- Proven mechanical keyswitches and popular compact design
- Three retro colour schemes, three modern connection methods
- An alternative to the showy, glowy gaming genre
Here’s one that I’m finding hard to resist – the Fusion keyboard Kickstarter, which is already funded but still offers the potential to pre-order for savings.
Durgod are a young company, joining the competitive arena for mechanical keyboards with the Taurus K320 and K310 (review coming soon – the reputation for the affordable range inspired pestering Durgod for a unit to look at). Rather than looking forward, they’re looking back with the Fusion. It’s a keyboard – there’s no need to get too excited – but in the best tradition of keyboards aimed at hackers, writers and gamers, it looks very much like it’s taking the job of being an input device more seriously than the job of being retro.
So let’s kick off with the mechanical bits. Durgod use metal chassis to mount the keys, and a range of genuine Cherry keyswitches; the Fusion retains the same customisation at ordering time (it’s not going as far as those keyboards with hot-swap switches). The keys are double-shot ABS (double injection moulded in old-school thinking) which means that, like a stick of rock, the letters go all the way and won’t wear off like UV-printed types.
Durgod claim to have taken the Commodore 64 for inspiration, but thank (Dur)god that this is only inspiration – recreating that nightmarish cheap action would result in something no-one would want to type on. Mechanically, forget cheap home computers, think IBM Model M, original Macintosh shortboard, Happy Hacker Keyboard – that class of machine.
Wired connection is available, but more flexibility comes in the form of Bluetooth 5 (multi-profile ahoy!) and 2.4GHz wireless with a USB dongle that hides under the Commodore-esque DURGOD badge on the side. That’s a neat touch – it’s not the first time the firm’s gone the extra mile for fit & finish, the detachable cables on the K320 have a lovely flush strain-relief fitting.
Wireless means batteries. There’s a 40 hour claimed lifespan for the built-in battery, which presumably charges via the USB C connection on the back. Unlike the Taurus, the Fusion’s cable protrudes, with a flush connector on the rear of the keyboard.
The compact design is claimed to be highly portable – and certainly looks like it will take up little more space than the dreaded flat-key Apple wireless one (sadly, there are no plans for native Mac OS legends or mapping, though it could be used with a Mac just like any PC keyboard can). Flip-up feet in the base provide adjustable angles, and the key pitch and spacing looks bang-on for anyone who learned to type before the compromises of laptop keyboards and scissor switches.
Styling-wise, you’ve got three colour schemes: Original, Steam and Navigator. Original feels somewhere between an early MSX or pale-keyboard Acorn, thanks to the orange highlights; Steam is silver and red, a bit Cyberpunk but perhaps with a slightly too plastic-metallic finish for my taste (think Philips G7000), and Navigator is an awesome blue/cream/yellow (it’s hard to judge on the Kickstarter due to the retro filters on many of the images). I have no ideal which machine inspired Navigator, but I want one.
Pricing for a mechanical keyboard of this type suggests a relatively high RRP of $199, but most of the Kickstarter deals are around $99. That’s extremely competitive for a well-thought out, unique style. Linux is supported and you just know this is going to be the preferred design for a RetroPi system – without the drag, dullness or cheapness that marred real ’80s home computer keyboards!
And that C64 inspiration? The more I look at the shape, the more I see a Commodore Plus/4 – but who remembers those…