Tesoro has continued to push for new options for gamers, now with their new optical keyswitches.
DESIGN & BUILD
This is a full sized keyboard with 104 keys, so we have the numpad and all.
The design is a mixed bag. The shape of the case is very traditional with a slightly rounded rectangular shape. I personally like the simple and clean shape, however others might find it a bit boring. This does only come in this black version as of now, which keeps it very conventional.
Above the arrow keys for whatever reason has ‘Break the Rules’ written there. Honestly don’t know what the thinking behind that is. It’s not the logo, and it just looks tacky, but also sounds tacky.
The Tesoro logo is at the top right, which is pretty standard fare, while it is large, I don’t mind it. It does light up though, and is RGB, so it can change colour with the key LEDs.
So it has all the aesthetic elements of a gaming keyboard. But fitted into a very traditional enclosure.
The keyboard has a slight inclination to it without the feet up.
On the bottom we have 4 flat rubber feet for non slip. And 2 flip up feet which are also rubber tipped. We also have some drainage holes towards the bottom of the case. And this is because Tesoro claim that the keyboard is water resistant, however there is no IP rating given.
The keycaps used are double shot ABS keycaps, meaning that the legends are a different mold of plastic, so they’ll never fade away. And these are the typical 1mm thin caps.
The typeface on the keycaps is the classic gamery font. It is a gaming keyboard, so as always, it fits the theme. But I still don’t like it, as many others agree with. Especially those aggressive arrow keys.
Now to the lighting. This is all controlled via the function key at the bottom. First of all the brightness is controlled with the up and down arrow keys. We can cycle through various lighting effect modes with the left and right arrow keys.
We can change colours by pressing function and the menu key right next to it. And this only has 7 colours, which unfortunately doesn’t harness the capabilities of the RGB lighting. It does have the main colours of course, and you will probably be able to match it to your setup, but still. And the white is pretty blue, which is very common with RGB boards.
Alright so for sure the main attraction and reason to buy this keyboard are the optical keyswitches. And firstly I must commend Tesoro on their desire to push forward with different innovations and technologies, as previously seen on their Gram Spectrum with the Agile keyswitches. And this is their way of differentiating themselves from the overly saturated market.
Anyway, these have been made together with Gateron interestingly, who make great keyswitches, and I definitely recommend them. However these still do say Tesoro rather than Gateron on the clear top casings.
To know the difference, we first have to know how a traditional mechanical switch works. Basically we press down the key and the slider goes down to move the leaf, and when these 2 metal contacts meet, that is an actuation.
With the optical switches, much of it is the same. We still have our stem, and the spring. The top casing is the same, but we have the bulge for the LED for better lighting. In the bottom housing we have the click leaf, but we don’t have the other contact plate.
This is because it uses an infrared laser, which is on the PCB itself. So here we have these 2 points, and basically if we block the path between these 2 points, therefore blocking the infrared light, it will register a keypress. And this type of switch has been previously referred to as light strike switches, which is already on some other keyboards.
What blocks the beam is the long protrusion of the slider which slides down the bottom housing which now has an open prong, rather than completely closed like on a normal housing.
This allows for very accurate and precise actuations.
They state that it is slightly faster, but the difference is so miniscule that I mean I of course can’t notice it, and I’ll be surprised if anyone could in real time.
Another thing is that since there is no metal to metal contact, there will be no wear or oxidation, even though Cherry MX switches do have gold plated cross contact points, which are very resistant to oxidation. And this brings the keystroke lifespan up to 100 million actuations.
Since there is no pins on the switch, the switch doesn’t need to be soldered to the PCB, because all it’s doing is blocking the infrared signal. So it’s super easy to just unclip and remove the keyswitches, which is a feature of the keyboard. However they do not provide a keyswitch puller which is odd, however it’s really easy with just a flathead screwdriver or tweezers to take them out.
Consequently, you can’t use any old keyswitch, since the bottom housing prong is solid, and therefore would stay permanently actuated.
Another important point is that while these are similar, these are very different to what we call analog keyswitches as found on the Wooting One with the Flaretech switches. Those ones can sense how far a key has been pushed, and can act accordingly, rather than just open and closed.
These have a dark navy blue coloured stem, and mimic the Cherry MX Blues, so they’re clicky, tactile, and loud.These however feel lighter than MX Blues, and are much like Gateron Blues, if not the same feeling, which is to be expected.
Overall it’s an interesting package. It’s packing a lot of features with the optical switches, lighting, macro capability, and all the secondary functions. So really it’s pretty much just the design I have an issue with, and as always that’s subjective.
I really do wish there was a tenkeyless option of this. They’re definitely going for the PC gaming market here, so it would have made sense to have an option to go without it. It saves a heap of space giving more room for mouse movements. And also I just think it would improve the aesthetics of the keyboard.
The main attraction is of course the optical switches made with Gateron.
And this is something I admire with Tesoro. They’re just giving more options with different switches. Their Gram Spectrum that I checked out a while ago uses the Agile keyswitches from Kailh, which are shorter switches. I like their push to use different innovations and technologies on their products. However, while they give us options with switches and designs, I feel like there’s a severe lack of tenkeyless options in their lineup, which hopefully they can address in the future.
They will soon be releasing the Gram SE Spectrum with optical switches, as well as the option for the linear switch.