The keycap shapes vary by the rows on the board to accommodate the ideal typing angle for your hands. You can't use generic keycap replacements as a result, but Topre includes a key puller, alternate colors for the W, A, S, and D keys, a red escape key, and additional Caps Lock and Ctrl keys for programmers who want to swap the two.
Each key label is formed using dye-sublimation print methods instead of traditional laser printing, which tends to wear off quickly. The subtle gray-on-gray finish also adds extra texture that lightly grasps your fingers while you type.
Topre designed its 55g electrostatic key switches organically using elements from traditional rubber dome switches, capacitive sensors, and snap-action mechanical keyboards, and the result is a new kind of hybrid switch that requires more force to register but buckles more quickly with a 4-millimeter travel distance per stroke.
Consequently, the keys don't bounce back as quickly as Cherry switches, so you won't hear the irritating clicking noise typically associated with mechanical keyboards, as verified by my cube neighbors in the office. You will, however, notice a big difference in typing comfort if you're used to the traditional scissor-switch laptop keyboard.
The resistance against your fingers comes from a rubber dome underneath the keys to extend the actuation point, so it actually feels less springy than the Cherry switches. Whereas the bounce on Cherry switches almost makes it feel like the switches are actuating for you, the Topre Realforce 103UB can feel clunky at first, so we needed some adjustment time after testing other mechanical keyboards, but after a week of use we were able to type more quickly and with slightly better accuracy.
On the other hand, the Realforce 103UB keyboard offers no extras that we've seen on other mechanical keyboards. You don't get any additional USB ports or media buttons, nor does it have the durable braided USB cord that we preferred on the Rosewill RK-9000. We recognize that the design of most mechanical keyboards focuses on typing rather than media controls, but it's hard to ignore the Topre's price tag when you compare it with a device like the Logitech Wireless Keyboard K350 that integrates an ergonomic design, a wireless Unifying Receiver, a wrist rest, and a collection of customizable media keys for under $100.
At a $100 premium over its mechanical competition, the Topre's build quality and quiet typing don't quite justify the higher price. We like the overall feel of the keyboard, but would prefer to see more for its price.