What's that, good news coming from the guys and gals over at Art Lebedev Studios? Sometimes it feels like you're tempting fate just mentioning the Optimus keyboard; much like in Peter Pan where just saying "I don't believe in fairies" kills one of the little flutterers, any positive mention of the keyboard-of-screens results in a dead OLED supplier.
Art Lebedev Studios are slowly dripping out details on their second-generation keyboard, the Optimus Popularis, and they're certainly hitting the keywords we geeks love to hear. The keyboard - which will have displays for keys - will be thinner, faster and simpler for less money than its Maximus predecessor, though considering that costs around $1,600 "less" is a relative term.
Art Lebedev Studios, the team behind the Optimus Maximus keyboard, have released some fresh (if scant) detail on their next project. Named Optimus Popularis, as the name suggests it's another keyboard but one aimed more at general consumers. Estimating a sub-$1,000 final pricetag, it apparently won't use OLEDs for the keys but "will be based on a totally different principle".
The relatively short history of the Art Lebedev line of customizable keyboards is a tragic one when you consider how much we've wanted to get our hands on every single one of these OLED screen per-key boards and their subsequent delays, but now we're really getting down to business here in 2012 with not only the Mini Three and the Aux, but the Mini Six and the long-awaited Optimus Popularis as well. The great thing about these boards of keys is that not only are they customizable in their functions, they are each of them their own OLED display*, this allowing you to show yourself whatever you like to tap. While the original Optimux Maximus has been out for some time (2007), we've been waiting for the full expansion for what seems like an eternity.
We haven't heard much from Art Lebedev's design studio since, well, the update on the Optimus Polaris last summer. But the Russia design company know for its innovative usage of LCDs on high-end keyboards has announced today that they're taking pre-orders for both its Optimus Popularis and Optimus mini six keyboards, the former priced at 31,500P, or approximately $1086 USD, and the latter at 10,900P, or around $376 USD. That's the hefty price you pay for a sleek Art Levedev piece, indeed.
Art Lebedev's Optimus Project studios promised that the Mini Six companion keyboard - a compact accessory with six buttons each integrating a user-customizable display - would be here later on in 2011, and now the company has confirmed that it's in the early production stage. In effect a doubled version of the Mini Three, the Mini Six does differ in that it uses new, more compact LCD displays for its keys.
It's been a while since we've marvelled at the display-keys from Russian keyboard specialists Optimus, but the company is keen to remind us that it's only been delayed, not undone, by the recent economic unpleasantness. The Optimus Popularis - a more "affordable" version of the Maximus keyboard - has supposedly been pushed back until later in 2011, and before then the company will release a smaller version called the Optimus Mini Six.
We've been covering the Optimus Popularis for what seems like forever, but there's a good reason for that. Even before it got delayed, and ultimately changed, it was a great keyboard. And now that it has been altered, slimmed down, and the keys made to work a bit more adeptly with a user's hands, we can safely say that it's going to be a great keyboard. And now that we get to see the first images of the keyboard, and not in a drawn-up fashion, we're even more excited.
We've been following Art Lebedev's Popularis keyboard project since the first mutterings late last year, and from the scant details we've seen it looks like the company has certainly learnt its lessons from the original Optimus Maximus. A new image released today shows the comparative key display sizes of the two 'boards: despite being smaller and slimmer than its predecessor, the Popularis will have better sized-keys with bigger, higher-resolution displays.