Middle-earth has seen more than its fair share of trials and challenges, but perhaps none are more pressing today than a lack of mechanical keyboards that any of its various peoples can actually read. For centuries, everyone from elves to dwarves had to make do with keyboards bearing legends of unknown languages. Today, keyboard and audio brand Drop released two pre-built mechanical keyboards to rule them all, or at least the Elven and Dwarf speakers.
Gout + The Lord of the Rings Dwarf and Elvish Keyboards ($169) are first to win the Lord of the Rings license, Drop said in its announcement today. Keyboards build on November’s Drop release from The Lord of the Rings sets of keys, also written in Elvish and Dwarf, and follow Drop’s the Lord of the Rings resin handcrafted keychains.
Drop’s new pre-made keyboards target people who want a keyboard JRR Tolkien would be proud of but don’t necessarily want to go on an epic Tolkien-style journey to build their own.
Drop’s Elvish keyboard has legends written in actual translations of Tolkien’s created languages into Elvish Sindarin and, for the modifier keys, Tengwar, the form of Elvish found in that special ring.
The Dwarven keyboard, on the other hand, uses the Cirth language, while the modifiers are inspired by the Erebor language.
The translations, found on the keycaps product page, are somewhat loose. For example, Shift on the Elvish keyboard is “ortho”, the word for “increase”, and Shift lock on the Dwarf keyboard is “ahdun ashfât”, which apparently means “contain the engine”.
All keycaps are PBT plastic, so we expect them to have better quality and texture than the typical ABS keycap. The keys also use the MT3 profile, a taller, thicker, vintage-style form factor with deep curves that hug the fingertips. The profile is also used in Drop’s Islay Night keyboard.
Dye-sublimated captions should also help ensure the captions won’t rub off. The technique also tends to give an inky look, which suits this aesthetic well.
Keyboards use Drop’s Entr keyless mechanical keyboard (usually $90) as a base, with details the Lord of the Rings-thematic patterns and colors on its plastic top cover and anodized aluminum case. The keyboards also use Drop’s Phantom stabilizers ($25 a pack), bilingual keycaps ($130), and Holy Panda X tactile mechanical switches (a hefty price tag of $35 for 35). We haven’t tried them in person, but the keyboards seem to ship with unremarkable rubber USB-C to USB-A cables. At least the cables are detachable, in case you want to change them for something more interesting or durable.
Holy Panda X switches are said to have less stem wobble and a more consistent feel than the original Holy Panda Frankens switch which combined Drop Halo and Invyr Panda tactile mechanical switches. You can see the strength curve of the Holy Panda X below:
Holy Panda switches are known for being extremely tactile, and Drop’s product page for the Holy Panda X claims they feel “incredibly similar” to their predecessor. When we tried Holy Pandas on Islay night, they had strong tactility and a bold, memorable pop when releasing a key.
Unfortunately Drop only sells the keyboard without a numeric keypad, so getting one the Lord of the Rings keyboard in any other form factor will require you to create your own. Building your own keyboard would also give those fluent in Elvish or Dwarf (or confident typists) the chance to get keys that ignore English legends altogether.
Drop said the keyboards would start shipping to elves and dwarves “by early October.”
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