Kailhua announced its Sun switch this summer at Computex, and now there’s a Real Product with them on board. The Hexgears (of X-1 fame) GK760 is the first keyboard that will offer the new switches. The GK760, a full-size keyboard with a wrist rest, volume roller, and lone mysterious media key, is not yet in mass production, but it appears to be complete and ready to roll. There are issues, though.
The Sun switch is an exciting li’l evolution in switches because it has both a centered LED design and a Cherry MX-compatible stem. The best-known centered LED design to date has been from Omron, which you can find in both Logitech’s Romer-G switches and Das Keyboard’s Gamma-Zulu switches. A centered LED generally makes for better backlighting than the offset LED placement of most standard desktop switches.
The tradeoff, until now, was that Omron’s design required a completely different keycap, which meant you couldn’t use any third-party keycaps. No company that I’m aware of makes standalone keycaps for Omron switches. That was always a ding on Logitech keyboards and their basic ABS keycaps. (The Sun switch won’t change anything for the likes of Logitech, which in my humble opinion whiffed when it trotted out the problematic GX Blue switch.)
The greatest advantage of a switch with a centered LED is the ability to control the lighting with a light pipe–this, in contrast to the vibrant but messy light explosion you get from RGB switches that have transparent tops. But Kaihua went with the RGB style on the Sun switch anyway, even though it went to great pains to develop a Cherry MX-compatible stem that’s translucent. A solid switch housing would have been a wiser move.
A Curious First
It’s great to see a keyboard actually use Sun switches, but Hexgear’s design is a curious one, and it doesn’t seem to make the best use of them. The GK760 has thin keycaps–not quite half-height, but definitely sculpted, unlike chiclet caps–but Sun switches are not low-profile (LP), so it doesn’t make sense to put thin caps on them. Strike one.
Strike two is that the legends on the GK760’s keycaps are not centered–and I can’t quite tell from the images, but I’m not even sure they’re translucent (strike three). In other words, these are quite simply the wrong keycaps for the Kailh Sun switch. Sigh.
What’s silliest about the GK760’s caps is that they’d be ideal for LP switches. But because they’re on Sun switches, we can conclude that they’re MX compatible. None of Kaihua’s LP switches are MX compatible.
The only LP switch that is Cherry MX-compatible? Cherry MX RGB Low-Profile switches. In other words, Hexgears has keycaps on the GK760 that would be quite desirable for Cherry LP switches, but they’re deployed on Kaihua non-LP switches. Strike, uh…4?
In sum, it’s good that the Kailh Sun switch is out in the wild now, but they’re on the wrong keyboard. Pasito, pasito. Maybe next time.