Keyboard Paradise (KBP) is a Chinese keyboard maker that’s popular among the enthusiast set, and in the company’s small, plain booth at Computex, we found some small, plain keyboards--but also a few that downright sparkled.
V60 RGB: Glow Baby, Glow
For a company with mostly non-backlit, chilled-out designs, the V60 RGB was a surprise. The translucent key caps let the light shine through--both on top and on the front of several keys (as you can see in the below image)--but the chassis itself is also made of translucent plastic.
Gaudiness is nothing new for the keyboard market, but this is certainly a new sort of gaudy. Unlike some keyboards that have huge chassis with banks of extra keys, the V60 RGB is just as compact as KBP’s other 60% keyboards. It’s just that the chassis lights up.
If you look at the underside of the V60 RGB, you can see that there are 19 LEDs rimming the PCB that provide the glow. You can control the lighting without software; KBP set three keys for controlling the switch lighting and three others for the underside LEDs. Obviously, that means you won’t get the intense, granular lighting control of many higher-end RGB keyboards that rely primarily on software, but the V60 RGB will offer at least a few features such as on, off and pulse.
The model that KBP had on display was equipped with Cherry MX Blue RGB switches, but Gateron switches will be an option, as well. Further, a KBP representative told me that virtually all Cherry MX and Gateron switch types will be available for the V60 RGB.
KBP has not yet set a price for the V60 RGB (it will surely vary depending on the switches on a given model), but we should expect the keyboard to hit the market sometime by the end of the year.
More V60 Experiments
It appears that KBP is looking to experiment with its keyboard lineup in a market that’s increasingly crowded and, as it were, colorful.
Whether it’s your thing or not, vintage-looking keycaps are popular among many, and KBP showed off its V60 mini at Computex tricked out with a two-tone beige keycap layout. The keys rest atop a compact black chassis, and you’ll be able to pick one up with Matias Click, Matias Quiet Click or Matias Linear switches, for $109. They’re up for preorder now and will ship on July 7.
The upcoming V60 Pro features software support, so you can remap your keys. It runs on open source firmware, and the keyboard will “remember” any remapping you do with onboard memory.
You’ll be able to opt for PBT keycaps or backlit switches, and like the V60 RGB, the bottom chassis is translucent and lights up with LEDs. A rep told me that this particular keyboard will have just one switch option, which tells me that the company is truly experimenting with some ideas and plans to use the V60 Pro to gauge market demand.
Yet another experimental V60 is the V60 Plus, a keyboard with dual-color LEDs instead of RGB. You’ll be able to switch between red or blue backlighting, and thanks to the magic of mixing light, you’ll also be able to create a purple backlight.
The chassis will be black, and the keyboard will come with Cherry MX switches and will cost about $100.
V80 Goes Vintage, V100 Goes (Alternately) Dark And Bright
Like the V60 Mini, KBP’s V80 (basically a TKL keyboard) is getting a vintage makeover. We saw a version of the keyboard with beige ABS keycaps. A KBP rep told me that this is a prototype at this point (there could be TaiHao ABS doubleshot Dolch and Olivette key cap options as well), with the focus less on the key caps and more on a non-backlit version of the V80. The company hasn't determined for certain that it will release it, but assuming it does, expect the non-backlit keyboard with the vintage-looking cap options sometime in September. The company has made no decision on PBT key cap options for the new keyboard yet.
Also coming soon is a striking all-black version of the V100 (full size) keyboard. The “Carbon Black” keys make it rather difficult to see the characters on the key caps, but then again, we’ve seen keyboards with no characters at all, so there’s a certain segment of the keyboard-buying population that will dig the darkness.
This keyboard comes with Cherry MX switches, and other key cap options include Dolch, Olivette and Miami. You can preorder one of these keyboards with Carbon Black or Olivette caps now; they won’t ship until September 15, though.
About those Miami caps: They’re hot pink and turquoise, which looks more attractive in person against an otherwise black chassis than it probably sounds. KBP was showing off the Miami key caps on what was labelled as a V100i, which is a naming departure from most of KBP’s V100 keyboards that are appended by “K2.” A KBP rep explained that this is nomenclature for experimental keyboards--the "i" stands for "initial"--and although it is making these (as an OEM) for a Japanese company, KBP has still not determined whether or not it will go forward with this particular device. The keyboard has Cherry MX switches and Cherry stabs, as well as PBT or ABS double shot key cap options. If it comes to market, there will be a non-backlit version and one with blue LED backlighting.
If you’re interested in the “Miami” look and don't wish to wait, you can pop on a V100K2 with the key caps and Cherry MX Brown switches for $129. This keyboard, though, will not arrive until September 15, just like the other new V100 versions.
An Entry-Level Full Size Keyboard: V104SE
Again with the experiments: KBP had a full-size keyboard on display with a floating key cap design, but it bore no information aside from the name (V104SE) and a note indicating that it had Gateon switches and PBT key caps. However, I learned that this is designed as an entry-level model that will cost around $79-89 USD when it arrives on the market, possibly sometime in Q4. Options for Gateron switches will likely consist of Blue, Brown or Clear switches, and the PBT keycaps offer laser-etched front or top printing.
It's entertaining to see companies tinker with new design ideas, and KBP gets a tip 'o the hat for thinking a bit outside the box and being unafraid to try out quirky prototypes to see what users will be interested in buying.