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The WhiteFox Keyboard Returns, Via Kickstarter (Update: NightFox)

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Update, 7/12/17, 12:28pm PT: The Input Club added a new version of the WhiteFox to the Kickstarter: The NightFox. The new entrant looks like Darth Vader's keyboard, with an anthracite black chassis with matching keycaps (plus a few red caps for effect). It's available via the Kickstarter with no switches ($179) or with Halo True switches ($189).

Also, the Kickstarter is now at $210,403, more than doubling its initial goal of $100,000. It still has 13 days to go.

The NightFox

Update, 6/22/17, 6:48am PT: The Kickstarter made rather quickly. With 34 days to go, the Input Club has gathered $110,600 (at press time) on 617 backers, already exceeding its $100,000 goal. Of note, by far the most popular option available is the WhiteFox with Halo True switches, which has gathered 375 backers. The Halo Trues are the lighter tactile variant of the two Input Club-designed switches you can get on the WhiteFox. 112 people have claimed the model with Halo Clear switches compared to just 39 who have nabbed the Kailh Blue switch version.

In any case, now that the Kickstarter has cleared its all-or-nothing benchmark, the production will move forward. If you want in on this round of manufacturing (there's no promise that there will be another at this time), you have a little over a month to do so.

Original article, 6/20/17, 8:15am PT:

Disclaimer: Members of the Input Club have written for Tom’s Hardware.

An earlier project of the Input Club (the group recently launched its K-Type keyboard) was the White Fox, a compact, svelte plank that you could buy either fully assembled or as a DIY kit. Now it’s back, via Kickstarter.

Kickstarting Vs. MassDropping

As is often the case with these enthusiast projects, the initial run of the WhiteFox was available in a limited batch. To the pleasant surprise of the Input Club guys, the demand for the WhiteFox far outpaced supply during its first run on Massdrop. They told Tom’s Hardware that there’s a significant waiting list of people who want to buy a WhiteFox should it ever return; and return it has.

So why Kickstarter? Long story short, it was a better deal for the Input Club to work with Kickstarter this time around as opposed to Massdrop--a practical decision, in other words. Further, whereas some Kickstarter projects are about an idea and a prayer, and your money is essentially a gamble, the Input Club needs funds only to, ahem, kickstart the production and calculate how many keyboards to assemble. Specifically, the group said, “Money raised from this campaign will be used to create a keyboard manufacturing line at a new factory for the WhiteFox.” There’s no gamble; if you make a pledge for a given model, you’re ordering that model.

What’s New

While the Input Club was readying a fresh production run of the WhiteFox, the guys figured they may as well make a few adjustments. Fans of the original (particularly those who wanted one but missed out on the first run) needn’t worry, though; none of the changes are significant enough that the new WhiteFox departs too much from the old WhiteFox.

The PCB circuitry now has slightly better ESD protection, the PCB is LED compatible (but ships with no LEDs), and there are now Cherry-style stabilizers. The plate is now limited to the True Fox layout--which is a little different than, for example, the ISO 65% layout--but the PCB still supports other layouts. There’s also a new keycap set “to better account for the True Fox layout,” the group’s Kickstarter said.

One potential disappointment for some buyers will be the reduced switch options. The initial WhiteFox run had several, including Cherry, Gateron, and Zealio options, but this time around, the Input Club is offering but three: its own Halo True and Halo Clear switches (which are tactile and “tactile firm,” respectively) and Kailh Blue. This is, again, a practical consideration that the group said helps keep the costs down and simplifies the production run.

A Lower Price

Indeed, the group was able to knock the price down, to $169; for $159, you can get the kit with no switches (but you do get keycaps). Basically, that option is for those who want a WhiteFox but don’t want Kailh Blue or Halo switches.

The Kickstarter is live now, so you can go stake your claim for the WhiteFox of your choosing today, or anytime in the next 35 days.

  • AgentLozen
    I don't understand what the appeal of this is. Why am I paying $150 for this? What does this keyboard offer that a well reviewed $100 keyboard doesn't?
    Reply
  • macky21
    19841017 said:
    I don't understand what the appeal of this is. Why am I paying $150 for this? What does this keyboard offer that a well reviewed $100 keyboard doesn't?

    It's a somewhat niche collectors item/hobby. You can order one and build it from the switches up. It's a cool looking keyboard and an opportunity to participate in a support program for a manufacturer you may or may not like.

    There is a growing market for custom key caps and personally built keyboards right now.
    Reply
  • AgentLozen
    I guess if I'm asking these sorts of questions then this keyboard isn't for me.
    Reply
  • shrapnel_indie
    19841041 said:
    19841017 said:
    I don't understand what the appeal of this is. Why am I paying $150 for this? What does this keyboard offer that a well reviewed $100 keyboard doesn't?

    It's a somewhat niche collectors item/hobby. You can order one and build it from the switches up. It's a cool looking keyboard and an opportunity to participate in a support program for a manufacturer you may or may not like.

    There is a growing market for custom key caps and personally built keyboards right now.

    19841083 said:
    I guess if I'm asking these sorts of questions then this keyboard isn't for me.

    Its possible keyboard layouts may go rogue and some direction you don't like. Then you may want a custom keyboard for the layout you do like. (I prefer the ANSI layout myself.) If you're replacing a hard to find keyboard on a retro PC, you may want to go custom.

    This one is a custom layout that sacrifices the Function keys, number pad, and a few other keys for the sake of a smaller footprint. For some uses, this would be great.

    There are many reasons to want one, and many to not want one. No use investing in one if you don't know what you'd want in design or use. However, you never know in the future.
    Reply
  • DerekA_C
    I would like to see a tenkeyless keyboard more ergonomic for carpal tunnel people who write and game.
    Reply
  • Mr5oh
    @MACK21 There's companies out there that make custom keyboards that aren't the "big companies". I've had a WASD keyboard for years now that's been great. I had a couple custom keys on it, for one I had the windows icon keys replaced with Tux icon (Linux). MAX Keyboard is another one I looked at. Ducky? All three of those use three different key types but none of them are what I would consider a "big company",
    Reply
  • Tomahok2
    19841017 said:
    I don't understand what the appeal of this is. Why am I paying $150 for this? What does this keyboard offer that a well reviewed $100 keyboard doesn't?

    A board like this is significantly higher quality than your regular $100 board. There are also many more keyswitch options, especially if you build it yourself. For example, you could get the legendary zealio switches on this, while you could not get them really anywhere else.

    The full programmability is really nice for a lot of people.
    Reply
  • captaincharisma
    $150.00 for a keyboard that looks like one you can get from a dollar store
    Reply
  • millerb7
    It's Halo True not Halo Clears.
    Reply
  • scolaner
    19932278 said:
    It's Halo True not Halo Clears.

    Oops--fixed. Thx!
    Reply