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  • Greetings and welcome to an LGR keyboard thing!

  • And this is the Cherry KXN3-8451 infrared keyboard

  • introduced in 1984 at a price of 275 US dollars.

  • And yes, this is a wireless mechanical keyboard from the mid 80s and it's awesome.

  • This was meant not only as a replacement to the IBM PCjr’s infamously awful keyboard

  • from 1983, which originally came with this gummy chiclet abomination and even later on

  • came with one of these, which was better yet still not ideal.

  • But it was also sold as a wireless alternative to the IBM PC and XT’s 83-key Model F keyboard.

  • So what do you get with this Cherry board if you're replacing that wonderful thing?

  • Well to start with these key caps are double shot matte finish ones.

  • They're also cast in a shape that makes them a little bit shorter and lower profile than

  • IBM's keys, so while your fingers won’t be bouncing up and down quite as much they

  • still feel comfortable and they're laid out in such a way that anyone used to an IBM PC

  • keyboard of the time will feel pretty much at home.

  • Speaking of layout, this is not the traditional 83-key IBM PC keyboard, but instead this has 84 keys.

  • And I admire the way that they advertised it as having anenhanced layout with shift

  • in the proper position, a horizontal return key, and an extra return key.”

  • And you know, I'm inclined to agree with them.

  • I personally do prefer a horizontal return key as opposed to the vertical one on the

  • Model F, and the shift on the left hand side of the keyboard is indeed at the proper position,

  • and that extra return over on the numpad is where the 84th key comes in: a handy thing

  • indeed for the numpad-addicted.

  • As for underneath the keys, well, this is where the mechanical stuff happens.

  • These are Cherry MX Blacks, or rather some early variant of them that were introduced

  • the same years this keyboard in 1984.

  • And as you can see from this Cherry advertisement of the same year

  • there were several different types available.

  • But the ones on here are linear switches.

  • There is no tactile or audible click, and theyre somewhat stiff, taking about 75

  • grams of force to press down.

  • Now that could just be due to the age and condition of these particular switches since

  • they're supposed to be only 62 grams, according to Cherry.

  • Either way, 1984 MX Blacks, pretty good stuff!

  • And in case you're wondering about the spacebar, yes it does take more force to press down

  • as you might expect at a little over 80 grams in this case.

  • But, unlike later boards with MX Blacks installed, this does not use a linear grey switch underneath

  • the space bar.

  • Instead it's another MX Black, just with a splotch of red paint,

  • presumably to indicate it's for the space bar.

  • And inside of that is a slightly stiffer spring.

  • Now, one thing I'm always looking for in mechanical boards is N-key rollover, which refers to

  • the limit or lack of limit for simultaneous key presses.

  • And according to Cherry's ad for this board ot boastspseudo N-key rollover.”

  • I don't know exactly what they mean in this exact context, I've seen some companies that

  • say that and they're actually referencing 18-key rollover.

  • But regardless it is not a full NKRO keyboard so there is

  • some kind of limit here for simultaneous key presses.

  • And being that it's a wireless board let's check out the battery situation, and this

  • takes four double-a batteries in this removable tray underneath.

  • And the company seemed quite proud of what they pulled off here with their quotestate-of-the-art

  • CMOS electronic components and special circuitrythat would only draw power when a key is pressed,

  • extending battery life up to 1 million keystrokes.

  • Around the rear of the unit you'll see these little circular things here, these are the

  • infrared ports which will transmit to a PCjr, and it is indeed compatible with the jr’s

  • integrated infrared receiver.

  • But it also included a cord to plug in the back of the machine for wired usage.

  • And these cords with the RJ-11 on one end and the PCjr connection on the other are really

  • hard to find nowadays so I'm happy this came with it.

  • However, to use this on a PC/XT or compatible you just flip this switch underneath

  • fromjuniortosenior.”

  • [chuckles] There's officially no such thing as a “PC Senior,” but they just called

  • it that anyway and I think it's cute.

  • And to get it working with thesenioryou'll also need the optional Cherry 0B99-13AL

  • interface, which provides you both an infrared receiver and a converter for the PCjr keyboard

  • cable to plug it into the 5-pin DIN connection of the PC/XT keyboard port.

  • Now It was Cherry's claim that the wireless mode would function at up to 20 feet at an

  • angle of up to 50 degrees, providing you have complete line of sight

  • and no electrical or optical interference.

  • And well, I've had problems with interference and infrared keyboards before.

  • Like I used to use CFL light bulbs to light my scenes and when I did a review of the original

  • PCjr version of King's Quest that caused all sorts of problems.

  • [incessant beeping when lights are turned on] “Yeah.”

  • [beeping continues!]

  • To counteract this a bit the receiver box also has this switch on the bottom to choose

  • between high and low modes, which reduces the reception range and in turn reduces the

  • potential for outside interference.

  • And finally you also get two manuals with the full package here: one for the PCjr-compatible

  • keyboard and one for the PC interface box.

  • These not only provide some excellent technical information but plenty of troubleshooting

  • tips for when things inevitably go weird with the infrared side of the equation.

  • Pretty much if things are beeping like crazy, you've done something wrong and it's gonna need fixin’.

  • Yeah, let's go ahead and hook this thing up and give it a try.

  • I have got a PCjr and a PCseniorat the ready, so let's get to it!

  • [disk drive goes brank] “Brank!”

  • All right, so I've got the PC junior turned on here and batteries in the Cherry infrared

  • keyboard, and well, moment of truth!

  • That is the infrared receiver built into this thing and of course it

  • has its own transmitting so [types] Haha!

  • Yeah, that works perfectly fine it seems even right up close, which is good.

  • Definitely don't have a N-key rollover.

  • It's not even accepting that at all, at least not on the PCjr.

  • But... [typing sounds] we can run a classy BASIC program.

  • Let's try something else here.

  • Ooh, I don't know if it caught it.

  • Nooo.

  • There we go.

  • [loud but lovely floppy disk drive noises]

  • And you gotta love the sound of that disk drive.

  • Okay.

  • So uh, yeah.

  • We can do DOS things.

  • All right, so we know that it works.

  • Another thing I want to test is the distance, and remember Cherry said that this would work

  • at a distance of up to 20 feet with no interference.

  • I don't actually have a room in my house that is 20 feet long, but I can get pretty close to that.

  • I'm walking, let’s see, about 15 feet?

  • This might be about 20 feet.

  • I am all the way two rooms away, through a couple of doorways through the hallway.

  • [typing sounds] And it appears to be working.

  • I can't actually see from here -- I mean, I can see from here but it's just blurry even

  • with glasses because eyesight.

  • [type type] And yeah, there we go!

  • I see the disk reading in there.

  • Man, yeah that absolutely seems to work without a hitch!

  • And I've got all sorts of lights and objects in the way

  • and a camera and tripod were in the line of sight.

  • So this is pretty darn impressive, seems to do everything Cherry said that it would!

  • And just to verify what I already know but maybe someone's curious.

  • Yes, the cable that it came with does work with the original PC junior rather unfortunate

  • chiclet keyboard right here, as well as the updated PC junior keyboard with the slightly

  • nicer keys and mechanism.

  • But still nowhere near the mechanical goodness of the Cherry keyboard.

  • But yeah, you can kind of see here actually, as far as the key shape and everything, what

  • they were really going for with the Cherry.

  • Of course the mechanism you get here isn't nearly as nice as what you get on the Cherry

  • board, it's just that little rubber dome with the membrane underneath.

  • But that's definitely the feel overall that they were going for with the Cherry board.

  • And speaking of this once again let's head on over

  • to an IBM PC/XT and see how it works with that!

  • All right, so now I have it plugged into the PCSenior XT,” I guess they would call it.

  • And to start with I'm just going to try it in the wired mode, with the box just plugged

  • in directly to the computer and then that plugged in directly to this, and then we'll

  • try it wireless afterward.

  • At the moment though I just want to see if indeed it works and it seems to.

  • I just wanted to see if it converted over correctly to this XT and I mean, you know,

  • so far so good.

  • Typing seems just fine fine.

  • [more typing sounds]

  • I missed a space there, but yeah that space is seriously heavy.

  • Okay, I assume we're going to turn the computer off in order to get the wireless enabled.

  • [PC powers on]

  • Alright no beeping so far that's good.

  • Hmm.

  • That's not doing anything from right here.

  • Sensitivity is on high, not that it necessarily needs it, being this close.

  • I'm assuming that it's just the angle.

  • Heh, yep.

  • [chuckles, types]

  • Oh good.

  • Let's see where [presses keys] yeah.

  • If the sensor is up there I'm I really should put the sensor off to the side to get this to...

  • [grunts, moves things]

  • Okay.

  • Haha!

  • It still doesn't -- you have to like -- oh my goodness.

  • I need a way bigger desk!

  • [shuffling things]

  • Will this work?

  • That works.

  • [type-y type type]

  • Yeah, great.

  • So with my limited desk space I had to move the computer over here, put the IR receiver

  • over there, put the legs down and then this!

  • This works, that's about as close as I can get the keyboard and still have it pick up.

  • And granted I mean, it's working pretty great at this point.

  • This is fine.