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Steal This Keyboard: Input Club’s K-Type Is On Massdrop (Update: Drop Is Live)

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Update, 5/16/17, 9:45am PT: The drop is now live and will remain open for 14 more days. You can find it here (you may need to log in).

Update, 5/8/17, 7pm PT: Massdrop announced that the K-Type drop will go live on Tuesday, May 16 at 6am PT. 

Original article, 5/5/17, 2pm PT:

Disclaimer: Members of the Input Club have written for Tom’s Hardware.

The Input Club is on a quest to make the most perfect keyboard ever, and the latest result of the group’s efforts is the K-Type. Presently, it’s listed on Massdrop as a preview (it’s being produced by Massdrop), and the drop should be live, we’re told, in the middle of this month.

“Full Sovereignty”

Any of the handful of Input Club members will tell you all about how each and every facet of the K-Type was carefully thought out, researched, troubleshot, and revised until they felt it was perfect (or as perfect as possible, anyway). But on the surface, what’s perhaps most intriguing about the whole project is that the Input Club developed the K-Type so you can make and program your own.

Indeed, the K-Type consists of open software, firmware, and hardware. The Input Club describes this as giving you “full sovereignty” over your keyboard.

You can, actually, make this thing at home. After the K-Type starts shipping, the Input Club will publish and open source everything. With the right specifications in hand, you can CNC your own chassis. The switches are hot-swappable, which means no soldering. And using the Keyboard Layout Language (KLL) developed by the Input Club’s Jacob Alexander, you can program any layout and as many layers as you want, so you can easily switch between them. And you can, of course, choose your own aftermarket keycap sets. You should be able to acquire everything in kit form if you like.

New Switches

You’ll note in the K-Type’s specifications that it uses “Kaihua mechanical switches with light pipe casings,” and you may scratch your head, wondering what switches they’re talking about. That’s because these are new switches, or at least a tweaked version, designed by the Input Club and manufactured by Kaihua (maker of Kailh switches).

Full details on these new switches are not yet available, but we expect to learn more within a couple of weeks. You can see in one of the images above that the cases are transparent.

Build Quality

Generally speaking, the Input Club sought to go high-end with the K-Type’s build quality. The chassis’ frame is a single piece of aluminum, and it’s designed to be both low-profile and heavy. Further, as the Massdrop listing stated, “Instead of a steel plate mounted on a plastic case, the K-Type uses a single block of aluminum to house the switches,” which provides strength even as it gives you a bit of flex. The keycaps are PBT--specifically, shine-through doubleshot--and they have a “Helvetica inspired” font.

The RGB lighting is also programmable. The listing didn’t go into detail about exactly what you can do with the lighting, but it is fully programmable. The listing did say that “...each key can be customized exactly how you like. Program the lighting to cycle through the entire spectrum, set your keyboard to a single color, or program the underlighting to match your setup.”

That’s right, underlighting--there’s a band across the bottom edge of the chassis that also has RGB lighting, and it’s of course also programmable. Input Club also noted that the backlighting should be essentially flicker-free because it runs at 100fps.

Specs, Etc.

You can request to join the drop now; at press time, the K-Type has already gathered over 1,000 requests. The official launch is forthcoming.

The K-Type, as a complete keyboard, will cost you $200, and it’s available only on Massdrop. There’s no word on pricing for a kit version.

Input Club K-Type
TypeANSI TKL, 87 keys
Switch-“Kaihua mechanical switches with light pipe casings,” hot-swappable-Cherry stabilizers
Onboard StorageYes
Lighting-RGB-backlit switches-RGB-lit band around chassis-Full configurable
Cable/Additional PortsDual USB Type-C connectors (for daisy-chaining other KLL devices)
Key CapsPBT doubleshot backlit (OEM profile)
Dimensions36.8 x 14 x 3.6cm
Software-Keyboard Layout Language (KLL)
Misc.-Open source hardware and software-Detachable magnetic foot
Price$200 (available only on Massdrop)