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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  • woggs - Wednesday, January 3, 2018 - link

    Why did you feed the troll?
  • DanNeely - Wednesday, January 3, 2018 - link

    Check the Twitter feed before posting next time.

    "We're working on something"
  • ddriver - Wednesday, January 3, 2018 - link

    Yeah, working on damage control that is...
  • HardwareDufus - Wednesday, January 3, 2018 - link

    Dude (ddriver), this is an article about an expensive keyboard.... Seriously, take the vitriol elsewhere unless it's related to this keyboard.
  • Sweetbabyjays - Wednesday, January 3, 2018 - link

    Looks like a cheaper white version of the Keian KFK51N
  • sonofgodfrey - Wednesday, January 3, 2018 - link

    If they wanted a real retro look, they should have put a paper tape reader on the side:
  • sonofgodfrey - Wednesday, January 3, 2018 - link

    Or perhaps attach it to a keypunch:
  • wolfemane - Thursday, January 4, 2018 - link

    I think you're onto something. Another kickstarter for a retro steampunk USB typewriter is in order. Can charge $500 for initial investors. And outsource it China, all plastic, and have it print BW memes when certain words or gestures are detected. Oh and did I mention it would be made out of plastic.
  • jrs77 - Wednesday, January 3, 2018 - link

    The idea isn't bad, but they managed to f up allmost all of it. For the switches to start with use some Cherry MX Blue or Topre 45G. Anything else is a cheap copout.
    Lights... a retro-keyboard shoudn't have lights. And most people I know turn off the lights in their keyboards to start with, if they have them.
    Plastic and painted keycaps.... use some quality doubleshot keycaps, as the paint won't last very long.
    Seriously. This is just cheap chinaware.
  • Lau_Tech - Wednesday, January 3, 2018 - link

    wow another keyboard review.

    mind-blowing stuff, this... totally dissimilar in every way to the others...

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