ROG Strix Flare II Animate brings a customizable tiny dot-matrix display to add some fun to your old keyboard!

This is the ROG Strix Flare II Animate, a mechanical keyboard with a built-in LED screen that plays animations, displays logos, show battery life, react to gaming sounds, audio visualizations, display date & time and more.

What do hardcore gamers and keyboard enthusiasts have in common? Well, both have an unrelenting lust for the most eye-popping and advanced tech that’s on offer when it comes to the most valued PC accessory. Asus has surprised us in the past with their gaming-centric accessories under the brand ROG (Republic of Gamers) for demanding users, and keyboards along with mouse and headsets have been their forte. Now at CES 2022, Asus has just dropped a drop-dead gorgeous keyboard that’s hard to resist.

If your memory aids you, this is something similar to what we’ve seen inbuilt into the lids of some laptops. Asus likes to call it the AniMe Matrix LED display made up of 312 mini-LEDs, and the user can program the visual elements via the accompanying software. I surely find it intriguing and more bragging-worthy than the illuminated logo that’s so mainstream now!

Turning our attention to the other bits of the keyboard, the programmable RGB LEDs under the keys let you create the preferred working environment for a productive regime in these uncertain times. The detachable foam wrist rest with light diffuser hooks onto the keyboard via magnets adds yet another array of diffused light (for the cool underglow effect) on the bottom to complete the ambient light setup. This RGB light strip is detachable and can be attached to the front bottom of the keyboard when the wrist rest is not attached.

Since we are talking about a keyboard, the Strix Flare II Animate boasts Cherry MX Blue, Brown, or Red switches. The option of the hot-swappable switches is another good addition that most will prefer. So, you could make the backspace a bit harder to press while the WASD keys a touch soft. Asus also gives the option to get the ROG NX switches for the keyboard in three different options. The media buttons on the top left-hand corner come in the shape of a knob, scroll wheel and button. Other than that, the 8,000 Hz polling rate resulting in an input delay of just 0.125 ms has certainly got me excited.

Sound dampening foam on this keyboard means a quieter and refined typing experience. Keycaps on the keyboard are crafted from premium PBT plastic and double-shot legends, so fading with time is out of question. The inclusion of passthrough port is another feature I rejoice in the Animate. All this for a steep price tag of $220 is justified when the ROG Strix Flare II Animate launches later in the month.

Designer: Asus

Click Here to Buy Now

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A touch panel gives this ingenious keyboard with a surprising Apple Touch Bar-inspired user interface

The idea of a full-size keyboard with a touchscreen panel on the top that can be customized to launch the application(s) of choice in one easy click, will surely find appreciators.

Apple has ditched the infamous Touch Bar in the new 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro for 2021, which was announced at the company’s October product event. Despite the many flaws ardent fans may have noted, the idea of a touchscreen bar on the keyboard has been an inspiration for many designers. We figured this out when we came across first portable Touch Bar. Now, the Touch Keyboard envisions a different approach to the same idea. This keyboard is designed to work with a PC or Mac if by virtue of a full-size keyboard that features a narrow touch bar display along the top of the keyboard – as an extension but in the same design!

The Touch Keyboard as it is called (owning to the introduction of a touchscreen bar to it), is a brainchild of designer Wenhua Xu, who believes people should have direct controls to certain apps on their keyboard. The touch panel is certainly a surprising new user interface option, which will make interaction with the apps more convenient as opposed to the physical buttons. The downside is, not many people appreciate the idea of a touch interface on the keyboard, as we have learnt from the introduction of the feature on the MacBook Pro about five years back.

The interesting thing here is that the touchscreen on the keyboard is made to look, act and work in ways more than that we have seen on Apple laptops. Presumably, this new take will find some takers, since the design will make actions more convenient. For instance, the users will be able to select a few applications they require and operate them from the touchscreen. This will include receiving and making zoom calls or a facility to place some widgets on it to interact with them without having to search them up on the computer. From how the Touch Keyboard images appear, this will be more interesting to type on than the traditional keyboards. The majority of the keys are circular in shape, while some utility keys like the Tab, Caps, Shift and Space Bar are all oval. The touchscreen is slightly higher than the keys, which means the keyboard is thicker at the top and it also features a power button on the left side, which could probably enable or disable the touchscreen or the keyboard in its entirety.

I’m personally not a big fan of the touchscreen panel on the keyboard, but considering you can have features of choice here, customized to need, this could have some potential utility for people who like to toggle between apps more quickly – for example, music controls to taking calls, and from widgets to controlling the brightness of the system. My major dislike for the feature is because of the energy consumed to run the touch panel can drain the keyboard battery faster and that it will add to the already considerable cost of the peripheral.

Designer: Wenhua Xu

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Metaverse keyboard transforms boring computer workspace into a cool 3D space for freedom of productivity!

The Metaverse Keyboard traverses our plain old workspace into a mixed reality workspace – perfectly in cohesion with the core idea of the metaverse and its applications!

Author Nel Stephenson came up with the term “metaverse” in his science fiction novel “Snow Crash” and fast-forward to the present day, it looks more likely we’ll be living in a hyper-realistic world within a digital universe in the near future. Reminds me of the movie Ready Player One, and the rendered 3D virtual worlds will one day be our life. Sounds exciting as well as scary, don’t you think so?

Visionaries are eying the metaverse-dominated future, take for example Mark Zuckerberg with his Meta (formerly Facebook) or Bill Gates with the mixed reality and augmented reality projects such as Hololens 2 headset. Of course, NFTs are slowly becoming popular with the masses, and having a unified ecosystem of the metaverse for applications input methods is most important. So why shouldn’t we go beyond the 2D space for our screen real estate and dive into the 3D realms actuated by a Metaverse keyboard? Something beyond the game and experience themes for daily tasks such as working on the PC?

Product designer Heewon Jung and Designer Dot feed the metaverse dream with the right kind of fuel with their cool Metaverse Keyboard that syncs with the virtual reality and augmented reality technology to go beyond the plane of information for the future work environment. It’s like a 3D world right in front of your eyes while working – with the 3D space actuated joysticks that accompany the keyboard. Yes, the logical progression to your PC mouse which operates in a 2D space. So the idea is simple – when you want to experience the 3D world for better understanding, just take out the cool trackpad dubbed Wormhole on one side of the keyboard, and you jump straight into a mixed reality workspace which is more engaging. The uni-directional touchpad lets you navigate in the 3D workspace, something we never saw in the last couple of decades, ever since we all started exploring our computers.

The peripheral works just like any other keyboard when you’re not delving deep into the metaverse productivity workspace with the Wormhole. This is a concept design of the cool and weird world we are looking upon in the near future for sure!

Designer: Heewon Jung and Designer Dot


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Logitech designed the perfect wireless keyboard for Gen-Z, complete with removable emoji keys!

For a generation that prefers TikTok over Typing…

Modeled on the quirky design of Lofree’s keyboard, Logitech just announced the Pop Keys, a wireless keyboard with mechanical keys and a massive catch… the presence of dedicated emoji keys for the first time ever on a mechanical keyboard. Doused in incredibly spunky colors, the Pop Keys is clearly made for the younger generation, and it cleverly ditches the Numpad (something rarely used by Gen Z unless they’re serious gamers) for a row of removable, programmable emoji keys that immediately trigger an emoji on touch.

Designer: Logitech

Click Here to Buy Now

Available in three audaciously vibrant color combos (our hearts are firmly set on the ‘Blast Yellow’ variant), the Logitech Emo Keys is for the mobile generation, pairing seamlessly with phones, tablets, and even laptops, and allowing you to alternate between 3 devices just by pressing 3 hotkeys. The keyboard runs off 2 AA batteries, and comes with a mind-boggling 3-year battery life. On the inside are mechanical TTC Brown scissor-switch keys, designed to give the touchscreen-loving Gen-Z a taste of some tactile action, with a life of 50 million strokes that’s perhaps the highest of any Logitech keyboard. It’s nice to see Logitech invested in building durable products for a generation raised on single-day deliveries and use-and-throw cultures. In their defense, gadgets today aren’t particularly repairable either, so a durable keyboard is quite the treat.

The highlight of the Pop Keys, aside from its absolute splash of color, are the 5 quick-access emoji keys on the right. Designed to be customized/replaced, the keys pop off and can be swapped for other emoji keys (available in the box). The keyboard comes with 8 swappable emoji keys (comprising mostly the popularly used emojis) and one dedicated emoji menu key that lets you access the more niche emojis. The keyboard works seamlessly across different devices (with iOS, Android, Windows, and Mac compatibility), and while it pairs via Bluetooth, it also comes with the signature Logi Bolt USB connector/receiver.

Click Here to Buy Now

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This Keycap Looks Like a Teensy Nintendo Game Boy

Recently, I wrote about the Thumby, a teensy Game Boy-inspired gaming system that you basically need to be Ant-Man to play. If you like the idea of a miniature Game Boy, but your thumbs aren’t small enough to play that thing, you might want to consider the ZMKC Pocket Game Console Artisan Keycap instead.

These unique keycaps have an awesome retro look that apes the Nintendo Game Boy but stretched into the shape of a truncated pyramid, also known as a frustum. Yep, we all learned a new word today. If you’re typing on a mechanical keyboard, you have a whole bunch of frustums sitting there right in front of you. But I digress. These awesome artisan keycaps come not only in a retro beige color but in bold egg yolk yellow, a muted black, and several other hues in case you don’t care for the classic Game Boy color scheme.

Another neat thing about this keycap is its see-through window, which lets a keyboard backlight shine through like the old Game Boy Light screen.

The keycap is available for pre-order for $35 over on Drop, which means it’s actually more expensive than the playable Thumby game system. But I wouldn’t try gluing one of those onto your existing keyboard. It’ll start playing every time you type, plus you’ll probably get Krazy Glue stuck to your fingers when you’re doing it. Just think, for $35 each, you could replace all 85 of the 1U keys on a standard 104-key keyboard with these things for just about $3000!

The 3-Key Copy-Paste Keyboard Is a Real Product You Can Buy

What originally started as an April Fools joke by programmer community help forum Stack Overflow, the Key Macropad (aka copy-paste keyboard) is now a real product you can buy from Drop for $29. I can already feel my programming workload getting infinitely lighter.

According to Stack Overflow’s director of content Ben Popper, “Good artists copy, great artists steal, but [the] greatest artists copy, then paste.” Truer words have never been spoken. The Key Macropad features three QMK programmable keys atop Kailh Black Box switches in a CNC-machined aluminum case with an anodized black finish. And not only will it make copy-pasting second nature, a portion of the proceeds “will go to Digitalundivided, a nonprofit set up to help Black and Latinx women succeed as technology entrepreneurs.” It’s a win/win.

Don’t like the plain keycaps? No worries, you can customize them with any XDA profile keycaps to truly make The Key Macropad your own. Now if only I could create a keyboard shortcut that made it look like I was actually working…

[via BoingBoing]

BlackBerry Passport 2 concept images emerge, sporting iconic physical QWERTY keyboard + a dual-lens main camera

It seems like the ‘berry still has some juice left in it! The Passport 2 concept builds on the successful 2014 BlackBerry Passport, and does what BlackBerry does best… provide a uniquely different smartphone experience that’s characterized by that beautiful QWERTY keyboard.

For everyone who thought BlackBerry was done and dusted, 2020’s been a pretty interesting year for the company. Chinese giant TCL no longer holds the rights to manufacture BlackBerry phones, and since August of last year, the Canadian smartphone company has been partnering with American brand OnwardMobility to keep the BlackBerry name alive. While both companies have been pretty mum about what’s in the pipeline, Ts Designer and LetsGoDigital have been cooking up some concepts based on the fragments of news they’ve gathered from press releases and company statements. Meet the Passport 2, a conceptual Android-running BlackBerry phone with a 4.5-inch touchscreen display, a physical keyboard, and a 5G chip on the inside.

I have to admit that seeing a new BlackBerry does give me a bit of nostalgia. I’ve never been a fan of touchscreen keyboards, and that’s a complaint that BlackBerry and I have always had in common; although BlackBerry phones have an archetype, and it’s safe to say that the archetype isn’t really popular anymore. However, there are still probably some people who would prefer a BlackBerry in 2021, and I’d venture a guess that the Passport 2 concept is targeted firmly towards them. LetsGoDigital reports that the Passport 2 is envisioned as BlackBerry’s first 5G-ready phone, with a waterproof exterior and Android OS interior. The overall aesthetic of the phone hasn’t deviated too much from BlackBerry’s signature style, and it looks every bit like the Passport from 2014, although with a slicker design featuring a slimmer upper bezel, gold accents around the sides and the keyboard, and a nifty dual-lens camera on the back… you know, to keep the customer happy!

Sadly though, the Passport 2, as exciting as it may look, is just a fan-made concept for now. OnwardMobility and BlackBerry are definitely working on a 5G Android phone according to reports, and I’ll be pretty happy if it looks even half as good as this!

Designer: Ts Designer for LetsGoDigital

Images via LetsGoDigital

Clear Resin Moon and Mars Keycaps: The Eagle Has Landed (on Your Desktop)

To celebrate some of humanity’s greatest achievements in space exploration (and sell some cool keycaps in the process), these are Moon Keys. Compatible with Cherry MX switches and clones, the keycaps are available in five varieties: a 1u Eagle Has Landed, Lunar Lander, and Curiosity Rover ($49), and 1.75u Eagle Has Landed ($52), and 2.25u Curiosity Rover ($58). You know, I was just thinking my keyboard could use more of a space theme.

Which is your favorite? I think I’m going to get all the moon ones. And all the Mars ones. That’s $258 in keycaps for those of you keeping track, instantly making it the most expensive component of my computer. Also the best looking.

The keys are available for pre-order now with an estimated shipping date of November 12th, or just in time to show up in the mail, and for me to have completely forgotten I ordered them in the first place. Like a time-traveling surprise gift to myself.

GMK Dualshot 2 PlayStation-themed Keycap Set: 108-bit

Keyboard accessory maker Omnitype’s latest keycap set features the dull gray base color of the original PlayStation, along with the colors of the OG PS logo. You can almost hear the startup sound when you look at it. If you’re wondering why it’s called the Dualshot 2, that’s because this is the second run of the set. It’s easy to see why it’s back. The base set is all gray, with only the lettering on the modifier keys bearing the PlayStation logo colors. There are however specialty keys sold separately that are entirely coated in bright red, yellow, teal, and blue. There’s also a variant of the base set with katakana characters, and a novelty set that features PlayStation button names and terms.

I wonder why they don’t have a blue X and a red O. You can pre-order the GMK Dualshot 2 from Omnitype only until June 4, 2021. The base set, which should have enough keys for most keyboards, will set you back $120 (USD). Omnitype also has other Dualshot 2 merch: a macro pad, a chrome or Rama key, and a desk mat.

Max Keyboard Offer Custom Printed Keycap Sets: Goodbye Group Buy

Mechanical keyboards have exploded in popularity in recent years, including swappable keycaps. You can easily find mass-produced keycap sets online, but if you truly want to stand out or have trendy or niche designs, your best bets are limited run or artisan keycaps. Aside from being expensive, custom keycaps are often made by small businesses that have to meet minimum orders. That’s why custom keycap designers or shops usually resort to group buys — limited-time full-price pre-orders that are announced in forums several months or even a year before they are produced and delivered. But if you’re willing to make a few compromises, you can design and order your own custom keycap set with Max Keyboard.

Max Keyboard sells entire mechanical keyboards, keyboard parts, and yes, custom keycaps. For the latter, you can choose between a 60%, TKL, or full set. The configurator has a limited selection of keycap fonts, colors, and modifier key names. But its flexibility comes in their downloadable keycap image templates that let you create and upload your own keycap designs, such as the ones in these pictures.

The keycap sets consist of Cherry MX keys. You can choose to have prints on the top, side, or both. You can also choose the size of the spacebar. I have not tried ordering from Max Keyboard, but from what I can see, their configurator has a basic preview and so requires a bit of imagination. But with prices starting at just $25 (USD), this is definitely worth considering.

[via randomfrankp]