Not so long ago, it seemed that PC peripherals might never evolve, but if the past few years are any indication, there's plenty of opportunity to innovate. From our talks at CES 2018 with all of the biggest peripherals manufacturers in the world, we have a pretty good sense where things are going. Read on to find out all the latest!
Sometimes, big news comes in small packages, and that's what Cherry had in store during its private briefings at CES this year. Revealed under strict NDA, expiring January 12, Cherry has released its first all-new switch in over 30 years. Yes, you read that right. Cherry's new low-profile switch is set to revolutionize the mechanical keyboard market. Having undergone extensive lab and consumer testing, the low-profile switch, which will initially be released in an MX Red-equivalent (with 45cN of actuation force), will allow a whole new breed of mechanical keyboards to be developed.
Cherry teased some prototype keyboards from its partners, which helped to show off how these keyboards will end up being so much thinner, with much more compact keycaps, then previously possible in a mechanical design. We got hands-on with these prototypes and found that they did indeed preserve the classic Cherry feel, yet proved to feel much faster, similar to how the MX Speed (Silver) switch released a few years ago feels. What was most impressive about the technical discussion we had with Cherry was that they had found a way to improve upon the one true failing of the MX Speed - unintended key presses due to activation with very low pressure. The new low-profile switches have a steeper actuation force right at the beginning of the key press, meaning that a user will be able to rest their fingers on the keys without actuating the switches. Based on what we saw and heard at the Cherry press briefing, we can't wait to try a retail Cherry MX low-profile board!
Lots of news out of HyperX this year, including its very first wireless headset, the Cloud Flight, and its first RGB keyboard, the sweet-looking Alloy Elite RGB. HyperX also had a prototype wired RGB mouse on display, but truth be told, we think it's playing a bit out of its depth in that market, where other manufacturers have much more compelling products. For that reason, we'll just focus on the Cloud Flight and Alloy Elite RGB.
So, indeed, the big news is the Cloud Flight, which boasts some mind-blowing specs, and a pretty hefty $160 price to match. It uses 50mm drivers, which beat the 40mm drivers used by every competing wireless headset, and it also has both red LED lighting and 30-hour battery life, which is shocking given that most competitors offer less than 15 hours of battery life without any LEDs. The catch, unfortunately, is that 30 hours of runtime and LED lighting don't go hand-in-hand. The 30-hour quote is just when running it without lighting. With solid lighting engaged, the headset will only run 13 hours, and with breathing engaged, it will run 18 hours.
We actually left CES 2018 with a Cloud Flight kit in hand and have already begun testing it. First impressions: HyperX nails audio quality and comfort, as usual, but we don't think it quite has the wireless function and controls sorted out. We have a full review in the works that will run through all that Hyperx got right, and the few things it might improve, in this sweet new headset.
In all honesty, HyperX sometime trips up a bit when it enters new markets, just as it did with the original Alloy Elite keyboard, which met with lukewarm reviews. Well, the new HyperX Alloy Elite RGB makes it pretty clear that HyperX can learn from its mistakes. At $170, it's certainly a premium model, but it will definitely hang with the competition. Featuring an included wrist rest, full per-key RGB effects powered by HyperX's brand-new "NGenuity" software suite, an integrated lightpipe running across the top, media controls, a streamlined, functional design, and Cherry MX Blue switches, it could very well become the new model to beat at its pricepoint.
Razer is increasingly playing to a new audience when it comes to gaming, leaving behind hard-core PC enthusiasts and embracing the console and smartphone markets. Indeed, the only new announcement in terms of PC peripherals was one it wouldn't even let attendees get their hands on: the Mamba Hyperflux. Featured behind protective glass, all we could do was ask questions (shockingly, there were no specs, nor even a name, presented alongside the product). So what exactly is the Mamba Hyperflux, and how does it differ from the existing Mamba Wireless?
Well, despite looking just like an average Mamba, this mouse is pretty revolutionary. The Hyperflux has no battery, and uses no cord. It pulls power directly from charged capacitors throughout the matching mousepad that it comes with. The mouse itself weighs a scant 96g, or less than even a wired Deathadder, Razer's best-selling mouse ever, and the entire package costs $200, not bad for a wireless mouse and charging mat (it matches Logitech's G703/Powerplay Mat duo in this regard). The big question in our mind, however, is whether consumers will really go in for a $200 kit when the mouse cannot be used without its matching mat.
Turn to the next page for coverage of PC gear from Roccat, Logitech and Corsair!