Just like video games, gaming peripherals keep on evolving. Manufacturers continuously develop new gear to meet the growing demand of professional, competitive, and casual gamers. One of the most recent advancements in the field of gaming is the Analog Keyboard Technology.
Analog keyboards are the latest trend in mechanical keyboards. They aim to emulate the smoothness of the response of traditional joystick and game console controllers. These keyboards allow you to have smoother movement, which highly benefits specific games. However, not all of its innovations are useful to all, and most still prefer traditional mechanical keyboards.
This article will provide everything you need to know about analog keyboards, including their actuation mechanism, how they compare to mechanical keyboards, and brands that produce analog keyboards. By the end of this article, buyers should have a better idea of whether or not analog keyboards are worth buying over regular mechanical keyboards.
How Do Analog Keyboards Work?
Analog keyboards are believed to be the future of gaming keyboards. The main pitch is that they allow a gradual adjustment of signals, which is very similar to game console controllers.
To further explain how analog keyboards work, analog keyboards do not rely solely on mechanical contacts. Instead, analog keyboards use the power of infrared LEDs paired with a touch of advanced sensors that immediately detects the intensity of light and then turn it into a keypress.
It accurately detects just how far a particular key is being pressed, turning it again into motion which gamers will greatly love since joysticks and controllers are being used that way.
Depending on how light or deep the user pressed a particular key is also how the characters in the game they play will respond. A light press will make the character in the game smoothly walk, while a deep keypress will make the characters in the game run or sprint.
Analog Keyboards vs. Mechanical Keyboards
Analog keyboards are more similar to optical keyboards than mechanical keyboards, especially since they use infrared LEDs. Mechanical key switches, on the other hand, still utilize metal-to-metal contact for switch actuation. Additionally, analog switches have over 256 levels of pressure points instead of the simple on and off state of mechanical switches.
In terms of mastery and muscle memory, Analog keyboards require some break-in time from the user to fully master their benefits. This is because your input can vastly change depending on how soft or hard you press the switches. Also, Analog keyboards give the user more customization options since they typically allow customization of actuation points, essentially allowing the user to define how switches behave.
Outside of these customization features, Analog keyboards generally perform similarly to mechanical keyboards. You get all the precision and benefits of mechanical keyboards. but again, with all these improvements, Analog keyboards take the experience to the next level.
Are Analog Keyboards Better For Gaming?
Despite all the added benefits of Analog keyboards, they are still not completely superior to mechanical keyboards. The main reason is mostly due to game compatibility.
Due to how different the technology of Analog keyboards is, game developers must optimize this feature first in order to work. Otherwise, there would be practically no difference between the experience of using Analog and mechanical keyboards.
However, for the games that do support it, gamers will be getting some significant benefits. Games like Fortnite offers 360 movement while racing simulators allow more fine control.
In summary, Analog keyboards have the potential to offer a better gaming experience. But with the current state of the gaming industry, it does not seem that game developers will be optimizing their games for Analog keyboards anytime soon.
Are Analog Keyboards Useful For Typing?
When it comes to typing, Analog keyboards aren’t that different from regular mechanical keyboards. While it is true that they have lots of customizability features and added benefits such as faster actuation speed and response time, most of these are not beneficial for typing. In fact, most would argue that if you would be focusing more on typing, then it would be better to get a mechanical keyboard that is optimized for bringing the best typing experience.
Of course, since Analog keyboards are virtually the same as mechanical keyboards with linear switches, they will work perfectly fine for typing. But again, if we are talking about value for the money, Analog keyboards aren’t the right tools for the job.
Are Analog Keyboards Popular?
Analog keyboards are not very popular in the current keyboard market. The main reason for their lack of popularity is that the technology is still not refined. And while their technology has been picked up by big gaming brands, they are still falling behind compared to mechanical keyboards.
Of course, this can all change once more games utilize the analog technology better. But until then, most gamers are deciding to stick with more traditional gaming gears.
Are Analog Keyboards Worth Getting?
Given the current state of the market, Analog keyboards are a hard sell. Most companies are demanding high prices due to the newer technology and innovation behind these keyboards. However, in the real world, they have very limited practical uses.
Again, there is no telling how the keyboard market will develop within the next two years. But given the unrefined technology of Analog keyboards, we highly recommend sticking with mechanical keyboards.
But with that said, if you already own multiple mechanical keyboards and are very interested in Analog keyboards or if you are someone who competitively plays games such as Fortnite, then Analog keyboards may be worth it. But for the rest of the regular consumers, mechanical keyboards are a better fit.
Analog Keyboard Brands
As mentioned above, only three companies made their name and brand using analog keyboards because it is hard to reproduce the technology used in these keyboards. The keyboard brands that are able to have very reliable analog keyboards include:
Razer is known for a lot of things. They are known for releasing one of the first mechanical keyboards (Razer Blackwidow 2010) and are for pioneering different kinds of keyboard and gaming mice technology. In terms of Analog keyboards, Razer has experimented with this technology with the release of the Razer Huntsman V2 Analog.
The aim of the Huntsman V2 Analog is to fuse the Huntsman experience with these new switches. Compared to their other products, their Analog keyboards are more daring due to the number of features that it introduces. And while it isn’t a guaranteed hit, it shows that Razer is not afraid in offering innovative products.
It isn’t clear whether or not Razer will continue releasing Analog versions of their keyboards. But one thing’s certain. Analog keyboards are in a much better position given that bigger brands are supporting the technology.
Just like Razer, SteelSeries is another veteran manufacturer that has been designing gaming peripherals for years. They are widely known for supporting big Esports organizations such as Fnatic and Natus Vincere. They have a pretty good reputation, especially considering that their peripherals are rated for professional use.
As for their Analog gaming keyboard offering, Steelseries has the Apex Pro Analog. Just like Razer’s offering, the Apex Pro has all the standard features of the Apex series. The only difference is the Analog switches. While it isn’t as daring as its competitors, it has plenty of potential considering how well-designed Steelseries’ products are.
Wooting is a brand that many gamers may not instantly recognize. However, this is a brand that deserves more recognition, considering how much they have contributed to the world of keyboards. Wooting is responsible for developing the first Analog switch keyboard, the Wooting One.
This product has set the bar and has paved the way for the development of future analog keyboards. Without it, Razer and Steelseries’ offerings may not exist. Wooting is continuing to innovate and is set to release the Wooting 60HE in 2022.
The KBE team is dedicated to sharing our knowledge and creating useful resources about computer keyboards. This article was written as a team collaboration, combining our knowledge and years of experience using, building and modding keyboards. Meet the team here.