Optimus Maximus


Tired of missing the backspace because of a lazy pinky? Need some extra function keys for Gaming? Want to use color to reduce your hunt and peck time? No Problem, make that key any size you want or any function you want. Art Lebedev, of Art Lebedev Studios, is using OLED technology to remedy all the scenarios above and many more. My hardware closet contains at least 12 keyboards so I have no clue how I missed reading about this before now. I do remember some vague comments about OLED technology a few months back, but nothing like what I’ve read today. Optimus Maximus, you will be mine!

Let me take a step back at this point and give an extremely simplistic explanation of OLED Technology. OLED is basically a light emitting diode with an organic film covering that holds light emitting pixils. It can be extremely thin and flexible. Picture clothing made of OLED or OLED that is applied to your walls like wallpaper or a changeable mural. Very possible is an HDTV that is 80 inches wide, ¼ inch thick, and can be rolled up and carried away. I’m picturing a complete room where I am totally surrounded, sides, bottom and top. Literally encased in the movie I’m watching. For the moment, however, I’ll settle for the keyboard I’ve been reading about.

Good Bad
Vibrant Colors Expense
Excellent Grayscale Development Time
High Contrast Product Life
Wide viewing angles from all directions
True Black
Low Power Consumption
A thin & lightweight form factor

I haven’t purchased my Optimus Maximus yet, but I bet that changes within the next year. The opinions I’m reading give Optimus Maximus positive marks on physically changing keys and key function. Appearance, quality of build, and angle of view are all items on the plus side. Just imagine multi colored keys that can be changed at your direction.

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The major drawbacks at this point seem to be related to keystroke and product life. The amount of pressure needed to depress the key is notable. I’ve seen reports of users tiring after as few as 30 minutes of typing. That’s not a good thing for those of us who spend the whole day at the keyboard. It’s reported that double-size keys are doublely hard to depress. Ever the optimist, I’m thinking this might mesh perfectly with my
Clickety-click style.

The problem with product life is directly related to the blue LEDs. They have a life of 14,000 hours as compared to LCD s which currently average about 60, 000 hours. This in mind, I find it somewhat comforting to know that Optimus Maximus comes with a full one-year warranty.

In addition to its Maximus features, this keyboard also has a maximus price. Depending on the features/keys you would like, the prices run from the mid $400.00 range to the $1600.00 range. Sounds outrageous, but looking at current keyboards I see several Microsoft models, using existing technology, that are upwards of $270.00.

Take a look at this engaget.com video clip from the 2008 Consumer Electronics Show. This is the one that got me all excited and searching for more information. See if you catch the bug.

Where are we today with OLED Technology? Well first off Kodak holds the patents and has licensed other firms for commercialization. Samsung introduced a 31 inch OLED TV at the January CES show, but says they will not be in a position to mass produce until 2010.

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Application ideas are endless. Use in cell phones, automotive in-dash communication systems, and programmable lighting systems are just a few of the ideas being tossed about.

As you would expect, Sony is right in the mix with Samsung, GE Global Research, and Art. Lebedev Studio. On October 1, 2007, Sony announced it would sell an eleven-inch OLED TVs for 200,000 yen or $1714.00. These are offered only in Japan and initial production is 2000 units per month.

With a little luck and some more hard work by Art Lebedev, the Optimus Maximus Keyboard should be available starting in May for the US, certainly in time for Christmas stockings.

Wikipedia -Organic LED

Smart Parts Blog

Optimus Demo

How Stuff Works – OLED

Kodak OLED

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13 thoughts on “Optimus Maximus

  1. Sounds interesting. Maybe I’ll buy it in four years if the price drops dramatically. But I’m thinking I won’t if it doesn’t last. And I’m sorry but a one year warranty is not a selling point at all. Everything has a one year warranty.

  2. What’s the big thing about some fancy keyboard when keyboards will more than likely be just options on computers in about 10 years? When touch screens and voice input will be the standard. I am already using a computer that’s on my Home Entertainment System that has a mouse that works in 3 Dimensional Space and the RF Keyboard on the system gets little or no use at all. For Web Surfing what little Text entry I need, User Names, Passwords and other short text input I uses and on screen keyboard. With advances being made in, I think all text input will be done voice input within 10-15 years. This posting was done without the use of a keyboard, with existing voice recognition software and an on screen Keyboard and Word Processor Spelling and grammar checker to correct the few mistakes it made in generated the message. Author of states next generation of the Voice Recognition Software will include Spelling and Grammar Checking built in.

  3. I feel like the people who don’t see LEDs as a valuable asset haven’t used many various laptops lately. I use many different laptops. I also took typing class for a year in high school. I type 80WPM, but I’m often baffled that manufacturers find it necessary to move keys around on laptops causing me to turn on a light to find them. I think the technology is a great idea, but I’ll also wait for the price to come down. 🙂

  4. To me it’s just another add on toy to empty your wallet. It would be no use to me as I am leagally blind. I do like the idea of it being an 80″ HDTV, that I could still see, and I could watch my sports and movies in total enjoyment again. I have a 42″ plasma that’s nice and it I can see some of it. But I’d probably never be able to afford an 80″ screen.

  5. I think we are missing an important point about this keyboard. The possibilities go far beyond what you can learn in a Typing, or as they are now called, Computer Applications, class. We don’t all use our machines for the same reasons. That would be why some folks are willing to pay that much for a keyboard. I’d like to hear how people are making use of these out in their respective fields so I can share that with my students.

  6. While I agree with the sentiment in Lin H’s post, it’s a shame he didn’t also take a spelling and punctuation class. Yep, he may be able to type without looking, but what he really needs is a good spell-checker.. 🙂

    I spotted 4 errors in 89 words – any advance on that count?

  7. I agree with Mr. Terzich. Way back in high school I took a “typing” class because that was where you got to sit and talk to cute girls (they were hoping for great careers as secretarys). It turned out to be the best investment in time ever spent, as I can type with out looking. Never imagined that computers would be this common. Cool keyboards are only a fashion, not a necesity. I would never spend several hundered dollars for a keyboard, unless it gets into real world prices.

  8. I just recently purchased a Saitek-Eclipse II Illuminated Keyboard for $49.99 which has all of the article’s stated good qualities for the Optimus Maximus while having none of the Optimus Maximus’ stated bad qualities while running $350 cheaper than the low end Optimus Maximus and $1550 cheaper than the high end Optimus Maximus. But, then again, I do not need any special functions in a keyboard other than adjustability of tilt and the ability to light up.

  9. Hello:

    Why not consider a course in “keyboarding” at your local Community College evening class. In the “days of yore” it used to be called “typing”. My wife of almost 60 years taught it a our local High School. Even a first year novice can click out at least 40 words a minute, without ever looking at the keyboard.


  10. Actually, this keyboard has been around for a year or even (almost?) two years now.
    I believe it comes from Russian developers.

    To be honest, I don’t care much for it, or at least this specific keyboard.
    The ability to customize the looks and the functions and the layout is great.
    But personally I rarely look at my keyboard, the monitor is where I MONITOR my actions.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of OLED,
    what it can do and the endless things and places we could use it for.
    Including into buttons like in this keyboard, but it’s nothing more than a style or icons and layouts.

    I mean, for me they wouldn’t have to add the displays.
    Well, maybe for programming-purposes.
    If they would add a on/off-feature it would be great.
    I can turn it on for programming (or even automatically when opening and closing software for it), and turn it off for usage of the keyboard.

    Wouldn’t that be a great idea to preserve those screens?

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