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Razer unveils own-brand keyboard switches

Razer unveils own-brand keyboard switches

Razer is moving away from the popular Cherry MX microswitch, re-releasing its BlackWidow keyboard family with a choice of own-brand Razer Green or Razer Orange switches.

Gaming peripherals giant Razer has announced plans to differentiate its future keyboards from rivals, with the development of its own-brand microswitches dubbed Razer Green and Razer Orange.

Popular with professional typists, gamers and vintage computing enthusiasts, mechanical keyboards typically switch the rubber domes traditionally used for low-cost input devices for a switch family known as Cherry MX. These switches are available in a variety of colours, with each colour denoting a different typing experience: low-pressure actuation, high-pressure actuation, silent, clicky and so forth. Although rivals to the Cherry MX exist - notably a range from Alps, capacitive switches from Topre, and a wide array of Cherry-like knock-offs - Cherry MX switches are generally considered the pinnacle of mechanical keyboard technology by those who eschew the IBM patented buckling spring system.

Now, Razer is hoping to get in on the act with a line of homebrew switches. Previously, the company has - like almost every other mechanical keyboard manufacturer - released products based on Cherry MX switches, but its 2010 BlackWidow Ultimate keyboard is now to get a revision to own-brand switches.

The Razer Green switches offer a 50g actuation force and a tactile bump, making them roughly equivalent to the Cherry MX Blue. Unlike the Cherry models, however, the Razer Greens offer a reset point around half the distance - meaning double-tapping during rapid-fire gaming is significantly easier, at the risk of making typing without repeating a letter slightly more difficult until your fingers get used to the experience.

The Razer Green is to be joined by the Razer Orange, the company's equivalent of the popular Cherry MX Brown. Slightly lighter at a 45g actuation, the Razer Orange does away with the audible click of the Razer Green while keeping the tactile 'bump' - meaning it's the key for anyone who doesn't want to keep the rest of the house awake at night with clattering keys.

Both models offer a lifespan of up to 60 million keystrokes, and feature a Cherry-like cruciform stem - meaning the switches should be compatible with the wide variety of third-party keycaps popular among mechanical keyboard fans. The switches are to launchs hortly in the Razer BlackWidow family - the Ultimate Stealth, Stealth, and Tournament Stealth Edition - with no word yet as to whether the company plans to sell the switches separately to enthusiasts.

More information is available on the official website, while the company's promotional video for the launch is reproduced below.

9 Comments

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Icy EyeG 7th March 2014, 12:47 Quote
Isn't the Cherry MX switch protected by patents? If that's the case, have they licensed them?
I ask this because ALPS and Topre use different technologies, but these Razer switches look really similar to Cherry technology.

EDIT: Wait... Apparently they look like Kailh Switches according to GeekHack (http://imgur.com/a/7ujle), a Cherry clone switch.
Shirty 7th March 2014, 13:08 Quote
Kaihua was my first guess as the supplier of these as well, link to discussion from the mech thread.

An interesting development, I'm looking forward to seeing whether Cherry finally crack down on Chinese copies of their technology now that a company with the presence of Razer is bringing them to the West, or whether their patents are weak/non-existent.

Kailh switches are not overly popular when compared to MX, although I've never experienced them personally.
Icy EyeG 7th March 2014, 13:15 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shirty

An interesting development, I'm looking forward to seeing whether Cherry finally crack down on Chinese copies of their technology now that a company with the presence of Razer is bringing them to the West, or whether their patents are weak/non-existent.

Exactly, It'll be interesting if we are going to see smartphone-style bans on Razer keyboards.
Shirty 7th March 2014, 13:24 Quote
I don't know much about Kaihua, but I suspec they provide a vast amount of switchgear to the computer case and OEM industry, so they are likely to be well established. That said, the specifications on their MX clones are as close to identical to the real thing as it's possible to get, and they've been around for a few years with one or two boards making their way to the West, so I'd be surprised if Cherry hadn't already made some noises.
abezors 7th March 2014, 14:24 Quote
Very interesting news - we need some competition to force prices on midrange mechs down from the ~£80 mark.

If I recall correctly the only tangible different between Kaihua and Cherry MX is that the former offers a key lifespan of a "mere" 30M keystrokes, vs Cherry's 60M. Though the Razer site states the opposite on it's promotional material, hmm...
maverik-sg1 7th March 2014, 15:29 Quote
Hopefully (but unlikely) they can make more cost effective keyboards without compromising quality.

Mechanical keyboards are properly expensive, a nice to have, but cost prohibitive.
GeorgeK 7th March 2014, 15:35 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by abezors
Very interesting news - we need some competition to force prices on midrange mechs down from the ~£80 mark.

If I recall correctly the only tangible different between Kaihua and Cherry MX is that the former offers a key lifespan of a "mere" 30M keystrokes, vs Cherry's 60M. Though the Razer site states the opposite on it's promotional material, hmm...

I've read worrying things about the knock off cherry switches - like the stems snapping when the keycaps are removed etc...

I shall not be partaking personally...
Star*Dagger 8th March 2014, 02:31 Quote
Nice to see Razer doing this, but I'll never buy a KB without an LCD screen, simply too useful.
ferret141 9th March 2014, 14:20 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Icy EyeG
Isn't the Cherry MX switch protected by patents? If that's the case, have they licensed them?
I ask this because ALPS and Topre use different technologies, but these Razer switches look really similar to Cherry technology.

EDIT: Wait... Apparently they look like Kailh Switches according to GeekHack (http://imgur.com/a/7ujle), a Cherry clone switch.

Linus did a quick cover of the keyboard an he says some of the patents expired.

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