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Optimus keyboard due out in a month

Optimus keyboard due out in a month

Love at first sight - the Optimus Maximus is as impressive in person as in the pictures - and it's real.

Most of us can remember the first coverage of the Optimus Maximus keyboard back in late 2005. The concept was simple but incredibly unique - by using an OLED screen for each keycap, the keyboard could change its look to suit various programs. A bit of software later, and the board could change functions too.

The design was revolutionary. It's also been classed as vapourware, since over the time span of two years we hadn't seen much in the way of the product ever hitting release. At least, until now. At CES, the Optimus Maximus was alive and well - and there were a few full-functioning models to show off. But the best part seemed to be the price - too good to be true at a mere $500.

It turns out that it is indeed a little too good to be true - the $500 gets you the full keyboard, but only one OLED key. The keys themselves will be sold as separate units, which is actually a pretty brilliant thing. They will be able to be bought in anywhere from one to one hundred key batches, with price going from $20 per key for one down to $10 per key for 100 - or, you can buy the full keyboard for a flat $1500.

Though the expense is a bit steep, the "pay as you need" model is great for people who really wouldn't want to redo their letter keys or the like - if all you want are the "macro" keys and the function keys, you need only buy them. Key programming data is stored on an SD card inserted into the keyboard itself, allowing you to keep your settings from computer to computer or share them with friends on or offline. It also means great protection in the future should a key go dead - ten quid will get a new one off to you in very short order.

The keyboard does everything promised on the tin, including looking absolutely fantastic. However, actual typing is a bit mixed - the board feels a little too "smooth" and so you don't get that satisfying clickity-clack (don't laugh, you all know what I'm talking about) from the action of a depressed key.

Currently the shipping date is the start of February, and five thousand units will be available in the first run. Since the units have already been ordered for mass production, we can finally say that the Optimus is a "when", not an "if". We'll look forward to its final release - and if you're interested (or simply obscenely rich), you can pick up yours at ArtLebedev, the designer's site.

In the meantime, why don't you tell us your thoughts on this huge project finally coming to fruition in our forums.

And just in case you fancied some more pictures - these were taken by us on site with a real, working model.


16 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
AcidJiles 8th January 2008, 07:27 Quote
meh
Blademrk 8th January 2008, 07:45 Quote
How easy are the keys to swap?
Pricester 8th January 2008, 08:17 Quote
If you only buy 1 OLED key, does it come with normal keys for all the other positions, or do you also have to buy a set of normal keys as well?
bilbothebaggins 8th January 2008, 08:55 Quote
1500 is ... ouch :-) (even 500,- is for a keyboard)
On the other hand, it seems a great product and you get what you pay for.
I hope it will survive until I'm obscenely rich to buy one :-)
Henry 8th January 2008, 09:26 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blademrk
How easy are the keys to swap?

They are very easy to swap,

http://www.bit-tech.net/news_images/2008/01/optimus_keyboard_due_in_a_month/3.jpg

they just pop out and you push it back in, there is a strip header the key presses into.



Couple of problems I saw were that it's WAAAAY to easy to get dirty, the keys are fingerprint magnets. One other more personal issue was that the keys were too smooth, so it really felt strange pressing on them. It was like they needed some roughness like normal keyboards have.
Bauul 8th January 2008, 10:27 Quote
Of course it costs a lot, it's like having a few dozen mini monitors all lined up infront of you. You could probably use them like normal monitors too with the right software, have all pretty patterns and even watch movies on your keyboard. Lol, pointless, but cool.
Jamie 8th January 2008, 10:36 Quote
The only reason I would want that keyboard is so to make ripples of colour spread from each keypress. That would look awesome. I generally don't ever look at my keyboard so displaying meaningful things on them would only be a gimmick.
C-Sniper 8th January 2008, 12:00 Quote
Well I'm glad to see that the keyboard comes with a key lock to prevent people from taking it, on a another note the other keyboard that is in development on their site seems pretty cool as well. Also, is it just me or does the plastic on the keys look incredibly smudged?
M1CUZ 8th January 2008, 13:23 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by C-Sniper
Well I'm glad to see that the keyboard comes with a key lock to prevent people from taking it, on a another note the other keyboard that is in development on their site seems pretty cool as well. Also, is it just me or does the plastic on the keys look incredibly smudged?

Go ahead and lock the keyboard to the desk.... I'll just nab all your OLED keys and swap them for standard units :P ohlol
OleJ 8th January 2008, 15:06 Quote
To me it's an obscene waste of resources in any way possible.
And where the black design with black buttons and black power and usb cord looks really good I don't understand why in H*** they've chosen to demonstrate it at CES using a white keyboard with black keys and black cords coming out of it. It looks like a monstrosity straight out of the 90s.
The original render was a beauty but this final product looks so sad IRL. The USB ports are okay sort of but the SD card sticking out? It's a freaking eye turd. And the cords are placed so you really notice them. The jacks should have been hidden so it was only the wires coming out. And that at the bottom of the keyboard. Not in the freakin' middle (horisontally). Strike 1 in my book.

I think some things went wrong at the last mile with this product. Unfortunately because the concept was b e a utiful.
iggy 8th January 2008, 15:54 Quote
Quote:
It also means great protection in the future should a key go dead - ten quid will get a new one off to you in very short order.

warranty?
Henry 8th January 2008, 20:08 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by OleJ
To me it's an obscene waste of resources in any way possible.
And where the black design with black buttons and black power and usb cord looks really good I don't understand why in H*** they've chosen to demonstrate it at CES using a white keyboard with black keys and black cords coming out of it. It looks like a monstrosity straight out of the 90s.

They have both colours at CES, Brett and I just managed to be in front of the white one.
Quote:

The USB ports are okay sort of but the SD card sticking out? It's a freaking eye turd. And the cords are placed so you really notice them.

You really cant see the SD Card, it's almost flush with the back when it is in.
Henry 8th January 2008, 20:10 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by iggy2k
warranty?

I don't remember if Brett asked, I didn't, but the life of the keys he said is 20k hours. That might be the point where they are half as bright....
Da Dego 9th January 2008, 04:35 Quote
No, unfortunately I didn't really think to ask about warranty life. As Henry said, keys have about 20k hours mtbf. Oh, and a big thanks to him as my photographer for it (as I've no macro lens)
CanadianViking 9th January 2008, 05:58 Quote
I want one. :D
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