HHKB Layout Keyboards: In-Depth {Explanation}

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Customizing a keyboard always gives a satisfying experience to keyboard lovers.

Beyond that, the custom keyboard layout concept is one step ahead of the keyboard industry due to offering more control over the keys according to individual preferences.

That’s the reason there is a large dedicated and true audience who purchase custom keyboard layouts.

There are many exceptional keyboard layouts in the mechanical keyboard segment, among them WKL, WK, and HHKB layouts are the most popular and widely used.

After discussing WKL (WinKeyless Keyboard) layout in the previous article, we have come up with a custom keyboard that is many’s hot favorite- the HHKB Layout keyboard.

In this article, we’re going to cover everything from What HHKB layout is, HHKB layout keyboards to Why people use HHKB keyboards.

Let’s get dive to explore HHKB Layout!

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HHKB Layout-1

HHKB Layout is referred to as the Happy Hacking Keyboard layout considered a very small computer keyboard because it comes with only 60 keys (Blank space on Ctrl key placement) with a unique bottom row while retaining full-size keys.

The control key functionality can be actuated by pressing the Caps Lock key.

HHKB layout is designed and developed by the PFU Limites of Japan with the cooperation of Eiiti Wada (A Japanese Computer Scientist).

The main purpose to developed HHKB Keyboard Layout is to reduce the size of 104 keys to 60 keys while keeping their complete key structure.

The Control key location is the vital property of the HHKB layout, or we can’t deny the fact that HHKB is being recognized due to its unique bottom row and the Control key location.

This HHKB Layout is most helpful for the programmer and developers due to its control key location which is in the place of the CapsLock key.

HHKB Keyboard Layout Specifications

HHKB Keyboards are equipped with some unique specifications and work differently compared to conventional layout keyboards.

These keyboards have different functionalities as well as for every layout the key placement is slightly different.

This all makes HHKB keyboards different and unique.

Take a look at all major specification of HHKB keyboards layout through a table to understand more widely:

Layout 

HHKB Layout

Manufactured By

PFU Limites of Japan with Cooperation Eiiti Wada (A Japanese Computer Scientist)

Switch Used

Topre Keyswitches for high-end HHKB keyboards.

Keycaps

PBT keycaps both Blank and Printed.

HHKB Layout Features

Control key location in the Place of the CapsLock key.

60 keys instead of 104 keys.

The Esc key is located to the left of the one key.

The Delete key is located just above the enter key.

BackSpace Key can be accessed with Fn + Delete key.

Downstream USB ports can be enabled/disabled on USB Models.

Power saving Mode functionality in Hybrid models.

HHKB Keyboard Layouts Overview

These kinds of keyboards are inspired by the original Macintosh keyboard and the Sun Type 3 keyboard along with some sort of the designs obtained from the multiple historical keyboards.

The most common and standard layouts of HHKB keyboards are ANSI and JIS layouts which is being evaluated throughout the history of the HHKB.

Here are the images for both ANSI and JIS layouts so you can understand the differences in details better.

1.HHKB ANSI Layout

HHKB Layout-ANSI

Source: hhkb.io

 

ANSI stands for (Americal National Standards Institute) which is the standard and most popular layout in western countries for a keyboard that describes the size and position of the keys.

This HHKB ANSI layout follows the same standardization of keys that a normal ANSI layout has.

HHKB ANSI Layout has enter key wider and rectangular.

Whereas ANSI Layout has slight differences in both side Shift keys as the left Shift key is comparatively shorter than the right-side Shift key which is long and rectangular.

In the ANSI Layout, the backslash key is directly located just above the Enter key and the size of this key is quite similar to the Control key mounted on the left side.

You can see this in the above images for better illustration.

Here are the significant specifications of HHKB ANSI Layout which should be read by a user before opting for this layout:

  • Control Keys place is empty.
  • Tiny Right Shift key
  • Any additional key can be accessed with Fn keys correspondence such as for navigating Page up, Use Fn + L

2. HHKB JIS (Japanese) Layout

HHKB Layout-JIS

Japanese Input methods are generally used to input Japanese characters on the computer keyboard that’s why it is called JIS Layout.

It also has the Qwerty Layout for English along with Kana input as this Qwerty layout is the most popular layout used in Japan.

This JIS layout keyboard is the same as the US layout keyboard but what differentiates is its Japanese character input, which makes it easier for Japanese people to work flawlessly on the keyboards.

Coming to HHKB JIS Layout, it has all the HHKB layout printing the Japanese characters on the keys.

Compared to the HHKB ANSI layout, this JIS Layout is not widely used in other countries but in Japan, the JIS layout is mostly preferred by keyboard lovers especially when the HHKB layout is concerned.

Take a look at some unique properties of HHKB JIS Layout:

  • Tiny Spacebar 
  • Tiny Right Shift key
  • Arrow keys with more control.
  • Many different thumb keys in the bottom row.

Note: As you can see the functions printed on the keycaps can be actuated with the Function key (Fn ) simultaneously with the corresponding key.

Like If you want to perform the Home key, you need to press Fn + K

3. Type S Model

HHKB-Layout-type-s-model

The Hybrid Type S models from HHKB Keyboards have the minimalistic TenKeyless layout which provides a more silent experience during typing.

These Type S models have Topre Electrostatic Capacitive Silent Key Switches along with rubber dome key structure and silent membrane providing a great typing experience to the users who love HHKB Layout.

Hybrid connectivity and Premium PBT keycaps with a sculpted profile make these keyboards stand out.

Type S models are equipped with a symmetrical layout that is responsible for expressing fast typing with precise accuracy, also it reduced wrist and finger fatigue even if typing perpetually.

These Keyboards are designed and made in Japan so durability and reliability should be top-notch.

4. Apple Macintosh M0110 (Vintage)

HHKB Layout-Apple M0110 Keyboard

Apple Macintosh M0110 keyboard’s design is inspired by the HHKB (Happy Hacking Keyboard) due to its compact design layout and unique bottom row.

On the left side bottom row, the Apple logo is mounted which looks stunning and attractive along with a Beige color with grey keys enhances its appearance.

This M0110 keyboard was firstly introduced by Apple with the Macintosh computer.

Due to its vintage feel, Keyboard enthusiast loves this keyboard even today that’s why it is high in demand too in 2022.

HHKB Keyboards Lineup

From launching its first keyboard in 1996 to the latest HHKB keyboards, HHKB’s evolution is changing with respect to time and requirements.

There are 7 keyboards which company has launched for HHKB Layouts in which some just upgrade versions whereas some are completely new.

Here are the following HHKB Keyboards launching from 1996 to 2022 with their enclosed pictures for better illustration.

1. HHKB Professional

HHKB Layout-HHKB Professional Keyboard

HHKB Professional Keyboard was the first HHKB Layout that comes with Topre electro-capacitive key switches for actuation.

Due to Topre switches, the actuation is fast and consistent with strong tactile feedback.

The user experienced a Thock sound while typing on these keyswitches.

Featuring 60 keys this HHKB Professional keyboard follows ANSI Layout for key placement, so the control key is mounted in the place of the CapsLock key.

To know more in-depth about the ANSI layout jump to the ANSI layout section above.

This keyboard offers two different color combinations which are white a charcoal grey which look attractive and beautiful.

HHKB Professional offers two variants one is blank keycaps and the other is printed keycaps, so you can choose according to your preferences.

2. HHKB Professional 2

HHKB Layout-HHKB Professional Keyboard 2

HHKB Professional 2 Charcoal

 

Being a TenKeyless layout, this HHKB Professional 2 is an upgraded version of its previous Professional keyboard.

HHKB Professional 2 keyboard is the most successful keyboard from the HHKB series as this model serves as the longest-running model on the market.

HHKB Professional 2 is equipped with a two-port USB hub that consumes very less power, apart from this keyboard has silencing rings and a modified slider that works great and reduced the loss in travel.

These extra functionalities associated with HHKB Professional 2 keyboard differentiate it from its previous version keyboard.

Overall, it’s an excellent keyboard from HHKB that users loved the most.

3. HHKB Professional Classic

HHKB Layout-HHKB Professional Classic

The next keyboard in the HHKB line-up is HHKB Professional Classic which is the next version of the Professional line 2 keyboard.

HHKB Professional 2 keyboard comes with additional USB Type-C support for connectivity which improves its connectivity to a certain level where no input lag is observed.

And the significant additional difference between Professional and Professional Classic is the case design as this Classic variant has sharper bezels with a rounded corner that provides a strong grip on the keyboard while typing.

The typing experience will be more effortless with this Classic keyboard from HHKB Layout.

You can see the difference in the branding logo which is moved to the left top from the right bottom.

In my opinion Branding logo looks more promising and attractive in this place in the Classic variant.

There is no JIS and Type-S variants available for this HHKB Professional Classic keyboard. IF you are comfortable with ANSI Layout, this Classic edition is best for you.

4. HHKB Professional Hybrid

HHKB Layout-HHKB Hybrid Model

HHKB Professional Hybrid keyboard has been launched alongside the Classic variants.

This Hybrid variant from HHKB has various advanced functionalities comparing its previous model, as HHKB Hybrid supports high-speed input as well as ideal key touch which gives a premium feel during typing.

This HHKB Hybrid keyboard comes with a normal Hybrid and Type-S model.

It supports USB Type-C for wired connection, and for wireless, it supports Bluetooth connectivity as well.

HHKB Hybrid keyboards provide long battery life so using them for a long time is not gonna create any problems.

Similar to the Classic, the Hybrid model has sharp bezels with a rounded corner for excellent gripping, and the non-contact capacitive method is used without chattering.

This Hybrid variant has a JIS layout in its lineup for both standard and type-s models in addition to Type-S variants.

Overall HHKB Hybrid is an Excellent HHKB Layout keyboard that has some exceptional functionalities and great typing experience.

5. HHKB Professional JP

HHKB Layout-HHKB Professional JP

HHKB Professional JP keyboard is totally dedicated to people who want to experience the Japanese Layout (JIS) keyboard.

As this HHKB keyboard is specially designed for JP lovers that’s why it is completely based on JIS Layout. 

The main specialty of this HHKB Professional JP keyboard is the tiny shift key and spacebar, and the L layout Enter key.

The bottom arrow keys provide more control over the entire keyboard.

After its successful journey on the keyboard market, the new Type-S variant was also launched and loved by the users.

The branding of this JP keyboard is completely different from HHKB’s previous variants as it is shifted to the right bottom of the keyboard’s frame. Although it looks good and separates it from the other HHKB keyboards.

History Of Happy Hacking Keyboard (HHKB) Layout

The history of making HHKB Layout is very interesting, this Happy Hacking  Keyboard Layout was firstly designed by a Japanese computer scientist named Eiiti Wada.

The concept behind the invention of HHKB Layout was that: As every new computer system comes with a new layout keyboard which makes it complex for users to type differently on each system, this increases frustration too. Wada sought to create his own keyboard layout that can work with various computer systems easily.

Professor Wada and PFU collaborated to design the Happy Hacking Keyboard (HHKB) after being inspired by the original Macintosh Keyboard.

Professor Wada had a mock-up with both Blank keycaps and Printed Keycaps and he founds that his students liked Blank keycaps more than printed keycaps that are the reason Blank keycaps legacy still continues with the Happy Hacking Keyboards.

The above lines are inspired by Wikipedia.

Where To Buy HHKB Keyboards

HHKB Keyboards are tough to get in your hands because of their limited availability. 

HHKB Keyboards are being sold by only some online platforms as well as you can also get these keyboards nearby in the offline shops.

If you want HHKB keyboards in the United States you can directly order from Fujitsu.

But if you are from outside the US, you have to check availability at your location. Here are the following two online platforms where HHKB keyboards are available:

  1. Amazon
  2. mechanicalkeyboards.com

Kindly check the price difference on both platforms to get these keyboards at the best price.

Bestseller No. 1

HHKB Keyboard Layout-Amazon
  • ✅Capacitive non-contact method
  • ✅high-speed input
  • ✅ ideal key touch and long life…
  • ✅3-step tilt adjustment

Conclusion

HHKB Keyboard Layouts is certainly loved by hardcore keyboard enthusiasts due to its vintage feel, control key placement, and very less keys collaboration.

The unique bottom row thumb keys also give more control over the keyboards.

One thing I would say attract most of the user is the Keyboard Layout diversification as JIS, ANSI, and Type-S Layouts has their own advantages.

it all depends on the user preferences at least they have the option to choose their favorite HHKB layouts.

HHKB Keyboards are highly durable because of the materials they are made from, and most importantly HHKB’s are made in Japan which is known to provide quality products in all segments.

That’s why the price is so expensive for the HHKB layout keybords.

These HHKB keyboards have a separate audience base as common keyboard users don’t likely to go with this kind of vintage layout but some true Keyboard lovers highly need these HHKB keyboards on their desks.

I hope this post was helpful to you.

Thanks for reading.

Cheers!!

HHKB Layout FAQs

Why are HHKB keyboards so expensive?

HHKB keyboards are made with very premium PBT plastic materials, high-quality topre switches, and have a unique special edition layout and Vintage feel, these all factors significantly increase the price of HHKB keyboards compared to standard keyboards.

Is HHKB layout good for gaming?

HHKB layout is considered good for gaming as some high-end HHKB keyboards have topre switches which offer fast and consistent typing which is required in a good gaming keyboard, although they are good but not the best for gaming purposes.

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