We've had video and pictures of the Optimus Maximus keyboard, but now we've got the first hands on with the mythical layout-changing input device. Is it as good as all the hype's built it up to be? No. It's better.
The units we got to play with were both fully working—one of which was hooked up to a Mac and the other was running in demo mode. Here's what we think:
• Each key's display is very bright and very crisp.
• The keys aren't too clacky and aren't too soft. A good and happy medium between the old ass IBM clackers and the scissor-style laptop keys.
• Unless you wash your hands regularly (which apparently trade-show attendees do not) the keyboard gets greasy. Very greasy. I need some anti-herpes wipe.
• The shift and caps lock keys were working, and they change the entire layout to CAPS (just as you'd expect). We've got video of this later, but it's very crisp and makes it extremely easy to tell whether or not YOU"VE GOT THE SHIFT KEY HELD DOWN.
• It's extremely customisable. We didn't get to see it here, but you can use the utility to change the background, foreground, and make the whole keyboard rainbow-coloured if you so wish.
• It's super responsive hitting the keys as well—absolutely no difference between this and a regular keyboard.
• It feels very solidly made, more so than many other keyboards.
• Taking keys out is fairly easy, and it pops right back into place.
Is it worth $US1500? We weren't sure before, but after getting hands-on time with it we're definitely leaning toward a maybe. And if they can lower the price by 50%, then it's a yes. It's one of those things that we'll save up money for and buy after a drunken night out.
We also got to meet Art Lebedev, the guy responsible for the Optimus and many other designs, and we can totally tell that he's on the level and a great guy to boot. In case any of you still thought the Optimus Maximus was vaporware, it's not.