The Huntsman is Razer’s first keyboard with optical switches

The next big thing in keyboards might just be optical switches. We've seen the technology before in keyboards like Aorus' K9 Optical and Tesoro's Gram SE. Now, Razer is jumping on the optical key switch train with its Huntsman keyboards. They come in two varieties: the standard Huntsman, a fairly straightforward keyboard with optical switches, and the Huntsman Elite, a high-end deal with dedicated media controls, RGB LED switch and “underglow” lighting, and a leatherette wrist rest.

Razer Huntsman Elite opto-mechanical gaming keyboard

For those unfamiliar with the concept, optical keyswitches use an infrared sensor to detect keypresses. This arrangement presents a few advantages over traditional membrane or mechanical switches. There's no “bounce” from the impingement of a beam of light, so there's no need for a de-bouncing circuit or its delay. Optical keyswitches are also more resilient against fouling than mechanical switches, and more durable in general since there is no physical contact to wear down.

A render of a Razer Purple keyswitch

Razer describes the the switches it uses in the Huntsman and Huntsman Elite as “opto-mechanical.” They're color-coded purple, and like the company's green mechanical clickers, the purples are tactile switches with a bump at their actuation point. They register keypresses after just 1.5mm of travel, and have a lightweight actuation force of just 45 cN. That makes them somewhat like a blend of Cherry's MX Speed Silver and MX Brown switches, although as optical switches they're quite different in function.

Razer Huntsman opto-mechanical gaming keyboard

Aside from the fancy keyswitches, the Huntsman keyboards are pretty much business as usual for Razer gaming keyboards. That means you get Chroma RGB LED lighting, and on the Huntsman Elite, those blinkenlights extend to include an all-around underglow effect. The keyboards are fully programmable, and the company says that settings are saved to both the keyboard's internal memory as well as your required Razer Synapse Cloud profile so that you can take your re-binds wherever you go.

Razer's already got the new keyboards up for sale on its site. The standard Huntsman goes for $149, but you'll miss out on that nifty volume dial and the detachable magnetic wrist-rest. For those, you'll need the Huntsman Elite, priced at $199.

Comments closed
    • EndlessWaves
    • 1 year ago

    Has anyone ever worn out the contacts on a decent switch without wearing out the tactile mechanism?

    This seems like a solution looking for a problem.

      • just brew it!
      • 1 year ago

      Short answer to the question you asked is “no”. But that’s only half the story here; an optical switch mechanism means that it is immune to fouling of the contacts by beverage spills.

      • ronch
      • 1 year ago

      Ditto. Reminds me of drive-by-wire systems. Make things more complicated for the sake of making it look more advanced, but what are the real benefits? A 1ms improvement in response? And like you said, who’s ever worn out a key switch? Been using my $10 Logitech keyboard for 8 years now and it’s not even an issue.

        • bhtooefr
        • 1 year ago

        Usually keyswitch wear is the sliders, not the contacts, but it can happen (and some keyswitch designs are prone to corrosion causing intermittent contact and bouncing).

        As far as drive-by-wire, there’s a few reasons for it. In a drive-by-wire design, the accelerator requests power, rather than directly opening a throttle plate (gasoline) or rotating the injection quantity adjuster (diesel).

        The biggest reason for it is that it can avoid throttle settings that would cause sudden spikes in emissions – a gasoline engine with cable throttle is fundamentally reacting to the throttle plate’s movements, and sudden movements can catch the ECU out, causing it to go suddenly lean or rich.

        In a turbocharged engine, it can be used to reduce turbo lag – instead of increasing fuel in response to boost coming in (as in, after the turbo lag), fuel can be increased in response to the power request, causing boost to come up faster and avoiding the lag in the first place.

        And, in a gasoline engine, the throttle plate being too closed hurts efficiency – optimum efficiency is usually found at nearly wide open throttle, low RPM. Automatic transmissions on cable throttle vehicles use pedal position to determine when to downshift for more power, but pedal position also directly controls the throttle plate. On drive-by-wire cars, something like 30% pedal may translate to 90% throttle in 6th gear at a given speed, whereas a cable throttle car may have to go for 50% pedal/throttle in 4th gear to get the same power, causing worse fuel efficiency. (This is actually a lot of why a manual driver could historically get so much better economy if they know what they’re doing, and why automatics are so much better now.)

    • Krogoth
    • 1 year ago

    Pffft, buckling springs or bust.

      • just brew it!
      • 1 year ago

      Nahh…

      Don’t get me wrong, buckling spring is very good; but IMO it’s second-best to anything with modern clicky/tactile switches and decent build quality.

    • Chrispy_
    • 1 year ago

    Keyboards are for fingers, not eyes.

    I don’t care if they work optically, mechanically, magically, or politically. Just please don’t make me use Razer Synapse software, okay?

      • kurazarrh
      • 1 year ago

      🙁 I have this cancer installed on my computer… but in my defense, Razer was the only company that I know of to ever make a left-handed gaming mouse with numbered thumb buttons (I have the 2014 Razer Naga Lefty).

      If someone else came out with a similar left-handed gaming mouse, I would gladly pay a premium for it.

    • thedosbox
    • 1 year ago

    [quote<] your [b<]required[/b<] Razer Synapse Cloud profile[/quote<] Just say no.

      • aspect
      • 1 year ago

      No.

        • Redocbew
        • 1 year ago

        Well done.

      • ronch
      • 1 year ago

      Nonononino

    • oldog
    • 1 year ago

    Shoot. Shows you how old I am. I remember when they used to put “opto-mechanical” thingies inside computers.

      • just brew it!
      • 1 year ago

      Heck, I remember these: [url<]http://www.swtpc.com/mholley/OAE80_Reader/OAE80_Index.htm[/url<]

    • BillyBuerger
    • 1 year ago

    The switches look like the [url=http://www.bloodyusa.com/product.php?pid=11&id=160#full-features-container<]Bloody Light Strike Libra[/url<].

      • UberGerbil
      • 1 year ago

      I may be alone in this, but “Huntsman” makes me think of a particular kind of spider, and while I’m not an arachnophobe that’s not an association I want to have with something I put my hands on…

        • Goty
        • 1 year ago

        For reference, they also have the Blackwidow series of keyboards, so maybe it’s a thing.

        • reckless76
        • 1 year ago

        Yeah, I believe Razer names all their mice after snakes, and all their keyboards after spiders.

        Also, that wrist rest that comes with the Elite model looks really nice. Wonder how it feels..

        • Srsly_Bro
        • 1 year ago

        I lived in Utah long enough that I think Jon huntsman and the huntsman Cancer institute an the university of Utah.

        • Redocbew
        • 1 year ago

        If your reaction to this is “kill it with fire!”, then I approve.

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