It doesn’t require the talent of Steve Jobs to read the zeitgeist and realize that retro is “in” right now.
That’s certainly the trend driving German designer Nanoxia’s new Ncore Retro Keyboard, which it unveiled for the first time this week.
But while retro for some means the 1980s, ’90s or (if you’re young enough to make us feel depressingly old) the 2000s, in this case the computer keyboard in question harks back a lot further — to the glory days of mechanical typewriters.
“The first thing you will notice are the detached, circular and silver enclosed keycaps,” Bjoern Schmidt, marketing manager for Nanoxia, told Digital Trends. “But don’t let looks fool you, it’s still a modern mechanical keyboard, with all the features and longevity you [would] expect.”
Costing $115, the Windows-compatible keyboard isn’t just designed to look like your granddaddy’s keyboard, but to feel like it is as well.
“The Kaihl White switches have a clicky sound, yes,” Schmidt told us as we waxed lyrical about a misspent youth playing around with old typewriters and, later on, the Macintosh’s classic Extended Keyboard II. The key switches have been engineered to give the user the haptic feeling of writing with a typewriter. To put that into nerdy keyboard connoisseur-speak, they use a “pronounced and precisely detectable switching point” with an operation force of approximately 50 centinewtons (cN), while the full tactile force is 60 cN.
The Ncore Retro is also water resistant, which makes it easier to keep in great condition. It’s additionally available in three different layouts, including a special German version, plus both U.S. and U.K. formats.
Last but not least, the keyboard includes 12 multimedia keys, as well as the possibility to “lock the Windows key, switch the functionality of the WASD and arrow-keys, and change between 6-key and N-key rollover.” That should make it a great keyboard for that Venn-diagram crossover of gamers and design fanatics who also want a computer keyboard straight out of the 1930s.
“As of today, the keyboards have reached the European market, with the bulk being aimed at our German customers,” Schmidt said. “A few keyboards will reach the U.K. market and other European countries within a week or so. And by the end of January, we expect a bigger shipment of U.K., U.S., and German keyboards in Europe, at which time we will be looking at a widespread availability of our new keyboard.”
If you like the look, and can get used to the rounded-off keys, this might really be something. For our part, we look forward to getting our hands on one for a test drive at some point in the near future.