• Computer Hardware Industries Desperately Behind the Times


    As far as keyboards go, there are mechanical keyboards and then there's everything else. For those not very knowledgeable about mechanical keyboards (and thus keyboards in general), give this a read.

    So how are keyboards behind? At least as of late 2016 we have seen mechanical keyboards creep down into more affordable price ranges (around $60), offering quality that non-mechanical keyboards can't even dream of. But that's not enough. First and foremost, more keyboards need a lower profile chassis design to make cleaning much easier, like the keyboard pictured at the top of this page (a custom model from GON's keyboard works) or like Corsair's models. Furthermore, we need more design variety with mechanical keyboards. Many people like low profile laptop-style keycaps, so some mechanical keyboards (affordable ones too) should come with those by default, just to open up to wider audiences.

    People also like silent typing, so o-rings (rubber o-rings installed inside the keycap to absorb sound and soften impact) should be standard on "silent" models, which is a niche that needs to be created in the mechanical keyboard market.

    But let's get to the good stuff, the real technological revolution since everything above can be done already just by buying aftermarket keycaps and o-rings. Analog mechanical switches, utilizing IR LEDs to create what is essentially a pressure sensitive switch, without relying on capacitive membranes like standard keyboards or controller buttons. A far more reliable and responsive alternative still providing greater functionality. Refer to the proposed design below from Aimpad.


    Such a switch would feel no different than recognizable Cherry mechanical switches, but would provide benefits for gaming thanks to greater functionality. An example of such an improvement would be, in a game hold the W key lightly to walk, and hold it all the way to run. The same would apply to all player movements, also in vehicles. And before anyone says it, no, the key press is not longer with such switches. These analog mechanical switches have three activation points across the standard length key press.

    Other games would come up with their own use of such keyboard switches. Most games that have no separate walk key would no longer suffer, as these switches would enable different levels of movement like walking and running.

    Aimpad never reached its Kickstarter goal and other variations of analog mechanical switches never made it beyond the prototype stage. At least RGB LED backlighting is becoming a standard, and at least mechanical keyboard prices are continuously trickling down, but the keyboard industry is still at a crawl. Although it is not as stuck in the mud as game controllers of course.


    Comments 8 Comments
    1. Enad's Avatar
      Enad -
      sux m8.

      I can concur on the monitor front, my VA Samsung TV looks far superior to my BenQ BL3200 VA Monitor.
    1. Jester's Avatar
      Jester -
      Quote Originally Posted by Enad View Post
      sux m8.

      I can concur on the monitor front, my VA Samsung TV looks far superior to my BenQ BL3200 VA Monitor.
      For what it's worth, that gap would be bridged quite a bit if you removed the AG coating on the BL3200PT (not that I recommend attempting this until you no longer need the monitor). Honestly AG coatings are probably what annoy me the most about monitors. Unless OLED takes over, we're going to be stuck with AG coatings if we also want high refresh rate and reasonable size (under 40").

      Seriously, I'd shut up if we had some kind of masterclass LCD monitor. 27-32" 3840 x 2160 120 Hz SPVA quantum dot monitor (DisplayPort 1.4) with full array WLED backlighting, at least 384 local dimming zones (areas around the screen where backlight is controlled dynamically based on content, leading to at least 25,000:1 zone contrast ratio), 5,000:1 - 7,000:1 static contrast, AR treated glass coating, HDR-10, 10-bit color with both >= 100% sRGB and DCI-P3 modes, good out of the box setup, fast response time, excellent strobing method with good lower refresh rate support (e.g. Eizo Turbo240 + the zone/scanning method seen on the Samsung CFG70), G-SYNC and/or FreeSync. It's not OLED, but it'd be good enough... almost.
    1. Grompz's Avatar
      Grompz -
      Since you have mentioned keyboards, I think gaming mouses also deserve a mention. Most of self-proclaimed gaming mouses have inaccurate sensors and cheap plastic build, they are also designed for ambidextrous persons, even some of the most expensives ones, which, in my opinion, is not as comfortable as a mouse fully designed for right-handed or left-handed user.
    1. Jester's Avatar
      Jester -
      I find high end optical sensors quite good, especially 3366. After trying 3366 I can't go back to anything else. But I don't know a whole lot about mouse sensors.

      There are two other things I'm considering adding to this article:

      • Processors/RAM - PS4 uses shared GDDR5, graphics memory is already beyond GDDR5, why are CPUs/RAM still only on DDR4?
      • AIO Water Coolers - I'm cutting them some slack since this market is actually growing quite rapidly, replacing high end air coolers. We finally have good quality ones from Swiftech, EK, and Alphacool, but all are only using DDC pumps. Time for some higher end models using D5 pumps? Quick disconnects need to be a standard for them too, at least for 240mm and above.
    1. Charcharo's Avatar
      Charcharo -
      At least there is light at the end of the tunnel for monitors. Sound? Not so.
    1. Jester's Avatar
      Jester -
      Quote Originally Posted by Charcharo View Post
      At least there is light at the end of the tunnel for monitors. Sound? Not so.
      There's still a chance that OLED never takes over. But at least we'd get some really good LCDs, and by 2018 most likely.
    1. strudinox's Avatar
      strudinox -
      Good read, especially the part about sound cards. They're pretty exclusive now days and they're used by pretty much nobody. I wonder though if the lack of diversity and competition is fueled by these large corporations hoarding patents making it almost impossible for start ups to gain any traction?
    1. Jester's Avatar
      Jester -
      Quote Originally Posted by strudinox View Post
      Good read, especially the part about sound cards. They're pretty exclusive now days and they're used by pretty much nobody. I wonder though if the lack of diversity and competition is fueled by these large corporations hoarding patents making it almost impossible for start ups to gain any traction?
      That is 100% the case with sound cards. OpenAL used to be open source, then Creative bought it and patented it down. Although there is still an open source implementation of it called OpenAL Soft that is still way better than everything else out there.

      The ability to process OpenAL instructions via hardware is patented by Creative too, of course, and only their X-Fi processors (no longer used in today's sound cards) can do it.

      Patents = death
      Open source = life