Monday, June 11th 2018

Leopold Debuts New Keyboards and Keycaps at Computex

Leopold is a brand that not many are familiar with given they stick mostly to the Asian continent, and yet their keyboards are liked enough to warrant distributors and enthusiasts to seek them out around the world. At Computex this year, they continued to show why they merit more popularity by introducing new keycaps using thick PBT plastic and dye-sublimed legends that look better than anything else I have seen before. Indeed, dye-sublimation often results in the dye spreading outwards from the mould and the lettering not looking neat and sharp, and Leopold tells us they have worked hard to solve this issue for good. As a result, they are now offering keyboards in two different keycap sets to begin with- a more traditional beige two-tone, and a gunmetal grey two-tone as seen below. The first keyboard I saw with these new keycaps at their booth was the FC900R PS, a 104-key unit with Cherry MX switches, dip switches on the back for onboard functionality control, a removable mini-USB port and more.
Next up was a TKL model, the FC750R PS, which is based off the same platform with 87-keys and this particular unit had the other keycap set on to demonstrate both in person. Both the FC900R PS and the FC750R PS felt extremely well built, and hopefully we will get to take a closer look at these soon as well.

Leopold's FC660C is a 66-key keyboard and among their more popular products, and at Computex they showed off the same with the updated keycaps (which include front-printed legends on this smaller form factor keyboard) as well as Topre's silent electrostatic capacitive switches rated at 45 gf actuation. The new versions do not have a different name, and instead are differentiated merely by the details that they expect distributors and potential buyers to check further.

The FC660M (Cherry MX switches) received a Bluetooth update with the new Leopold FC660M BT, and these come with a battery tray in the back for two AAA batteries to be used to power the keyboard instead of relying on an internal battery pack. This does mean the keyboard is thicker than it could have been, but personally I prefer this option allowing easier swapping of batteries rather than be reliant on a built-in battery that will lose its capacity over time. We also see a micro-USB port on the prototype, although Leopold is going to be using a Type-C connector in the retail units, for when you want to use the keyboard as a wired peripheral.

The larger form factor FC980C also got a similar update with the new keycaps and silent 45 gf Topre switch options, and this 98-key version uses an efficient layout of the keys allowing for a full size keyboard experience in a narrower volume thus allowing the user to have the mouse closer (for right-handed users, anyway).

Lastly, and arguably the most interesting of the lot, was the FC750SP. This is a TKL form factor keyboard featuring an Archiss stick pointer similar to what Lenovo uses in their Thinkpad lineup of laptops. To make things more convenient, Leopold have added dedicated left and right mouse buttons for use in specific layers of the keyboard, and they had a demo unit to show off how easily one could replicate most of the mouse functions by the keyboard itself. For those with a tiny desk, this is a product that should grab your attention. For most others, consider pairing this (or any of their other keyboards) with the Leopold wrist rests that feature hand-stitched genuine leather on the front and a composite rubber with anti-scratch and anti-slip pads on the bottom. No definite pricing or availability information was to be had, but we will update this post if we get this information.
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11 Comments on Leopold Debuts New Keyboards and Keycaps at Computex

#1
csgabe
Wow, a new old looking keyboard! That's innovation.
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#2
okidna
From my experience owning their FC980M, FC660M, and FC980C, IMO, Leopold is a non-custom no frills mechanical keyboard with the best build quality. KUL or Varmilo come close behind them.
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#3
altcapwn
Nice, very nice keyboard. I love old school keyboards like that :).
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#4
Nuke Dukem
That FC900R PS looks like a carbon copy of the first keyboard I touched in '96 (which is still working with a DIN-PS2 and PS2-USB converter).

What exactly do the DIP switches on the bottom do, though?
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#5
okidna
Nuke Dukem said:
What exactly do the DIP switches on the bottom do, though?
Simple keymapping switch (usually Ctrl to Caps Lock, Fn to Winkey, etc., Winkey to Alt), something like this :



The nice thing is they included a replacement keycaps in case you use each DIP switches functions, so no mismatched keycaps and keymapping.
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#6
SIGSEGV
so what's the real difference between this PS version and PD version? just keycaps?
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#7
okidna
SIGSEGV said:
so what's the real difference between this PS version and PD version? just keycaps?
Yup, and self-explanatory if you're familiar with Leopold naming scheme.

PS = PBT Dye-Sublimated
PD = PBT Doubleshot
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#8
SaltyFish
If only it had PS/2 connector and the old Windows 95 logo to complete the retro feel.

Also, the "clit-mouse" making an appearance outside of laptops? Either Leopold felt TKL wasn't enough space saving or there's a market for laptop-esque feel on desktops that I wasn't aware of.
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#9
Valantar
SaltyFish said:
Either Leopold felt TKL wasn't enough space saving or there's a market for laptop-esque feel on desktops that I wasn't aware of.
I use a ThinkPad Compact USB Keyboard with Trackpoint (yeah, that's the product name, it's essentially the keyboard off a T450 or so in USB form) for my desktop. Love not having to reach for the mouse every single time I need to move the cursor a bit or click on something small. Also, the variation between trackpoint and mouse keeps repetitive stress injuries at bay.

I would be very interested in getting this (considering I'm starting work on my Ph.D. this fall, I'll be typing a lot over the coming years), but the lack of a backlight is a bummer. Don't need/want RGB, but an adjustable white backlight would be nice. And keycaps with Norwegian layout legends on them of course. It's not that far off the standard ISO layout, but enough to be an issue (quite a few keys with three functions, hence the need for legends for seldom-used signs (and use of the Alt Gr key!)).
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#10
VSG
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Valantar said:
I use a ThinkPad Compact USB Keyboard with Trackpoint (yeah, that's the product name, it's essentially the keyboard off a T450 or so in USB form) for my desktop. Love not having to reach for the mouse every single time I need to move the cursor a bit or click on something small. Also, the variation between trackpoint and mouse keeps repetitive stress injuries at bay.

I would be very interested in getting this (considering I'm starting work on my Ph.D. this fall, I'll be typing a lot over the coming years), but the lack of a backlight is a bummer. Don't need/want RGB, but an adjustable white backlight would be nice. And keycaps with Norwegian layout legends on them of course. It's not that far off the standard ISO layout, but enough to be an issue (quite a few keys with three functions, hence the need for legends for seldom-used signs (and use of the Alt Gr key!)).
Having gone through the Ph.D. experience, get used to touch typing if you can- saves a lot of time and makes backlighting not critical at all.
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#11
Valantar
VSG said:
Having gone through the Ph.D. experience, get used to touch typing if you can- saves a lot of time and makes backlighting not critical at all.
My typing style is a reasonable approximation of touch typing (my little fingers are a bit underutilized, and I thus tend to move my hands a bit more than i technically should), but I don't seem to have it in me to remember every single seldom-used alternate key, particularly the AltGr combinations. Having three extra letters in the alphabet probably forces us to have more triple-input keys, as it looks like most keyboards with 26-letter alphabets largely avoid this. Which necessitates legends (or at lest makes it mighty annoying looking for a specific symbol when they're not there/wrong). Same goes for backlighting. It's simply a nice feature to have, and considering how common it is, I don't think I'd shell out for an expensive keyboard without it.
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