System76 unveils Launch, an open-source keyboard starting at US$285
System76 is known for manufacturing solid Linux laptops and desktops. Now, the company is stepping into a new market: keyboards. System76 just launched a configurable keyboard it’s calling “Launch.”
The Launch Configurable Keyboard is an open-source and customizable tenkeyless (TKL) keyboard with per-key RGB lighting and mechanical switches (Kailh Box Jade or Kailh Box Royal).
The big draw for Launch is its open-source firmware and remapping features. Users can assign any keyboard input to any physical key. Remaps are saved to the device’s firmware so that changes will carry over to any other system without the need for a software utility. Launch is compatible with Linux, Windows, and macOS.
The physical keys can also be swapped around and are highly interchangeable. The keycaps come in three sizes, allowing users to switch out keycaps relatively easily.
Interestingly, the space bar is split in the middle in order to make each Space button the same size as other keycaps like the Shift key.
Launch has other features expected of a higher-end mechanical keyboard like N-Key rollover, per-key RGB lighting, and PBT plastic keycaps. The keyboard connects via USB-C or USB-A and has a USB hub with two USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 (10 Gbps) ports and two USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 (10 Gbps) ports.
The keyboard is fully open-source, which means System76 makes both the design documents and firmware are readily available and modifiable. This means tinkerers with the right skills could feasibly manufacture their own version of Launch.
There is a subjective catch: Launch starts at US$285, which is relatively expensive compared to other mechanical keyboards. Full-keyboard remapping is widely available on other mechanical keyboards. Those keyboards can also save remaps locally to the keyboard itself rather than software, so Launch is not unique in that regard.
The high cost likely comes from manufacturing costs; Launch is “designed, engineered, and manufactured in Denver,” according to System76. It should be noted that manufacturing costs in the United States are significantly higher than in other parts of the world (like China or Vietnam).
What do you think of Launch? Let us know in the comments below.