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June 29, 2018

Razer crams lasers into its new ‘Huntsman’ keyboards for blazing-fast speed

by John_A

Gaming peripheral giant Razer introduced a new line of mechanical keyboards called Huntsman. The first two models out the gate is the “premium” $199 Razer Huntsman Elite version and the cheaper, “performance-focused” $149 Razer Huntsman model. Both rely on new mechanical switches that use an infrared light beam to precisely detect key actuation. 

If you’re not familiar with the term, actuation is the point in your keystroke where the keyboard acknowledges the character. The company’s new mechanical switch, aka the Opto-Mechanical Switch, has an actuation point at 1.5mm. The infrared light beam essentially detects when you hit that point, activating the keystroke.

Razer claims actuation is 30 percent faster than the competing mechanical switches. Even more, Razer’s new switch has a lifespan of 100 million keystrokes, twice the lifespan of the competition. That is due to the embedded infrared beams as well. 

“With the use of optical actuation technology and a metal key stabilizer bar fitted around each switch, there are fewer moving parts and no physical contact during actuation,” the company states. “This reduces switch degradation, making the Razer Huntsman a more consistent and durable keyboard that gamers may rely on for years.” 

In a typical mechanical switch, actuation happens when two metallic contact leaves touch each other. With Razer’s Opto-Mechanical Switch, the company rips out the contacts in favor of an optical sensor that shoots a beam of light across the switch stem. When the key is in a resting position, the beam remains blocked. Once you press the switch, the stem lowers and allows the beam to cross over and connect with a receiving sensor on the other side. 

Yet given the removal of the metallic contacts, the switch still provides the clicky, tactile feedback we’ve come to know and love from mechanical keyboards. According to Razer, they feel and sound similar to the company’s own Razer Green Switch. Once you feel the click, the switch actuates your key command “at the speed of light.” 

Outside the switches, both keyboards include Razer’s Chroma lighting system supporting 16.8 million colors. They also have hybrid storage that can house up to five profiles via onboard storage and in the cloud, an aluminum matte top plate, and a braided fiber USB connection. Other features include 1,000Hz ultrapolling (aka a 1ms communication rate), 10 key rollover with anti-ghosting, and fully programmable keys with on-the-fly macro recording. 

But the $199 model has a few additional perks over the “vanilla” model. Added to this model is an ergonomic wrist rest with an underglow supporting 24 customizable zones, meaning it has an LED strip along the bottom that casts colorful light onto your desktop. There’s  also another underglow lighting strip around the main keyboard that supports 38 zones. Other additions include dedicated media keys and a multi-function digital dial you can fine-tune using the company’s Synapse 3 software. 

Both keyboards are available now through Razer’s online store: $149 for the Huntsman model and $199 for the Huntsman Elite version. The company didn’t say when they will be made available through retail stores. 

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