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Happy Hacking Keyboard Professional 2 Review: Compromise Isn’t Happy

Rating:
5/10
?
  • 1 - Absolute Hot Garbage
  • 2 - Sorta Lukewarm Garbage
  • 3 - Strongly Flawed Design
  • 4 - Some Pros, Lots Of Cons
  • 5 - Acceptably Imperfect
  • 6 - Good Enough to Buy On Sale
  • 7 - Great, But Not Best-In-Class
  • 8 - Fantastic, with Some Footnotes
  • 9 - Shut Up And Take My Money
  • 10 - Absolute Design Nirvana
Price:
Starting At $200
Professional 2 keyboard on wooden board
Eric Schoon / Review Geek

High-end compact keyboards are nothing new, but the Professional 2 is looking to introduce a new level of class. With an ergonomic design, high-quality materials, and a unique switch-type, this board can feel fresh even if you’re used to niche mechanical keyboards.

This keyboard is designed for high-end users from the get-go, looking to minimize finger travel for everyday actions and sporting a classy minimalist design (there’s even a model with blank keycaps if you want to go the extra mile). It’s a small, 60% keyboard, but even if you use a 60% board now, the Professional 2 will take some getting used to.

And for the common keyboard consumer, the Professional 2 is missing some key features you’ve likely come to expect from a keyboard costing over $200 (the price will vary); there’s no RGB, media controls, or more niche features like hot swapping.

That’s not to say it’s all bad, though, Fujitsu Computer Products (the manufacturer of the Professional 2) knew what it was going for with this board, and it’s easy to see that once you start using it—whether or not it paid off is a harder call.

Here's What We Like

  • Exceptional build quality
  • Uniquely satisfying switches
  • Many ports

And What We Don't

  • Strange layout choices
  • Iffy software
  • High price

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A Switch Name You Don’t Know

Mechanical keyboards have comfortably broken into the mainstream at this point. If you’re at all interested in high-end computer peripherals, you’ve undoubtedly heard of Cherry or MX-style mechanical switches. If you don’t know the name, nearly every mechanical keyboard you’ve used or heard of uses them. They’re the bog-standard and very good, but the Professional 2 uses something else: Topre switches.

Close-up of Topre switch installed on the Professional 2 keyboard
A close-up shot of a Topre switch. Eric Schoon / Review Geek

Named after the designer and company of the same name, Topre switches are another high-end keyboard switch that rivals more traditional mechanical ones. Unlike mechanical switches, Topre switches don’t have analog mechanisms to register inputs, instead using electrical currents that are sent from the rounded tops of each switch when pushed down.

Of course, you don’t see any of that while typing, so how do these Topre switches feel and sound as opposed to other keyboard switches? In short: unique—instead of the clicks and clatters you’d expect from a typical mechanical keyboard, the HHK is characterized by pronounced thumps. It’s a very tactile switch, leading to a typing experience that satisfies both in feel and sound.

Without a doubt, the switch choice is the most interesting part of the keyboard, and Topre switches, in general, offer a great alternative if mechanical switches have never done it for you before. They feel like a marriage of the best parts of membrane switches with the depth and tactility of a mechanical one while remaining durable and accurate. Naturally, you need to feel it for yourself to get a grasp on it, but it’s hard to find anything to dislike about how the Professional 2 feels.

A Well-Built Keyboard

Close-up of right side of the Professional 2 keyboard.
Eric Schoon / Review Geek

Sticking with hardware, the Professional 2 is a soundly built keyboard. While the exterior is entirely made of plastic, it’s quality stuff, and there’s no bending or creaking to speak of here, even when placing significant force on it. On the bottom is two kick-out feet, each with two levels so you can choose how steep or shallow the board is. Even without those, the keyboard’s body has a built-in curve to help ergonomics.

Besides that, the most notable thing about the Professional 2’s exterior is the ports. Naturally, the Micro-USB is for connecting to your computer. No surprise there, but there are also two USB-A ports for connecting other peripherals to your computer through the Professional 2. It’s a rare feature on 60% boards, so definitely appreciated here, but what’s even rarer is what’s next to the ports.

A small panel is next to the ports hiding a set of switches that alter how the keyboard behaves. You’ll use some sort of pin to flip them—your fingers aren’t going to fit in there—but they hide some alternative layouts that you can trigger with various switch combinations. But that’s something we’ll talk about later.

A Strange Layout

As a 60% keyboard, the Professional 2 is missing the NumPad, numerous navigation keys, dedicated arrow keys, and the function row compared to a standard keyboard. That’s a lot of missing keys, but 60% keyboards aren’t less functional for ditching them. Most 60% boards, including the Professional 2, have mappings for various key combinations to replace the missing keys (such as FN + K for “Home”). The Professional 2 even brings unique alternative functions like volume and power controls.

Where the layout gets weird is how it handles the keys it does physically have. You’ll notice the differences right away from a full keyboard, or even most 60% boards. Some strange changes include having Delete in place of a standard Backspace key with Backspace only available by performing FN + Delete. Backspace is a ubiquitous key, so it’s strange to have it locked behind the lesser-used Delete, and even more bizarre when Delete is already available through “FN + `.”

Overhead shot of the Professional 2 keyboard
Eric Schoon / Review Geek

There are other examples of similarly strange layout decisions, but I won’t go through them all in detail. The manufacturer claims it did this to help ergonomics, so the user moves their fingers around less, but that hasn’t panned out for me. Since keys like Backspace are locked behind key combinations, I regularly have to contort my hands to reach the FN key anyway (which itself is small and oddly placed). The main advantage of this layout is that it’s more compact, which is nice, but I found zero ergonomic or productivity benefits from using this board compared to other 60% boards.

You could always change the key functions with the HHK software, if you can get it working that is. After multiple reinstalls and various troubleshooting efforts, the software refuses to recognize that the Professional 2 is even plugged in for me. The previously mentioned set of switches can trigger specific changes like making delete default to Backspace. While that one, in particular, will be useful to many, unfortunately, none of the other changes reach that same level of utility. It’s mostly stuff like changing which keys act as “Alt” or “Fn”, or switching the keyboard between Mac and Windows mode.

Close-up of Professional 2's ports and switch panel.
The USB ports and switch panel; located on the front side of the keyboard. Eric Schoon / Review Geek

It was my only way to alter the more bothersome parts of the keyboard’s layout with the software down. But it’s too clunky and limited to be fully relied on, and if you’re looking for comprehensive control of your keyboard’s layout, this will do little to satisfy you.

Of course, you will eventually get used to the layout changes if you stick with it, but my long-winded point here is that there’s no reason to. Actual ergonomic keyboards usually bring tangible benefits with their strange layouts; the HHK doesn’t go far enough to do that; it only goes far enough to recreate the frustration of adjusting.

It’s Just Not Worth it

Thanks to its unique form factor and switches, the Professional 2 was always going to be expensive no matter the features it included. However, outside of the build quality and typing experience, the Professional 2 doesn’t have much to justify its high asking price.

High-end compact keyboards are a surprisingly competitive field with high standards amongst their users. And the Professional 2 lacks some significant things: it’s not very customizable, there aren’t any additional features, and the layout requires an adjustment period even if you’re used to compact boards. The Professional 2 expects customers to meet it at its level, and with that comes a lot of compromises. For more casual users, the keyboard is too expensive without the features to back it up—simple as that. Even if you are one of the high-end users Fujitsu was targeting with this board, though, you’re likely to compile your own list of grievances while using it.

The Professional 2 gets a lot right, don’t get me wrong. It feels great to type on and the build quality is some of the best I’ve seen on a manufactured board. However, unless you’re interested in unique keyboards for the sake of them being unique I can’t think of anything the Professional 2 is doing that more traditional compact keyboards couldn’t compete with. The switches and materials may be premium, but the overall user experience is too clunky to be worth the money.

Rating:
5/10
Price:
Starting At $200

Here’s What We Like

  • Exceptional build quality
  • Uniquely satisfying switches
  • Many ports

And What We Don't

  • Strange layout choices
  • Iffy software
  • High price

Eric Schoon Eric Schoon
Eric Schoon is a writer for Review Geek and has spent most of his life thinking about and analyzing products of all shapes and sizes. From the latest games to the hottest smartphones, he enjoys finding the greatest strengths and weaknesses of everything he gets his hands on and then passing that information on to you. Read Full Bio »