June 3, 2019 | 14:25
SteelSeries has announced new Apex Pro and Apex 7 mechanical keyboards (and their tenkeyless equivalents), with the former also including new OmniPoint switches that let you customise the actuation point of keys independently.
We’ll get to the products themselves shortly, but the patented OmniPoint switches are easily one of the most interesting innovations shown at Computex 2019. Designed by SteelSeries itself and manufactured in conjunction with Gateron, they rely on magnets. How do they work? Well, the keyboard essentially monitors the magnetic force constantly in order to determine how far the switch is actuated at any one time. This then allows the actuation point to be customised on a per-key basis, with SteelSeries offering a 0.4mm minimum and 3.6mm maximum. The monitoring and actuation all happens onboard, of course, via a dedicated microprocessor.
We tried them out at the SteelSeries suite, and it really is dramatic how big a difference there is between the two extremes. On the minimum, even resting your finger on the key can actuate it, while on the maximum you really do need to fully depress the key to get it to register. The action is fully linear with no tactile bump or audible click, which makes sense when you consider how it works.
‘Innovation in the keyboard switch market has grown dramatically stagnant over the past decade,’ said Ehtisham Rabbani, SteelSeries CEO. ‘With our new, patented technology inside the OmniPoint switches, gamers finally have the option to use a single keyboard for everything from gaming to content creation and more. The Apex Pro is the only keyboard on the market that can adapt to the specific needs and preferences of every gamer.’
The OmniPoint switches will be deployed in the Apex Pro and Apex Pro TKL keyboards that are set to launch on June 11 for $199 and in July for $179 respectively. They will be used in the main typing area only (the block that contains both Ctrl keys), with regular mechanical switches used for all other keys. The keyboards also include an OLED display that can be tied into apps and games and that can also be used for the actuation tuning. Users can install the SteelSeries Engine software to maximise customisation options, but SteelSeries says it isn’t necessary.
Other features include a metal roller (with click function) and dedicated media key, an aluminium frame, and per-key RGB lighting. There are five onboard profiles for hardware-level customisation, while the Engine software will also let you auto-swap to other profiles when switching between CS:GO and Photoshop, for example. A USB pass-through port is built in as are cable channels underneath (cable not detachable, however), and a very nice soft-touch magnetic wrist rest is also supplied.
As well as the OmniPoint-equipped Apex Pro keyboards, SteelSeries also announced the Apex 7 and Apex 7 TKL boards that have all the same features except OmniPoint. Instead, they rely on regular switches also made by Gateron. Pricing is set at $159 and $129 respectively. Red, Blue, and Brown switch options will be available for both keyboards, but different regions may receive them at different times or not at all. Red switch versions of both keyboards will start hitting markets later this month.
February 17 2020 | 09:00