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This analog mechanical keyboard could change the way you play PC games

Keyboard and mouse is the dominant input mechanism for PC gamers, and not for no reason — it's fast and accurate, all the better for pulling off those split-second headshots. But there is one way in which the control scheme falls short next to consoles: character movement. On a PlayStation or Xbox controller, you move your character with the left stick while looking around with the right, which means you can control the speed of movement in each dimension. The W, A, S, and D keys generally used for movement on a keyboard, however, only offer on-off digital control, meaning it's not really possible to move slowly and smoothly.

Dutch startup Wooting wants to change that with its first keyboard, the Wooting One. It's a product that just by its very description sounded like an oxymoron to me: an analog mechanical keyboard, using the full range of input allowed by optical switches. Now, I like mechanical keyboards because of their instantly responsive digital actuation, with each key press (depending on the switch used) punctuated with an unmissable click. In other words, I like them because I always know whether I've pressed the key or not — it's either on or off. I recognize the problem that the Wooting One is trying to solve, but I wondered whether it might lose much of the appeal of mechanical keyboards in solving it.

After a demo at Computex Taipei, I know I needn't have worried. In its recommended red-switch configuration, the Wooting One performed great in a quick session of Overwatch — perhaps not the best game to use as a proof of concept, since you'll pretty much always want to be moving as quickly as possible, but nonetheless a solid demonstration of how the keyboard gives you more precise control over movement. The Wooting One also has a blue-switch version, which makes the keys clickier and louder in a way that some people (myself included) prefer for typing, but even that worked pretty well for gaming. The actuation point is adjustable, so you can set it up to have the range of motion come into effect past the key's physical click; press the key normally then press harder to go faster. You can also, of course, use the keyboard in a traditional digital mode.

The Wooting One should work with most games out of the box. It's set up to be recognized as a gaming controller, so games will recognize the key's input like a trigger or the axis of an analog stick. There are a few games that might cause it trouble, however; some don't allow simultaneous gamepad and mouse input, meaning you wouldn't be able to use this keyboard at the same time as a mouse. Those are very much a small minority, though.

The Wooting One has already nearly tripled its goal on Kickstarter and is set to ship in November.


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