You never know exactly what you’re going to find at CES until you get there, but one thing I know I’ll see at the sprawling tradeshow next week is products from a new company called Morgrie Works. They’ll be in Kaihua’s booth at the show. (Update: It apparently wasn’t there, or at least I didn’t see it. Sad trombone.)
Morgrie Works is a Chinese company that’s debuting in the peripherals market with a unique-looking lowpro 60% keyboard, a detached numpad, and this little tchotchke with three different Kailh Choc switches:
(I have a feeling that pendant will be handed out as tradeshow swag. Fingers crossed.)
New Year, New Gear
From the materials I acquired, much of which are not in English, it seems that the Morgrie Works 60% has a metal frame with a different, white material wrapped around it. The translated description says it has a “ceramic-like feeling,” both in feel and in look. I do not know to interpret that, but I’m intrigued. It does result in a rather bulky-looking bezel, with stylized rounded sides.
It has a removable USB Type-C cable, but I presume it also has an internal battery because it offers Bluetooth capabilities. You can connect up to three devices to the Morgrie Works 60%, and you can switch between them by pressing one of the three buttons on the back of the keyboard. (The back, not the bottom.) There’s also a big orange power button.
It’s a lowpro affair all the way around, with Kailh Choc switches–you can apparently choose from Kailh Choc Red, Brown, or White–that nestle into a chassis that’s just 18mm thick. It’s completely flat, but either Morgrie Works added flip-down feet into the design later in the process or there are two separate SKUs, because the materials say that an “angled version is now available.” It gives you a 3.5-degree angle.
What’s really unique about the Morgrie Works 60% is the keycaps. They look squared-off, flat, and positioned close together. The one bit of shapeliness is their circular scooped tops. The keycaps are white like the body, with orange legends.
It’s unclear whether or not there’s any configuration software available, but there’s at least one additional layer programmed in.
The detached numpad shares all of its design DNA with the 60%, right down to the Bluetooth capabilities. But it’s not a standard numpad; it’s really just a calculator with 18 keys total. It has numbers 0-9, add/subtract/divide/multiply, a back button, a decimal point key, and an enter key. This puts it at odds with products like the Ducky Pocket and even the Aimpad-equipped Cooler Master ControlPad.
My Kingdom For A Perfect Lowpro
A source told me that Morgrie Works won’t be making a big PR splash stateside, instead focusing its efforts on its home turf. It will be available on zFrontier and AliExpress. Kaihua now has its own official storefront on AliExpress, and it appears that’s the place to get the Morgrie Works products on that platform.
There is no information on the price of these products, but I’m told it will be high, to reflect the “workmanship and material.” It other words, this isn’t a cheapo Chinese knockoff of something. And that’s great news, because I’ve already had my fill of cheap lowpro keyboards.
Indeed, the quest for high-quality lowpro keyboards continues. The best version I’ve typed on that uses Kailh lowpro switches is the Hexgears X-1 that I reviewed not too long ago, but even that has some issues. The Cherry MX RGB Low Profile switch-equipped prototypes I tried last year at CES 2018 felt fabulous, but a year hence, almost none are on the market. The only one I know of for sure is the Corsair K70 RGB MK.2. Others I’ve inquired about over the last year are delayed.
To be fair to keyboard makers, it’s a tough job to make all of the parts of a keyboard thinner yet retain any kind of solid typing feel. Hopefully Morgrie Works has figured it out. There’s reason for optimism there, given the custom keycaps it’s using. Tempting (and obvious) as it may be to use chiclet caps on a lowpro keyboard, in my experience and opinion you really need keycaps that are thicker. If they have a little shape to them, all the better.
That’s exactly what the Morgrie Works 60% has, although they’re so stylized that only a good in-person clacking will reveal how they actually feel. Which I hope to do next week.