Update 2, 11/1/16, 7:22am PT: We now have pricing information. The RealForce RGB keyboard will carry a hefty price tag--between $260-280 USD, a Topre rep confirmed. The standard non-backlit versions run deom $235-285 USD.
Update, 10/31/16, 8:36am PT: The RealForce RGB keyboard will be available in North America in early December from a number of outlets, including Amazon, Micro Center, Rakuten, B&H, NCIX (Canada), MechanicalKeyboards.com, Elitekeyboards.com, and MassDrop.
Sometime before the holidays, Topre will have a new keyboard to share with the world. The iconoclastic switch- and keyboard-maker is bowing somewhat to the trends of the day by employing RGB lighting in a new RealForce keyboard, but the premiere feature will be switches with adjustable actuation points.
The team at Topre figured out that they could change the actuation point of the switch via firmware. In fact, they found that they could hit 256 different actuation points. Deciding that human brains (not to mention human fingers ) couldn’t parse out so many actuation points, they limited it to three: 1.5, 2.2 and 3.0 mm. The total key travel is 4 mm.
A representative told me that they landed on those three actuation points after soliciting feedback from beta testers and pondering the use cases of each. For example, gamers always want speed, which they get with 1.5 mm actuation. (Note well that Cherry recently released its own Silver “Speed Switch” that actuates at 1.2 mm.) For typers, the 2.2 mm option is more similar to most mechanical switches on the market,. and 3.0 mm offers a different, but satisfying, feel entirely.
To alter the actuation point, you simply press the P4 (Windows) key at the top right of the keyboard. The changing lights can tell you which actuation point you’ve selected. The change occurs instantly--fast enough that you could probably do it in-game without getting pwned.
All that happens, really, is that the capacitance changes. Thus, it’s a deceptively simple solution to a long-running issue, and it’s made possible by the design of the Topre switch. Unlike most mechanical switches on the market (primarily Cherry and its clones), the Topre switch relies on a spring, so technically (and now, actually), the actuation point could be anywhere in the key travel.
RGB, And Cherry Sliders
In addition to the addition of RGB lighting to this new RealForce keyboard, Topre saw fit to use a standard layout and Cherry MX-compatible sliders in the switches (you can see the familiar cross design in the image below). Therefore, the RealForce RGB is designed to accommodate aftermarket key caps.
The caps that come stock with the keyboard are doubleshot for longevity. The design we saw at Computex is staid--a simple, all-black chassis with a thin bezel. Underneath, there are troughs to route the cable out the middle-back, left side or right side of the keyboard.
However, Topre is still finalizing the RealForce RGB, so some aspects of the design may change between now and when it will be available. I was told to expect the keyboard to hit the market in the October-November time frame, or at least before the holidays. There’s no word yet on pricing.
Seth Colaner is the News Director for Tom's Hardware. Follow him on Twitter @SethColaner. Follow us on Facebook, Google+, RSS, Twitter and YouTube.
Yeah, I'm kinda surprised by that part. The variable actuation blows my mind a little, the RGB is just...meh. RGB.
Give them away? I'll take one!