Contour RollerMouse Free3 review: the latest ergonomic mouse alternative

 

 

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Have you seen a RollerMouse before? It’s like a mouse, but different. Instead of roaming around the right side of your keyboard, the RollerMouse sits right in front of your keyboard, within easy reach of your fingers and thumbs. It’s stationary, like a trackball, but instead of a ball you roll the bar forward and backward to go up and down, and move the bar left and right to go left and right. It feels as natural and intuitive as a traditional mouse, and provides some significant efficiency and ergonomic benefits. Let’s go into more detail so you can see what I’m talking about.

Why RollerMouse?

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First up, efficiency. Because the RollerMouse is so close to your fingers when you’re on the keyboard, you don’t have to waste time or energy moving your hand off the keyboard, to the mouse, then back again. That only saves the work of a fraction of a second, but you might repeat that motion hundreds or thousands of times per day — and so savings quickly add up.

More importantly, there’s also a big ergonomic advantage to using a mouse this way. You’re able to keep your palms and wrists on a comfortable rest at all times, and you’re avoiding a lot of repetitive motion that can cause serious problems down the road. Whether you’re concerned about RSI in the future or you’re already suffering from it, you’ll immediately appreciate this new way of doing things.

Design and features

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The RollerMouse Free3 is the latest version of this little-known mouse alternative. It provides the familiar ergonomic and time-saving advantages as its predecessors, wrapped in a sleeker package that includes an integrated wrist rest, more buttons and extra customisability. After using the RollerMouse Free3 for a week, we’re ready to deliver our hands-on review!

The first thing you’ll notice about the Free3 is that it’s actually quite sleek. Earlier versions of the RollerMouse looked a little vintage, but the Free3 has a curvier design with more generously-sized leatherette pads for your wrists and palms to rest on.

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It’s also less tall than its predecessors, at less than a centimetre high. That makes it easier to fit under lower-profile keyboards. Finally, the design is much wider, allowing the bar to be much longer. That seems to allow for more precise movement, which is useful when pressing small buttons or selecting individual letters.

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The button layout has also been expanded compared to past designs. As well as having dedicated left and right click buttons and a (lovely) scroll wheel, there are six more buttons: A large button below the scroll wheel allows you to double click with a single press, while a smaller button above the scroll wheel provides up to ten options for cursor speed from 600 to 2800 DPI. LEDs light up to indicate your current setting, making it easy to get back to the one that you liked. (You can also adjust the mouse sensitivity in Windows or Mac to gain even more fine-grained control.) Finally, there are four shortcut buttons that let you copy and paste, and go back or forward. For anyone used to a mouse with side buttons, this is a godsend.

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As well as adjusting the sensitivity of the rollerbar, you can also customise its clickiness. This is done by a manual slider on the bottom of the RollerMouse. If you find yourself pressing too hard to click, or clicking accidentally, this is an easy way to set things right.

Impressions

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When you first use the Free3, it is a little odd. Although moving the cursor around the screen is intuitive, it still took me about a day to be able to mouse around the screen with speed and accuracy. Once this training period was complete though, I found I could be very nearly as accurate with the RollerMouse as I could with a traditional mouse design. (I even tried playing games with the RollerMouse… and it kind of worked! Turn-based games like Civilization were the easiest to control, but even playing shooters like Counter-Strike was technically possible!)

And what about the benefits? I definitely found that I was able to work more quickly when I was using the RollerMouse. Not having to ever move your fingers away from the keyboard is pretty amazing. It’s almost the same feeling as using console applications in Linux; you feel like you can get everything done without ever breaking your flow.

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I also felt some ergonomic benefits. One prevailing idea in computer ergonomics is ‘mouse shoulder‘ — feeling pain in your neck and shoulder after using a computer for long periods. This often occurs when you keep your arm and shoulder rotated away from your body, such as when you’re holding onto a mouse. By keeping your hands within the width of your shoulders, you can avoid mouse shoulder and the unfortunate pain that accompanies it.

The RollerMouse could have other ergonomic benefits too. I sometimes get some tenderness in my tendons after working or gaming for a long stretch at a time, and that feeling was largely ameliorated by using the RollerMouse, and more so with the Free3 than with earlier iterations. It’s still early days though, so I will try to continue to use the RollerMouse and perhaps prepare another review after several weeks or months.

Overall, I had a good time using the RollerMouse and definitely found it has its advantages. If you spend long periods of time working on your PC, particularly if you’re writing or editing, I think the RollerMouse will be quite helpful to you – I wish I had the RollerMouse when I was a student! If you are playing games or editing photos, I think the benefits are less obvious, but there’s still some advantages to be had.

Either way, I’d encourage you to try the RollerMouse Free3 if you’re able, and let me know what you think! It would be fun to show some customer reviews here on the blog, so feel free to get in touch.

Links and wrapping up

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There’s never been a better time to try a RollerMouse. The Free3 is currently available with a 30 day money back trial, so you can try it out for yourself risk-free. If you don’t like it for whatever reason, you can return it for a full refund, no questions asked.

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The Free3 is also available as a bundle with the Contour Balance keyboard, as seen in the photo above. This keyboard is designed to work perfectly with the RollerMouse, with negative tilt so that it joins up perfectly. (We’ll have a full review of the keyboard on the blog soon!) If you’re interested, you can check out the bundled deal right here to get both items for 10% off.

That’s all for now. Thanks for checking out the article and be sure to let me know what you think in the comments below! You can also reach us on Twitter @keyboardco or at facebook.com/keyboardco. Thanks again and have a great week!

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Filco Majestouch-2 Hakua review: a chalk-white keyboard with MX Silent Red switches

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Hakua. It means ‘search’ in Finnish, but it also means ‘chalk’ in Japanese. It’s also the name of Filco’s latest mechanical keyboard. The Hakua is a chalk-white version of the legendary Majestouch-2, and it really is a stunner. This particular Hakua keyboard has a secret too: it’s got Cherry’s brand new MX Silent Red switches. Let’s take a closer look (and a listen!) in our hands-on review.

Design

Despite the new colour, the overall design hasn’t changed since the original Majestouch-2. You’re still getting a rock-solid mechanical keyboard, with a plate-mounted PCB and light ABS keycaps that provide a blissful typing experience. The layout is completely standard, and the keycaps are inscribed with Futura legends. Both full-size and TKL (tenkeyless) versions are available; I’m looking at the full format version at the moment.

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The Hakua’s clean, modern aesthetic makes it the centre of attention on any desk. It looks brilliant as it is, but I’m also going to predict that this will become one of the most popular keyboards for customisation as well. Whether by changing the fascia or adding custom keycaps, these Hakua keyboards seem like the perfect starting point for anyone that wants to set their keyboard apart from the crowd.

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The bottom of the keyboard is also white, in case you were wondering, and includes the usual movable feet to angle your keyboard how you want.

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The non-removable USB cable also comes with a white-and-pink velcro tie to keep it nicely bundled up while you’re on the move. Finally, the keyboard comes with a USB-to-PS2 adapter and a clear plastic cover that will keep it dust-free.

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Testing

I used the Filco Hakua for one week as our go-to mechanical keyboard (fighting off a lot of opposition, let me tell you!). After using smaller 60%-size and TKL keyboards for a long time, it was a breath of fresh air to return to a full, completely standard layout.

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The new switches were a lot of fun too. They’re just as light as MX Red switches, at 45 grams, but rubbery TPE built into the switch provides sound dampening on both the upstroke and the downstroke. That makes for an incredibly quiet mechanical keyboard, which produces deeper tones compared to the normal clatter of a mechanical keyboard. If you work in an office and you’re worried about annoying your coworkers, then these are the switches that you should be getting.

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A side effect of the dampening on the downstroke is that you get a slightly ‘cushioned’ feeling, similar to typing on a Topre electro-capacitive keyboard. I found this quite nice, but as always it will be a matter of taste. Try it for yourself and let us know what you think!

You can listen to the keyboard here:

Links

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The Filco Majestouch-2 Hakua is available now at The Keyboard Company, in full-size and TKL layouts. So far just American / ANSI layouts are available, but you do get choice of MX Brown or new MX Silent Red switches. To see more information or to get one for yourself, check out the product pages linked below:

Wrapping up

Thanks for checking out the article, and be sure to let us know what you think of the new keyboards in the comments below. I’ve certainly enjoyed my time with them, and I’m sure you will too!

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Topre keyboards in EU / ISO layouts in stock now!

Topre Realforce keyboards in exclusive EU layouts are now in stock at The Keyboard Company! Here are the latest arrivals.

Full-size Topre keyboards

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The Topre Realforce 105UB is a luxurious full-size keyboard, offering perfectly smooth electro-capacitive switches and a complete layout with number pad. These keyboards are weighted at a uniform 45 grams, and are available in a range of colours and layouts.

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Tenkeyless Topre keyboards

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These space-saving keyboards omit the numberpad, allowing for easier portability and more comfortable mouse positioning. They’re also available in both light and dark colour schemes, in various layouts:

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Wrapping up

Of course, these aren’t the only Topre keyboards we have! The new Topre Realforce RGB gaming keyboard is in stock now (review coming soon!) and you can look at our full range of Topre keyboards.

Thanks for checking out the article, and be sure to let us know what you think of the new keyboards. If you have any questions or comments, leave them below or write to us on Twitter @keyboardco. Thanks again and enjoy the rest of your day!

Posted in Articles, News

Pick up our Contour keyboard & mouse bundle at 10% off!

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The Contour RollerMouse is one of our favourite ergonomic inventions; a rolling mouse replacement that sits below your keyboard, allowing you to mouse around the screen without moving your hands out of your ‘home row’ position. It’s super comfortable to use, and it feels more efficient too — we even use these in our offices!

The new Rollermouse Free3 has arrived at The Keyboard Company, and for a limited time we’re offering it as part of a bundle with the Counter Balance Keyboard at £30 off! Let’s take a closer look.

Shop for the Counter RollerMouse Free3 + Balance Keyboard Bundle >

The new RollerMouse Free3

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The RollerMouse Free3 is a sleeker, refined version of previous RollerMouse input devices. The Free3 is equipped with nine buttons, giving you left click and right click plus seven programmable buttons. There’s also an integrated scroll wheel, making it easy to move throughout the page.

The Free3 includes a new type of sensor beneath the rollerbar, allowing you to move the cursor on screen more precisely. This is great for any program with a complex interface, like Photoshop or Microsoft Word. Accuracy and cursor speed have also been improved, as you’re now able to set the pointer between 800 and 2800 DPI.

The Free3 is more comfortable than its predecessors too, thanks to an integrated wrist-rest with plenty of padding. The fully open rollerbar is also more stable, giving you room to move accomodating different shoulder widths. It’s also the lowest profile RollerMouse ever, allowing you to maintain an ergonomic position more easily. It also meshes extremely well with the Balance keyboard, which is why we’re offering these two new products in one bundle at a 10% discount!

Shop for the Counter RollerMouse Free3 + Balance Keyboard Bundle >

I personally loved the RollerMouse when I reviewed it in 2015, and I can’t wait to spend more time with the new version. Now, let’s move onto the other half of the bundle: the Contour Balance Wireless Keyboard!

The new Contour Balance Wireless Keyboard

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If you’re looking for the perfect keyboard to pair with your RollerMouse, then this may be it. The Contour Balance is designed to put your hands in the most comfortable typing and mousing position. Adjustable legs and tilt options make it easy to adopt an ergonomic posture, with options for negative, neutral and positive typing angles — unlike almost other keyboards on the market today.

The keyboard connects wirelessly to the included USB dongle, and can run for several months on just two AAA batteries. When not in use, you can keep the dongle within the keyboard itself, so you’ll never lose it. This keyboard doesn’t even need an on/off switch, thanks to its advanced power-saving technology.

All in all, it’s a solid keyboard that works great with the RollerMouse Free3. For more information and photos of both, please check out our store link below!

Shop for the Counter RollerMouse Free3 + Balance Keyboard Bundle >

Wrapping up

That’s all for now. Thanks for checking out the article, and be sure to let us know what you think of the bundle in the comments below!

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Left-handed Keypad Keyboard review

 

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Left-handed keyboards are a rarity, even for left-handed people… and that’s a shame. Beyond just being better-suited for southpaws, left-handed keyboards actually have a whole host of benefits for right-handers as well. Today, we’re looking at one such Left-handed Keyboard, which has arrived recently at KeyboardCo.

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Left-handed keyboards aren’t completely reversed of course — they just have their number pads on the left-hand side. You can see what this looks like above, and it’s basically what you would expect. You type normally with both hands, and use your left hand to enter numbers or press keys like Print Screen.

So why left-handed? Well, it’s great for entering numbers and using a mouse at the same time, like when you’re entering data into a table or spreadsheet. You also have easy access to the tab key, which is normally far away from the number pad.

Having the numberpad on the left also provides the same comfortable ergonomics that a tenkeyless (no number pad) keyboard provides. You can keep your mouse directly ahead of you, instead of off to the right hand side, which is a much more comfortable position.

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This particular keyboard has other ergonomic benefits too. Its keys become slightly raised in the centre, and each is slightly angled. The idea is that you place your elbows slightly wider, with your fingers angled towards the centre. This posture feels more comfortable, and the difference is slight enough that learning the new positioning is a matter of minutes instead of hours or days. It looks a bit odd, but it makes a lot of sense ergonomically.

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There are other handy features here too. For example, there are a selection of shortcut keys that run across the top of the keyboard, letting you access your internet browser, perform a search or adjust your volume without using the mouse. This keeps your hands on your keyboard, minimising distraction.

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The right hand side of the keyboard is also a bit thinner than you’d expect, with home and end near the top, and page up, page down and delete all in a line above the full-size cursor keys. You’ll also note the handy LED indicators for Caps, Scroll and Num lock on the right hand side.

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The Black Left-Handed Keypad Keyboard is a pretty comfortable keyboard to use, and I hope we see more keyboards in future that use it for design inspiration. If you’re interested in picking one up for yourself, click the link below.

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Filco Convertible 2 TKL review: a portable wired and wireless mechanical keyboard

Update July 2017: Good news, everyone! Full-size Convertible 2 keyboards with MX Brown switches will be available this summer in UK, German or Swedish layouts (ISO). MX Blue switches will also be available, for UK layouts only. Click here for the full EU range, or here for USA layout keyboards.

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The Filco Convertible 2 TKL is a hybrid keyboard, in that it offers both wired and wireless (Bluetooth) operation. Like its bigger brother, the Tenkeyless version of the Convertible 2 is a convenient way of connecting to smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers all with one keyboard. If you often find yourself switching between multiple devices, each with their own keyboard, why not just use one great mechanical keyboard connected to all of them?

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The TKL version of the Convertible 2 has a few unique advantages brought about by its smaller size. The missing number pad means that the Convertible 2 is much lighter than the full format version, and takes up less space.

That makes it more portable; you can easily fit it into small messenger bags or backpacks. Whether you’re carrying the keyboard to work or your next LAN party, you’ll be happy to give your back a break. Plus, the small size means that the keyboard will fit on the tiny tray tables on trains and airplanes, making it easier to work here.

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The smaller size has other benefits as well. Not having a number pad means the keyboard takes up much less space on your desk, and it brings ergonomic benefits as well. You’re able to keep your hands closer together when using a mouse, which often feels more comfortable.

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Like other Filco keyboards, the Convertible 2 feels really well made. The simple matte plastic casing is sturdily constructed, and the steel-mounted mechanical switches feel crisp and solid under your fingers. You have a choice of two genuine Cherry MX switches: tactile Browns and clicky Blues. Both are a joy to use, especially with the light ABS keycaps. If you’d prefer different keycaps, the standardised layout means you’ll have no problems finding custom replacements.

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Connecting to Bluetooth devices like phones, tablets and computers is easy, and the keyboard can remember up to five Bluetooth connections for later use. You can also plug the keyboard in with its detachable USB cable, allowing you to use it without batteries. That gives you six potential connections in all!

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The Convertible 2 takes two AA batteries, which are provided in the box. These should last for up to a full year depending on your usage.

As well as Sony batteries, you’ll also get a key puller and three replacement keycaps. Combined with DIP switches on the back of the keyboard, you can swap the position of Ctrl and Caps Lock, or trade the right-hand Windows key for a menu key.

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Our first customer review of the Convertible 2 TKL perhaps sums it up best:

One word: Awesome. This is the ultimate keyboard for those who need wireless connections and connect to multiple devices. Filco as usual delivers top notch quality.

If you’d like to get one of your very own, take a look at our store page linked below. You can also see our review of the original Convertible 2 for more information on the whole concept.

Shop for the Filco Convertible 2 TKL >

See our review of the full-size Filco Convertible 2 >

Update July 2017: Good news, everyone! Full-size Convertible 2 keyboards with MX Brown switches will be available this summer in UK, German or Swedish layouts (ISO). MX Blue switches will also be available, for UK layouts only. Click here for the full EU range, or here for USA layout keyboards.

Thanks for checking out the article, and be sure to let us know what you think of the keyboard in the comments below!

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Black Friday Deals 2016

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Looking for Black Friday deals on mechanical keyboards, accessories and more? You’re in the right place — welcome to The Keyboard Company’s Black Friday 2016 deals page!

We’re going to break down all the offers available on the page below, or you can head directly to the Keyboard Co Black Friday Store. Deals run until Monday but stock is going fast, so get in there while you can!

50% off Filco MiniLa

The super compact Filco keyboard of choice.

25% off KBP V100 keyboards

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Gorgeous KBP V100 keyboards in a USA layout with Dolch or Olivetti double shot keycaps.

50% off Matias Keyboards

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A selection of Matias keyboards for PC, Mac, iPhone & iPad, available in UK, German, Nordic and French layouts.

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French

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Up to 50% off Silver washable keyboards and mice

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Perfect for industrial or medical settings, these keyboards and mice are easily washable and have anti-microbial properties.

50% off Max Keyboard Keycap Sets

Horoscope-Pack

Pick up a set of beautiful Horoscope symbol keycaps, perfect for backlit keyboards.

50% off assorted peripherals

Trackball keyboard, PS/2

A selection of assorted keyboards, mice and more.

Wrapping up

Thanks for checking out the article. Check out the full list of Black Friday deals here!

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Topre Type Heaven now available in pink, red, white and black

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This week I’ve been using the Topre Type Heaven as my primary keyboard. We reviewed it upon its initial release in 2013, but now there’s been an update: new colours! As of now, you can choose the Type Heaven in pink, red, white and (the original) black. Awesome!

I’ve been rocking the Pink model all this week, and it’s attracted a fair amount of praise from the nominal foot traffic that my desk gets. Of course, it still has the same smooth and luxurious electro-capacitive switches that Topre is famous for.

If you’re interested in picking up a Type Heaven in a fun colour, check out the links below.

What follows are some photos of the Pink Type Heaven to give you a better idea of what it looks like outside of our normal stock photography. Enjoy, and feel free to share any questions or comments below!

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Cool, right? I’m a fan! If you’re interested in a Type Heaven in pink, red, white or black, here are those links once again. Peace!

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Keyboard Sports review: a fun and quirky game that uses your keyboard to the fullest

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I really love keyboards — I like using them, I like writing about them, and I like playing typing games, as I’ve mentioned before! Today I was playing a game called Keyboard Sports, and I’ve gotta tell you about it — because unlike most keyboard-focused games, this game is not at all about learning how to type.

Instead, Keyboard Sports delights in using the full span of your keyboard in some novel and very fun ways. The core principle is that your character moves towards the key you press — so hit space, and he’ll run towards the bottom of the screen, hit backspace and he’ll go into the upper right corner. That’s a completely different concept than the normal WASD or arrow key system of movement, and it’s pleasantly mind-breaking in the same way that QWOP is.

Using this mechanic, you guide your character through a number of different scenarios that are all conveniently the size of your keyboard. I won’t spoil the game by listing each encounter, but there’s a good mixture of fast and slow sections, strung together with a pleasantly improbable storyline about ‘taking CTRL’ and finding your ‘inner key’.

The game doesn’t last too long, clocking in at under an hour, but each section is replayable (with a fairly long final section that seems a bit randomised). It’s a pleasant experience throughout, with cute graphics and a winningly earnest theme song.

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If you want to give it a go, it’s available on the Humble Monthly, but you’ll need to sign up for the service on or before November 4th to get the game for $12. (You also get 10% off in the Humble Bundle store and a free game each month as long as your subscription is active). An extended version of the game will be available next year on Steam as well, if you’d rather wait.

Keyboard Sports is billed as ‘the final tribute to the keyboard’, and is proudly offered on PC only — the Danish developers Triband state that it’ll ‘never be available on PlayStation, Xbox, iOS, Android or Virtual Reality.’

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KBP V100 review: Dolch & Olivetti double shots bring classic style

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Today we’re looking at KBP’s full-size keyboard, the V100. This board combines Cherry MX Brown switches with doubleshot keycaps in Dolch or Olivetti colour schemes. Let’s take a closer look.

Design

The V100 has a full-size American (ANSI) layout, including a number pad on the right hand side. Various modes — caps lock, num lock, scroll lock — are shown via red LEDs on the right hand side of the board.

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There’s also a Fn layer, which allows access to media controls on the F keys — you can skip tracks back and forward, play/pause, stop, adjust the volume and mute. There’s also a gaming mode key (Fn + F12) which disables the Windows keys to prevent accidental presses mid-game.

One of the best parts of the KBP V100 is that it comes with high-quality double shot keycaps right out of the box. That means the legends will never fade away, even as the surface of the keycap is worn. This kind of keycap is more complex and expensive to produce, but it does produce a quality result.

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We’re offering two classic colour schemes for the keycaps: Dolch and Olivetti. Dolch is rendered in black and brown with white legends, while Olivetti opts for white and grey keycaps with dark blue legends. Both offer retro styling, evoking memories of the keyboards of old.

If you ever decide to replace these keycaps, you’ll find it easy to do so thanks to their standard layout.

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Underneath the keycaps, you’ll find Cherry MX Brown switches. These offer a nice blend of good tactile feedback and a low actuation force, making them comfortable to use for extended periods. I personally also find them a great gaming switch, particularly for strategy and shooter titles.

All in all, it’s a solid full-size keyboard that serves as a nice alternative to KBP’s smaller efforts. If you like KBP’s style but don’t want to give up a number pad, F keys and other accoutrements with a 60% or 80% keyboard, the V100 is an awesome choice with great keycaps.

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Impressions

In order to get to grips with the V100, I used it as my primary keyboard at home for a week. That week included five days of writing and editing (around 2,000 words per day), and about 15 hours of playing games including Counter-Strike, StarCraft II and Overwatch.

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The full size layout means this keyboard is less suitable for portable use or cramped desks; for these situations we’d recommend a V60 or V80 keyboard instead. However, if you have the space for it — and particularly if you like to use the number pad — then the V100 is a great choice. Its bezels are a bit wider than other keyboards, but I didn’t notice this in practice — apart from the bottom of the keyboard, which served as a comfortable palm rest!

The V100 served well for both typing and gaming, with a sufficient tactile feedback. It also sounded good, with a nice report, without being overly loud. The standard full-size layout meant I didn’t have to relearn any key positions, and the media keys felt natural and easy to use.

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I didn’t find any major flaws with the keyboard, which felt well-constructed and of sound design. The only real annoyance was the brightness of the LEDs, which I felt were a bit too bright. However, I got used to this over time, and wasn’t a dealbreaker by any means.

Overall, I enjoyed my time with the V100, and I’ll be sad to see it returned to KeyboardCo HQ! It felt great, looked good on my desk and it makes me want to put double shot keycaps on more of my keyboards!

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Price & Availability

The KBP V100 is available for £115. You can find more information about the keyboard, and order one for yourself, via the links below:

Thanks for checking out the article, and be sure to share your thoughts via the comments below. You can also reach us on Twitter @keyboardco, or at facebook.com/keyboardco. Thanks again and enjoy the rest of your week!

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