updated 08:40 pm EDT, Wed September 3, 2014
Keyboard features 'hybrid capacitive' switch, unlimited N-key rollover, 1.8mm activation
Cooler Master was showing off one of its recently-announced keyboards at Penny Arcade Expo in the Seattle over Labor Day weekend. The Novatouch TKL was on display, giving attendees the chance to feel the difference in the hybrid mechanical switches that the company has put into its new high-end keyboard.
The Novatouch TKL "tenkeyless" keyboard spans both sides of consumer needs, focusing on high-quality components for commercial or gaming use. The new keyboard uses what the company calls "hybrid capacitive" switches, a new type of switch in the gaming world that feels different than other widely-available parts like the Cherry MX switches. The switches are part mechanical, part membrane, giving users a fluid stroke with each key press.
It's a unique-feeling key press that does take a few minutes to get accustomed to when typing on the Novatouch. That isn't to say that it's a large adjustment, but rather that it is smoother and softer than many mechanical keyboards. Springs sit below a bubble for each key, giving each keystroke a sort of cushion. The stroke offers some advantages, according to the Cooler Master representative at the show, as it reduces user fatigue and friction in the keys.
Cooler Master has been working with Japanese company Topre to create the "hybrid capacitive" switches so they can be customized. This allowed Cooler Master to set some characteristics, like the debounce of the keys, as well as develop a special stem for the keys that accepts existing keycaps for Cherry switches. The switches themselves have an interesting top, as it has the indentation one would expect to hold a key, but also a circle around it.
Even with a new switch type, the Novatouch retains some of the feel of the mechanical keyboard. It doesn't offer the loud clicking that keyboards with blue Cherry switches might have, but the tactile feel is familiar. The switches require only 45grams of actuation force to activate, or about the same as a Cherry brown switch. Travel distance for the keys are approximately 3.6mm, as it only takes 1.8mm to activate the switch. It was also said that the Novatouch has a faster signal, about 8ms compared to a standard 25ms. Unlimited N-key rollover is hard-coded into the Novatouch TKL, allowing users to press as many keys as they like and still have them register.
Release date for the Novatouch TKL keyboard is set for September 22 for a price of $200. This will be the first keyboard to be released under the Novatouch name, with more possibly coming sometime in the future. Cooler Master is trying to make the Novatouch TKL affordable in the United States, as a similar keyboard would fetch more than $300 overseas.