8BitDo’s $100 wi-fi mechanical keyboard is a tribute to Commodore 64

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The Commodore 64 launched a era of future laptop geeks to non-public computing. The 8-bit system first launched in 1982 and was discontinued in 1994. Throughout that point, it made its mark as one of many first and most influential private computer systems, and lots of nonetheless keep in mind the pc fondly.

A Commodore 64.
Enlarge / A Commodore 64.

Gaming peripherals maker 8BitDo needs to deliver that nostalgia to folks’s fingertips and this week introduced the Retro Mechanical Keyboard – C64 Version. 8BitDo is cautious to not use the identify “Commodore” outright. However with advertising and marketing photographs that includes retro Commodore gear within the background, press supplies saying that the keyboard was “impressed by the classics,” and sure design cues, the keyboard is clearly a tribute to the ’80s keyboard-computer.

8BitDo begins with the form of beige that you simply solely see on new peripherals nowadays if the devices are attempting to look previous. A rainbow stripe runs horizontally and north of the perform row, like on Commodore’s laptop. There is a energy button with a bulb coming out of the keyboard case, able to illuminate when it receives the sign.

Just like the Commodore 64, the C64 keyboard has restricted keys, foregoing a quantity pad. The column of F-keys on the appropriate aspect of the retro laptop is deserted in favor of at present’s commonplace navigation keys. Naturally, the ports have additionally been up to date. 8BitDo’s wi-fi mechanical keyboard can join with a removable USB-C to USB-An influence cable through a 2.4 GHz wi-fi USB-A dongle or Bluetooth 5.0. 8BitDo claims that the keyboard’s 2000 mAh battery can endure 200 hours of use earlier than needing a cost.

The brand new keyboard additionally reduces the bulkiness of a real classic keyboard. It is 6.7 inches tall and weighs 2.31 kilos. Commodore 64s have been about 8 inches tall and weighed over 4 kilos.

A trimmer keyboard ought to assist 8BitDo higher enchantment to its core viewers of avid gamers. The keyboard even comes with a separate pair of enormous buttons and a joystick for gaming with an arcade really feel. The joystick and Tremendous Buttons, as 8BitDo calls them, are programmable, together with with macros, with out downloading 8BitDo’s software program.

The keyboard comes with a joystick and mega-size buttons, just like 8BitDo's <a href="https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2023/07/nes-nostalgia-at-your-fingertips-100-mechanical-keyboard-honors-80s-console/">NES-inspired keyboard</a>.
Enlarge / The keyboard comes with a joystick and mega-size buttons, similar to 8BitDo’s NES-inspired keyboard.

8BitDo

The C64 does not assist Apple gadgets; it solely helps Home windows 10 and Android 9.0 and better. The software program for reprogramming the keyboard and organising totally different profiles (which you’ll be able to toggle with the guts button close to the keyboard’s prime edge) does not formally assist Apple OSes.

SA keycaps

When you actually wish to really feel such as you’re typing on an ’80s system, it is not nearly muted shades of beige; it is about what your fingers really feel. Whereas there are some design adjustments that may have made the keyboard really feel extra genuine, some thought was clearly given to creating this 2024 keyboard really feel prefer it got here out greater than 30 years in the past.

To begin, the C64’s keycaps are manufactured from ABS plastic with doubleshot legends. Some premium mechanical keyboards nowadays go for PBT, as such keycaps usually supply higher grip and resist fingerprint smudges higher. But when we’re making an attempt to be as correct to the unique C64 as attainable, doubleshot ABS is the way in which to go.

The keycaps on the Commodore 64 have been additionally notably spherical and contoured. 8BitDo’s design makes use of SA-profile keycaps, that are among the tallest keycaps which might be broadly out there. Some hardcore lovers can inform the distinction between SA keycaps and the Commodore 64’s unique keycaps, however that is nonetheless a robust selection from 8BitDo, (plus the unique Commodore 64 keycaps would not match on fashionable mechanical switches with out some modding).

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