The Azio/Kailh Typelit Switch

The center-LED “Typelit” switch is the technological highlight of the Retro Classic. The placement of the LED at the center of the switch allowed for the positioning of the characters at the exact center of the keycaps. With the round keycaps that the keyboard is using, backlighting would be very awkward without such a switch.

It is obvious that the design of these switches was inspired from Omron’s Romer-G switch, a product that Logitech has been using for many of their high-end gaming keyboards. We are unsure how Kailh circumvented Omron’s patent on the design but that is not up to us to scrutinize. The switch seems to be a hybrid between the Cherry MX and Omron Romer-G, using the core Cherry MX design for the housing and actuation but having a reformed stem for the LED to be placed at the center of it.

Azio needed a switch to emulate the behavior of old mechanical typewriters and an audible tactile switch is the obvious choice here. We feel that the Kailh “Typelit” switch is a good, yet not perfect match. It is a stiff, tactile switch, feeling much like a stiffer version of the Cherry MX Blue switch. The tactile feedback is clearly audible but not as loud as that of common Cherry MX Blue switches (and their copies). What we did not like is the shortened travel distance that makes the switches less comfortable. It also makes the experience less authentic, as the old mechanical typewriters it is trying to emulate had three to five times the travel distance (i.e. 12 to 20 mm, depending on the type and model) of a typical mechanical keyboard, not less.

The performance of the switch is very close to what Azio has posted in their website, with the minor exception being that our tests indicated the switches actuating quite a bit before their specified average actuation point. In all our tests, the switch would actuate at 1.3-1.4 mm down the travel distance. Azio/Kailh states that the actuation distance is 1.6 ± 0.5 mm, so that is technically within the switch’s specifications, but not very satisfactory. The manufacturer’s rating itself is the problem here, because the X ± 0.5 mm range actually covers nearly 28% of the whole travel distance. Stating that the switch would actuate “about halfway to the bottom” is just as accurate as that.

The Azio Retro Classic Mechanical Keyboard Per-Key Quality Testing & Hands-On
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  • Flunk - Wednesday, January 3, 2018 - link

    I know appearance is subjective, but fake metal-look plastic and fake leather always make things look cheap to me. i was shocked when i saw the nearly $200 price tag of this thing. From a distance it looks like one of those cheap knockoff keyboards you can get for $20 on Amazon, perhaps it looks better in person, but they seem to have done everything wrong in my eyes.
  • SonicKrunch - Wednesday, January 3, 2018 - link

    "A closer inspection reveals many more interesting details. Most of the keyboard’s body is made of plastic but the frame that surrounds the keyboard is solid aluminum alloy. The same goes for the decorative tag between the control keys and the arrow keys. The surface of the keyboard is covered with real leather. The keycaps are completely plastic, including the copper-colored plastic surrounds, but the paint job is so good that can easily fool an untrained eye." Not fake leather. And while there is fake plastic metal, it's not everywhere. Not saying it's worth the $200, but still.
  • mrvco - Wednesday, January 3, 2018 - link

    It’s worth $200 to ‘that guy’. Don’t be that guy.
  • PeachNCream - Wednesday, January 3, 2018 - link

    There are more expensive keyboards out there like The Seafarer by Datamancer that's presently listed at $1,650 and $20 in shipping on Amazon.
  • Diji1 - Wednesday, January 3, 2018 - link

    Good Lord ...
  • wolfemane - Thursday, January 4, 2018 - link

    The comments for that keyboard are the real jewel of the Amazon listing.
  • PeachNCream - Thursday, January 4, 2018 - link

    Yuppers, the comments are absolutely worth reading.
  • dennphill - Monday, January 8, 2018 - link

    Wow! Thanks! I needed a good laugh to begin the year - Amazon reviews are very clever...item actually looks pretty cool and interesting...but out of my price range (unless I win the next Powerball/MegaMillion)! For that price you WOULD think that they's throw in free shipping...
  • boeush - Thursday, January 4, 2018 - link

    While that listing in itself is impressive as all get out, it's really all about the "Customer reviews" beneath it... :D
  • notashill - Wednesday, January 3, 2018 - link

    To be fair the white version reviewed seems to be the tackiest looking by far, beating out even the wood grain option. The black one looks pretty nice.

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