For many Pandora users out there, the keymat has always been somewhat of a problem. Some users love it, but many of us find it flawed in different ways: the keys are too hard to press, they reflect too much light, it’s tiring to use over extended period of times… fortunately, the upcoming Pyra is featuring a much improved keymat that should take care of most of the issues that we have faced so far.
The close-to-final Pyra keymat prototypes have arrived in the past week and Evil Dragon, and you can see what they look like. As you can see below, they look gorgeous and way better than the old Pandora keymat. There is a plastic cover on top of the keys to protect the printed area, and the print quality is very precise and sharp.
The keys do not reflect light as much as the Pandora’s keymat, making it easier to read even under direct light, as you can see in the below comparison:
Size-wise, they are very similar, which is expected since the Pandora and the Pyra should be very close in size. There are more buttons on the Pyra though, and they are regrouped in more rows in the bottom part. I was worried that the keys may be too small in the first place, but it looks like it’s probably still OK.
The keymat is, this time around, transparent, so you will be able to use and type on your Pyra even while in the dark, which is a massive improvement in terms of usability. I remember I had a hard time using the Pandora when taking transportation at night, unable to see any of the keys without any additional light. In the below picture ED shows what the keymat looks like with a direct LED light just below it.
It looks like that the current LED planned to be under the keyboard is not working as well as required.
Right now, we have 1 LED for four keys – but the light is not diffused enough to properly lighten up all keys.
There are multiple solutions to fix that:
1) Increase the amounts of LEDs
2) Try to find a keymat material that improves light distribution (I know there are foils, but I don’t know if rubber can be created in the same way)
3) Change the keymat so that only the key top is colored with black. This will improve the light distribution A LOT, but will also mean that the surroundings on the keys light up as well (which is the case on mostly every backlit keyboard I’ve seen, so no big deal).
As ED mentioned in his post, they are probably going to go for a mix of solutions to solve that issue, and this is unlikely to cause major delays. So I would not worry too much about it.
Finally, here is what the Pyra looks like once the keymat is assembled. Note that the below case is still a 3D printed one (not injection molded) so this whole unit should look better than that in the end.
If you’d like to see the whole thing in live action, ED’s video below is a good summary of all the information in this post:
We will probably have an updated keymat report once the prototypes are being assembled in November.