Kickstarter and Indiegogo are no strangers to strange and inventive solutions to problems you never knew you had, but what these crowdfunding platforms do provide over the standard retail channels, is the opportunity to cater to very specific audiences, otherwise ignored.
A quality keyboard needs a quality mouse alongside it. Here are our best gaming mice.
Keyboard preference is very personal. Die-hard keyboard fans often downright refuse to update from boards they purchased decades ago, because no one has quite got it just right since. Even changing keyboard from one traditional design to another can throw off your typing game for days to come, and cause you to miss those crucial key combos when you are in the thick of it while gaming.
Keyboards have found a new home with crowdfunding platforms, allowing niche designs to reach their intended users, although not all of them have been winners. We’ve picked five of the most weird and wonderful keyboard from the largest crowdfunding sites - some are fantastic, some… not so much.
1. Curve Intelligent Keyboard
You may confuse the Curve with a children’s toy, which may seem a little unfair considering the seemingly large amount of effort gone into designing the hexagonal-keyed board. The Curve uses scenario-driven lighting to stand out of the pack with other keyboards, offering per-key lighting dependant on the application you are using, showing you all the shortcuts and important keys you’ll need for speedy use.
Despite the Curve’s intended teaching purposes, supposedly decreasing learning time, the keyboard sports a white text on clouded keycap design. This causes the backlighting to shine very bright through the keys, while almost rendering the keycaps entirely unreadable.
The Curve features two custom-made switches, that are likened to popular Cherry MX Blue and Red switches. The open API may be a useful addition to a more traditional RGB board, bringing custom RGB profiles into the corporate space, yet I can’t imagine many CEO’s wanting to don their desks with the Curve.
For gaming, it may be best to avoid the Curve. Custom RGB profiles that activate per game are available on a few manufacturer-provided programs, and you could always use a third-party application such as the fantastic Artemis.
The Curve is still available to back on Kickstarter.
2. Freestyle Edge
This split design keyboard is designed specifically for gamers. The Edge comes with all the usual suspects for a modern gaming keyboard: LED backlighting, Cherry MX switches, a handful of macro keys, and N-key rollover, except it foregoes the usual single board design, favouring instead, two split the keyboard right down the middle.
For someone who’s often been restricted to tiny desks, like myself, the Freestyle Edge could offer a ton of versatility to an otherwise limited space. The 20” of separation offered between the two halves allows use of a microphone, a mouse with a mouse mat, or even a laptop. A microphone might not be the best choice however, considering the noise generated by the optional Cherry MX Blue switches.
You can sign up for updates regarding the Freestyle Edge launch on the Kinesis Gaming website.
3. Penna Typewriter keyboard
Penna aren’t the only typewriter style keyboard I’ve seen, yet this one caught my eye specifically. Thanks to the inclusion of Cherry MX switches, you can play GTAV on a fully-functional typewriter style keyboard, just like your grandparents did in the good ole’ days.
The Penna even comes with a single macro key in the style of the carriage return bar required for traditional typewriters. The bar saves frequently used keys and phrases, which can then be used later and save some time. Programming this macro bar to unleash an ultimate in Overwatch could be exceptionally satisfying. The only downside to a responsive gaming experience on the Penna is the keyboards dependance on Bluetooth connections, possibly adding a little too much latency into the mix.
You can find the Penna Typewriter on the Elretron website.
4. Keyboard Mini PC - K3
You may have guessed from the name that this keyboard offers more than meets the eye, although maybe the VGA port gave it away. This keyboard houses a full Intel Atom-powered mini-PC within it’s body - or rather within the housing attached to the keyboards undercarriage.
The real question here is: can you game on this monster? Well, the answer is yes! If you consider google doodles gaming. The K3 houses an Intel Celeron processor, and utilises Intel’s own integrated HD Graphics 500, so you are pretty limited on graphical power.
Sadly, I doubt the K3 is the return of computers with keyboards built into the chassis. For its portability factor, the K3 still requires a monitor, so it’s essentially losing out to a tablet or ultrabook with access to a smart TV. Honestly, the more I think about the K3, the more I realise this keyboard mini-PC is almost entirely useless.
Links to this keyboard are available on their Kickstarter page.
5. X-Bows Mechanical Ergonomic Keyboard
If, like me, you suffer from nerdy weak-wrist syndrome, then you might be interested in this warped typing utensil. The X-Bows is offering a fully mechanical, yet more-ergonomic, experience with the full range of Gateron switches available.
The X-Bows is designed to contour to the natural way our wrists angle, allowing for lessened strain when typing for longer periods. Thanks to the curvature of the board, the ctrl and shift keys can be moved in between the separated space and qwerty keys, making use of your thumb, rather than stretching your pinky fingers.
Thanks to the RGB lighting, it qualifies as a gaming keyboard for us. Those are the rules, deal with it. In all seriousness, the combination of mechanical key switches and easier access to ctrl and shift key may allow for quicker actuation for clutch saves in game, and less finger fatigue over long gaming weekends
The X-Bows mechanical ergonomic keyboard is still available for pledges on Kickstarter.