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Razer adds joystick-like control to a small mechanical keyboard


Razer Huntsman Mini Analog
Enlarge / Razer’s Analog Optical mechanical switches.

Razer

Do you use a keyboard and mouse or a controller when playing PC games?

One of the biggest advantages gamepads have over keyboards is the joystick, which provides pressure-sensitive control in a way that most keyboards can’t. Razer’s Huntsman Mini Analog, released Thursday, makes the debate a bit more complicated.

The full-size version has an 8,000 Hz polling rate, but the Mini sits at the standard 1,000 Hz.
Enlarge / The full-size version has an 8,000 Hz polling rate, but the Mini sits at the standard 1,000 Hz.

Razer

The name says it all. Razer’s latest keyboard is a small clacker with pressure-sensitive mechanical keys. Proprietary analog optical switches can detect how hard you’re pressing a key and adjust input accordingly. This differs from how most keyboards function; typical boards use digital input and read either a 0 or 1 value (not depressed or depressed). All of the keys in the 60 percent keyboard can be programmed to use analog input via Razer’s software.

I’ve used these switches in Razer’s full-size Huntsman V2 Analog keyboard and found them most helpful for steering in driving games—I’d apply a light tap for a turn or bottom out to speed. The switches can also allow for variable character movement speed.

Linear switches should already make the keyboard quieter, but there's sound dampening foam on the bottom chassis, too.
Enlarge / Linear switches should already make the keyboard quieter, but there’s sound dampening foam on the bottom chassis, too.

Razer

Analog mechanical keyboards are far from mainstream. There are some examples, like Wooting’s mechanical keyboards, that work in a way that’s similar to the Huntsman Mini Analog. There’s also the Cooler Master’s MK850, which gave eight of the keyboard’s Cherry MX Red switches analog functionality through infrared technology.

Razer doesn’t provide a list of supported games, but the keyboard’s product page says that analog input will work with “any game that can be used with a gamepad.” Aimpad, which makes the analog tech for the MK850, has a list of supported games here, but it may be outdated.

MSRP is $150.

Razer

You can also program the keys to perform two inputs with one press. For example, pressing E could register an E when the key is depressed 1.5 mm and then enter a Q once you press the key all the way down 3.6 mm. This maneuver can be complicated to master, but it could be helpful in some gaming applications, such as executing a combo. Unlike analog sensitivity, you don’t need a supported game to use this feature.

Discreet branding.
Enlarge / Discreet branding.

Razer

Razer’s software allows you to set each key’s actuation point at 1.5–3.6 mm. Ultimately, the keyboard should offer one of the most advanced ways to customize how each key works.

With a detachable (USB-C to USB-A) cable and small form factor, the keyboard is less clunky than most mechanical keyboards and is a more portable option than the full-size Huntsman V2 Analog.

Detachable USB-C to USB-A cable.
Enlarge / Detachable USB-C to USB-A cable.

Razer

It’s also worth noting that the Huntsman Mini Analog is 1,000 Hz, not 8,000 Hz, like the numpad-equipped version.

Razer keyboards are typically expensive, and the inclusion of optical mechanical switches with unique analog control only exacerbates the issue. The keyboard costs $150, compared to $120-$130 (depending on the mechanical switch selected) for the non-analog version. The keyboard seeks to justify its higher price with features like per-key RGB, doubleshot PBT plastic keycaps, and five onboard memory profiles.



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