LAS VEGAS – Between responsive switches, colorful lighting and elegant designs, I was pretty sure that mechanical keyboards had already gotten about as good as they were going to get. Little did I know that the Das Keyboard 5Q could show me something I’d never seen before: the ability to monitor Donald Trump’s tweets without ever looking up at my screen. The 5Q has the unique ability to connect to just about any API online, from Twitter to stocks to the weather forecast, and map notifications from it to your keyboard.
What Is It?
I went hands-on with the Das Keyboard 5Q at CES 2017, and my feelings are still somewhere between “impressed by the novelty” and “wondering if I really need yet another device to fill my life with notifications.” At its core, the 5Q is a full-size mechanical keyboard that’s suitable for both gaming and productivity. It sports full RGB lighting, a comfortable wrist rest and an attractive, no-frills design. Beyond that, it gets a little complicated, and very interesting.
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One irregular key on the 5Q is the large “Q” dial in the upper-right hand corner. By pressing this button, you can visit the keyboard’s software. In addition to letting you customize the lighting, the software also lets you do a little light programming and tap into services like Twitter to set up notifications. With the help of intermediary programming services like Zapier, you can program, for example, the num pad to glow red or green depending on whether your stocks are up or down, or one of the function keys to blink if you’ve left your smart garage door open. The model I tested had the “T” key change colors whenever Donald Trump tweeted something. (A representative assured me I didn’t have to follow Trump; I could just have easily assigned T to the much-preferable Twitter account of renowned astrophysicist, Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson.)
Pricing and Availability
The Das Keyboard 5Q will cost $229, making it considerably more expensive than the average RGB mechanical keyboard. On the other hand, the API notifications are a unique feature, so it may be worth the premium. The 5Q doesn’t have a hard release date yet, but should be out sometime in Spring 2017.
Why Should I Care?
If you’re an ace programmer (or an amateur who’s not afraid of learning a few simple commands), the Das Keyboard 5Q may be the first time you’ve ever been able to program notifications right into your keyboard for anything other than games. For those who feel like RGB lighting is pretty but doesn’t do much, the 5Q could provide a way to make the millions of colors serve a useful function.