wow, bling value $millions
i love it, compleatly not practial
If you thought unicorn puke was the epitome of keyboard bling, Finalmouse's upcoming Centerpiece keyboard may see you rethink that assessment. Instead of per-key RGB, the keyboard buries a full-color display that displays your choice of animations beneath a set of transparent keycaps and mechanical switches. The Centerpiece …
I just watched the video. As you said, utterly impractical, and yet I want one. TBH $350 is not that much by modern high-end keyboard standards.
However, I have to ask. Why, given that this is the cutting-edge of keyboard technology, does it have a case design that looks like a Victorian pianola or a William Morris wallpaper? Or possibly, being charitable, a steampunk cosplay item? Those artfully carved finials and flourishes would look wonderful on an antique Davenport desk, but a keyboard...?
I see this as a very interesting variation to touch screens by providing the traditional tactile feedback they lack, also the screen doesn't have to be 'just' keyboard sized it'd be very handy on a laptop.
I also think gaming will be the #1 priority because bling factor will sell a few of these but most games would benefit from a bespoke keyboard interface that actually mirrors the gameplay.
Am I the only person who was completely underwhelmed? I was expecting something like a more affordable version of the Optimus Maximus keyboard from fifteen years(!) ago with individual OLEDs in the keycaps, letting you dynamically update and indicate their functionality. That idea had a lot of potential, regardless of how it was implemented. (*)
Instead, this new device appears to be little more than a screen you can watch animations on- much like a smaller version of the monitor you already have- but with a transparent keyboard getting in the way and distorting the picture.
Yes, it's able to provide visual response to keyclicks, which is the closest the setup comes to making sense.
But it's likely that key labelling- the one thing that would have been worthwhile and appealing to me- is the one thing it can't do, because the switches and mouldings in the centre of the keys are right in the way and likely to render fine text or graphics illegible. (If that weren't the case, I'm pretty certain they'd have shown it in the video).
Okay, I understand that many other people enjoy things like RGB lighting on RAM DIMMs etc that serve no practical purpose but look nice (if you like that sort of thing). And I fully expect that they'll sell lots of these keyboards on the same basis.
But to me personally, it's just a pointless and disappointing gimmick.
(*) It'd have likely been more usable than Apple's touch bar in the MacBooks, and was interesting even 30 years ago when Apricot implemented an early version.
Not sure. The price meant that- however many people thought it was cool- it was never going to be a mass market product, and its Wikipedia article mentions production delays.
And now that I think about it, I do (extremely vaguely) recall it being somewhat delayed and that'd explain why I'm remembering it more as a proof of concept than an actual product...?
Possibly ended up being too niche and too fiddly to produce to justify continuing after those who *did* have the money had bought the initial run and the hype had died down anyway?
Ironically, from what I've heard, OLEDS are probably approaching being cheap enough to make something like that far more commercially practical. IIRC when I read about the recent "Lego brick with a real computer display" a few months ago, I'm sure it said somewhere that the tiny (c. 1 sq/cm) OLEDs it used could be obtained in bulk for something like $1 each now(?)
And may whomever designed that Apricot keyboard be consigned to a hell in which they are forced to use it to type continuously at 60 WPM or better ... or suffer a painful forfeit. It has all the ergonomic horrors introduced by IBM on the original IBM PC's keyboard to keep it from effectively competing with their dedicated word-processing device, the Displaywriter.
In 1982, every keyboard but the one you were used to using was strange. As such things went, the F was less jarring than many others. For one thing, it actually had an <esc> key! Kinda handy for us vi users ...
Is the inital design of the LK201 further proof that Ken Olsen hated UNIX?
The Model F's feel was great, but the horrors were: (1) vertical-bar/backslash key stuffed between the Z key and the SHIFT key; one was forever hitting '\' instead of SHIFT. (2) keytops which did not cover the entire space used by the key itself, leaving "holes" for your fingers to fall into.
These problems were fixed in keyboards made/resold by various sane PC-compatible manufacturers (Leading Edge and Sanyo jump to mind). IBM fixed these problems in their IBM AT keyboard (Model M).
"I have lots of pre-IBM-PC keyboard experience"
So do I.
I also still have and use lots of pre-IBM PC keyboards. Your memory is perhaps viewed through rose tinted glasses? There is no way I would consider any of the pre-F keyboards that I own and/or have used superior to the F as shipped with the 5150. The backslash key placement never really bothered me. The wells in the keycaps just assisted with feedback for a touch-typist. IMO, of course.
And of course there were so many new keyboards appearing at that time that we were used to switching between them.
The AT version of the Model F, that one pissed me off and I had to do some serious keyboard remapping. I never did find out what idiot decided that the <esc> key belonged with the 10-key. From that point onward I just re-mapped pretty much every keyboard to suit myself. Even the Model M that eventually replaced the Model F in the AT line.
I still primarily use a (remapped) Model M. Best keybR0ad ever made for the touch-typist, IMO.
The typical European keyboard- i.e. the physical layout disregarding country-by-country key markings- looks like this and still has the backslash in that position with no problem for me.
Whereas I find American-style keyboards with the backslash above the enter/return key and the latter reduced to single (rather than double height) a nuisance. So it's likely what you're used to.
I do agree that the amount of gaps on the model F look a bit excessive, though my previous keyboard- a Cherry model very similar to this- still had the gap on the caps lock key and it didn't cause any problems.
I notice that the Model F doesn't have any spacing between the key groups except the left-hand function key "island" so maybe those gaps on the keys themselves made it easier to navigate?
My current keyboard has the same standard European PC layout as my old one... except the spacing between the groups has been reduced to almost nothing and it's *much* fiddlier to navigate by feel in low light as a result.
So space and/or differentiation are important.
I would agree, my thoughts on the early adopters are exec's who need the latest IT on their desk, but hardly use it. I suspect the lack of clearly visible keycaps will further discourage them from using the keyboard, leaving such work to their PA who will have a more practical keyboard.
"touch typing is to *not* look at the keyboard!"
But when you're learning to touch type visual aids help. You could even animate finger patterns and how/where to rach each finger from home row. Even load a Dvorak layout or another language underneath.
Or... when you're spacing out looking down at the keyboard brain fried... after X seconds of inactivity have it flash in red GET BACK TO WORK CODE MONKEY!!
I get the feeling you can't toss it in the dishwasher for a cleaning...
I do have to admit I liked the "lightning coming from the keys as you type" effect. And I have to admit I'm impressed by the technology behind it. If it's real. I reserve judgement on that.
Soooo.... are they going to have Linux drivers or whatever the software you need for it is called? Steam would make me think yes, but the cynic says this is Windows-only, as usual.
They say you can monetize the effects, but then they say you can share them. Which is it? Can you only share the free ones, or does the effect become your friend's property and no longer yours? Or do they have to buy it as well?
I expect it runs Crysis?
Edit: Where are the buzzwords of AI and NFTs and blockchains?
Are they actually making a profit at $350 or is this a loss-leader and they'll make it up in volume?
I fear the work needed to keep this thing completely dust / cat hair / crumbs / human hair / (and for some of you some worse things) free.
And you can't even put a keycaps graphic behind it so you can see where the keys are, because the screen is some distance below so you've got some parallax. I guess you could offset the graphic for where your head normally is in relation to the keys, but if you shift around in your chair they'll be misaligned again. It's pure form over function - but I guess it's not pretending to be anything else!
If you're only moving around in your chair a normal amount, I suspect the parallax would be about tolerable for most angles provided you didn't expect it to be perfectly aligned (i.e. still fairly clear which key the legend belonged to)
What kills off using it for individual legends is that the spring and central moulding are smack in the middle of the key, which will render any small text or fine detail in that position difficult or impossible to read.
> What kills off using it for individual legends is that the spring and central moulding are smack in the middle of the key
Yep. If I had an unlimited R and D budget to throw at this I'd look at using optical waveguides moulded into the keycaps to display sharp clear images from a source mounted below. This approach would not affect the mass of the keys.
How big an RnD budget is it worth? I feel there is some productivity benefit to be gained from helping people learn hotkeys, for example.
"I guess you could offset the graphic for where your head normally is in relation to the keys, but if you shift around in your chair they'll be misaligned again."
First paid-for upgrade. Webcam head/eye tracking to adjust the effects for the optimum "experience" (Which will always be just ever so slightly off and laggy, causing nausea for the users) :-)
Yeah, they do. But will a USB A to USB C adaptor provide enough power to run the CPU/GPU/display combo? Or would you need an adaptor cable with an additional PSU? And anyway, who in their right mind, being frugal enough to not own any USB C sporting devices would spend $349 on a keyboard? :-)
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I admit, this looks utterly brilliant and despite not being a gamer, yes, I want one! But as it's quoted as being essentially a computer in its own right, how easily can it be hacked? How regular will the security updates be? How quickly before a keyboard logger is installed? My current keyboard is an 18 year old Dell and as it's just a keyboard, is "fully supported". How long will this mini-computer keyboard be supported for?
Or maybe I'm just being too old and curmudgeonly?
I have the same question, but on the opposite side. How easily can I hack it? Not just installing a new theme, but doing some computing of my own on it. If it's got a CPU and GPU in there, that's kind of pointless unless I can compile some code without having to limit myself to their theming system. This keyboard isn't for me, but if I was going to buy it, I'd want to be able to write firmware which takes control of all the hardware and lets me do arbitrary things with it, not just changing the lights.
Just as kids these days don't understand the end-user speed advantage of programs controlled via function keys, they don't understand the end-user speed advantage of using a numeric pad for data entry, nor the utility of the "extra" function keys available on the numeric keypad (KP_+ is a different key than +, and I've got programs which make use of that).
If all people have ever experienced is mouse-GUI, it's hard for them to think beyond that limit.
I wonder just how many people do enough numeric data entry that a separate numeric keypad area is actually required? Certainly back in the pre-Windows days, a LOT of PC (and early computer) use was just getting the data into the damned machine in the first place because so much of it arrived in printed form. I'm not an office based person, so don't really know what most people do in office based situations these days.
So I therefore unequipped to make a suitably snarky comment.
Except... why? Love the tech, but really, who watches a keyboard when they're typing? I'm not a gamer, but isn't the idea to keep the eyes on the screen?
Oh well, I guess they know their target audience, but I guess I'm not it.
This company wins the price for the most useless feature in a computing peripheral. Aside from being annoying it's also a distraction that doesn't exactly improve productivity.
I'm stunned anyone would assign good engineers to such a product. Their talents might have been better spent on improving firmware security (Rust firmware and / or encrypted USB connections, for example) or hardware quality.
It's most definitely a useless feature. Your suggestions, also, are not so useful:
"improving firmware security (Rust firmware": Why? Rust's security benefit is avoiding memory safety problems, which do indeed lead to security problems like buffer overflow vulnerabilities. That's a lot more important when input is received from another program, but you don't tend to get multiple programs running on a keyboard. The method for attacking it is mostly absent, and would either rely on any programming interface (which may not exist and is likely not prone to buffer overflow anyway) and user key presses (requires physical access). Writing keyboard firmware in Rust isn't likely to do anything different.
"encrypted USB connections": Not why, this time. More what? I mean you could set up an encrypted serial connection to a program on the computer which decrypts the signal and simulates the key presses, but why do you want to? The only way sending an unencrypted signal over a cable is a problem is if there's listening equipment quite close to the cable. That equipment could also use acoustic methods to hear what keys you pressed if it can't point a camera at you. It's not like wireless keyboards that need encryption both to avoid a more passive listener and collisions with other keyboards. Encrypting your communication on a cable that's right next to you just makes the keyboard harder to use with a computer without doing much for your security.
We don't need that much security on keyboards. Focus on the stuff they're connected to.
Mate, if you are worried your keypress-generated RF emissions are being read, you really don't need to worry about your keypress-generated RF emissions being read.
You have much bigger things to worry about. Like those guys from the SAS Signals Squadron that have been living in your loft for the last 3 months.
A wireless keyboard emits a signal that can be received at some distance. A wire emits some signal based on signals moving through it, but is not intended as a transmitter and is relatively hard to listen to. If you're worried about it, you have a lot of other wires where more important signals are sent, such as all those ones inside your computer that will carry the information about what keys you pressed after they were decrypted as well as other data. That is easier to hear than the wired keyboard.
As for what is easier, encrypting or shielding, shielding is easier. You can make shielded cables and many have. It increases component costs a bit, but that's basically it. If you make an encrypted keyboard, you need a local driver that decrypts it. You need a method for making sure the driver and keyboard are in sync (they can't just share static keys because it exposes you to repeated text attacks), and that needs to be ported to any OS you might want to use a keyboard with. If you try to use it with BIOS or firmware, that's definitely not going to recognize it. If you have an encrypted keyboard, it's going to need a "fall back to standard keyboard" switch, and everyone is going to leave that switch in that setting.
"laminated display circuit glass stack" - sounds just like TFT to me.
Laminated... so sheets stuck together. Yep, every (non-CRT) screen I've ever taken apart has had that.
DisplayCircuit (conjoined as per the video)... well, it wouldn't work without one.
Glass... OK, many modern screens use some form of plastic but a sheet of actual silicate glass is old tech.
Stack... See 'Laminated'
Apparently they can't, since switching keyboard layouts is the only practical use for this kind of thing and yet it doesn't appear in their very long promo. Presumably the (refractive) distortion of the keys themselves makes the caps unreadable.
I quite often see stuff like this and realise that I'm not in the target demographic. Today I'm wondering if I'm even in the target species. :(
Don't understand the need for the animations.
Generally looking at the screen not the keyboard - would expect that to apply even more so for gamers where paying attention to what's happening in game tends to matter.
If (and that's a big if!!) I wanted an animation running for some reason (some people like flickering fire screen savers, swimming fish or whatever) when I was not busy then I could run one on monitor(s) - only argument for using this is that I could run it on keyboard with PC off, but as keyboard has CPU / GPU then will still be using power (interesting to know power consumption when its "busy" running animations non / stop).
Having said all that, it looked a fun demo, I could enjoy playing with that kit for a short while but could not find any long term reason to have it, really struggling to see who would buy it beyond someone with cash to burn who wanted a bit of silliness & happy to waste cash.
Given that bog standard keyboards last ages would also be concerned about lifespan with it essentially being a computer in a keyboard - would it "fall-back" to dumb keyboard functionality if the "computer" had hardware issues or would it be rendered lifeless ?
Nice! I mean, don't get me wrong, it's useless, but I'd get one of these before I got LED strips, LED fans, LED RAM, etc. etc. for my tower. Particularly since, per the discussion of what key switches they are using, they are worrying about the keyfeel and actual functionality as a keyboard (important to me, I'm typing this right now on a Model M keyboard.)
Many people have commented on the practical aspects, or lack thereof, of this keyboard. But people are different. I think it looks cool, but I'd not spend that kind on money on a keyboard myself. I'd be happy to see it under my Christmas tree though. Yes, it's bling, and people with more money than sense will probably buy it. But then some people like artwork or china ornaments, neither of which have any practical value to many people. What's the real difference between a cheap Casio digital watch and a Rolex or other high end watch? They both tell the time, but one "looks" nicer than the other :-)
"What's the real difference between a cheap Casio digital watch and a Rolex or other high end watch?"
Speaking only for myself, if I had to choose between two people for a job, and the only difference between them was a Rolex and a Casio, I'd pick the Casio. But then I tend to be more interested in practicality than bling, and hire accordingly.
If there were a third equal person, and s/he had no watch at all, they would undoubtedly get the job over the two watch wearers. A job interview is no place to someone to be worrying about the time. (Likewise, I have passed over people who play with their telephone when on the premises for an interview.)