For reasons unknown to us, keyboard makers are often squirrely, if not downright secretive, about who makes their keyboard switches--unless they use Cherry, in which case it’s stamped all over the packaging and marketing materials. Tesoro fell into that camp somewhat with its optical switch keyboard, but now we know that the company worked with Gateron to design and build those switches.
At Computex last year, we spotted a prototype optical Tesoro keyboard using optical switches, which were actually prototype switches made by Gateron. Then, when we learned that Tesoro was making an optical-switch version of its Gram Spectrum keyboard, it only made sense that the switches were the final version of the Gaterons we’d just seen. However, Tesoro disconfirmed that theory, leaving us scratching our heads as to what company was making them.
Then, we saw a super-slim, chiclet-style Tesoro mechanical keyboard prototype at CES. We presumed that the low-profile switches were made by Kailh, but then we later learned that these were actually Gateron switches, made in partnership with Tesoro.
We thought it odd that Tesoro was working directly with Gateron on one type of switch but not another, especially considering the presence of the optical Gateron switches in Tesoro’s suite at Computex. It turns out that we were right all along: The Tesoro Excalibur SE Spectrum does indeed have Gateron-made optical switches after all.
What’s more, Tesoro and Gateron partnered up to make them. A Tesoro rep let us know that the two companies were on a quest to make a better optical switch than the one Gateron originally worked on.
These co-developed optical switches are Cherry compatible, meaning you can easily find aftermarket keycaps for them, and what’s more, they’re hot-swappable.
A final note of intrigue: Even though Tesoro was involved in the development of the switches, it does not have an exclusive on them. That means any other keyboard maker interested in optical switch technology now has another option in Gateron to compete with the likes of Adomax and Flaretech.