Fjell x Hako True Review Script by Manofinterests
Precursory Note: The video review won't be done on time, but I wanted my thoughts on the Hako True switches to be public before the GB ends (probably hours away from when this is posted). I'm still working on the video review and will be finished by the end of the week.
Up here in the mountains, you can look down and see it all. The hustle and bustle down below. Those coming up to escape the struggle down below, and those going back down to face their demons. The cold air stings your warm lungs as you inhale, but the air is so fresh.
The word Fjell in Norwegian translates to Mountain, and for many people, this keyboard can be considered a ‘peak’. ‘End Game, Last Keyboard, Keyboard of the Year…’ all names that I’ve heard about this case which is a testament to how highly many people revere this keyboard.
Standing on top of a metaphorical mountain you can see the Coolermasters, Corsairs, and Keycools it took you to get here. You learned how to solder, you learned how to assemble a keyboard. You learned about keycaps, switches, stabilizers, and much more. Now you stand upon this fjell and look at the keyboards of the past. Is there another mountain to climb or do you take your rest here?
If you take a rest here before climbing the next mountain, here’s what you find:
The Fjell’s iconic look has spawned cases inspired by the thick bezels and sharp corners. Leandren once said he didn’t own bezels, but when you look at the Fjell, you can’t deny he is masterful at using them. There are boards that know how to use bezels, and boards that don’t.
This mountain wasn’t open for everyone all season though It was for the lucky few who were selected from a raffle. For this first round of Fjells, only 50 were minted from the cold lands of Norway, all with numbered weights. The steep chamfered edges direct your focus upwards to the keycaps. The steep edges also hide the deceptively steep 8 degrees of angle the keyboard has. It’s not uncomfortable to type on by any stretch, but it’s more than you might expect if you’re unprepared. The anodized aluminum case with the brass weight clocks in at 2kg, or 4.4 lbs. Many say that tray mount cases are simple and even inferior to top mounted cases, but this is by far the most exquisite tray mounted case available.
I want to talk about this weight for a moment because it’s breathtaking. When you see other normal weights, you look at it and think, “oh, that’s simple geometry”. But when you look at the weight on the fjell, it’s more than just that. It fits in nicely, like a cat that’s found the perfect box. Whether you love it or hate it, the text on the weight of the fjell is on the inside, meaning you won’t ever see it unless you open up your keyboard and take out your plate and PCB. I was lucky enough to recieve number 42, but unfortunately I think Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is overrated.
Traversing Norwegian mountains can be beautiful like these Fjells, but both can be fraught with issues. My fjell for instance, has some marks on the front. A few other people had small scuffs and marks on the inside of the case, and at least one person received quite a scratched up and destroyed case.
So how much did round one of the Fjell cost? It was $250 for the case, screws, rubber bump ons and weight. Adding the brass plate was an additional $38, and international shipping was $25. On top of everything there was an additional 5% handling fee. Not too bad for a case of this beauty and heft. The case was heavy, but it moved fast. The group buy was shipped out approximately 10 weeks after the payment deadline. And arrived in awesome protective boxes.
So what do I think about this keyboard? It’s badass. This rich purple. The brass plate that supports switch top removal. Inside I have a zeal PCB with all of those groovy ARRs GEEs, and BEEs. The PCB is programmmed with QMK which I don’t really know at all, so I’m stuck using Zeal’s stock keycap which at least has HHKB arrow keys. There is no navigation keys which is a pain. This small complaint is all user idiocy though since I haven’t been bothered to go through the documentation and work on the file yet.
The Hako True switch is quite the switch to talk about, but I can’t talk about it without talking about the controversial Halo switches so we’ll start there. Haata, the designer of the Halo and Hako switches, has called the Halo switches, “A free round of R&D” for the Hako switches. As someone who’s tried both, I can see what he means. The Halo switch, and eventually the Hako switch, were developed by Haata based of his typing preference.
What does this mean? On Input Club’s website, they have a section dedicated to force curve graphs, more of which you can find on Haata’s plotly site. Haata has a force measurement machine to measure force curves of switches. After charting his favorite switches, he started to find out what they had in common with each other, and used that data to design a force curve he believed he would like. Afterwards, he and Over^Kill at Input Club would work with Kailh to design a slider that would best mimic that force curve. After some time, the first Halo switches were made. Of course this is a very simplified tale of what happened, but it’s the general picture.
There unfortunately was a falling out between Input Club and Massdrop. The ownership of the tooling versus the rights of the intellectual property. Without one you can’t really have the other. Due to the failure to reach an agreed upon conclusion, their relationship is at a very cold period.
I can touch on more about that in the future, but let’s shift our focus back on the switches. Once Input Club couldn’t release Halo switches anymore, they got to work with new switches. Hako switches are the result and goddam they’re beautiful.
These Hako true switches are the true dom of typing. These switches will punish you like the naughty boy you are if you’re constantly bottoming out. She’ll make you sore, but beg for more. These switches prefer those who are ‘properly typing’, meaning those who don’t needlessly bottom out. The Hako True’s spring is very unique with a very light preload to the press and like her Hako Clear sister, discourages bottoming out by rapidly increasing in force needed as you approach the bottom.
Unlike the old Halo switches, you may have quickly noticed that these are in fact box switches with all the wondrous advantages that box switches have. Hakos are rated for 80 million keypresses, have angled drain vents to help keep out moisture and dust, and doesn't wobble too much.
So how does this keyboard feel? How does it feel when you're being tenderly caressed by a loved one? It's a feeling of warmness that runs through you. This keyboard forces me to type without bottoming out for the maximum amount of typing satisfaction. It's a heft that comforts you and cradles you with an almost motherly affection.
I'll have more to say when the video review releases, but so far I'm loving these Hako Trues on this brass plate on this Fjell.