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$1000 Keyboard Features A Screen on Every Key

By - Source: Tom's Guide US | B 39 comments

These keys aren't printed--they're individual OLED, programmable screens.

Would you pay a whole grand for a keyboard? What if it had OLED screens mounted in each individual key. Would you pay ten Franklins for it then? That's the question we asked ourselves after taking a look at Art Lebedev's Optimus Popularis OLED keyboard.

This isn't the first of its kind--Lebedev released a similar product called the Optimus Maximus a few years ago, however the screens didn't fill up the entire key's physical real estate. Pricing for the four Maximus models also ranged from $462 to $1564, depending on the number of key using OLED displays.

So the big question is why even bother with adding displays to the keys in the first place. In short, users can load up anything, whether it's static images like GIFs or actual MOV files. Did you get that? It's possible for any number of keys to play movies.

But as seen here, the previous Maximus models were heavy and wide, didn't have wireless capabilities, and wasn't even plug and play capable. In turn it's biggest selling point was the heavy customization. After all, any key could be configured to do just about anything.

Now the newer Popularis line--slated for a Q4 2010 release--will supposedly feature OLED screens that encompass the individual keys' entire physical real estate. There's also a long widget mounted between the function keys and the number keys. As for the price, it's still relatively high-- less than $1000 for the model featuring OLED screens on all keys.

"Optimus Popularis comes in compact form-factor without the dedicated numeric keypad section," Lebedev said. "We have special Fn key in the lower left corner that turns the right part of keyboard into the page-up and num-lock keys, as well as the numbers arranged in a familiar calculator layout."

What's your opinion? Is this keyboard practical, or does it belong in the same category as the gold-plated iPhone and diamond-studded mouse? The keyboard itself looks awesome, but doesn't seem worth shelling out nearly $1000 for a peripheral that could be bought for far less at Walmart.

Discuss
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Top Comments
  • 10 Hide
    AndrewMD , June 30, 2010 12:35 AM
    This keyboard is very versatile in the correct market segment. Most of the comments listed here are from people looking at it from a consumer/home use where this keyboard definitely is not part of that area of concentration.

    This keyboard is perfect for commercial requirements, like kiosks and terminals where multiple language support could be used by people that do not use or speak english as native language... Think Chinese Characters, or Thai or Japanese...

    Or can be used for macro keys with products pictured in each key.

Other Comments
  • 5 Hide
    seriousazn , June 29, 2010 11:49 PM
    why not just have an entire oled slate with touchscreen capabilities? seems much more customizable that way...
  • 3 Hide
    Morgan3rd , June 29, 2010 11:51 PM
    seriousaznwhy not just have an entire oled slate with touchscreen capabilities? seems much more customizable that way...


    So you can touch type? I dunno I can't really imagine there being too many uses for this keyboard. But I wouldn't be surprised if they could sell 100-500 of them.
  • 4 Hide
    BallistaMan , June 29, 2010 11:53 PM
    seriousaznwhy not just have an entire oled slate with touchscreen capabilities? seems much more customizable that way...

    Thus far it has typically felt less natural to type on a single touchscreen as opposed to physical keys. Smartphones can sometimes get away with it, but try typing on something larger, say, an iPad, and you'll miss the tactile response.
  • 4 Hide
    bustapr , June 29, 2010 11:54 PM
    I wouldnt buy ever...

    Though it would be cool for gaming. Like a grenade icon on the grenade button or a flashlight on the flashlight button. But still, nowhere in hell Id pay a grand for a keyboard.
  • 3 Hide
    wintermint , June 29, 2010 11:55 PM
    I'll make do with a decent $20-40 keyboard... if I need light, then I'll just make sure either the lights are turned on, or the monitor is bright enough, or I'll just get a freakin lamp!
  • 1 Hide
    ta152h , June 29, 2010 11:58 PM
    I'd pay it if it had the 'natural' layout, and perfect feel. But, the standard layout is obsolete and difficult, and no mention is made of the feel of the keys, so it's hard to see any value in this, besides bragging rights.
  • 1 Hide
    dragonfang18 , June 29, 2010 11:59 PM
    Its called stickers... I can just get stickers of a flash light, or a grenade and put them on a cheap little keyboard..
  • 2 Hide
    Poisoner , June 30, 2010 12:03 AM
    I just can't justify spending that kind of money on a keyboard. Hell, I can't see spending more than 20 bucks really. I eat and drink and spill too much on my keyboard to warrant the extra expense.
  • 4 Hide
    Strider-Hiryu_79 , June 30, 2010 12:04 AM
    I remember when Tom's showed the prototype optimus many years ago. I'm sad to see the price has not changed much.
  • 0 Hide
    razercultmember1 , June 30, 2010 12:12 AM
    Old hat.
  • 7 Hide
    killerclick , June 30, 2010 12:15 AM
    I'd buy this for our receptionist just to show that we're doing well and we have money to burn. Oh wait, I bought her a 27" iMac for that.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , June 30, 2010 12:20 AM
    One long OLED "touch" screen with clear silicon key mats of varying designs eg, zboard style, that sit on top allowing some tactile response and unlimited customisation of screen below to match.

    Plus you can then unplug the keyboard/screen and take with you as a tablet type device, albeit rather long.

    Now we're talking! I'll have that for 1k!

    P.S If you design and market this idea I ask only that you send me a few :D 
  • 3 Hide
    JonnyDough , June 30, 2010 12:32 AM
    Gotta wonder though, is this the future? Its pretty sweet. :) 
  • 10 Hide
    AndrewMD , June 30, 2010 12:35 AM
    This keyboard is very versatile in the correct market segment. Most of the comments listed here are from people looking at it from a consumer/home use where this keyboard definitely is not part of that area of concentration.

    This keyboard is perfect for commercial requirements, like kiosks and terminals where multiple language support could be used by people that do not use or speak english as native language... Think Chinese Characters, or Thai or Japanese...

    Or can be used for macro keys with products pictured in each key.

  • 0 Hide
    yo_yo2400 , June 30, 2010 1:24 AM
    Id like to see a controller like that. Would be neat to see something like gamepads. Bricks of keys made for games with gernade icons etc.
  • 2 Hide
    Railgun1369 , June 30, 2010 3:14 AM
    Have Apple resell it and watch how quickly it's bought then.
  • 2 Hide
    squiggs77 , June 30, 2010 3:17 AM
    railgun1369Have Apple resell it and watch how quickly it's bought then.


    They will say they did it first and call it magical too.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , June 30, 2010 3:25 AM
    Just put the name Apple on it, They'll sell like hotcakes!
  • -1 Hide
    pythy , June 30, 2010 3:38 AM
    This is exactly what I want - p0rn right on my fingertips, literally!!
  • 1 Hide
    bokuden , June 30, 2010 4:23 AM
    If you are looking at the keys, you're doing it wrong.
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