Black beauty

In­put Club NightFox

HWM (Singapore) - - TEST - By Koh Wanzi

The NightFox is a lux­ury key­board for those who are will­ing to pony up for pre­mium ma­te­ri­als and de­sign. The key­board fea­tures dark an­thracite gray key­caps and deep red ar­row and Esc keys, which makes for quite a lovely con­trast. The alu­minum case, plate, and screws have been col­ored to match the key­caps, and the over­all look con­veys an el­e­gance that puts many other key­boards to shame.

The ma­te­ri­als aren’t just for show ei­ther, and the NightFox oozes qual­ity. The alu­minum body is re­as­sur­ingly solid and there’s no dis­cernible ex to it. All things con­sid­ered, this truly feels like a key­board that will last you a life­time and then some, pro­vided you don’t do any­thing too crazy with it.

You can also see the cre­ators’ at­ten­tion to de­tail in things like the black braided USB-C ca­ble. Per­son­ally, I don’t think braided ca­bles make that much of a dif­fer­ence as I nd that they’re of­ten sti­fier and more dif­fi­cult to man­age. While the ca­ble on the NightFox does feel quite stiff, it matches the key­board per­fectly, and I can’t stress enough how much I ap­pre­ci­ate the use of the re­versible USB-C con­nec­tor.

I also like the dye­sub­li­mated PBT key­caps. Frankly, at US$189 for the key­board, I’d ex­pect noth­ing less. PBT is more durable than cheaper and more com­mon ABS key­caps. More im­por­tantly, it’s more ca­pa­ble of re­sist­ing the oils on your hands, so it won’t de­velop an un­sightly shine over time. PBT also feels slightly rougher than ABS, and the tex­tured sur­face more en­joy­able to type on. _

Fur­ther­more, the dye­sub­li­mated leg­ends also

won’t fade over time as the dye pen­e­trates the plas­tic, un­like cheaper pad-printed leg­ends.

The key­board uses the True Fox lay­out, which was con­ceived by Mat­teo Spinelli as his ideal lay­out. One of the main grouses peo­ple have about com­pact key­boards is their lack of a ded­i­cated ar­row clus­ter, but the NightFox thank­fully re­tains that.

How­ever, there’s a gap between the left ar­row and Fn key. This may seem odd at rst, but it ac­tu­ally helps you nd the ar­row keys more eas­ily and re­duces typ­ing er­rors. That aside, other things that may need some get­ting used to are the smaller 1.5U Backspace key lo­cated in the R3 row in­stead of R4.

That said, the True Fox lay­out still man­ages to in­clude all the im­por­tant keys. For ex­am­ple, most com­pact lay­outs tend to sacri ce the tilde and Print Screen keys, but the True Fox re­tains both of them.

Fi­nally, the NightFox uses In­put Club’s own Hako switches, a box switch vari­ant man­u­fac­tured by Kailh. They were de­signed to mimic the force curve and vel­vety feel of To­pre switches, but that’s a de­bat­able claim, and not ex­actly one I agree with.

The Hako switches fea­ture a unique force curve where the switch be­comes sig­nif­i­cantly steeper af­ter the ac­tu­a­tion point. This helps dis­cour­age bot­tom­ing out, which In­put Club says is a non-op­ti­mal way of typ­ing that leads to fa­tigue.

My ver­sion of the NightFox is equipped with the Hako True switches, the stiffi­est of all the Hako switches with an ac­tu­a­tion force of 60g and a bot­tom-out force of 94g.

I do have a habit of bot­tom­ing out when I type, and I can say that the Hako True switches make it eas­ier to stop do­ing this. In ad­di­tion, I re­ally like how smooth each key­stroke feels and the in­crease in force af­ter the ac­tu­a­tion point is a unique ex­pe­ri­ence that few other switches pro­vide.

That said, these switches are prob­a­bly not for ev­ery­one. Since they were de­signed to make bot­tom­ing out more dif­fi­cult, they’re ar­guably not suit­able for gam­ing. Fur­ther­more, even though the Hako True is sup­posed to be a tac­tile switch, they feel more like a heavy lin­ear switch. That’s partly be­cause the bump sits so high up that there’s prac­ti­cally no pre-travel be­fore it, so you barely feel the tac­tile bump at all.

In other words, if you bought into In­put Club’s mar­ket­ing and were hop­ing for a tac­tile, To­pre-like feel, you’re go­ing to be dis­ap­pointed. Other­wise, the Hako True o ers quite a dis­tinc­tive typ­ing ex­pe­ri­ence that you won’t nd on any other Cherry MX or box switch.

To cap things o , the NightFox is fully pro­gram­mable, so power users will be able to pro­gram their own keys and lay­ers. The key­board runs on KLL, short for Key­board Lay­out Lan­guage, and you’ll be able to port your cus­tom con­fig­u­ra­tions over to an­other key­board that uses it as well.

A lux­ury item with im­pres­sive build qual­ity, de­sign, and cus­tomiz­abil­ity.

Box switches box in the key stem, hence their name.

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