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Why would a keyboard pack a GPU and run Unreal Engine? To show animations beneath the clear keys, natch
At $349 it's a cheap computer and a not-very-expensive keyboard
If you thought unicorn puke was the epitome of keyboard bling, Finalmouse's upcoming Centerpiece keyboard may see you rethink that assessment.
Instead of per-key RGB, the keyboard buries a full-color display that displays your choice of animations beneath a set of transparent keycaps and mechanical switches.
The Centerpiece has credible claims to be considered a computer in its own right as it packs a CPU and GPU to power animations running on the Unreal Engine 5 game engine.
Unlike some other LCD-equipped keyboards we've seen crop up over the years — Apple's Touch Bar keyboards for instance — the Centerpiece's focus is form over function. With that said, because the processing takes place in the keyboard, the animations are interactive. In its demo, Finalmouse showed off several skins, including a mini game, that react to the user's keypresses.
The keys themselves are crafted out of a transparent plastic. The effect is a bit like peering down through a layer of ice. It does, however, mean the key legends have been moved to the front of the keys, so you might want to brush up on your touch-typing skills if you're considering one of these.
According to Finalmouse, the keyboard will support up to three skins at a time which can be loaded from its marketplace on Steam.
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Beyond the promotional video released on YouTube last weekend , there's very little we know about the keyboard. It's not clear what display tech Finalmouse is using, except that it employs a "laminated display circuit glass stack" developed specifically for this application. This was likely to pass the electrical signals from the mechanical key switches through the display.
What we can say is the key switches were developed in collaboration with Gateron based on their black linear switches. For those familiar with Cherry MX switches, we expect these will be similar to a Cherry Red, albeit with a slightly higher actuation force. Finalmouse also plans to offer a version of the keyboard with analog switches using hall-effect sensors. Unfortunately, there's no word on whether Finalmouse will offer the keyboard with clicky or tactile switches a la Cherry blues or browns.
The keyboard will reportedly launch early next year at a price tag of $349. While that might sound like a lot for a keyboard, it's not uncommon for keyboard enthusiasts to spend hundreds of dollars in search of the perfect key feel, switch actuation force, feedback, and sound. ®