$1000 Keyboard Features A Screen on Every Key

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.

Kevin started taking PCs apart in the 90s when Quake was on the way and his PC lacked the required components. Since then, he’s loved all things PC-related and cool gadgets ranging from the New Nintendo 3DS to Android tablets. He is currently a contributor at Digital Trends, writing about everything from computers to how-to content on Windows and Macs to reviews of the latest laptops from HP, Dell, Lenovo, and more. 

  • seriousazn
    why not just have an entire oled slate with touchscreen capabilities? seems much more customizable that way...
  • Morgan3rd
    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.
  • BallistaMan
    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.
  • bustapr
    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.
  • wintermint
    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!
  • ta152h
    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.
  • dragonfang18
    Its called stickers... I can just get stickers of a flash light, or a grenade and put them on a cheap little keyboard..
  • Poisoner
    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.
  • Strider-Hiryu_79
    I remember when Tom's showed the prototype optimus many years ago. I'm sad to see the price has not changed much.
  • razercultmember1
    Old hat.