euro mark, so it is definetively in another league than the eVolution STREAM.

The special thing about this keyboard is that it uses gold-plated mechanical switches instead of your run-of-the-mill rubber plate thingy. Because of that the device is loud. Yes, a keyboard that is loud. If you enjoy placing baseball cards onto your bike, you’ll just love how loud it is. The tactile feedback from this keyboard is just great. The keys are "just right". It is hard to explain but if you’ve ever had the chance of typing on a IBM keyboard you’ll know what I mean.

The design and key layout is old-goes-well, no fancy experiments here. It is definetively for the better, why change something that works fine. It is virtually impossible to make the keys not work.

So, what kind of review is this? No comparison? Only a brief overview? Good lord, yes.

What can I say? I like both keyboards but I like the G80-3000 better. Sure, it costs more than twice as much as the eVolution STREAM but it pays: The STREAM feels a little cheapo, the keys won’t last for more than 4 years if you work with it extensively. The G80 on the other hand will last for about 10 years (according to the maker).

Gamers should stay away from both of these keyboards I guess. None of them are really "optimized" for playing your 233th installment of Counter-Halo or whatever. Gamers will also miss all the flashing lights, displays and extra keys. But to get work done (i.e. programming) both keyboards are fabulous. The G80 is still better though, the special characters are easier to reach thanks to a little more standard key placement and the different "levels" of the keys (I can’t get used to that on notebook keyboards, sorry).

So, are 50 Euros well spent on a keyboard? I sure think they are. It is a companion through your daily amount of work and when you get to know it better you’ll probably increase your characters per minute.

Is the 20 Euro eVolution STREAM bad, then? By all means, no. It is a stylish keyboard for people how enjoy typing on a flat device. I’m probably just not cut our for that and always prefer a "real" keyboard. The money is well spent, though, it works perfect as a second keyboard (for your notebook, i.e.) and should not be disregarded.

What is the conclusion then? I guess, Cherry makes good keyboards. There are better and cheaper ways to find this out but it has been a fun week and I’m happy to have great input devices en masse now. Just in case the G80 should fail me within the next 10 years πŸ˜‰ .

About Tsukasa

The fool's herald.
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18 Responses to Tsukasa reviews: Cherry eVolution STREAM vs. Cherry G80-3000

  1. Ingo Fabbri says:

    nice review. i’ve looked at both of them. i think the g80-3000 is a very nice keyboard indeed.
    btw, have you heard of the “Happy Hacking Keyboard Lite 2”?

  2. Tsukasa says:

    Considered it before, as a matter of fact πŸ™‚ .

    For my desktop machine, though, it doesn’t really make the cut. I need a numpad as well as F1-F12 accessable without pulling stunts with my fingers. For a notebook… it doesn’t really improve what I’ve already have, so it doesn’t look too tempting.

    The form factor is really nice, and so seems the quality of the keyboard.

    Since it seems to be made in a similar fashion than the G80-3000 I’d venture to say it’ll take a few litres of coffee to kill it (Note: The G80 here already had it’s first gush of tea [yeah, I’m a wuss] and still works splendid πŸ™‚ ).

  3. munch says:

    I must take offense to your use of “grotesque” descriptor for Apple’s recent keyboards. I find them overwhelmingly superior to any other laptop OR desktop keyboard I’ve ever used. It is as though the PC marketplace just doesn’t place any value on a good quality, quiet, and sufficiently tactile keyboard. It’s a pity that Apple doesn’t offer their keyboard in an ergonomic form-factor.

    Judging by your description of the Cherry keyboards, however, I have no choice but to assign additional weight to Apple’s keyboards when choosing my next purchase. Thanks.

  4. Tsukasa says:

    It’s a matter of taste and preference, I guess. I do need loud, tactile feedback (the good ol’ IBM clicks). I guess that’s because I’m used to these kind of keyboards and have a hard time adapting to other concepts like notebook or ultraflat keyboards (I basically detest both types).

    What rubs me the wrong way with Apple’s keyboards is the design and the key feedback (feels kind of like pressing a button on my cellphone to me). Round keys? Bah! But as I said… matter of preference.

    And just for the record: The G80 is still awesome in my book, no complaints yet (kind of to be expected if they advertise it to last 10 years πŸ™‚ ).

  5. Alexander van Loon says:

    [quote comment=””]It’s a matter of taste and preference, I guess. I do need loud, tactile feedback (the good ol’ IBM clicks). I guess that’s because I’m used to these kind of keyboards and have a hard time adapting to other concepts like notebook or ultraflat keyboards (I basically detest both types).

    What rubs me the wrong way with Apple’s keyboards is the design and the key feedback (feels kind of like pressing a button on my cellphone to me). Round keys? Bah! But as I said… matter of preference.

    And just for the record: The G80 is still awesome in my book, no complaints yet (kind of to be expected if they advertise it to last 10 years πŸ™‚ ).[/quote]

  6. Alexander van Loon says:

    [quote comment=””][quote comment=””]It’s a matter of taste and preference, I guess. I do need loud, tactile feedback (the good ol’ IBM clicks). I guess that’s because I’m used to these kind of keyboards and have a hard time adapting to other concepts like notebook or ultraflat keyboards (I basically detest both types).

    What rubs me the wrong way with Apple’s keyboards is the design and the key feedback (feels kind of like pressing a button on my cellphone to me). Round keys? Bah! But as I said… matter of preference.

    And just for the record: The G80 is still awesome in my book, no complaints yet (kind of to be expected if they advertise it to last 10 years πŸ™‚ ).[/quote][/quote]

  7. Alexander van Loon says:

    [quote comment=””][quote comment=””][quote comment=””]It’s a matter of taste and preference, I guess. I do need loud, tactile feedback (the good ol’ IBM clicks). I guess that’s because I’m used to these kind of keyboards and have a hard time adapting to other concepts like notebook or ultraflat keyboards (I basically detest both types).

    What rubs me the wrong way with Apple’s keyboards is the design and the key feedback (feels kind of like pressing a button on my cellphone to me). Round keys? Bah! But as I said… matter of preference.

    And just for the record: The G80 is still awesome in my book, no complaints yet (kind of to be expected if they advertise it to last 10 years πŸ™‚ ).[/quote][/quote][/quote]

  8. surfa says:

    Bought my G80-3000 earlier this week before seeing this review. However I have been looking for a quiality keyboard for some time after several well know makes were not up to my expectations and promply died!

    The G80-3000 fits the bill for a perfect keyboard for me. Received it yesterday and I can already tell it’s the best I have ever used. Very refreshing after all the expensive “cheap rubber keyboards”.

    I do a little gaming and I can for certain say that this is the one you want for gaming also unless you need the timing features and macros (I know nobody who uses these!).

    Cheers

  9. Cornholio says:

    thx guys, you gave the final impulse. I had the Evolution Stream now for about 18 months and several keys started failing. I have to hammer them to make them work, resulting in my opinion about the stream: motherf***ing no-good piece of crap. Looks fancy but will not withstand heavy use for very long. Also you can´t clean it properly due to non-removable keycaps. Try and you will break some little plastig-things that hold them in place. I just ordered the G80 in the klick-version.

    T.P.

  10. thegnu says:

    howdy, i just ordered one of the G80-3000s based on your review (and seeing a coworker’s Das Keyboard). really looking forward to getting it. i’ve been through a lot of input devices, and i really think i’m narrowing down what i need to not have my RSI flare up.

    i’ve got a kinesis freestyle, and the slant is nice, but i need better keys. i’ve been through the evoluent verticalmouse2, and at one point i had a logitech revolution mx as my secondary mouse, and nothing compares to the kensington expert mouse (trackball).

    thanks for the good review!

  11. Tsukasa says:

    Heya, I think you’ll be very happy with the keyboard. I am, even after more than 2 years. Keys are still snappy, no grief πŸ™‚ .

    Just for reference: The Evolution already died on me, several keys just wouldn’t work anymore. And I’m not even an excessive gamer or have anger-management problems I take out on my hardware. Which brings me back to what I have always known: Flat keyboards are crap. We need more old-school IBM keyboard copies πŸ™‚ .

  12. Brandon says:

    Thanks for the review.. I’m looking hard at the G80 but you’re scaring me off with talk of the noisy keys. I have an old micron ps/2 keyboard that I loved and had the clicky thing.. I didn’t mind it then but now I have an office mate…

    Anyway, in minor objection to your universal panning of flat laptop keyboards I offer another IBM as a counterexample: the Thinkpad keyboard (circa 2002) remains my gold standard. I have a Thinkpad T23 that I love, but its 1GHz PIII can’t handle modern software. If firefox 1.5.0.7 on a 2.4.27 kernel could cut it in this world, I’d still be using that machine.

    I would also love to see a pc keyboard with apple’s design, just to give it a try. the keys are so silky. but I’ve never used a mac long enough to know whether it holds up for the duration, though.

  13. Tsukasa says:

    I’d love to hear about the Apple keyboards as well. And I mean from an long-term point of view.

    Preferably not from an Apple fanboy πŸ™‚ .

  14. Alorse says:

    The G80 is a Beast.
    Cherry is providing the MX switches used in the G80 for other manufacturers.
    They are user in:
    Steelseries 7G
    Raptor K1
    Deck
    Happy Hacking
    Falcion
    The Keyboard
    a.o.

  15. magna224 says:

    “Gamers should stay away from both of these keyboards I guess.”

    I would just like to say that mechanical keyboards are great for gaming. Most people prefer blacks and blue though.

  16. Rocky says:

    I just got my G80 yesterday. It’s not so good at the first sight, but now I think it worth the bill. I can’t wait to go back to my office to start coding.

  17. netnerd says:

    I’m glad it isn’t just me who thinks Apple’s keyboard are grotesque. Where I don’t fully agree with you is the trashing of the eVolution STREAM. Much of your criticism is spot on, it will not last for ever, and dirt makes keys misbehave. But at the price can you complain? The eVolution STREAM is ideal for those who want a short throw yet full size keyboard that super quiet enough for a busy office.

    Mechanical keyboards are nice, very very nice! But there are issues with busy places, I switched to short throw laptop keyboards so that I could use the same style keys everywhere and not have to switch from long throw mechanical to laptop style when I went mobile.

    I think Apple hit the nail on the head when their laptop and desktop keyboards have the same style keys. It is just a shame that their keyboards are so incredibly uncomfortable.

    • Tsukasa says:

      By no means I’m trashing the Evo for what it is. Time has proven me right though, the eVolution STREAM I bought in 2008 gave up mid 2009 after it was impossible to use multiple keys on the left handside of the keyboard. Not trying to be snarky here but 20 Euros for about one year of service is too much.

      The G80 still performs as well as it did in spring 2008 – that’s more than 5 years later. It’s simply the better product value, in my opinion.

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