Adjustable mechanical switches are a convenient technique to alter how different keyboard keys feel. Depending on the key or the application you’re using, these switches let you choose their actuation point, or how far you press the key before it registers an input.
SteelSeries, a manufacturer of peripherals, today unveiled new wired and wireless mechanical keyboards featuring mechanical switches that allow you to change the actuation point of each key.
Additionally, you may set the keys on the little SteelSeries Apex Pro Mini Wireless and Apex Pro Mini so that, if you push the key down far enough, a keypress will register two inputs.
Adjustable mechanical switches –
In the SteelSeries Apex Pro keyboard, SteelSeries debuted its adjustable OmniPoint mechanical switches in 2019. The Apex Pro Mini Wireless and Apex Pro Mini 60% keyboards, which were just announced, have the new OmniPoint 2.0 switches, which offer even more adjustability.
The new switches have a total travel of 3.8 mm and are linear (for help understanding mechanical keyboards, check our guide). Meanwhile, the activation point is entirely up to you. It can be adjusted in 0.1 mm steps between 0.2 and 3.8 mm.
This is significantly longer than the range provided by the Gateron X Lekker switches used in the newest keyboards from Wooting (0.1–4.0 mm), but noticeably shorter than the range provided by the Razer Huntsman Mini Analog (1.5–3.6 mm). In the few PC games that allow it, the switches in the Razer and Wooting keyboards also accept analogue, or joystick-like, input.
SteelSeries, a company that focuses on PC gaming, advised using the feature to personalise your gaming experience by, for example, choosing a higher actuation point for “deep throws” and a lower one for “featherlight touches.”
Although there are keyboards with spacebars with higher actuation points or hot-swappable mechanical switches available, They personally prefer a stiffer spacebar. Something like the Apex Pro Mini keyboards accomplish the same thing while allowing us too to easily change their mind and also adjust the feel of many keys, not just the spacebar.
One press, numerous inputs –
Mechanical switches that may enter two inputs with a single keypress are a feature that SteelSeries adopts from adjustable-switch keyboards made by competitors like Razer and Wooting.
For instance, you may set it up so that hitting “A” enters a “A” if the key is pressed down 0.5 mm, and a “B” (or anything else) if the key is pressed down another 0.5 mm.
In its release, SteelSeries suggested possible applications such as walk and run or quickly drawing out a grenade and throwing it. I found the feature useful in games where timing is crucial once I got used to using it smoothly. Advanced users with inventive ideas might, however, potentially use the functionality to hack some quick input outside of the battlefield.
The so-called Dual Action function from SteelSeries is presently only available on these new keyboards, which is unfortunate because not all users will find the clackers to be a great fit because they lack a numpad.
How they work –
Like their predecessors, OmniPoint 2.0 switches operate using magnets and the Hall effect.
When two pieces of metal come into contact, standard mechanical switches operate. A magnet is sent down the stem of an OmniPoint 2.0 switch with each press, bringing it closer to a Hall effect sensor at the base. The keyboard measures the distance between the magnet and sensor using the magnetic fields so it can determine how deeply a key has been pushed and register an input (or two) as necessary.
The OmniPoint family of switches can survive longer than conventional mechanical switches since there is no physical contact between the parts. Each of the Cherry MX Red linear switches and the OmniPoint switches is designed to withstand 100 million keystrokes. However, certain conventional mechanical switches, such the Cherry MX Silent Red, have lower ratings (50 million keystrokes).
SteelSeries states that the switches will have a response time as low as 0.54 ms if you set them to their lowest actuation point of 0.2 mm. By putting the analog-to-digital converter right on the keyboard’s main chip rather than on the switches and scanning each key every 700 millionths of a second, according to SteelSeries, OmniPoint keyboards increase speed.
The MSRP of the Apex Pro Mini Wireless is $240. The Apex Pro Mini costs $180, which is a little less than the $200 MSRP of its full-size counterpart, the Apex Pro.
The Razer Huntsman Mini Analog ($150 MSRP) and the upcoming Wooting 60HE ($175) are the keyboards’ direct rivals.
Additionally, two numpads that allow dual-step actuation are worth mentioning are the Razer Huntsman V2 Analog ($250) and Wooting Two HE ($195).
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