This week, Avram Piltch tries something new and unboxes the Ultimate Hacking Keyboard live on the show. This keyboard is unique in that it is designed to be modular, both in itself and with accessories. The small-framed keyboard detaches in the middle, allowing you to use it as a standard ergonomic keyboard, or configure it however is convenient and comfortable for you. But, the split keyboard design gives the ability to use the keyboard with additional features.
For example, the company will offer attachments for different input methods, like a trackpad, trackball, or track pointer (like on a Lenovo laptop). They will also offer a small additional key cluster. But these add-ons are just the beginning. The name is not just cutesy, it is because the entirety of the keyboard is open source. This could lead to additional accessories from other companies, or even in the form of maker projects. Of course, all of the expandability will only come to fruition if the product and platform become commercially successful. It doesn't make sense to make add-ons for devices without customers, just ask Motorola.
The biggest challenge to the success of the keyboard could be the general layout. While a keyboard of this style would likely be targeted at computer enthusiasts, the keyboard layout is far from it. There is no function row, number pad, directional pad, navigation keys, or media controls. For most computer and keyboard fans prefer more keys rather than less. All of these capabilities, except media controls, are only available via a function key combination. Unfortunately, media controls are completely missing, though you could use the key cluster add-on to replicate the missing feature.
The Ultimate Hacking Keyboard is available for pre-order, with product shipping in October. The keyboard runs $275, the add-ons run $60 each, and the palm rest runs $75.
Scott is a developer who has worked on projects of varying sizes, including all of the PLuGHiTz Corporation properties. He is also known in the gaming world for his time supporting the DDR community, through DDRLover and hosting tournaments throughout the Tampa Bar Area. Currently, when he is not working on software projects or hosting F5 Live: Refreshing Technology, Scott can often be found returning to his high school days working with the Foundation for Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST), mentoring teams and judging engineering notebooks at competitions. He has also helped found a student software learning group, the ASCII Warriors.
Avram's been in love with PCs since he played original Castle Wolfenstein on an Apple II+. Before joining Tom's Hardware, for 10 years, he served as Online Editorial Director for sister sites Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag, where he programmed the CMS and many of the benchmarks. When he's not editing, writing or stumbling around trade show halls, you'll find him building Arduino robots with his son and watching every single superhero show on the CW.