Kailh Laptop Switches With Light Pipe Design, Pictured

The grab bag of new low-profile mechanical switches from Kaihua that we saw at Computex 2017 continue to emerge into the real world. Just a week or so after the company made its Kailh Choc PG1232 switches official, Kaihua released pictures of its intriguing PG1442 switches.

The 1442 switches have a scissor design, which is similar to, but not identical to, the (as yet unreleased) 1425 series. (You're reading that correctly: Kaihua is working on two separate low-profile mechanical scissor switches.) That's unique enough, but the other compelling part of the design is the light pipe.

On most mechanical switches, you'll find the LEDs at the top of the switch housing. This is why some keycap legends are positioned close to the top of the caps instead of in the center, and it's also why you often see slightly uneven underglow. Another limitation of that placement is that usually, secondary keycap legends are backlit unevenly. This is true even of "RGB" switches that have clear housings.

It's generally accepted that a centered, through-stem lighting design is superior, because the light is easier to control and is less messy. Perhaps oddly, though, it's rare to see it. One major vendor that uses such a design is Logitech, on its Romer-G switches, but major switch makers like Cherry and Kaihua have eschewed this design.

Also note that, obviously, these switches will not offer Cherry MX-compatible keycaps. Instead, they're meant for chiclet-style caps, which you can see in the images.

We do not yet have any specifications on these switches, unfortunately.

These 1442-series switches, then, are notable for multiple reasons: They're low profile (apparently a growing trend), have a scissor design, and use a light pipe. The fact that prototypes now exist--at Computex, remember, there were no prototypes to be seen on the show floor--means that Kaihua has now at least taken one step closer to turning them into a Real Thing.