CES 14: Corsair & Cherry Partner on RGB-backlit Keyboard(s)

Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | December 4, 2013 - 12:52 AM |
Tagged: mechanical keyboard, corsair, Cherry MX, cherry, CES 2014

The three little letters that instill fear in tech journalists (and vendors) right around the holiday season: CES. This will be the first of many news posts coming out of that event -- it is still a month away! Companies are already preparing for what will come after the holidays. Brace yourselves!

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Corsair and Cherry have just released a preview of their upcoming CES announcement. Mechanical keyboards (at least those based on Cherry MX switches) were only rarely backlit. Pretty much every model of Cherry MX-based keyboard with per-key LED lighting was, at one point, developed by iOne (they produced the XArmor line of backlit keyboards and collaborated with Razer on the BlackWidow). I am not particularly sure what the difficulty was from an engineering standpoint but I do know it was rare.

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Cherry, themselves, are assisting the next evolution of this technology. The company has developed a special version of their MX Red-class switch with built-in RGB illumination. The mixture of these three colors allows for a key to be lit by any color in the visible spectrum (up to the precision allowed by hardware and software). Their press release suggests 8-bit per channel control (~16.7 million colors). Their exclusive launch partner for this 2014 debut will be Corsair.

Clearly their K-series keyboards sold well.

If you want to learn more about the Cherry MX switches, be sure to check out our overview from 2012. Also, check out the Cherry website for a ridiculously informative breakdown of the switch all each of its components. Seriously, this puts my animation to shame; it is kind of depressing.

Also, check out the press blast after the break.

Auerbach, Germany, December 4, 2013—With its “MX RGB switch,” CHERRY is presenting the next evolutionary stage of its billion-fold proven mechanical keyswitches of the “MX” series.  The MX switches with Gold Crosspoint technology have up to this point been appreciated by millions of users due to high precision, the best possible operating feel, and an extremely long service life. Well-known manufacturers of high-quality mechanical keyboards – especially in gaming – use the Cherry MX switches in different variants. Cherry has now enhanced its leading product with RGB technology. Directly mounted on the circuit board, SMD LEDs (SMD = “Surface Mount Devices”) illuminate key symbols in specially designed keycaps using the MX RGB switch in the entire RGB color spectrum – all 16.7 million RGB colors.                       

With the latest version of the MX switch series, the MX RGB switch, CHERRY has solved several problems at once, as Karl-Heinz Müller, Product Developer at CHERRY, explains: “The illumination of keyboard symbols – especially in terms of their uniformity of illumination – is a technically highly complex and demanding task. The previous solution with the incorporation of 3 mm LEDs led to unsatisfactory results. With our newly developed MX RGB switch, key symbols can be evenly illuminated not only in the widest variety of brightness levels but also in up to 16.7 million different colors. Our new concept of light conductance was implemented through the use of new materials and several patent-pending technical solutions. This innovative, technical concept was implemented only in conjunction with manufacturing processes and sophisticated tool concepts constantly optimized over many years.

Uniform illumination in the full RGB color spectrum

The latest MX switch variant is optimized for use with SMD LEDs for the full RGB color spectrum as well as monochromatic designs. Using an optimized, transparent case with a scattering surface lens, CHERRY was able to achieve much more even symbol illumination in the key caps compared to previous solutions.  Due to the special design of the entire system, all 16.7 million RGB colors can also be displayed in high luminosity for the first time. Through the SMD LEDs mounted directly on the circuit board, cost-effective, fully automated production is enabled.

Maximum precision – especially for gaming applications

The CHERRY MX RGB keyswitches of course enable highly precise and extremely fast key strokes – as the latest development version of the world’s only MX switches with Gold Crosspoint contacts. The keyswitches are designed to meet the highest precision requirements for professional keyboards and meet the specific needs of gamers in particular. In this way special keyboards equipped with N-key rollover – like the CHERRY MX Board 3.0 – can be realized based on conventional MX switches. N-key rollover allows you to simultaneously press several keys without the “ghost key” effect. This is crucial for gaming, as commands are often assigned to certain key combinations. “The new illuminable MX RGB switch naturally opens up completely new areas of application,” explains Dipl.-Ing. Günter Vogl, Head of Product Management and Development at Cherry.

Manfred Schöttner, Head of the Computer Input Device Business under the Cherry brand said: "Our RGB switch is the first step in our MX innovation roadmap. With additional, innovative features, we will offer our customers solutions in the area of our mechanical MX switches that go far beyond the features known today. To continue to provide the highest quality standards, we will continue to manufacture our switches in Germany on fully automatic systems.”

Durability without sacrificing quality

The special CHERRY Gold Crosspoint contacts are characterized not only by the low bounce time for high switching frequency, excellent feedback, and particularly high response speed. The use of gold in the contacts also allows optimum contact resistance to be permanently achieved over the entire product life cycle. The self-cleaning contacts are insensitive to dust and dirt. Thanks to the MX technology designed for maximum durability, at least 50 million key strokes / contact switches can be achieved per switch without sacrificing quality.

Different switching characteristics

CHERRY offers the new MX RGB switches in the four familiar versions with different switching characteristics:

  • Blue switch: Click pressure point, key stroke with tactile and audible contact feedback
  • Brown switch: Soft pressure point, key stroke with soft tactile contact feedback
  • Red switch: Without pressure point, linear light actuation – switching function with a defined force of approx. 45 cN without contact feedback
  • Black switch: Without pressure point, linear actuation – switching function with a defined force of approx. 60 cN without contact feedback

CHERRY and CORSAIR - Partner for an exclusive joint launch of CHERRY MX RGB switches and keyboards in 2014

Innovation and quality driven PC gaming brand Corsair will be bring the world’s first Cherry MX RGB based gaming keyboards to market in an exclusive launch in 2014.

Cherry and Corsair will first debut the Cherry MX RGB on Corsair keyboards at Corsair’s press suite at CES 2014 in January. Members of the press interested in a demonstration at CES may contact Rick Allen at Corsair at ricka@corsair.com.

For more information, go to 

www.cherry.de  //  www.cherry-professional-gaming.com

About CHERRY

CHERRY is a registered brand of ZF Friedrichshafen AG. Under the CHERRY product brand, the Electronic Systems business unit develops and produces computer input devices as well as components for industrial and household applications.

ZF is a worldwide leading automotive supplier for drive line and chassis technology with 121 production sites in 27 countries. With roughly 72,100 employees, the group achieved sales of approximately €15.5 billion in 2011. ZF is among the 10 largest automotive suppliers worldwide.

About CORSAIR
Founded in 1994, Corsair designs high-performance products for PC gamers and enthusiasts. The company's award-winning products include gaming keyboards, mice, and headsets as well as a full-range of PC components including DDR3 memory, power supply units, PC cases, cooling products, PC speakers, and USB flash drives.

Source: Cherry
December 4, 2013 | 02:14 AM - Posted by IRQ6

Cool for free. Not cool enough for me to throw out my perfectly good Ducky Shine away for. This is flare above function.

December 4, 2013 | 03:04 AM - Posted by Eddie (not verified)

There is nothing wrong with flare and the function is the same and any cherry mx switch. Personally I want a shine 3 before this thing though.

December 4, 2013 | 05:49 AM - Posted by fvbounty (not verified)

If Corsair keeps the volume and media keys like on the K series it will be a winner, I wish the Ducky had something similar!

December 4, 2013 | 06:57 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I never did get why Ducky never had those things. I don't even consider a keyboard WITHOUT dedicated media keys anymore, that's how much I use them. Really happy with the K-series ones.

Seriosuly, function key combos need both hands, this is not great.

December 4, 2013 | 10:29 AM - Posted by Scott Michaud

Yeah, I must say, Corsairs volume roller is amazing... especially if you crank the volume up for something quiet and then something LOUD decides to start. When it's a volume down button, you'll be damaging your ears for like 5-10 seconds. Roller: half of a second?

December 4, 2013 | 02:32 PM - Posted by Willmore (not verified)

I wonder what they're using for the RGB LEDs. One of the issues with having a per-key light is the need to PWM modulate the LED. With an RGB LED, there's three times as many channels needed.

I'd hope they're using something like the new smart RGB LEDs like this:
https://www.adafruit.com/products/1379

They only need 5V and they use a daisy chained control signal to drive as many of them as you want. If you want to control them quickly, you may need to limit the length of the chain, but for something like a 102 key keyboard, you'd be fine--unless you're trying to play video. :)

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