Keyboard, Opinion

Custom Keyboard – How to Manage Long Waiting Times?

If there’s one thing that absolutely needs improvement in the custom keyboard scene, it would be the long waiting times for products. In fact, it’s not even considered unusual to wait upwards of one year to get your items, especially keycap sets.

Personally, I’m currently waiting for eight products to arrive. The longest being the Zenith keyboard from Rama Works, which was initially available for purchase back in July last year. Unfortunately, plenty of other folks in this hobby are in a similar position, so with that in mind, here are some tips to manage long waiting times.

Purchase Readily Available Products First

No, really. One of the benefits of the custom keyboard scene is the fact that most items can be resold relatively easily without incurring much lost – or none at all, depending on the product. This gives you the freedom to purchase readily available items first while waiting for a particular keyboard or keycap set to arrive.

Of course, it’s important to only spend within your means; don’t expect to recoup your expenditure with every keyboard-related purchase. I’ve gotten quite a number of switches and keyboards – most of which are for…review purposes and curiosity – and I lost a fair bit of money when I resold them. It’s part and parcel of the hobby.

Anyway, because of long waiting times, in stock products in the custom keyboard hobby are especially attractive. Take the Keychron Q1, which is expected to be delivered from next week onwards. Though it’s not a “traditional” custom keyboard, it has many features that are usually only found on enthusiast-level custom keyboards.

Get in on Extras Sales

If you don’t mind paying a premium to get certain products quicker, grab them in extras sales. Once all orders of a particular group buy for a product have been fulfilled, vendors will usually have a number of extra stocks in the event a replacement is needed for faulty items.

When that’s settled, these extra stocks will be sold as…well, extras. That being said, extras sales command a certain premium over the original asking price, so be prepared to pay more. There’s also the fact that extras sales – as the name suggests – are very limited in stock, so you’ll have to be quick to secure an order.

Manage Expectations

Obviously, this is easier said than done, and it’s highly dependent on the product that you’re getting. GMK keycaps, for one, are known to be delayed quite a bit. On top of that, in this current COVID-19 pandemic, plenty of other manufacturers are facing delays as well.

Basically, expect delays to happen, though it’s worth mentioning that vendors play a role in managing expectations too. Needless to say, it can be frustrating when vendors don’t give proper updates, especially if the original timeline has not been met. A few vendors are guilty of this, though we won’t be naming them here.

Naturally, there are also a good number of vendors that have proven themselves to be timely with its updates and product deliveries. KBDfans usually meets the timelines it sets for its group buy products – I even received the KBD67 Lite ahead of the expected timeframe – and the same goes for Mode as well, despite being a relatively new company.

Speaking of these two companies, that brings us to the next point..

More Vendors Are Reducing Waiting Times

Recently, quite a number of vendors are offering their latest products with much shorter waiting time. KBDfans, for example, recently released the Blade65 as an in stock product, so you won’t have to wait for months to get the keyboard to your doorstep.

Mode is going with a similar approach too with its latest keyboard, the Mode SixtyFive. Granted, it is not sold as an in stock product, but the company is aiming to get the keyboard delivered with only a three-month lead time; that’s quite a short waiting time in this hobby. On top of that, it will open pre-orders for the SixtyFive until 2022 as well.

Hopefully, more vendors will follow suit to offer their range of products with shorter waiting times. Rest assured, we will keep a close eye for vendors that are planning to do so.

At the end of the day, you still have to be very patient in the custom keyboard hobby, especially if you want a specific product. Yes, it can be frustrating to wait months and years for products to arrive, but some of them are really worth waiting for.

I’m personally excited to receive the Zenith from Rama Works, even if I’ve waited well over a year for that particular keyboard to start shipping. In the meantime, I’ve got switches, keycaps, and stabilisers to prep for the Zenith, among the eight other products I’m waiting with anticipation..