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Cherry Wants to Kill Rubber-Dome Keyboards with its New, Low-Cost "Viola" Mechanical Switch

Tsing

The FPS Review
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Mechanical keyboards are preferred by distinguished typists and gamers for their superior, tactile feel, but they don't come cheap. One of the world's most famous keyswitch makers aims to change that. During CES 2020, Cherry unveiled a brand-new, low-cost switch called the "Viola," which has the potential to usher in an era of affordable, high-quality keyboards.

According to Cherry's slides, the Viola was designed "specifically for the value market" but remains a true mechanical design. Per AnandTech, the switch comprises "a spring and V-shape bronze contact system" and standard cross-stem, which means it can be used with most keycaps. The design is also solderless, as it uses a POM socket.

The actuation point of the Viola is 2 mm, just like Cherry's MX Brown and MX Red switches. Total travel is also similar at 4 mm, with a cross/linear feel and actuation force of 45 cN. (The MX Silver "speed" switches remain one of the company's more unique options, with a 1.2 mm actuation point and 3.4 mm of total travel.)

Cherry hasn't revealed what the exact manufacturing costs of Viola are, but the company believes that it could displace membranes, rubber domes, and scissor switches as the dominant switch type.
 
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I just want to see them make an actually quiet integrated switch. Like a rubber dome hybrid.

I want to feel it, but not hear it.
 

Grimlakin

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I have my cherry mx blues for the typewriter type. Noise I love... But a nice quiet mechanical for at work would be a joy.
 

AntiQuark

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I dont see how it can compete with the simplicity of a membrane keyboard on price.
Assembly and parts cost will be higher.
 

ThreeDee

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I dont see how it can compete with the simplicity of a membrane keyboard on price.
Assembly and parts cost will be higher.
if they can farm out the labor to 10 year olds in some 3rd world country for 70 cents a day ...they might just pull it off
 

Riccochet

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I don't see how their switches aren't completely machine manufactured. There's nothing special about them that require hand assembly. Literally some molded plastic, spring and contacts. They'll just retool a production line to make new switches.

I honestly can't imagine their current MX switches costing more than a few cents to make as it is.
 

Uvilla

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I've yet to understand this bullshit on mechanical switches.. isn't that what keyboards used to be?
Wasn't the dome switches wanted for thier soft feel and relative silence?
Nostalgia i guess its the main issue? .. I mean, if you think its better... Then it is better... To you... But its not.. not really.. my dome keyboard is fine... As it would a mechanical... As it would this shit I suppose.
 
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Reliability is one factor, performance in terms of repeatability for typists where the actuation point is the same is another, and speed for others is also in there.

I use 'dome' keyboards at work, we use what we're given -- so it's not that they don't do what we need them to either.
 

raz-0

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I've yet to understand this bullshit on mechanical switches.. isn't that what keyboards used to be?
Wasn't the dome switches wanted for thier soft feel and relative silence?
Nostalgia i guess its the main issue? .. I mean, if you think its better... Then it is better... To you... But its not.. not really.. my dome keyboard is fine... As it would a mechanical... As it would this shit I suppose.
It's not nostalgia. Some of it is just liking the feel and/or sound. For others, the audible and tactile feedback when touch typing fast helps them type faster and with less errors. I've gotten decently fast over the years and I have hit the point where my dexterity is the limiting factor to speed. Unfortunately this means my right hand can outrun my left hand. The click and the sound helps me keep the pace with my faster hand and make less errors while still going fast.

Rubber dome was cheaper and quieter. Which appeals to cheap people, corporate purchases, and PC sellers looking to bundle things as cheaply as possible. I used to have no problem with them, but that's when I was not as fast at touch typing.

If you got fast at typing on a laptop, you may have a different experience to me and just exploit the really short travel.
 

cyclone3d

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Jun 12, 2019
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I've yet to understand this bullshit on mechanical switches.. isn't that what keyboards used to be?
Wasn't the dome switches wanted for thier soft feel and relative silence?
Nostalgia i guess its the main issue? .. I mean, if you think its better... Then it is better... To you... But its not.. not really.. my dome keyboard is fine... As it would a mechanical... As it would this shit I suppose.
I can type way faster on a mechanical keyboard than on a crap membrane wanna-be keyboard.

Typing on a rubber dome keyboard is like using wet newspaper.

And there are "silent" Cherry MX switches. Yes, they are still louder than crap rubber-dome, but they don't have the loud click.

Cherry MX switches also last way, way, way, way, way, way longer than rubber dome / membrane keyboards. I would have already gone through 5-6 crap keyboards in the couple years I have had my Cherry MX Board 6.0 at work.

I am replacing rubber dome keyboards for other people here on a pretty regular basis.. Either the keys start sticking, typing the wrong thing, or just plain stop working.

If you have never actually given a real mechanical keyboard a chance.. as in, use one for a few months, you will never understand.

If you give one a chance, you will never want to type on crap keyboards again.
 

SmokeRngs

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One of the biggest reasons to avoid the membrane keyboards is because of longevity. Mechanical switches will last a lot longer with better consistency through their lifetime.

I used to have to buy new MS Natural keyboards every couple of years because they were shit by then. Within a year I could already feel them wearing out and they were not pleasant to type on and the number of typing errors increased. I started using an old IBM Model M keyboard again and despite it being a couple decades old with the switches being noticeably worn out it was still a better typing experience with fewer mistakes.

At the moment I'm using a super cheap mechanical switch keyboard from Monoprice and it's still better than the best membrane keyboards out there even after having been using it daily for a couple of years. These are not quality switches but a knockoff Cherry switch and they're still better.
 
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