We put together a complete PBT keyset for the Kinesis Advantage

Blank PBT Keycap Set for the Kinesis Advantage Keyboard

PBT keycaps

PBT Blank set of DCS profile black keys with blue home row. Keyset comes with blank alphanumeric keys, and thumb keys.

Stock: Sold Out - We should restock in a few weeks.

The Keycap Problem

The Kinesis Advantage is an awesome keyboard. At first touch, you'll fall in love with its ergonomic contours and Cherry MX mechanical switches. The issue for Mechanical Keyboard enthusiast is that when typing on the Kinesis you'll notice that the keycaps are made of ABS and after a period of extended usage the keycaps begin to wear and shine. What's more, is that many premium mechanical keyboards sold today offer PBT keycaps as a stock default and is not an option for the Kinesis. After using the ABS keycaps for 6 months we became dissatisfied and sought out a better keyset.

What's the difference between ABS vs PBT?

The Kinesis comes stock with ABS keycaps. ABS plastic tends to wear down faster and become shiny or glossy. If you've used any generic Dell or HP keyboard that ships with your computer you'll notice this effect shows up on certain keys. Usually, the keys that become shiny and glossy keys are the keys that receive many more strikes and the result is the friction from the oils on your finger constantly rubbing against the keys. Think of it as erosion but instead of water you're using your fingers. With our personal experience after using the Kinesis full time for roughly 6 to 7 hours daily, we saw this effect within a few months. ABS keys are also textureless and smooth and some say featureless.

PBT material is much tougher than ABS plastic and can withstand the daily abuse of typing without getting shiny for a much longer. It's not to say that PBT keycaps won't eventually shine but they will take a much longer period of heavy use before getting shiny. PBT enthusiast describes the feel of PBT keys as having a grainy sand-like texture feel which gives them a great experience while typing versus the flat featureless texture of ABS. In addition to durability, PBT keycaps slightly change the sound given off from the Kinesis. What we notice is a slightly quieter and deeper tone than the standard ABS keyset.

What's the difference between DCS and DSA?

Unlike the keycap material between ABS and PBT - DCS or DSA represents the profile of the keycap - or it's the height and angle of the keycap once mounted on the key switch. If you've ever pulled the keycaps off your stock Kinesis you'll notice each key has a different height and angle depending on which row you pulled it off of.

DCS profile - Each key has a different height and angle.

DSA profile - Each key is completely uniform - the height and angles are the same.

The difficulty of finding a full PBT keyset in a DCS profile

For those searching for a PBT solution finding a premade PBT keyset is somewhat difficult since they don't exist as a complete set. Many enthusiasts end up purchasing a DSA profile and settling arguing that it would be a lot of work to put together a complete set à la carte.

Our DCS PBT keyset

We worked with Signature Plastics a US keycap manufacturer to put together a full set of DCS Profile keycaps with the following specs:

Below find a gallery of what the keycaps set looks like.

Comparing our keys against the Kinesis ABS keys

Here's a break down how our PBT DCS keys compare with the stock ABS keys provided by Kinesis. Kinesis seems to be using an OEM DCS profile while we use a Signature Plastics profile. The difference is the Signature plastic profile are a bit shorter in height than OEM and certain keys have a sharper angle. Click on one of the images to get a close-up view of the comparison.

This Gallery includes close up views of:

How do they look on the board?

One word, Fantastic! But that's in the eye of the beholder and we are bias, you decide. The keys give the Kinesis Advantage a jet black look similar to sitting down at the console of a jet black stealth fighter jet - We doubt that's what a jet fighter jet console looks like but you get the gist. When we sit down to work with these PBT keycaps we feel like it's time to produce quality work with a quality set of tools.

Below you'll find a gallery of how the keys look installed on the board. The images were taken from a Kinesis Advantage 2 used as a daily driver over 2 to 4 months. We used the PBT keyset over a 6 day work week averaging around 6 hours daily typing thousands of words. I've gone through a few ABS keysets with similar usage patterns and I'd observe shining roughly after a month or two whereas I didn't get the same with our PBT solution.

We hope our break down of our DCS PBT keycaps was in-depth enough for you to get an idea of what we put together. We spent a lot of time and effort to put together a solution that we'd be proud to offer to those seeking for a replacement to the stock ABS keycaps. If you have questions feel free to visit our FAQs or get in touch.