A year ago, we found that Kaihua had developed a line of low-profile mechanical switches that were designed for laptops. This year at Computex, the switch maker significantly expanded those offerings to include three more separate low-profile switch series.
We don’t have exact specs on any of the new switches at this time because that information wasn’t available at Kaihua’s Computex booth, and the catalog the company had to hand out includes only the 1350 series that we saw last year. An online search yielded nothing useful.
There’s a new iteration on that same 1350 design (model series 1232). The primary difference, we were told, is that the new version is a bit shallower. We actually wonder if the 1232 will simply replace the 1350 in this next cycle. In any case, one of these--most likely the 1350--populates the MSI GT75VR gaming laptop.
Running With Scissors
Further, both are similar in structure and design to regular desktop switches; for the most part, it’s just that every component has been made thinner. However, with a new series, the 1425, Kaihua tried something different and pulled off a clever trick. The 1425 is basically a mechanical scissor switch. Each switch has scissor arms, but there’s also a mechanical switch at the core. The kicker? The whole assembly is 90 degrees from where you’d expect it; so instead of the plunger and spring moving up and down vertically, it appears they move horizontally.
There are two benefits to this design. First, it enabled Kaihua to push the size of the switch assembly down to 4.2mm (not including the 1mm-or-so thick cap), which will fit slightly better into a laptop or super-slim keyboard than its other notebook switches. Second, the scissor design is one with which users and laptop OEMs alike are already comfortable, which may make them an easier sell.
Let There Be Light
Kaihua has a third new type of laptop switch (the 1442 series), but the company didn’t have any samples on the show floor. In fact, the only reason we know of it now is because we spotted a graphic of it up on the wall--Kaihua reps hadn’t even brought it up in our conversation.
This switch also uses the scissor design, but instead of the sideways spring mechanism of the 1425, it’s vertically oriented. It offers through-stem lighting, which means that this particular switch would deliver superior backlighting.
Representatives would not state one way or another if they’re close to sealing deals with any peripherals or laptop makers to use any of these new switches, but they certainly have their eye on the MacBook. (The below is just a render.)
From what we saw at Computex this week, the mechanical laptop switch game is escalating, and Kaihua is taking it to a whole new level.