Middle-earth has seen more than its share of trials and challenges, but perhaps none more pressing today than a lack of mechanical keyboards that any of its various peoples can actually read. For ages, everyone from elves to dwarves had to make do with keyboards carrying legends of unknown languages. Today, keyboard and audio brand Drop released two prebuilt mechanical keyboards to rule them all—or at least speakers of Elvish and Dwarvish.
The Drop + The Lord of the Rings Dwarvish and Elvish Keyboards ($169) are the first to gain official Lord of the Rings licensing, Drop said in its announcement today. The keyboards build on Drop’s November release of The Lord of the Rings keycap sets, also written in Elvish and Dwarvish, and follow Drop’s Lord of the Rings artisan keycaps made from resin.
Drop’s new prebuilt keyboards target people who want a keyboard J.R.R. Tolkien would be proud of but don’t necessarily want to go on a Tolkien-style epic journey to build their own.
Drop’s Elvish keyboard has legends written in actual translations of the Tolkien-created languages of Sindarin Elvish and, for the modifier keys, Tengwar, the form of Elvish found in that oh-so-special ring.
The Dwarvish keyboard, on the other hand, uses the Cirth language, while the modifiers are inspired by the Erebor language.
Translations, found on the keycaps’ product page, are somewhat loose. For example, Shift on the Elvish keyboard is “ortho,” the word for “raise,” and Shift lock on the Dwarvish keyboard is “ahdun ashfât,” which apparently means “contain mover.”
All of the keycaps are PBT plastic, so we expect them to have better quality and texture than the typical ABS keycap. The keycaps also use the MT3 profile, a taller, thicker, vintage-style form factor with deep curves that hug the fingertips. The profile is also used in Drop’s Islay Night keyboard.
Dye-sublimated legends should also help ensure the legends won’t fade. The technique also tends to yield an inky appearance, which works well for this aesthetic.
The keyboards use Drop’s Entr tenkeyless mechanical keyboard (typically $90) as a base, with detailed Lord of the Rings-themed designs and colors on its plastic top cover and anodized aluminum case. The keyboards also use Drop’s Phantom stabilizers ($25 a pack), bilingual keycaps ($130), and Holy Panda X tactile mechanical switches (a pricey $35 for 35). We haven’t tried them in person, but the keyboards seem to come with mundane rubber USB-C to USB-A cables. At least the cables are detachable, in case you want to change them for something more interesting or durable.
Holy Panda X switches are supposed to have less stem wobble and a more consistent feel than the original Holy Panda Frankenswitch that combined the Drop Halo tactile and Invyr Panda linear mechanical switches. You can see the Holy Panda X’s force curve below:
Holy Panda switches are known for being extremely tactile, and Drop’s product page for the Holy Panda X claims they feel “incredibly similar” to their predecessor. When we tried Holy Pandas on the Islay night, they had strong tactility and a bold and memorable pop upon releasing a key.
Unfortunately, Drop is only selling the keyboard numpad-free, so getting a Lord of the Rings keyboard in any other form factor will require you to build your own. Building your own keyboard would also give those fluent in Elvish or Dwarvish (or confident touch typists) the option to get keycaps that skip the English legends completely.
Drop said the keyboards will start shipping to elves and dwarves alike “by early October.”
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