At last, Optimus Maximus keyboards are finally shipping after receiving a Vaporware Award two years in a row now (2006, 2007). It’s been quite the adventure for the team creating the highly anticipated and over-priced keyboard, filled with many ups and downs. Those who pre-ordered it last year should already have it in their hands, or will have it shortly.  Engadget managed to get one to test and their initial review has been posted. So after all this time, what are reviewers saying? Well, it’s mixed. There are both good and not so good things about the keyboard and at this point, it looks as though the casual computer user will not benefit from the Optimus Maximus Keyboard.

Before we get started, I do want to point out that Ryan Block over at Engadget posted a great video demo that shows the keyboard in action and it’s embedded below. Take a look…

The Good

  • It finally shipped!
  • The configurator is great. If you watched the video above, you saw how you can “paint” right onto the keyboard map which is pretty amazing. Additionally, this configurator will certainly come in handy for those who use certain applications regularly that have a list of keyboard shortcuts available (like Photoshop).
  • Configuring keymaps is simple

The Bad

The best way to describe the reasons why it’s not so good is to quote Ryan Block:

Typing on it, well, sucks. We kind of hate to say it, but this thing more than likely won’t replace what ever keyboard you’re writing your novel on — it’s better off used as an absurdly configurable swiss army knife for tasks like gaming, Photoshop, or just about any other productivity app that doesn’t require a lot of typing.

Okay, why does typing on the Optimus suck, you ask? Well, although the keyboard uses mechanical switches and a lot of high quality components (evident when we pulled off some keys), and there is some clicky tactility to keypresses, as a whole it just requires way too much force to depress keys. And the larger the key, the more force is required, so enter is easier than space, but harder than tab. Let’s put it this way, we sit around and type all day long and this thing wore us out in about 30 seconds to a minute. Carpal sufferers, beware.

The Ugly

The good news here is that there’s nothing ugly about the keyboard. It looks nice and Engadget says that the OLED displays “look really good, and are bright and colorful, just like we’d hoped.”

Maximus Display Plugins

One thing that will certainly make this keyboard stand out above others besides the obvious are the display plugins that have been made which are shown below.  Because each key is an OLED Display, each plugin is able to be updated. For example, the Gmail plugin will update showing how many messages are in the inbox.

optimus maximus

According to the Optimus Maximus blog, they’ll be working on system monitoring, iTunes, Mail, RSS, and other common software plug-ins soon.