Tally ho, there’s a new Huntsman in the Razer pack. The new Huntsman Tournament Edition (TE) is a tenkeyless model with some fetching features, actually, and it comes bearing the new Razer Linear Optomechanical switch.
The 80% layout alone is a nice feature. The Huntsman is a full-size keyboard, which doesn’t appeal to everyone, and the Huntsman Elite is a full-size keyboard with what are essentially cupholders–media keys, a dial, an RGB racing stripe, and a leatherette palm rest. Like its brethren, the Huntsman TE has a floating keycap design atop a simple-looking matte aluminum chassis.
Razer is apparently eliminating one of its historically most annoying features by opting for PBT keycaps over the old ABS plastic. (The first time I realized that I should shoot my photos before touching a keyboard was the first time I had a Razer device on hand. I swear, the keycaps would shine up if you just looked at them. After a week of use, it looked like they were just wet all the time. Ew.)
The Huntsman TE also has a standard bottom row, which means that you can load up some aftermarket key caps. I’m not sure the Venn diagram of people who buy a Razer keyboard and also are into key caps exists, but hey. It also has a detachable USB Type-C cable.
Although you can program the bejesus out of the Hunstman TE with Razer Synapse 3 software, if you’d rather keep it software-free, there are five onboard profiles to which you can program key bindings and macros.
I never did get to review the first Razer Huntsman keyboard; the unit Razer tried to send me disappeared into the bowels of an Italian customs office somewhere (that’s a true story). But I did have a chance to see it earlier in prototype form at CES, and I was surprised to see that it had what looked like A4tech (Bloody) optical switches. And of course, they were indeed made by A4tech, which made the Huntsman one of only a few keyboards that had optical switches.
Both A4tech/Bloody and Razer will go to great lengths to explain how these switches–called LK Libra and Optomechanical by the two companies, respectively, although they’re the same thing but in different colors–are the fastest possible switches on the planet. It’s hard to disprove that claim; the switch is otherwise mechanical, but there’s a beam of light that the stem is preventing from zipping horizontally across the shaft. When you depress the stem, it opens up a connection so the light beam can connect, and you get actuation. There’s no latency-adding debounce, then, and that’s what the optical switch folks seize upon for marketing purposes. But of course, that’s just one link in a complex chain of input, so take those brassy claims as marketing talk, not science.
The Razer Linear Optomechanical switch, though, does have a couple of key features that could enhance the speed of the keypress beyond the optical sensing, assuming you’ll want them. First of all, the actuation point is just 1mm. That’s half the actuation distance of a traditional desktop switch, so you when you press the switch, you get to the input faster. It’s also extremely light at just 40gf; most of the very lightest switches you’ll find on the market are 45gf, and those already feel…awfully light.
The Razer Linear Optomechanical switch will not be for everyone, but if you like Speed Switches with high actuation and relatively shallow overall travel, these will likely make you happy. They’re marketed at gamers who ostensibly want the maximum number of operations per second and will feel like the lightness, high actuation, and optical sensing will get them an edge.
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