(Image credit: 8BitDo)
Gaming accessory brand 8BitDo is going old school with its first-ever mechanical keyboard sporting a design reminiscent of past Nintendo consoles.
Aptly named the Retro Mechanical Keyboard, it comes in two distinct color schemes: one in black, gray, and red matches the NES, while the other is based on the Famicom – the Japanese rendition of the console. On the latter, the red will have a more rustic shade and white is replacing the gray for a brighter look. The Famicom version even has hiragana on most of the keys. So this particular model can potentially double as a Japanese tutor of sorts, helping students learning the language become more familiar with it.
(Image credit: 8BitDo)There is more to this device than simply being a pretty keyboard, and it does have some interesting hardware. Starting with the externals, the Retro Keyboard has a tenkeyless layout meaning there’s no number pad on the side. You’ll notice on the bottom are ‘B’ and ‘A’ buttons. These two are programmable, allowing owners to add whatever macro they want to them like Control-C on ‘B’ and Control-P on ‘A’. This can be done through 8BitDo’s Ultimate Software app. Other cool design flourishes include the Power LED light in the top right corner with the analog knobs on the left adding to the vintage 1980s look.
Internal hardwareInternally, the Retro Keyboard is fairly impressive as well. Each of the keys sits on top of Kailh Box V2 White switches. According to the manufacturer, the V2 Whites feature “gold-plated springs,” which, according to the company have anti-corrosion properties, are dustproof and offer “faster rebound” for a smoother typing feel. It is important to mention the switches are hot-swappable so if you want to install your preferred hardware, you do have that option.
The Retro Keyboard allows both a wired connection via USB cable alongside wireless connectivity. For wireless, you have two options: Bluetooth Low Energy or 2.4GHz WiFi. A 2.4GHz adapter does come with the purchase. Battery life is set for “200 use hours with 4 hours [of] charging time”.
Officially, this device is compatible with Windows 10 and above as well as Android 9 and above. However, a company representative told Engadget it will work on Mac, although they didn’t specify an operating system.
AvailabilityYou can pre-order the keyboard right now on either 8BitDo’s website or Amazon for $100 USD. The shipping date is set for September 10. If you do pre-order, you’ll get a pair of programmable Super Buttons.
The Super Buttons are essentially a gigantic version of the ‘B’ and ‘A’ mentioned earlier. These can serve as an extra set of keys for personal macros or maybe as a controller for 2D-style games. There are, after all, a ton of indie titles that adopt side-scrolling action. Pair the buttons with the directional keys and you’ll basically have a giant NES controller.
We reached out to 8BitDo to ask if there are plans to launch the Retro Keyboard outside the United States and for some clarifications on Mac compatibility. This story will be updated at a later time.
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Cesar Cadenas has been writing about the tech industry for several years now specializing in consumer electronics, entertainment devices, Windows, and the gaming industry. But he’s also passionate about smartphones, GPUs, and cybersecurity.