I was given an opportunity to review the keyboard from Cooler Master called NovaTouch TKL. What makes this keyboard different? It comes with hybrid capacitive switches also known as Topre switches. This type of switches is quite new in comparison with mechanical or membrane keyboards. Moreover, NovaTouch TKL is unique keyboard due to fact that it's the only keyboard with Cherry MX compatible stem.
This scheme shows how Topre switch works:
Such “architecture" gives tactile feedback almost the same as MX switches, and at the same time noise level remains low.
Key Switch: Hybrid Capacitive with Cherry MX compatible stem
Form Factor: Tenkeyless (TKL)
Key Rollover: NKRO (in Windows only)
Polling Rate: 1000 Hz / 1 ms
Interface: Micro-USB 2.0
USB cable: braided, gold plated, removable; 1.8 m
Dimensions: 35.9 х 13.8 х 3.9 cm
Weight: 895 g
The keyboard comes in a solid matte box. There is only logo and sticker with language layout. That's it.
On the back side, you can find description of main features and advantages of Topre switches. Per Cooler Master's tradition, features are described in several languages.
Cooler Master NovaTouch TKL is packed very well. The keyboard protected with thick foam rubber from all sides.
Inside the box I found Quick User Guide, USB cable, tool for removing the caps, o-ring sound dampeners.
DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION
USB cable has 1.8 m length and fully braided. Both connectors are gold plated for better durability.
The tool for replacing the keycaps requires a short time of practice to understand how it works. Also, you can add O-ring sound dampeners for reducing keycap noise and bottoming-out impact.
The keyboard itself is compact, because it comes without numpad section. NovaTouch TKL looks very solid and serious due to used matte materials.
Different media keys, which are assigned to F1-F12 keys, can be used via FN button which is located in lower-left corner.
Due to construction specification, the keyboard is tall as any other mechanical keyboard.
In front side of the keyboard, there is Micro-USB port only for attaching it to PC. Nowadays, almost all keyboards are coming with embedded USB-hub, mic/headphone ports, etc.., but this is not the case with NovaTouch TKL.
On backside, there is a huge NovaTouch TKL sticker with serial and model number related to this particular keyboard.
The height of the keyboard is adjustable around 6 degrees. The top edge of the stands is made with non-sliding material for better fixation on the table.
Also, there are 4 zones with rubber material for making sure that keyboard will not slide on the table.
The keycaps are easy to remove and replace with any other MX keycaps.
It was my first experience working with keyboard on Topre switches. And my first impression is that tactile feedback is different. There is no huge difference in comparison with other mechanical switches, but it's noticeable. If on mechanical keyboard the feedback starts on middle-bottom level, in Topre switches it starts on upper-middle level.
It's just not possible to say that Topre switches are better or worse than mechanical switches. It's totally subjective. I doubt that person who types a lot and doesn't care about the noise level will replace his lovely Blue switches to Topre one. Also, most probably professional games will stick with their MX Black and MX Red switches.
In my opinion, Topre switches are the best choice for those who want “mechanical like" feedback with minimal noise. In addition, by adding O-ring sound dampeners, you can slightly adjust sound and tactile feedback.
Anyway, keep in my mind that you will not get dead silent keyboard after all. It will stay noisier than membrane keyboard, but without doubt more silent than a mechanical one.
Let's speak about Cooler Master NovaTouch TKL. It's made of great materials and made very well. It has detachable cable with standard Micro-USB connector which makes it easy and handy to use. Keyboard is plug-and-play. Just connect to PC and you're done.
With the help of FN-button, you can operate with media keys, sound level and lock Win-key for avoiding sudden jump to desktop during the gaming sessions.
This keyboard supports N-Key Rollover and Anti-Ghosting which means that despite to number of pressed buttons simultaneously, all of them will be registered without hangs and mistakes.
The patented unique feature of this keyboard is that it's compatible with MX keycaps. All other keyboards with Topre switches are coming with proprietary stem. With NovaTouch TKL you are free to customize your keyboard with any other MX Cherry keycaps. And it's not about visualization only. The NovaTouch's keycaps have 45g actuation – if it's too lightweight for you, time to order from ebay the keycaps with 55g actuation (for example).
The keyboard doesn't have backlight and even indicator for pressed CapsLock. It seems that Topre's construction does not allow embedding the backlight. Maybe in nearest future the engineers will find a solution…
Also, in this keyboard you will not find USB-hub and audio connectors. There is no software for remapping FN-buttons too.
I have a feeling that Cooler Master presented innovative product with focus on its core-functionality only. All other features will be implemented with other revisions or models of keyboard.
Paying attention to its high price on market, I doubt that this keyboard will be widely popular, but certainly the users that are looking for “mechanical feedback" with minimal noise will give this keyboard a shot.
+ Hybrid Capacitive switch with Cherry MX compatible stem
+ Build materials and matte colors
+ Detachable USB-cable with standard Micro-USB port
- No backlight, USB ports, audio extensions
- No possibility to remap FN keys
- High price