26
Aug
09

nsfw: the greatest keyboard ever

LK-poster

No, you haven’t accidentally connected to Engadget, but I am taking some time for a NSFW post (that’s No Sci-Fi Wednesdays for the nubies) to tell you about a neat nerd-toy I’ve been patiently waiting for since forever – the perfect backlit keyboard.  Someone finally made it and I’m going to explain (and show you) why this one succeeds where all others have FAILED…

mac-keyboardWho amongst us didn’t oooh andahhh when we saw that backlit keyboard in the Macbook commercials a few years ago?  Kudos to Apple for being the first to implement what, in hindsight, seems like an obvious bit of tech.  Naturally I assumed the rest of the world would catch up and within a year or so we’d start seeing illuminated keyboards for PCs.   Most visual effects artists/computer animators like to work in subdued lighting (read: caves) so having lit keys would be a godsend for an entire industry!

But it didn’t happen.

I waited and waited and kept tabs on gadget news and then finally, a few years later, we finally started to see a flurry of “backlit” keyboards.  Here’s a picture of one of the first I saw:

lit_sucks01-fail

What the hell is that godforsaken mess?  It must have been designed by someone with no hands because by backlighting translucent keys everything becomes washed out and typing is essentially impossible.  The whole point of an illuminated keyboard it to create the ultimate contrast between the symbols etched into the keys and the plastic of the key itself.   That’s why Apple made opaque keys and only let the light shine through the actual etching of the letters – it creates perfect visibility in even the darkest environment.

After that glowing Smurf-cancer keyboard failed, we finally started seeing backlit, opaque keys for the PC – but they looked like this:

lit_sucks02-fail

Ok, yes, technically the keys are backlit – but since the letters aren’t transparent you can’t tell what is what!  Still, this is a great keyboard for the illiterate retard in your life – easy to find keys that you can bang gibberish into all night long.   Finally, about 18 months ago, a company called Deck released a line of truly backlit, etched keyboard.  Success, you would think?  Take a look:

lit_sucks03-fail

This was sold as a “gaming” keyboard, which I assume means Deck believes that all people who play games on their computer want the most pretentious, flashy and aesthetically bankrupt thing they can get their fifteen-year-old hands on.  I mean just look at that piece of shit.  I’d wager Deck’s “development department” stuck some blinding red and blue LEDs into a Fisher-Price keyboard and called it a day.   That thing doesn’t so much belong on an artist’s desk as it does in the back of an East L.A. Honda Civic.  Ummm, pass.

Meanwhile, my crusty, old, second-hand wireless keyboard was becoming a downright mess.  The lettering was fading and the space between the keys was becoming so packed with hair, dust and dried-up jizz that the keys didn’t go “click” as much as they went “squish.”

Time was running out.

Then, finally, over the weekend I went on a trip to Fry’s with a friend who was looking for a new keyboard.  I had long given up hope of finding the holy backlit grail, but, while I was in the keyboard aisle anyway, I might as well see if there was anything new.  And that’s when this sexy beast caught my eye (click for largeness):

LK-01

And god said LET THERE BE LIGHT!  In this case, god is the new Logitech illuminated keyboard (from what I can tell they don’t even have a fancy model number, just “Illuminated Keyboard”).  And, by all that’s holy, this thing gets everything right.  The keyboard itself looks great, it’s well made, the action of the keys is solid but not too noisy and, of course, it motherfucking lights up properly!  Here’s another image with the backlighting in action under normal circumstances:

LK-normal-lit

It’s bloody perfect!  Only the character on the keys are lit and, as you can see, Logitech has knocked it out of the park with a design that virtually eliminates any light leakage from between the keys (something that plagues even the best of the rest, including Apple).  Here’s an image I made of the full keyboard with the room lights completely off (click and be amazed):

LK-wide  

Now tell me that doesn’t drop your jaw!  The illumination can be cycled through three levels (low, medium and high) with the click of a key and, while they don’t show in these photos, the upper row of keys (seen in orange) do serve as function keys (the F1, F2, etc are printed on the facing edge of the keys).  Also, this thing is very thin – maybe a quarter to half and inch – and is adorned with a stylish acrylic border:

LK-edge

And while thin, the keyboard does not feel flimsy – it has a solid build quality and weighs more than it looks.

LK-thin

Yes, it would have been nice if it were also wireless, but I understand that the power needed to keep those keys constantly lit would really make battery life tank.  But considering this really is the best keyboard I’ve ever used – and it costs a paltry $60 bucks – I ain’t complaining! 

Click here  to check out the official page and lastly – no, I don’t work for Logitech nor did I get a free keyboard – but after years of wanting something like this and finally having the unique experience of being completely satisfied with a new product – I just wanted to share.

Fellow cave-dwelling artists, your new best friend is here!

 


33 Responses to “nsfw: the greatest keyboard ever”


  1. August 26, 2009 at 3:48 am

    Very impressive, but with the same stupid problem of most keybords of the latest months: the big DEL key and the missing INS key above the arrow keys.

  2. 2 clc
    August 26, 2009 at 4:11 am

    The Bank Gothic labels are particularly apt. Galactica keyboard!

  3. August 26, 2009 at 5:00 am

    Well new isn’t really true. I own this keyboard for over half a year and it should be out there for around a year. But you’re absolutely right with another thing: It’s gorgeous. The feedback is absolutely great. The one downside is the price, but it’s worth every cent.

  4. 4 Colonial Warrior
    August 26, 2009 at 5:04 am

    in a word SWEET! nuff said.

  5. August 26, 2009 at 5:30 am

    As nice as an illuminated keyboard would be, you’ll have to pry my weapon of mass destruction Model M (well, Model M derivative, since I have one of the Unicomp models that’s black, USB, and cut down to normal size) out of my cold dead fingers.

  6. August 26, 2009 at 6:24 am

    Me? I’m going for the exact opposite: A completely unlabled keyboard, alá Count Zero.

  7. 7 Tripper
    August 26, 2009 at 7:07 am

    Wow. I was expecting that you had blew major bucks on the OLED one by Art Ledbev, but this is pretty sweet. Unfortunately, I got hooked on the MS Natural keyboard years ago and just can’t give it up. If they would do something like this, I’d be all over it.

  8. 8 Steve Moody
    August 26, 2009 at 7:32 am

    Will have to take a look at one of these, been looking for a decent backlit keyboard myself. First on i tried was similar to the first “Fail” keyboard you show where the entire keyboard was illuminated. That was bad enough but it also was a horrible keyboard to type on and the numeric keypad had a feature where it would flash whenever it detected a mobile phone call or sms.

  9. 9 cookie
    August 26, 2009 at 7:49 am

    Give the Saitek Eclipse a glance. Had it for 3 years now, well designed, comfy feel.

    And best of all, you can change the colors, red, blue or purple.

  10. August 26, 2009 at 9:01 am

    Gorgeous. Now, if they’d pretty please make a Mac keyboard like that, I’d buy a couple and no doubt several clients of mine would, too. Logitech makes the best Windows keyboards I’ve ever used, but Macs really DO need all three Steve-given modifier keys (Command, Option/Alt and Control, for the unenlightened). Mice go back and forth across the Divide quite nicely (I’m using a MS Wireless Laser Mouse 6000 as I type this), and Windows keyboards work fine for Windows (and Linux), but… grrrr… oh well.

    Thanks for showing this.

  11. 11 MJPollard
    August 26, 2009 at 10:06 am

    That is indeed a sexy beast. Only two problems with it that I can see:

    1. As Luigi Rosa said, it dinks around with the layout of certain keys. This one seems to be the least offensive (it at least leaves the arrow keys in the tried-and-true inverted-T arrangement and keeps the backslash above the Enter key where it belongs), but there was nothing about the classic layout that needed “fixing”. Shrink the Delete key, put the Insert key back above it, and we’ll talk.

    2. It’s not ergonomic. I’ve been using the split-style ergo keyboards for ages, and I firmly believe it’s helped to stave off carpal tunnel all this time. If Logitech comes out with an ergo model (not one of those half-assed “wave” models, but a true split-style ergo), I’ll be interested.

  12. 12 KevinW
    August 26, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    Finally, someone else shares my frustration with light up keyboards!

    This one looks sweet alright. Definitely going to check it out.

  13. 13 Epsilon
    August 26, 2009 at 6:48 pm

    Damn near destroyed my own keyboard spitting out my rum and coke reading the line:

    “the space between the keys was becoming so packed with hair, dust and dried-up jizz that the keys didn’t go “click” as much as they went “squish.””

    Funny!

    Eww! But Gods damned funny!

  14. 14 Tim
    August 27, 2009 at 1:58 am

    I’ve been using a Logitech G-15 keyboard with backlit keys for a number of years now. Still a big fan. The keyboard feels great and the LCD display is great for controlling your music collection, watching your CPU and RAM performance stats, linking in with your IM client etc. Great stuff.

  15. August 27, 2009 at 10:47 am

    Frakkin’ *FINALLY*

  16. August 27, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    Logitech makes the best Windows keyboards I’ve ever used, but Macs really DO need all three Steve-given modifier keys (Command, Option/Alt and Control, for the unenlightened).

    Map Alt to Command, and the Windows key to Option. Quick and easy in the Keyboard System Preference, and OS X 10.5 even remembers on a per-keyboard basis to boot, I found (which makes my life a heck of a lot easier).

    If you don’t have access to the System Preferences, of course, you’re in trouble… but why are you supplying your own keyboard to a system you don’t administer? :)

  17. August 27, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    I’m with Andrew on this one, except that I *do* have a genuine IBM Model M keyboard, born on July 28, 1993 and bought refurbished from clickykeyboards.com in excellent operational order. How many sixteen-year-old computer parts are YOU still using?

    If you’re a touch-typist, there is absolutely nothing–NOTHING–that feels like an IBM clicky keyboard, and that includes Unicomp’s excellent licensed derivatives (I have one of those, too). And the nice thing about my model M is that when the zombies attack my office, I will have an excellent battering ram handy.

  18. August 27, 2009 at 9:10 pm

    I love how you have been searching all over the place for something Apple has had for years and years. :)

  19. 19 John Tackkett
    August 28, 2009 at 7:55 am

    Too bad we didn’t hear about this sooner. Logitech was offering a $20 rebate on this if purchased between 08/02 and 08/15.

  20. 20 Robb Jones
    August 28, 2009 at 10:31 am

    This keyboard is perfect and is worth every penny!

    At least, that is what I would be saying if if wasn’t for that godforsaken delete-key modification. Logitech, that is a show-stopper.

    Although, come to think of it, most of the time I hit the Insert key, it is an accident…..

  21. August 29, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    Re; your old keyboard status…

    *snerk*

  22. 22 Peter von Frosta
    August 30, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    Very awesome.
    Did you know that although there is a Macbook Pro with illuminated keys, there is no external keyboard for the Apple Macintosh with illuminated keys? And even though logitech has apple versions of their premium keyboards with the expose keys and stuff, this model is windows only.

    Bummer.

  23. 23 mswood
    September 3, 2009 at 8:48 pm

    What exactly was wrong with the Apple one? You mention it, but don’t mention whats wrong with it?

  24. September 4, 2009 at 6:44 am

    Darth Mojo: Yes, it would have been nice if it were also wireless, but I understand that the power needed to keep those keys constantly lit would really make battery life tank.

    Even if the keyboard was wireless, I would still recommend keeping a wired keyboard around for three reasons.

    1. It saves you from purchasing a lot of batteries.
    2. If something goes wrong with the wireless keyboard, you have a wired backup. And yes, I’ve dealt with customers all the time who say they can’t use their own computer because everything they’ve bought was wireless.
    3. It’s a keyboard. It’s not supposed to move! And what ever movement it might need for adjustment purposes, I still don’t think it justifies the extra cost, setup hassle and the repurchasing of batteries.

  25. 25 Ms. Peel
    September 5, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    the perfect keyboard for me had a caps lock key that you have to press down extra super frakking hard to get it to be activated.
    until someone understands that concept, this looks like a great keybaord since it does appear to have proper illumination [unlike the FAIL type i have been suffering with]

    it’s design doesn’t humilate my intelligence, so extra bonus!
    one thing i have always hated about computer peripheral design is that it always appears to be meant for 10 year old gaming fans and not adults who want something clean and functional.

    yep, this looks like a nice one. thanks for the post mojo, never would have known about it unless you had mentioned it :)
    Au

  26. 26 darthmojo
    September 8, 2009 at 5:48 am

    Ms WOOD: There’s nothing really wrong with the Apple keyboard, however it does allow some light leakage from between the keys. Also, the backlit keyboard it only available in the Macbook – Apple has yet to produce an external backlit keyboard for desktop Macs.

    MS PEEL: Thanks for mentioning the CAPS LOCK – as a matter of fact, this keyboard alerts you to things such as number lock and caps lock by displaying a message on your monitor, so while it doesn’t prevent you from accidentally hitting the key, at least you’ll be alerted to the mistake before you actually type anything. It’s already helped me out a few times.

  27. 27 The Hey
    September 8, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    Newegg has Logitech Illuminated Ultrathin Wired Keyboard with Backlight for $60 – $20 with code KEYS942 = $40 with free shipping.

    http://tinyurl.com/lhz33f

  28. 28 mswood
    September 9, 2009 at 8:11 pm

    Cool thanks for the response, I knew it was only the macbook pro, as Apple truly hasn’t updated its higher end desktops, but I didn’t know how the one on the laptop worked.

  29. 29 Michael Llaneza
    September 10, 2009 at 7:02 pm

    Guess what I’m typing this on :-)

  30. 30 Tim J
    October 3, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    Does this Illuminated logitech keyboard work on Macs running OS X? System requirements only say PC Windows I believe.

  31. 31 Peter
    February 2, 2010 at 5:26 am

    I bought it finaly yesterady. No dissapointment so far in anything, only once it stopped working, after restart it workde again. Can be connected with dual boot system, the keyboard is only USB and with PS2 reduction doesn’t work, so I have plugged simultaneously both this and under table old ps2 keyboard, so while booting and choosing OS in bios I type with ps2 and after windows is running this jewel already works. What a pleasure to work with it at night.

  32. 32 Kerlio
    March 15, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    Ah good thing. I bought a Razor Lycosa based on the pictures from the pictures on the website. It showed a very good backlighting with the colour being a bright turquoise, and letters seen from any angle. The real deal is very different. First, it’s a dark blue, and as many geeks who wear big glasses, that sucks. Secondly, the backlighting is nowhere bright enough to fully see some numbers even in a normal typing position. The keypad is particularly offensive there.
    Finally, the “touchspad” control area on the top right corner is both too limited and of questionable sensitivity. There are times you just don’t beat good old buttons.

    So I was thinking about buying another keyboard (again, sigh) and that Logitech really seems ace. Plus white letters by default is a good thing, and thanks to your pictures, we can all see the real deal.

    PS: I’m done with Razor. I bought a mouse from them, at more than $60 and it kept making horribly cranky noises when I pressed buttons. So over three Razor products, there’s only one which turned out to be worth, it was the mouse pad X Control. The rest was really disappointing, not to say crap.

  33. October 8, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    Just a belated comment on your assessment of the Deck: It’s actually based on the cop-cruiser keyboards, so ergonomics wasn’t a key so much as a small form factor. I use one with my 360 for typing messages rather than hunt-and-pecking them one character at a time. It’s loud and clacky and pretty darn near indestructible. But that said, I also got it free, and I remember them being pricey as all get out when they were available. I use a Logitech G15 at work now and I like the soft blue glow.


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