hardware

Cooler Master MasterKeys L PBT Keyboard Review: A No-Nonsense Mech

Despite evidence to the contrary, a mechanical gaming keyboard doesn’t need to have bright glowing LED lighting. Cooler Master’s MasterKeys L PBT favors style over substance, losing the light show and adding some lovely thick keycaps to create an excellent sub $100 keyboard. Known for its computer cases, power supplies and cooling solutions, Cooler Master is also a big name in computer peripherals. Mice, headsets, keyboards—it’s a company that really wants to have its name all over your gaming PC, inside and out. The company has done especially well in the mechanical keyboard scene, where many mainstream mechanical keyboard manufacturers (Razer, Logitech) are regularly dumped on. The MasterKeys series is well-regarded, and mentions of the company’s high-end, hybrid capacitive Novatouch keyboards are accompanied by the sounds of singing angels from on high. Advertisement Most boards in the MasterKeys line feature LED lighting and thinner ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) keycaps to allow the light to shine through. The newly-released MasterKeys PBT boards, available in both full-size (L) and tenkeyless (M), do not have lights. Instead they feature 1.5mm thick keycaps made of PBT (polybutylene terephthalate), a pricier plastic that’s very resistant to wear and shine. The MasterKeys PBT boards also feature…

hardware

One Of The Mechanical Keyboard Community's Most Beloved Boards Is Back

This is the WhiteFox, a custom 60 percent keyboard created by Matteo ”Matt30″ Spinelli. A couple of years back this board was offered as a DIY kit on Massdrop, and over 4,000 kits were sold. Now Matt30 and the folks at Input Club are offering the WhiteFox once more, fully-assembled for the masses. Working together with the folks at keyboard enthusiast group Input Club and group buy website MassDrop, Matt30’s initial launch of the WhiteFox was a massive success. It quickly became one of the most coveted small form factor mechanical keyboards going. Now Matt30 and Input Club have teamed up to offer the board via Kickstarter. The $100,000 campaign kicked off earlier this morning, with fully-assembled boards a reward for pledging $159 t0 $169. As of this writing they’ve just surpassed the $30,000 mark, with no signs of slowing down. Why the move from Massdrop to Kickstarter? From Matt30’s blog: Massdrop is a great platform with a huge user base but of course you have to compromise when dealing with big companies. BUT. The WhiteFox is our baby, Input Club and I felt that we couldn’t keep compromising and we needed a way to finally READ FULL STORY AT…

editors picks

New Nintendo Switch Update Lets You Find Lost Controllers 

JoyCon, the detachable controllers that latch onto the Switch tablet, are small pieces of hardware. They’re probably easy to lose, if you’re not careful. Good thing, then, that there’s a feature for that now. Last night, a Switch system update dropped, and it introduced a number of small quality of life improvements. The most notable tweak has to be this one, though: Find paired controllers within communication range by activating the vibration feature To access it, simply go to “Controllers” on the main Switch menu, and then select “Find Controllers.” From there, you’ll be prompted to specify what controller you want to find. Press the appropriate button, and your JoyCon should start buzzing wildly, depending on how long you keep it pressed. It almost sounds like a horn if you keep going: The wonders of HD rumble. I’m sure nobody is going to use this outside of its intended purpose! Advertisement The rest of the patch notes can be found below: Register a channel to receive News for specific games Add friends from your Nintendo 3DS and Wii U Friend Lists Receive notifications when your Friends go online Change READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!

accessories

The Coolest New Gaming Gear Of E3 2017

E3 isn’t just about new games. It’s also about new headsets, keyboards, mice, controllers, speakers and storage solutions. Let’s take a look at some of the coolest new hardware announced during the show. LucidSound — LS15X Xbox One In-Ear Contour Gaming Headset The LucidSound folks have a bunch of new headsets for E3, including a couple that work directly with the Xbox One’s wireless technology. But the coolest one is this weird-ass thing right here: It’s like a gaming horse harness. You know, for your gaming horse. The LS15X connects directly to the Xbox One and combines in-ear buds with built-in speakers and a mic located on the neck piece. You wear it like this: Only you should have more color and texture to your face. Advertisement The idea is to remove head strain from traditional headphones, while providing quality above what you’d get from a pair of ear buds with an in-line mic. It also works on PC, and it is expected to ship this winter. Nyko — Portal Switch Docking Kit As with many other peripheral makers this year, Nyko’s E3 lineup is READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!

consumer tech

Gamers Love Nostalgia, So Someone Is Bringing Back the Original Xbox's Gigantic Controllers

Nintendo’s NES Classic Edition, which was nearly impossible to find from its initial release right up until the company stopped making it, proved gamers are hungry for nostalgia. But has 16 years been long enough for Microsoft fans to feel similarly nostalgic for the original Xbox’s gigantic controllers? Not actual size, not even close. Accessory maker Hyperkin is hoping so. As part of the company’s E3 2017 announcements, it has revealed a new controller it’s calling The Duke that isn’t really new at all. The Duke is actually a perfect replica of the 2001 Xbox’s included controller that many of us remember having to learn to wrangle in order to play Halo. It was a necessary evil, and eventually we all built up the required muscle strength to hold the controller long enough to finish Halo, and other games on the original Xbox… It had other games, right? The Duke isn’t an exact clone of the 2001 Xbox’s controller, however. While it does have those tiny black and white buttons above the Y, X, B, and A, the static Xbox logo in the middle of the original will be replaced with an READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!

gagdgets

What You Need to Know About  Max-Q, Nvidia's Plan to Make Gaming Laptops That Aren't Monstrosities

When you think gaming and laptops, images of massive, dictionary-thick machines come to mind. Notebook computers purpose-built for PC gaming are only barely portable, but Nvidia wants to change that with a new approach to hardware and software design for laptops called Max-Q that lets mobile gamers have their cake, and easily carry it too. Nine Days With an Absurd $9,000 Gaming Laptop There may exist inside of you a desire that burns white hot for the Acer Predator 21 X, but you… Read more What is Max-Q Design? Revealed at the Computex 2017 tradeshow currently underway in Taipei, Taiwan, Nvidia is calling its new approach to gaming laptops Max-Q Design; a term borrowed from the aerospace industry used to describe the extreme stresses on a rocket during launch. And that seems very appropriate, because designing computers to play modern PC games with high-frame rates and detailed graphics is all about dealing with power and heat. Advertisement But the crux of the new Max-Q Design philosophy is all about maximizing efficiency in a laptop to balance its READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!

ergodox

Getting Started With The ErgoDox EZ, A Different Type Of Split Keyboard

My normal keyboard review process generally involves using whichever board I am testing for a week or two and then offering my opinion. Based on a popular open-source community design, the ErgoDox EZ is going to take a lot more getting used to. The ErgoDox keyboard was originally put forth in 2011 by a Geekhack.org user going by named Dominic Beauchamp, aka Dox. He wanted to create a custom split ergonomic keyboard and was looking for folks to go in on him to help lower the cost. The design created proved very popular in mechanical keyboard circles. MassDrop ran several group buys for do-it-yourself kits. Other keyboard retailers started selling ErgoDox printed circuit boards and a variety of custom cases. This model is the ErgoDox EZ Shine, because LEDs were necessary. Erez Zukerman and Yaara Lancet created ErgoDox EZ as a means to bring split ergonomic keyboards to the non-soldering masses. They made a molded plastic case for the keyboard, designed a cool “tent” system in order to allow users to angle the two halves for maximum comfort, and even created a custom polymer wrist rest called the Wing. They ran a successful Indiegogo campaign READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!

The Open Source K-Type Keyboard Makes A Fantastic First Impression

As nice as some of boards you can pick up on Amazon are, the only real way to get the perfect mechanical keyboard is to build it it yourself. Engineered by a small group of enthusiasts known as Input Club, the K-Type is a fully-customizable, completely open source keyboard that’s the next best thing to DIY. The K-Type was designed from the ground up to be “the most advanced tenkeyless keyboard ever created,” and from the brief time I’ve spent playing around with a prototype unit, it’s on the right track. From top-down it might look like a particularly attractive keyboard with a soft silver finish, RGB lighting and some lovely shine-through keys, but the closer you look at the K-Type the cooler it gets. Take those keycaps, for example. Most of the shine-through keycaps you find in the wild are made of ABS plastic, as the less expensive plastic handles the doubleshot process better. The caps included with the K-Type are made from PBT plastic, making them less prone to wear and shine. Beneath the keycaps we’ve got the switches. While the unit I have been testing came with blue switches installed, the folks at Input Club worked with…

clearly superior technologies

L-Trac Glow Laser Trackball Review: The New Ball Game

A good trackball is hard to find. That wasn’t always the case, but in today’s world of super-high DPI mice, quality sphere-based pointing devices aren’t easy to come by. Don’t worry, I found one. While I appreciate a nice mouse for gaming and general use purposes, I am an old, old man who grew up in a time when trackballs were just as prevalent as roller-ball mice. Did you know the first Kirby game was programmed using a trackball? How about the fact that the trackball was invented in 1946? See? Trackballs are so cool. The trackball was everywhere in the ‘80s and ‘90s, and that includes gaming. I owe all of my success in the original Unreal Tournament to being able to rapidly change direction while still maintaining precise reticle control, all courtesy of a large ball being rolled under my fingertips. Advertisement While the rise of laser and optical mice has made trackball’s pretty scarce, but you can still find good ones if you look hard enough. Companies like Logitech and Kensington still manufacture a nice variety of units. And then there is Clearly Superior Technologies (CST), the El READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!

hardware

Topre Realforce RGB Keyboard Review: Life Beyond The Rubber Dome

If rubber dome keyboards are at the bottom of the keyboard hierarchy and mechanicals near the top, where does that leave Topre’s electrostatic capacitive switches, which combine a rubber dome and a spring? While the mechanical keyboard community launches into a massive debate, let me tell you about Topre’s Realforce RGB. Advertisement Nothing sparks heated debate in mechanical keyboard circles like the question, “Are Topre switches mechanical?” When most people think of mechanical keyboard switches, they’re thinking of something along the lines of the Cherry MX switches, which work via bits of metal and plastic sliding against each other, the shapes of which determine the sort of bump or click the user feels as they type. A Topre switch doesn’t work like that. Dome switch keyboards are not considered mechanical. Under the keys of a dome switch keyboard is a sheet of rubber dotted with domes. Pressing down a key depresses the dome, completing the circuit on the board beneath in order to register a keystroke. Topre switches don’t quite work like that either. A Topre switch does have a rubber dome underneath it, and the bulk of a key’s resistance READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!

Elgato

Elgato's Stream Deck Is Fancy Tool For Fancy Streamers

Streamers seeking more control over their broadcasts often use external keypads to do things like switching scenes and controlling chat. Elgato’s $150 Stream Deck aims to replace those makeshift solutions with 15 dedicated LCD buttons capable of handling up to 210 different actions. It’s quite fancy. Advertisement The Stream Deck, launched today and available at Elgato’s website, is a black box that connects to your computer via USB. On this black box are 15 programmable buttons. Each button is a tiny LCD screen. Streamers can customize these buttons to start their streams, swaitch from one screen to another, swap overlays, make fart noises, send out a tweet telling people they just made a fart noise—everything a growing streamer needs to ensure people sit and stare at them for hours on end. Not only is each button an LCD screen, allowing users to assign either existing icons or design their own, each button can also act as a folder, opening up a suite of new buttons. It’s kind of like having a programmable mixing board for your streams. Advertisement I’ll be testing out READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!

Behold, Four Different Systems Running On A Single Monitor

You’ll probably never need to play Prey on PC, Wonder Boy on PlayStation 4, Mario Kart 8 on Switch and Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 on Xbox One all at the same time, but it can be done with Phillips’ 40-inch 4K curved monitor with MultiView. Advertisement While I am still in the midst of evaluating Phillips model BDM4037U for review, the two-by-two MultiView feature was too cool not to share. Utilizing four inputs on the back of the monitor—two HDMI, one DisplayPort and one VGA port—I was able to hook up all three of my consoles at once while still having room for my PC. A control stick on the back of the unit lets me quickly switch to any of the four or display two screens side-by-side or picture-in-picture. Since the display is 3840 x 2160, each sub-screen is capable of running at 1920 x 1080 without any lag. Advertisement It was a little tricky to set up. Since there are only two HDMI ports on the back of the monitor I had to buy an active HDMI to VGA cable for the third console, which also requires an audio cable to run sound. If your cable…

design

My Final Fantasy Keyboard Has Quina Instead Of A Q

A is for Aerith. Or Aeris. Whichever, the key is dead anyway. Along with giving folks a comfortable means of typing for hours on end, a decorated mechanical keyboard can also reflect the passions of the user. Since no existing keysets adequately reflected my love of Final Fantasy, I made my own. Advertisement A nice set of keycaps can completely change the look and feel of a mechanical keyboard, but you can only do so much mixing and matching pieces from packaged sets or sifting through grab bags. In order to get what I really wanted, I had to go custom. There are several places that will print custom keyboard keys to your specifications. So far I’ve tried two of them. At Max Keyboard I kept things simple, using the simple color picker tool to work out a colorway for my Pok3r, a 60 percent board from Vortex. The keys were $20, the side-printing another $20, and I got a nice-looking Reese’s peanut-butter board for not a lot of money. The keys aren’t premium quality, but there’s no other set quite like it, and the price is quite lovely. READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!

hardware

Volta V Wooden PC Review: An Heirloom Gaming Machine

I’ve spent the past few weeks gaming, working and pretending to work on the Volta V, the world’s first commercially-produced handcrafted wooden computer. It feels like it’s part of the family. Advertisement There was a time when most of our electronic entertainment equipment was either made of wood or, at the very least, stylized to look as if it had been. There’s something both enduring and endearing about wood. Perhaps it’s that it was once part of a living thing. Or that each piece of a wood-crafted television cabinet, radio housing or now computer enclosure is unique. As I was preparing to write my review of this particular Volta V PC, one of my fellow writers asked, “So the reason people would want it is because it looks nice, right?” It does indeed look very nice. But it goes beyond being an incredibly elegant block of functional walnut standing on slanted metal feet. The system I’ve been testing has a distinct personality. For example, it did not like me making it look like this: I was trying to mix retro styles and failed. Really badly. It READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!