AUSTIN, TEXAS – A standard Windows keyboard has 104 keys. Think about how often you use all of them, especially if you use your PC primarily for gaming, or producing and consuming music or videos. Even the finest keyboard has a lot of wasted space, which is why Trickey, a new Kickstarter campaign, offers a fully customizable keyboard with as few or as many keys as you want.
I went hands-on with Trickey at SXSW 2015, and while it's not the first customizable keyboard on the market, it's easily one of the most granular. The project bills itself as a "building-blocks-style" keyboard, and the name fits. You can place keys anywhere you like on a grid and swap them out at-will.
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Trickey uses "board units" as building blocks. Each board unit has six key slots and a connector. This lets you attach it to other board units, then connect the whole thing to a computer. From there, a very simple software interface lets you select a command for each button. It can be as simple as a letter or number, or as complex as a key shortcut (such as Ctrl + S for saving documents).
You can customize your own keycaps as well, since the Trickey comes with transparent, fillable ones by default. You can design your own, or use a selection of pre-made designs, including colorful letters or unadorned, sleek blacks.
If you want, you could even just keep the transparent keycaps, since they let you look at the mechanical switches underneath. Trickey will make use of top-notch Cherry MX switches, which are some of the best tools around, particularly for gamers and heavy typists.
Trickey looks good, feels great and could help PC enthusiasts cut down on a lot of wasted space from having more keys than they can really use for their most common projects. The Kickstarter needs $30,000 to get off the ground, and is currently about one-third of the way there, with more than 50 days to go. Prices range from $99, which will get you one board and six keys, to $715, which will get you 6 boards and 36 keys. The units should start shipping out in October.
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