2008 CES Coverage: Art Lebedev
Author: Shawn Knight
Editor: Rutledge Feman
Date: 01-13-2008
Art Lebedev Studio

We stopped by the Art. Lebedev Studio booth in the Sands Expo and Convention Center on Tuesday. You may already be familiar with the name Art. Lebedev: these are the guys responsible for the Optimus Maximus keyboard, which has been a very hot product this past year.

This was our first time to see the Optimus Maximus in person, and I must say, it is just as cool as the pictures and videos online make it out to be. Each key of the Optimus Maximus is a stand-alone, programmable display that shows the function it's currently assigned to. You can change the standard English layout to anything you want - Ancient Greek, Arabic, Georgian... even Wingdings if you wanted!

Each of the 113 keys on the Optimus Maximus uses OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode) technology, with a resolution of 48 x 48 pixels per key and 65,536 colors. The board uses the standard layout that you find on most keyboards, with a group of 10 keys on the far left that can be used for program shortcuts, links to websites, gaming macros, etc. The included software, Optimus Configurator, allows programming of every button's function and image.

We were told that the average life expectancy of the keyboards OLED keys is seven years and that each key can be replaced individually. The actual OLED sits below the key; only the transparent cap (key) actually move(s). The board does require external power via a DC input jack and features a pair of USB 2.0 ports, an SD card port for layout storage and an optional K-lock slot.

The Optimus Maximus is currently sold out of pre-orders but they are taking more orders now at a price of $1,500. Yes, that is a heck of a lot of money for a keyboard, more than most would be willing to pay. Expect to see "base models" that use regular keys in place of some of the OLED keys starting around $500-$700 (the regular keys can be swapped out for OLED keys that can be purchases separately as well). A retail store is slated to open in New York next month.

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