Building a Keyboard 8: Akko Acrylic Gasket Mount Kit, ASA Low Profile Keycaps, CS Sponge Switches 4

Building a Keyboard 8: Akko Acrylic Gasket Mount Kit, ASA Low Profile Keycaps, CS Sponge Switches

Akko CS Sponge Switches »

Akko Prunus Lannesiana ASA-Low Profile PBT Keycaps

I personally thought Akko's ASA keycap profile was a nice take on the taller, more rounded keycap profiles, such as SA, with a shorter reduction in keycap height that made it more conducive for daily typing and put it more in line with the OEM profile in terms of height. Clearly, there were enough people who wanted an even lower-profile version of the same, and Akko came out with the new ASA-Low Profile that debuted with the equally new Prunus Lannesiana keycap set. Packaging is different from other Akko keycap sets that ship in a hard plastic case, as well as the more subtle two-piece cardboard packaging for the high-end Akko JDA profile keycap sets, such as the World Tour Shanghai we saw before. Instead, we get a large glossy box with a render of the keycaps at the face, along with the company logo and a confirmation that this is indeed a PBT doubleshot injection ASA-Low Profile set. The exact product name makes an appearance on the back and sides, with a central double flap and two side flaps keeping things tidy and the keycaps in place during transit.

Opening the box, we see the keycaps placed in three layers, with thin foam sheets on top of each layer. The layers themselves use plastic blister packaging, with a lid on top to complete the design. The layers are all placed in molds cut into the plastic itself, though they are not the easiest to remove unless you use a finger to push each keycap up individually, at least for those in their own cells.

The Akko Prunus Lannesiana keycap set has 155 keycaps to cater to a variety of form factors within the US ANSI layout, including some extra keys to cater to the increasingly popular Alice layout. The name itself stems from the scientific naming of a specific Japanese cherry tree cultivation bred for the flowers we normally think of as cherry blossoms. Perhaps directly calling these such wasn't possible, but the naming also leaves room for interpretation as the primary Japanese cherry tree family only has white flowers, not the pink ones in the purposely cultivated strain, which has the theme fit this colorway which employs a mixture of white and light pink for the base kit, as well as some darker pink "strains" for the novelty keycaps. The new ASA-Low Profile shortens the keycap height to a uniform 8.96 mm, losing the contoured rows from the ASA profile that went as high as 11.81 mm for the first two rows. As such, the ASA-Low Profile is closer to the XDA profile in height, but with no contouring changes, similar to the DSA profile. It can be confusing as which side is up isn't immediately obvious on all keycaps.

Design aside, we see the use of thick PBT plastic (1.36 mm wall thickness) with doubleshot injected legends for added longevity. The base set uses a light pink or white for the base color, with a darker pink injection for the legends. The novelty keycaps go with the aforementioned darker pink base and use white for the legends and design. Akko's PBT keycap mold is one of the better ones in the business, with no perceived legend imperfections on this set, crisp and sharp legends and designs without any spreading, and a smoother surface than most other PBT keycaps. A look at the longer keycaps also confirms the use of bottom-mounted supports for the injection molding process, with the telltale signs not visible in use. The keycaps themselves are opaque on purpose and will not let light through if backlighting is important to you.

Before we move on to the switches, here is a look at the various 1u replacement novelty keycaps provided in the set. These are primarily simple animal designs and would generally be used on the Esc key, or perhaps the four extra keys of a full-size 108-key unit.
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May 28th, 2022 12:24 EDT change timezone

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