Das Keyboard is one of the names that made mechanical keyboards mainstream in recent years. The company (a Metadot brand) has been selling various boards with Cherry and Cherry clone switches for years, but earlier in 2016 it launched a Kickstarter campaign for the first “cloud-connected” mechanical keyboard. The Das Keyboard 5Q was funded several times over with over $500,000 in total pledges. Now, Das keyboard is taking pre-orders directly on its website as it prepares to ship the new board.
The Das 5Q is a full-sized keyboard with media controls and a programmable “Q Button.” Das Keyboard is making a big deal of the lights, which ties into the cloud-connected angle. The RGB lights on the Das Keyboard 5Q are used to stream information in the form of configurable light codes.
The lighting is controlled by a desktop app that listens to the services of your choice. Das keyboard has an API that developers can use to plug in data to the keyboard, and there’s also support for online automation service IFTTT and Zapier. So, let’s say you’re trying to win an eBay auction. You could configure your keyboard to light up a particular key green when you’re the top bidder and red if someone outbids you. You could also create an LED alert on the keyboard for a certain email label or weather info. The Q Button is used to bring up the Q’s desktop software and get more info on notifications.
It’s an interesting idea, but it’s up to you whether or not it’s something you’ll find useful in daily life. No one has used the device yet, so it’s hard to say how well it’ll work. We do actually know a bit about the unusual Gamma-Zulu switches Das is using in this keyboard.
Since RGB backlighting is such a huge component, the Das keyboard 5Q uses switches designed with LEDs in mind. There’s a light channel in the middle that makes the backlight much more consistent and bright. These are not Cherry-compatible switches due to the placement of the light channel in the middle of the stem. That means no swapping keycaps with other sets.
We’ve seen very similar switches on Logitech boards, where they are branded as Romer G. They’re manufactured by Omron, and were previously exclusive to Logitech. Das says its version of the switch is slightly tweaked compared with the Logitech Romer G. Gamma-Zulu and Romer G are tactile switches, meaning no audible click and a slight bump about halfway down. My experience with these switches in Logitech boards wasn’t positive. They felt mushy and rough to me.
Das Keyboard is asking $229 for the 5Q, which is a lot for a mechanical keyboard. You might want to wait on some reviews before dropping that much on a pre-order.