Lighting & Key Caps
The B188 comes with “neon glare” backlighting, which is a fancy term for a simple system. The backlighting is either green, blue, cyan, or off. There are no patterns or customization other than brightness, although the keyboard will start to cycle between the colors when it hasn’t been used in a while.
Moreover, because the lighting is not based on LEDs integrated into switches, but on a lit membrane shining through a translucent top plate, there is considerable light bleed around the edges. The stems of the rubber dome caps also don’t lend themselves to even lighting through the caps, so the legends don’t appear smoothly lit. The optical switches, however, feature integrated LEDs and much smoother lighting.
Obviously a product of the cost cuts necessary to bring the price of the keyboard down, the lighting is limited enough in its execution that it would seem suitable only for people who don’t care for backlighting at all. However, even those people will probably find themselves having to use the backlighting anyway, as the keycaps’ lettering is made from completely transparent plastic rather than the semi-translucent or silver-coated lettering keycaps generally used by other manufacturers such as Logitech, Corsair, and Cooler Master. As a result, it’s much harder to see the legends when the backlight is off than it is on many other manufacturers’ keyboards.
It should be noted that although the lighting on the majority of the board can be set to green, blue or cyan, the QWERASDF cluster can only be lit in blue.
The keycaps on the board are doubleshot injection-mouded ABS, meaning that the lettering is of the highest quality you can expect in a keycap. In contrast to the much more common laser-ablated lettering present on backlit keyboards, the lettering is much more durable, and virtually impossible to wear off - certainly a welcome feature on a keyboard with switches purported to last as long as these. Another advantage is that this enables the use of more textured keytops, as laser-ablated keycaps tend to have extremely smooth keytops that promote slipping, and on which fingerprints stick out like a sore thumb.
The special gaming keycaps included on the QWERASDF cluster are thick; at approximately 1.4mm, they are nearly as thick as Cherry’s (now GMK’s) old 1.5mm doubleshots. You’ll rarely find such as occurrence these days. Bloody’s keycaps are made of a soft, gel-like material (which the company advertises as “silicone”, although we’ve confirmed that they’re actually ABS with TPU, which are non-siliceous materials).
The material, in any case, is relatively grippy compared to harder plastics like ABS and PBT, and they have a hexagonal pattern that further enhances grip. The lettering is not fully translucent like it is on the other keycaps, and lighting appears much more evenly through them. Interestingly, the “gaming” keycaps are advertised as being convex, even though they’re not; only the bottom row is convex, and furthermore, the application of convexity for gaming purposes is not clear.
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