IT’S A KEYBOARD PARTY
THERE’S MORE TO MECHANICAL KEYBOARD LIFE THAN RGB AND CHERRY SWITCHES. AS WE SAW. THE NUMBER OF NEW KEYBOARDS THIS YEAR NUMBER IN THE HIGH DOZENS – LOW HUNDREDS IF WE INCLUDE ALL THE MANY SMALLER CHINESE FACTORY DIRECT STANDS TUCKED AWAY IN THE QUIET HALL
Fighting through our jaded weariness about keyboards in general, some stuff worth talking about actually happened. For a start there’s a definite a shift away from stupidly over-stylised behemoths, towards simpler, austere designs. You can thank Cooler Master and Logitech for that, both companies always eschewed the crazy teenage aspirant progamer stuff and their elegant designs seem to have finally influenced the others. Also, if your key caps aren’t raised up high over a flat slab so when you hold the keyboard up to your eyes you can see all the mechanisms, you’re just not in the game.
KEYBOARD SWITCH NEWS
In the period leading up to last year’s Computex, Cherry switches were hard to get for many manufacturers, with a few companies like Corsair securing entire production runs. Now, apparently, the Cherry company has its manufacturing volume sorted and now everyone has anywhere between two and twenty Cherry-based models. Red and brown switches are by far the most common.
Despite a few nibbles at the membrane cake last year from a couple of companies, those cheapies have almost disappeared – including, thankfully, the nasty and overpriced combo membrane and mechanical devices. Goodbye. Don’t come back.
But! In more refreshing news we saw several entirely new switches. So there’s something wonderful for keyboard switch enthusiasts. These were usually from companies that previously had no presence in the keyboard market, suggesting perhaps that many of these ‘new’ switches that were usually claimed to have been developed “in house [long pause, voice softens] … in conjunction with a partner” probably came from one of the many Chinese Cherry clone factories that have finally caught up to the original brand. But seriously – how hard can making a keyboard switch be? Two or three years to get a Cherry competitor to market just isn’t trying.
AN OBLIGATORY WORD ON RGB
And, praise be, Taiwan has finally come to understand that there are other colours in the keyboard rainbow besides the usual 16.8 million colour spectrum. Specifically – having just one colour. We saw a great many that had just red lighting. Or blue. Or white. Marvellous to see, and they were all much nicer than full RGB and quite a bit cheaper. We actually had one company rep tell us that they think “not everyone wants RGB”. Incredible. This is very positive progress.
COOLEST KEYBOARD EVER
Absolutely everything at the Varmilo keyboard stand was beautiful and wonderful, like the panda-themed keyboard with raised panda footprints on the keys and the lovely bamboo font. They also score our Coolest Keyboard Ever Award for a custom milled titanium keyboard base that weighed 4kg and apparently took three weeks to make. There is but one in the world, and you can’t buy it.
Varmilo’s Panda set has a bambo font
FROM TOP LEFT: Raised keys on a flat slab is the 2018 keyboard fashion; A Varmilo World Cup theme; Cooler Master’s new switch
More Varmilo beauties