Wooting One Analog Mechanical Keyboard Review

The Wooting One is the first commercially available, fully analog mechanical keyboard. The prospect of analog sensing technology in keyboards is still somewhat novel, but if it catches on with gamers--and we believe it should and will--this is a landmark moment in this technology’s history.

With the One in hand, though, we did what we always do, which is take a dazzling piece of technological progress and ruthlessly pick it apart, in every sense of the word. What follows is our deep look at the One and all of its constituent parts.

To fully understand the One and what it can do (and why that’s important), it’s perhaps instructive to think of it in pieces: as 1) a mechanical gaming keyboard, as 2) an optical switch keyboard, and 3) as an analog keyboard.

Looking at the Wooting One, and even after popping off a cap to see what’s underneath, you wouldn’t notice that it’s any different than any other mechanical keyboard. Indeed, that’s because that’s what it is. The switches are mechanical. It offers RGB lighting. Its design is reminiscent of Razer’s BlackWidow X line, even. It has configuration software that lets you tweak settings and make key assignments.

The switches, though, are Flaretech optical switches. Again, they’re still mechanical switches (the Wooting One ships with both Red and Blue switches), but the sensing method is different than Cherry MX and its clones. Instead of two metal contacts touching and triggering a key event, an optical sensor mounted on the PCB detects the switch stem’s depth as it plunges. (This is a gross oversimplification of the technology. For a primer on optical switch technology and how it works, read this.)

Because of the nature of the optical sensing technology, Wooting was able to give the One analog input capabilities. We’ve discussed what that means numerous times in these digital pages, and we’ll discuss it in more detail in this article, but in a nutshell, a normal keyboard uses digital input (each keypress is a simple on/off command), whereas analog input gives you degrees of control through the entire keypress.

The simplest example involved moving a character in a game. With a normal keyboard, your character is either stock still (no input) or running (press W). With analog input, though, when you press W, the character would creep slowly, then walk, then jog, then sprint, depending on how far down you press the switch.

In a way, then, you could look at the One as a more evolved gaming keyboard, or you could view it as one device that’s trying to do a lot all at once. In reality, it’s both. Let’s take a closer look.

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25 comments
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  • SinxarKnights
    Oh it's finally out, nice! I really want one but my wallet is dead from starvation already. Frankly i'm surprised it took this long for someone to develop an analog keyboard. It was something I wanted from my earliest PC gaming days, having analog input on the keys would have been very useful for many games.
    0
  • Mansen
    I'm glad you didn't give them too much criticism over the software considering the potentially game changing features. At least things like macros and light effects can be patched in later. Much harder to add hardware features for existing boards. :)
    1
  • Kridian
    @SinxarKnights, don't starve bro. I'll send you a hotpocket. (steak & cheese)
    0
  • nimbulan
    While it sounds interesting, I feel like the extremely narrow 2.5mm of analog range will be too difficult to control precisely in the heat of the moment and will ultimately end up not being terribly useful. It's difficult enough on gamepads which have approximately twice as much range on the thumbsticks. It's not often that analog control actually gets used even on gamepads outside of driving and flying games anyway.
    0
  • drwho1
    Another way over priced keyboard.
    0
  • MrPleasantEXE
    Great review however as a BETA tester i wanna point some things out...

    The issue with the LEDs is most likely due to ISO being loaded on a ANSI keyboard (the on you received) as they have different amount of keys, to load ANSI for all LEDS you need to go to profile manager and load it, if you want to import my profile go ahead =D e04967ea-671f-6558-f4bc-19792281e905

    As for the wobble issue, i personally don't see this unless i go to physically wobble them, for me its not a huge issue.

    As for the software, you are using the alpha version which is different from the final version, or well will be, the version you have should have a feature similar to macro's.

    Overall i love the review however software wise, the final version will be different.

    -MrPleasant
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  • MrPleasantEXE
    @drwho1 what makes you say that?
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  • MrPleasantEXE
    Anonymous said:
    Another way over priced keyboard.


    what makes you say that?
    0
  • scolaner
    Anonymous said:
    While it sounds interesting, I feel like the extremely narrow 2.5mm of analog range will be too difficult to control precisely in the heat of the moment and will ultimately end up not being terribly useful. It's difficult enough on gamepads which have approximately twice as much range on the thumbsticks. It's not often that analog control actually gets used even on gamepads outside of driving and flying games anyway.


    Yeah, that is a limiting factor. Currently, it's a limitation baked into the Flaretech switch. I need to do a deep dive on the structure of the other optical switches on the market and see if any of those would avoid that problem.

    Also, I'd been thinking (but neglected to mention in the review) that I think a 5mm travel would work better.

    But I'm withholding some judgment on that until I spend even more time with it. You get used to the analog feel. How much you can "get used" to that small range, I don't know yet. I'm sure some of those uber talented gamers out there would get it really fast. I'm old, slow, and inaccurate. ;)
    0
  • nostalgion
    ive been wondering if this type of technology existed. i knew it could be done, and i knew i wanted it, and now. i cant afford it. but a massive praise to wooting for creating a dream, and making it reality, evolved gaming. a blacksmith is only as good as his tools, and his tools just got so much better.
    0
  • scolaner
    Anonymous said:
    Great review however as a BETA tester i wanna point some things out...

    The issue with the LEDs is most likely due to ISO being loaded on a ANSI keyboard (the on you received) as they have different amount of keys, to load ANSI for all LEDS you need to go to profile manager and load it, if you want to import my profile go ahead =D e04967ea-671f-6558-f4bc-19792281e905

    As for the wobble issue, i personally don't see this unless i go to physically wobble them, for me its not a huge issue.

    As for the software, you are using the alpha version which is different from the final version, or well will be, the version you have should have a feature similar to macro's.

    Overall i love the review however software wise, the final version will be different.

    -MrPleasant


    Thanks for the profile info! It happened with the original firmware I had, and it persisted in the latest update Wooting pushed out (which I just got a bit ago). I'll be working through the ISO/ANSI issue shortly, though.
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  • rdgoodri
    Would be interested if wireless.
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  • scolaner
    Anonymous said:
    Would be interested if wireless.


    Interesting, why is that?
    0
  • drwho1
    A keyboard over $60 to me is overpriced. I don't need any lighting of any kind. Neither I need it to make me coffee (sarcasm).
    -3
  • scolaner
    Anonymous said:
    A keyboard over $60 to me is overpriced. I don't need any lighting of any kind. Neither I need it to make me coffee (sarcasm).


    Ironically, really nice keyboards that don't have any lighting are typically kind of pricey. :)
    0
  • LoneTech
    Typo in the specifications: 1ms is 1kHz, not 1000MHz. Remove the M. Also a structural nitpick, you reference the wobbly feel before the section that is referenced.

    Personally I have no use for the backlighting, but it's like when the food I buy happens to be lactose free: it broadens the customer base, which allows larger volume, and therefore better pricing. I needed to be picky in the first place as I can't eat gluten. It's a similar story with getting analog keyboards; I'll put up with the backlighting (which can be switched off) and lack of numeric keypad, for now.

    Of course, since the analog capability doesn't rate as a need, the price may outweigh it for you. But early adopters are needed too, or companies will simply declare the initiative a failure rather than develop an enticing product. That way leads to stagnant companies that specialize in price gouging and cost savings rather than functionality (typically marketing over engineering).

    Personally I also feel Wooting have done the right thing in getting the hardware out quickly, compared to software and firmware features. Since they're first to market, compare it to devkit generation hardware. By polishing the hardware, they've tried hard to avoid giving early adopters and devs an inferior product since the firmware and software can be updated, and delivering it means more people can work on the latter (such as porting to other OSes and implementing native support in games). Expect tools like FreePIE and AutoHotkey to start filling in the gaps.

    A fully analog wireless Dactyl or King's Assembly just isn't available in the market yet.
    0
  • scolaner
    Anonymous said:
    Great review however as a BETA tester i wanna point some things out...

    The issue with the LEDs is most likely due to ISO being loaded on a ANSI keyboard (the on you received) as they have different amount of keys, to load ANSI for all LEDS you need to go to profile manager and load it, if you want to import my profile go ahead =D e04967ea-671f-6558-f4bc-19792281e905

    As for the wobble issue, i personally don't see this unless i go to physically wobble them, for me its not a huge issue.

    As for the software, you are using the alpha version which is different from the final version, or well will be, the version you have should have a feature similar to macro's.

    Overall i love the review however software wise, the final version will be different.

    -MrPleasant


    Yep. An old version of the firmware loaded up the wrong layout, and subsequent updates didn't change it. But I was able to completely wipe and reload the keyboard with the correct layout, and now it's all good. So, confirming: No LED issue, it was just due to alpha firmware.
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  • fry178
    Anyone complaining about the price of something, is just whining.
    No one "forces you" (at gunpoint) to buy it.

    Nothing on this or any other computer/gamer/hardware site is needed to live to see 100y.

    It's something you want, and you get it if your budget allows for it, or not if, it doesn't.
    -1
  • Rexer
    ? Not quite sure what big benefits an analog keyboard will be. I play alot of 1st person shooter games and I usually lose ground to the lowest ping. I like the low, keyboards such as the Logit Tech K360 because it's stroke is shorter and seems more 'hair trigger'. Cheap, wireless. About 20 bucks on sale. Heh, when it breaks, I throw it away and buy another. Last maybe 2 years. I'm more concerned about the mouse. Lol. It's tough beating a gamer who's wired into his favorite mouse.
    0
  • Mussharraf Hossen Shoikot
    Anonymous said:
    Anyone complaining about the price of something, is just whining.
    No one "forces you" (at gunpoint) to buy it.

    Nothing on this or any other computer/gamer/hardware site is needed to live to see 100y.

    It's something you want, and you get it if your budget allows for it, or not if, it doesn't.


    no. absolutely not at all. people have the right to complain about problems of products, even price and that is a right upheld by consumers. demanding price reduction so that more can buy it is very justified and also, longevity is very big issue, refer to the computer hardware manufacturing protocols utilized by the military of the nations.
    0