Membrane-based keyboards are horrible things to use. The rubber domes are squishy, with none of the delicious tactile feedback you’ll find from a good mechanical. There’s a good reason that membrane keyboards are so pervasive though: they’re cheap. I used to work distributing the things for OEM purposes, and we could sell an entirely decent keyboard for office use for all of R20 (which I’d then see marked up for retail at an easy R150).
By contrast, mechanical keyboards cost a fortune. While they’re unlikely to get down to that sort of cost, keyboard switch maker Cherry (famed for their ubiquitous MX switches) wants to make mechanical keyboards more affordable. To that end, they’re debuting a new switch aimed at budget-minded keyboard manufacturers. It’s the new Viola mechanical switch for the value segment.
According to Cherry, it’s not just a trickled-down reappropriation of existing tech, but rather something wholly new. Cherry says their new switch uses a coil spring and a patented V-Shape bronze contact system, which is housed in a self-lubricating POM plastic polymer. It’s a solderless design that allows for hot-swopping of keys.
According to the switch manufacturer the new V-Shape contact system has a two-stage, linear actuation. Getting technical they say that an “actuation force of 45 cN is required for the pretravel of two millimetres. After that, the actuation force ramps up to 75 cN at the end of the travel distance (four millimetres).”
- Cherry full mechanical switch for the value market
- CrossLinear characteristic with ergonomic Overtravel and fast reset
- Unique and patented* VIOLA contact system
- Industry standard cross stem
- Simple Design, Engineered and Made in Germany
- Consistent lighting throughout the keycap
- Option to use all 16.8 million RGB colours in high luminosity (scope of supply does not include SMD LED) SMD LEDs directly mounted on the circuit board for cost-efficient, fully automated production
- Solder free design, frame mounted
- Self-cleaning contact
- Switch field replaceable
It’ll be interesting to see what keyboards using this switch will sell for, as manufacturers are already bringing mechanical keyboards down to somewhat affordable levels. It’s entirely possible to pick up a budget mechanical keyboard for less than R500 – but with mechanical switches, you tend to get what you pay for. If these new switches are decent and allow for better cheaper keyboards, then that can only be a good thing.
Last Updated: January 14, 2020