The keyboard market has exploded over the past few years. With the influx of affordable Chinese brands and this new precedent of customization, old-money keyboard makers are finding it harder and harder to differentiate themselves. This leaves more room open for new companies willing to experiment with wilder ideas and better prices, and that’s exactly what 8BitDo has done.
You might know 8BitDo for their third-party controllers inspired by retro Nintendo consoles; they’re often quoted as some of the best budget options in the market. Now, 8BitDo is bringing that same vibe to keyboards, with their first offering being aptly named “Retro Mechanical Keyboard.”
As you can see in the pictures above, the keyboard takes some serious inspiration from the NES and the Famicom, those are the two colorways 8BitDo is introducing today and they’re both priced identically at $100. It’s a tenkeyless (TKL) wireless keyboard with 2.4Ghz radio connectivity, but it also has Bluetooth LE so you can easily pair it to a smartphone.
The design is clearly the main draw here but the Retro Mechanical Keybord is also hot-swappable and comes with Kailh Box White V2 clicky switches, along with some awesome-looking keycaps. These are high-quality dye-sub PBT keycaps (with Japanese sub-legends on the Fami version!) so expect them to last longer than your average gamer keycaps that are shinethrough.
Speaking of shinethrough, this keyboard does not have any RGB lighting but it somewhat makes up for it with an “independent control panel.” That is what 8BitDo is calling the top row of the chassis that houses dedicated LEDs for power, Caps Lock, and Scroll Lock indicators. There’s also three custom buttons for mapping buttons and creating macros, along with two dials for volume control and connectivity.
If the super in-your-face design didn’t make it obvious, customization is a big part of this keyboard. There are two “A” and “B” buttons next to the right Ctrl key (in place of Win and Fn) that can be mapped to anything you want without using any software. Adding on to that, the keyboard’s hotswap nature also allows you to completely change its sound and feel based on what switches you put in.
But that’s not all, the Retro Mechanical Keyboard comes with an additional accessory called “Super Buttons” that’s just two large red buttons that can be programmed to do anything. It’s a bit of a strange add-on but this kind of absurdist creativity is what brands like 8BitDo bring to the keyboard market, and I’m here for it.
These Super Buttons connect to the keyboard directly with a 3.5mm aux port input. You can add up to 4 of these things together, creating 8 large programmable buttons in unison. Super Buttons will retail for $20 a pair that includes two buttons on one board as seen above, and you will get one pair (two buttons) for free with the keyboard.
Lastly, it’s important to mention that 8BitDo has kitted this board with a 2000mAh Li-on battery and the lack of any RGB makes it last up to 200 hours on a single charge. And then it’s only 4 hours to charge it back up from 0-100. The Retro Mechanical Keyboard is available for preorder on 8BitDo’s website and Amazon right now, but shipping starts on September 20th, so you’ll have to be patient.