Top Clack

by Quakemz

Input Club’s Hako Clear switch review - by Quakemz

Cherry MX Clears have always been a unique switch that had little competition until very recent years, with the introduction of Zealio switch. Until then, most experienced enthusiasts just used modified MX Clears to get their truly-tactile fix. A little lube and a more comfortable spring made the MX Clears more palatable for the average typist, as they can tend to be a little heavy for people that bottom out their keys during typing.

Aside from the ever-popular Zealios, manufacturers like Kaihua and Outemu have been releasing switches over the last several months to help fill the need for the medium weighted tactile switches that don’t feel..well...as dull as all of the “Brown” switches on the market, which tend to feel a little lacking in tactility and are also quite light to press. This is where the new Hako switches come in. Manufactured by Kaihua to the specs of Input Club, they’ve been designed and tested by prolific community member HaaTa, one of the mad scientists at Input Club.

The new Hako switch comes in two flavors: Clear and True. Today, I’ll be going over the Hako Clear switch, as I’m effectively the only community member that currently has a full board of them. My Top Clack counterpart, Manofinterests (Huey) has a board of the Hako Trues, and will be putting out a review of those soon, if it’s not out already.

Some of you might remember the recent legal debacle over Halo switches, which were designed by Input Club, but sold via MassDrop in the Input club K-Type keyboard. Without getting into detail, Input Club decided it would be more beneficial to step away from Halo switches and design a newer and better version, thus  the Hako switches were born. Unlike the Halo switches, the Hako switches employ Kaihua’s new “Box” design, which makes the switch “Self-cleaning”. By design, dust and liquid get ejected out the bottom of the switch, and the leaf itself is confined and protected in its own space, as not to get damaged. During the press, the tactile leg brushes up against a small plastic nub that keeps the leg lubed by being coated, itself. This keeps the switch what I would call “pretty darn smooth”. Compared to a stock Cherry MX Clear, these are absolute butter, using a hot knife, on a really hot day, while outside….not in the shade.

The spring used here in the Hako Clear has a bottom-out force of 79g, meaning that’s how much force it takes to fully press the switch. Actuation happens around 55g. Experienced switch experts will notice something interesting about those numbers: they have a wider gap than most switch springs used today. For example, the 67g (Bottom-out force) Zealio switch actuates at 55g, and a Cherry MX Brown switch bottoms out at around 55g, while actuation is closer to 45g. There is a reason that Input Club decided to make the springs this way. The reason is to discourage bottoming out your switches. I know, it only feels natural to slap each key against your fancy plate, but it’s actually not the proper way to type on a mechanical keyboard. I do it, you probably do it, and I’ll continue to do it, because sometimes being wrong can feel so right.

The idea of having a mechanical switch is to actuate it, then release it, because there is no ergonomic reason to go any further. Bottoming out switches is unhealthy for your fingers, and automatically makes you less efficient at typing than if you typed properly. With that idea in mind, Input Club decided to make the Hako switches feel substantially heavier after actuation, to help people type more properly. Of course, my meat-hooks are used to bottoming out heavy switches, so it’s a hard habit for me to break with these Hako Clears, but the Hako True might be a different story, as they boast an even heavier spring than their Clear brethren. Regardless, these springs feel amazing to me. Because of that extra weight after actuation, they give the whole switch a “bouncy” feel, which I just absolutely adore. Feeling the properties of the spring itself is one of my favorite things about trying new switches, and these don’t let me down.

In terms of tactility, these don’t disappoint, either. It’s not the most tactile switch in the world, but it does the job. What’s very interesting to me about these switches, like the Halo switches, the bump is actually noticeably stronger on the way up, which gives it a very unique feel. If you’re a monster like me and bottom out your switches, they won’t feel monumentally tactile, but if you do type properly, they will feel incredibly tactile, because you’ll only be experiencing tactility. Unlike most other tactile MX-designed switches, the bump on these is basically right at the top, which starts a nice, round curve for the first half of the press, until the bump ends.

Something else a lot of people in the community tend to be concerned with is “wobble”. This term is used when switches have lower tolerances between the slider and housing and can feel like the slider/stem has a lot more room to move around, other than just up and down. Not that wobble bothers everyone, but rest assured, these switches are about as stable as it gets, for the design. By default, MX-styled switches have to have a tiny bit of wobble, at least, otherwise there would be too much friction, but these came out very stable, while still remaining smooth.

Honestly, these are amazing, and I’m glad the price isn’t very high. At $54 for 120 switches, these switches fit nicely at $0.45/each, making them quite a bit cheaper than Zealios, and even cheaper than Cherry MX Clears, which they’re an objectively better version of. I will soon be trying the new updated round 8 Zealios, which makes me very excited, because they might be the only switch that can compete with these right now, in terms of feel. If you’re interested in checking out these Hako switches and learning some more information about them, the pre-order is still open right now until the 28th of this month, which you can check out here.

I apologize for this review being so close to the end-date of the pre-order, but I wanted to make sure I had enough time to use and test them. The good news is, they will still be available later on, after they ship the first orders. Thank you all for reading and I hope this helped your decision!