I had been wanting a mechanical keyboard for sometime. There are so many choices out there it is easy to get bogged down in details and acronyms, but I eventually picked up a Noppoo Choc Mini 84 USB Mechanical Keyboard with Cherry MX Blues (the Blue and Brown switches are out of stock but the Red and Black switches are available).
The Noppoo was fantastic until I figured out what it couldn’t do.
The Noppoo was well priced, built like a tank, had a small physical footprint, and had one of the best keyboard layouts on any small form-factor keyboard I had ever seen (the function keys are exactly aligned with the number keys and the right-hand side column of keys had the Delete, Home, PgUp, PgDown, and End keys aligned vertically).
Despite all this, the Noppoo had one problem that rendered it useless; the keyboard firmware.
For whatever reason, the keyboard firmware works by implementing several virtual keyboards, and as a result, the keyboard cannot be used during the pre-boot sequence. So, it cannot be used to get into the BIOS or boot from external media. The only way for this functionality to work is to use a USB-to-PS/2 adapter. Even though most motherboards still come with PS/2 ports, I would rather avoid using a legacy port, and in my particular case, I have an IOGEAR USB KVM switch that is USB only, so I was out of luck. Plus, it is ridiculous to need a spare keyboard just to do anything during the pre-boot sequence.
So, I reluctantly boxed up the Noppoo, sent it back, and replaced it with a Filco Ninja Majestouch-2, Tenkeyless, NKR.
If you have purchased a Noppoo keyboard, and this problem has been fixed, let me know in the comments.