Backlit gaming keyboards on the way from Rosewill

Rosewill just keeps expanding its line of mechanical keyboards. Considering how much we liked the ones we reviewed, we can’t really complain. This week at CES, the company was showing off a new series of keyboards aimed specifically at gamers:

These bad boys have a dual-LED backlight design, which allows the WASD and arrow keys to be colored differently from the rest. (Every key on the keyboard has an individual backlight.) Five brightness levels are supported, as is a pulsating “breathing” mode. Also on the menu: 12-key rollover, an option to disable the Windows key, and a more durable USB connector, which ought to address the problem some users encountered with Rosewill’s other mechanical offerings.

Rosewill will offer these keyboards in four flavorsโ€”one for each of the popular Cherry MX switch types, including the linear red and black switches. Look for them in February or March with price tags in the $119-129 range.

I should note that Rosewill introduced another series of backlit mechanical keyboards last September, but those are now listed as discontinued at Newegg. The old models were only available with Cherry MX blue or brown switches, and they were limited to 6-key rollover and four LED brightness levels. Separate color control for the WASD and arrow keys wasn’t an option, either.

Update: Rosewill tells us the RK-9100 isn’t discontinued, despite what Newegg says. Rather, the keyboard is simply out of stock due to holiday sales.

Comments closed
    • Cannyone
    • 7 years ago

    Hmmm… These might persuade me to switch away from my Steelseries 6Gv2s. I was never interested previously because I have a strong preference for Cherry MX Black switches. As in, I learned to type in the Dark Ages (my High School didn’t even have electric typewriters! =P) and, I’ve never liked typing on the flaccid crap that passes for most keyboards switches. But if I could get Black switches and some nice k/b lighting that would be interesting.

    • BIF
    • 7 years ago

    Nice. But I still need an ergo design.

    • Metonymy
    • 7 years ago

    There were a lot of reported problems with early (meaning a year ago) Rosewill mechnical keyboards because the mini-USB connector at the keyboard wasn’t well anchored to the circuit board in the kb. I haven’t heard much lately and I’m wondering if that got fixed?

    I don’t suppose it would matter is the kb wasn’t moved but I use kb drawers.

      • just brew it!
      • 7 years ago

      Sounds like they have kept the connector design but reinforced it somehow.

        • A_Pickle
        • 7 years ago

        They kept the mini connector, which is odd to me. Didn’t the industry phase out MiniUSB because it was fragile?

          • superjawes
          • 7 years ago

          I thought it was becoming more common due to use in smartphones…

            • just brew it!
            • 7 years ago

            …and the reason it has become popular in phones is partly due to the issue I explained in #43, and partly due to a mandate that mobile phone makers standardize on a single connector.

          • just brew it!
          • 7 years ago

          Yes and no. Mini-USB has problems in that the pins inside the connector can easily get bent by repeated plugging/unplugging. That’s why most small devices now use a micro-USB instead — the part that tends to get damaged is now in the cable, which is cheaper to replace.

          That wasn’t the issue with Rosewill’s connector design though; the entire connector was coming loose from the PCB.

      • BIF
      • 7 years ago

      I use a slide-out platform in my home office too. The construction of the PS2 design has so far been superior for me, and I’ve been able to keep my old PS2 KVM going for years longer than I expected, although I don’t use it to switch monitors or mouse anymore. My monitors are switched by input selectors (on the monitors themselves) and my trackballs are ergo USB models. Not compatible with the old KVM, but they don’t need to be moved about like a mouse does, hence two trackballs side-by-side don’t take up much room.

    • Bensam123
    • 7 years ago

    Why don’t they use a normal size USB receptacle on a keyboard that size instead of a mini? I don’t understand why they’d still choose to use a mini, even if it’s reinforced. It’s just waiting for someone to set their drink down on top of it on accident and snap the thing off.

      • just brew it!
      • 7 years ago

      Yup. Good to hear that they’ve reinforced it, but a full-size connector, or recessing it into the bottom of the keyboard so it’s less likely to get bashed would’ve been even better. (And if you follow Cyril’s link to my forum thread, you can see a pic of my ghetto DIY mod to prevent a repeat.)

        • Bensam123
        • 7 years ago

        Yeah, I think that would be where I first heard about this issue, back when I was looking into buying a mechanical keyboard.

    • ronch
    • 7 years ago

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but are these so-called mechanical switches the same as those found in old keyboards back in the early days of x86 PCs? If so, I guess I very much prefer today’s standard rubber switches. Of course it’s all really a matter of preference.

      • superjawes
      • 7 years ago

      Haven’t you been around long enough to know the answer to this?

      And no, these are the “new” mechanical switches provided by Cherry, where each switch “color” is matched to the switch response.

        • ronch
        • 7 years ago

        [quote<]Haven't you been around long enough to know the answer to this?7[/quote<] What does [b<]that[/b<] got to do with the question? Back in the early 90's keyboards often used mech switches, characterized by their 'clicky' noise when pressed. I never really paid much attention to my keyboard (because they're obviously a lot less exciting compared to CPUs and graphics cards). I never bought into these Cherry switches so I really don't know if they're similar to those back in the old days, and so [b<]that's why I'm asking about it here in the comments section[/b<]. See, having used mech keyboards back then doesn't mean I instantly know if today's mech switches are the same with the old keyboards' switches or not.

          • superjawes
          • 7 years ago

          I was asking because this is a fairly common conversation (in these comments). There have been several keyboard reviews here talking about the different switch types, and there’s even a relatively short mention in each system guide.

          The introduction of Cherry switches has just created new mechanical keyboard zealots (like myself) and empowered old buckling spring ones.

      • just brew it!
      • 7 years ago

      Old IBM PCs typically used “buckling spring” mechanisms, which are tactile/clicky but work differently than most of the current crop of mechanical ‘boards. You can still buy buckling spring keyboards from Unicomp. Some of the old PC clone makers (e.g. NEC) used keyboards with Cherry (or Alps) switches like the ones in most current mechanical keyboards.

      Mechanical keyboards fell out of favor mostly for cost reasons. A new no-frills buckling spring keyboard goes for around $70 today; Cherry-based ‘boards typically start at around $100 (mostly due to the cost of the individual pushbutton switch mechanisms, which cost 55 to 80 cents each in wholesale quantities depending on the type of switch).

      Yes, it is a matter of personal preference. I vastly prefer Cherry blue switches to anything else on the market.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 7 years ago

        Assuming I can’t find a shop to try out different mechanical switches (and I can’t; my local BB, Wal Mart, Staples, et. al all carry rubber done switches, even in the gaming keyboards) how would I know which “color” of Cherry switches I’d prefer? And how loud are they compared to the buckling spring keyboards? I typed an awful lot on IBM keyboards in high school, and they were awfully loud but they were so comfortable.

          • RickyTick
          • 7 years ago

          I found this helpful in explaining the different color switches.
          [url<]http://www.daskeyboard.com/blog/?page_id=1458[/url<]

            • JustAnEngineer
            • 7 years ago

            My CVT Avant Prime uses ALPS switches, just like it did when the same keyboard design was marketed as the Northgate Omnikey back in the 1980s. Two of my old Northgate Omnikeys are still in service with family members after 25 years of daily use.

            There are still plenty of IBM Model M keyboards around that are 25+ years old. I have a couple of these (#1391401 as Ned pointed out) in my parts box that I use occasionally for troubleshooting. The buckling spring design is heavier and louder than the ALPS switches. The feel of these keyboards most closely matches that of an IBM Selectric Typewriter circa 1980.

            The Cherry MX switches are similar to the ALPS switches. I selected the Cherry MX Brown version when I purchased a couple of the Rosewill keyboards on sale. These are a bit lighter and quieter than the more common Cherry MX Blue switches.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 7 years ago

            I found that very helpful as well.

          • just brew it!
          • 7 years ago

          If you really liked the feel of the old IBMs you may want to consider ordering a Unicomp buckling spring ‘board. No NKRO, but they also cost a bit less than Cherry-based mechanicals.

          The closest thing to classic IBM Model M in a Cherry switch would be the Cherry blue (the type I use). They’re almost as loud as the buckling springs, but the noise is a little higher-pitched IMO. Cherry brown is a compromise between tactile feel and noise.

          [url=http://www.wasdkeyboards.com/<]WASD Keyboards[/url<] also sells optional noise dampers for Cherry switches, which can be retrofitted to an existing 'board (get their key puller tool if you plan to do this!), or if you buy one of their keyboards you can have the dampers pre-installed. This will reduce the "clack" of the keys bottoming out, but won't affect the audible "click" the blue switches make at the actuation point.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 7 years ago

            Hmm. From what I’m reading (thanks to RickyTick’s link, which reinforces what you said) I think browns are what I’d prefer, because they’re supposed to actuate similarly to the blues but be quieter. I think I’d dig that. Thanks! ๐Ÿ˜€

          • superjawes
          • 7 years ago

          Check online to see actual mechanisms and even some gifs that might show you how the internal mechanisms work, but as far as the popular Cherry ones go:

          Blue and Brown are “tactile,” meaning that you will feel a “bump” when the switch triggers (before the switch bottoms out). Besides that, blues are stiffer than browns and are “clicky,” meaning they are noticably louder.

          Red and Black are “linear,” meaning that you will probably [i<]not[/i<] feel when the switch triggers. Here, the blacks are stiffer than the reds. Personally, I like feeling where my switch triggers (I have a Blackwidow with blues). I want to try one with brown switches at some point, but have not had a chance yet.

    • trackerben
    • 7 years ago

    Looks like they are taking a page from Ducky Shine. But is this manufactured in Taiwan or mainland China?

      • iatacs19
      • 7 years ago

      It actually looks really similar to my Ducky Shine II… and $35 cheaper with dual LED per key…

    • Chrispy_
    • 7 years ago

    What’s the deal with Rosewill?

    I have never ever seen them for sale outside of the US, and the forum threads seem to indicate that they’re banned/unshippable to various states within the US.

    Whether their products are hit or miss is less important than their availability!

      • ludi
      • 7 years ago

      It’s a Newegg.com house brand, although they must use a lot of reference designs from a larger ODM as some of their product component assemblies appear to be similar/shared between other “enthusiast” brands.

        • just brew it!
        • 7 years ago

        IIRC the original (Gen 1) RK-9000s even had a Filco logo on one of the internal circuit boards.

    • bwcbiz
    • 7 years ago

    Hmm, a detached USB cable? Does this mean one could hook up a bluetooth adapter on both ends to run it wireless?

      • superjawes
      • 7 years ago

      How do you expect to power the keyboard or said adapter? ๐Ÿ˜‰

      EDIT: It’s still an interesting idea. I suppose if you can find a battery powered bluetooth transmisster that can transmit USB (and plug into mini-USB) you could pull it off, but I am not aware of such things.

      • just brew it!
      • 7 years ago

      You can get cheap USB Bluetooth dongles (to turn a host-side USB port into a Bluetooth AP), but AFAIK the inverse device (make a device-side USB port talk Bluetooth protocol) does not exist.

      Plus the keyboard would still need to be plugged into a power brick, or you would need to strap an external battery pack to it. What would be the point?

      • ronch
      • 7 years ago

      Why bother? Just look for a wireless keyboard with backlit keys and/or mechanical switches.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 7 years ago

        change the batteries every 6-8 hours while you’re at it. ๐Ÿ˜‰

          • ronch
          • 7 years ago

          Well, I’m sure you’ll have to change the batteries even more often if you still had to power some Bluetooth circuits too. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Bensam123
      • 7 years ago

      Thinking a bit about this, why don’t they have hybrid USB/Bluetooth keyboards? Plug it in when you’re at your computer, take it with you to the other room to where your TV is. Charger is part of the normal plug when it’s in front of the computer…

        • JustAnEngineer
        • 7 years ago

        I’ve got a charging stand for my wireless PlayStation 3 controllers on my end table. In includes a USB port that’s handy for charging a tablet or other mobile device. Why not design the keyboard to use the same ubiquitous connection?

    • Captain Ned
    • 7 years ago

    1391401

      • DancinJack
      • 7 years ago

      I’m going to grab one of those CM keyboards with green switches and see how it compares. I like Cherry switches.

      • Chrispy_
      • 7 years ago

      I’d much rather have the all-black Unicomp 104 with a USB plug fitted;

      Looks nicer, no adapters required. They even do a blank keycaps option FTW.

        • DancinJack
        • 7 years ago

        No NKRO with USB though. :/ The all black is nice though.

          • just brew it!
          • 7 years ago

          Unicomp doesn’t do NKRO even over PS/2. AFAIK none of the currently produced buckling spring ‘boards have NKRO. If you want a mechanical with NKRO you need to go with one of the Cherry-based options, like the Rosewill/Das/WASD/etc.

            • Captain Ned
            • 7 years ago

            The Model M does, but it’s based on several zones in the keyboard and isn’t really predictable.

            • just brew it!
            • 7 years ago

            It’s not *real* NKRO then. True NKRO keyboards have an extra diode in the key matrix for each key — typically soldered to the PCB next to the keyswitch — to allow each key to be sensed independently of all others. (Another reason that Cherry-based keyboards tend to be more expensive… many of them do this.)

            This is completely independent from the USB 6KRO+modifiers issue, which is why true NKRO is only available via a PS/2 connection regardless of what the key matrix in the keyboard actually supports.

            • just brew it!
            • 7 years ago

            Speaking of which… I wonder how Rosewill is doing 12KRO on the new ones? Special keyboard driver? AFAIK the 6KRO limitation is inherent in the standard USB HID keyboard driver.

    • ronch
    • 7 years ago

    Sometimes I think about getting a backlit keyboard because I need to turn off the lights when the wife’s sleeping already, and that means it’s a little difficult seeing the keys which I don’t use most often (i.e. non-alphanumeric keys). Thing is, backlit keys are normally reserved for expensive models such as those from this manufacturer. I haven’t really looked hard… I should put it on my shopping list one of these days.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 7 years ago

      Just get a little reading light or something. If she’s not bothered enough by the monitor she shouldn’t be bothered by a small light.

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