Cooler Master NovaTouch TKL Keyboard ReviewBluePanda -
Category: Input Devices
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Cooler Master NovaTouch TKL Keyboard Introduction:
Cooler Master has had my attention for gaming peripherals for awhile now, and for some reason just continue to hold it. I've quite enjoyed the Storm Series with the Quick Fire Pro, Quick Fire TK, Stealth, XT, and of course who can forget the Trigger? Today the Storm Series gains another member: the CM NovaTouch TKL. You might be expecting this one, or perhaps you're just catching up with the news, but Cooler Master has teamed up with Topre to bring a refresh of the original eletrostactic capacitive switch design with the modern Cherry MX key cap.
I'm not going to even guestimate how many of you know or recall the existence of Topre switches, but I am going to tell you that their development is nothing new. Topre had a patent application on its switches back in 1985, and are finally getting their kick in the market now since Cherry MX switches are the "thing" and cost of switch is something the market is willing to afford. The Topre switches are now considered affordable to the market and Cooler Master is bringing them to the front with a redesigned stem capable of mounting MX key caps. For those of you not familiar with the Topre switch, I have shamelessly borrowed from Tech Report this wonderfully labeled image. You can see the Conic spring combination with the rubber dome to produce this unique switch. I have also embedded the epic CM Storm video for your pleasure as well. It should give you a better idea of what this capacitive switch really is.
The NovaTouch also comes in with the first official name of the tenkeyless (TKL) form factor. We've seen it several times in several of the CM keyboards, but this seems to be the first use of the TKL acronym. But enough chatter about what it is supposed to be, let us move on to actually seeing what it is.
Starting off with the packaging, I'm pleasantly surprised. I feel CM has been reading what people have to say and have backed off the fancy pants packaging with lots of color and images and turned to a bit more stealth and class. The box appears as an all-black box with not much more than a nicely placed sticker to denote "English Keyboard layout". At the right angle it looks as though there is nothing else to the box, no branding, no nothing. However, with the right reflection you can see a clearly marked Cooler Master registered logo at the center of the box. It is a bit easier to see in person as it is a glossy black label.
The back of the box makes the features a bit more obvious with some written out features in grey-ish lettering. It is the usual CM standard of multiple languages with quick references to the CM website for further information. The big "empty" gap on the right side of the box has another little hidden gem. This one was a bit more difficult to capture with my camera, let alone in one shot. Below you can see a rolling image of a full laid out keyboard and the CM Storm logo with all capital letters: "NOVATOUCH TKL" followed by "HYBRID CAPACITIVE SWITCH KEYBOARD". Again, it's quite a bit easier to see in person, but it still has a nice subtle touch to it.
I'm rather enjoying the box at this point with its clean look and subtle touches. Cutting the circles of tape reveals a magnetic latch to the box. Pulling it up we find one more hidden logo. Inside the simplicity continues. Nestled in some tough foam is finally the view of the NovaTouch TKL. The packaging hides a few more gifts below it, but what we can see right away, besides the obvious lack of a number pad, is also a nice lack of branding. From first looks into the box it isn't quite obvious that this is indeed a CM Storm keyboard. However, I'm loving it! It's a clean look that I can greatly appreciate. Again, I'm feeling CM has its ears open and listening for the things I seem to have been asking for in past reviews. I must not be alone…