Mechanical keyboards shyly reentered the PC market a little over a decade ago. Their market share initially was very limited but they rose to become one of the biggest market trends of the past decade, with most enthusiasts owning or wanting a mechanical keyboard nowadays. This explosively rising demand led dozens of companies to develop their own mechanical keyboard, saturating the market with products, allowing virtually any user to find at least one keyboard that perfectly matches his/her needs.

The only real issue with mechanical keyboards is that innovation is somewhat limited and manufacturers are striving very hard to develop that one product which stands out from the competition. It is true that modern mechanical keyboards are far more advanced than the regular, plain mechanical keyboards of the past decade, as advanced profiling with full programmability and advanced RGB backlighting is nowadays common amongst the top-tier products. The only problem here is that once a new feature or idea comes up, almost every manufacturer implements it within a year. Thus, the market grows stagnant once again, as every manufacturer has already implemented virtually every feature there is to implement on a mechanical keyboard.

Das Keyboard is one of the oldest PC keyboard manufacturers and one of the very few companies that exclusively specializes in designing and developing keyboards. Last year the company posted a crowdfunding project involving a “cloud-connected” mechanical keyboard. Although the campaign could have gone smoother, it did give birth to the 5Q, the world’s first cloud-connected mechanical keyboard. The company recently released the retail version, which they sent over for us to review.

But what is a “cloud-connected” keyboard? Simply put, it is a keyboard that “talks” with the internet – or rather specific cloud-based services and protocols, to be a bit more precise. This theoretically sounds very interesting, as the keyboard can source information from the internet and provide feedback in real time, but also connect to compatible “smart” devices around your home and display information or control them. For example, the keyboard could theoretically be programmed to flash a key when a smart door sensor triggers, or to change its backlighting settings depending on the status of the stock market. Aside from that, Das Keyboard is the first company that's implementing Omron’s new Gamma Zulu mechanical switches, making the 5Q a truly unique keyboard.

Packaging and Bundle

Das Keyboard supplies the 5Q in a relatively large, well-designed cardboard box. The orange-based artwork is quite eye-catching and the designer did an excellent job highlighting the keyboard’s most important features in a minimalistic manner. Once the external sleeve of the packaging is removed, a thick black cardboard box is revealed, exposing that the keyboard has ample shipping protection.

The main bundle of the Das Keyboard 5Q is spartan. Inside the box, we only found a quick-start guide, a couple of stickers, and a keycap puller. The keycap puller comes with a little bit of irony because, as we will see in the following pages, the proprietary keycaps of the Omron switches are not compatible with the widely available Cherry MX-based products.

The company also includes a very well-designed wrist rest. It features a soft, rubber-like top layer, with the company’s logo discreetly printed on the bottom left corner. The plastic frame is strong and flexible, minimizing the chance of physical damage. Attaching and removing the wrist rest is quick and easy, as it simply connects to the keyboard magnetically, without any plastic locks or hinges. The only issue that we found with the wrist rest is that dust and debris tend to stick on the top layer (especially in its small dimples), making cleaning a bit difficult.

The Das Keyboard 5Q Cloud-Connected Mechanical Keyboard
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  • boozed - Wednesday, February 27, 2019 - link

  • PeachNCream - Wednesday, February 27, 2019 - link

    Product differentiation and the appearance of innovation are both necessary to land sales in a market that is saturated by cost-effective substitutes. Media keys, macro capabilities, per-key RGB lighting, mechanical switches...all of those things are already available everywhere. Even derelict bricks and mortar stores like Staples sell such keyboards. Das Keyboard MUST have a feature that isn't available elsewhere or at least is uncommon enough to make their product somewhat unique so the company can justify higher costs than some other company. They reached the conclusion that this "cloud connected" offering uses the right combination of uniqueness, buzzword injection, and low-cost capability to integrate it into the 5Q in order to proposition potential buyers that are in turn looking for a way to stand out from their friends. Das Keyboard is old. They know what they're doing and even if this thing flops, they have other offerings and a loyalist following of people that find branding important.
  • FreckledTrout - Thursday, February 28, 2019 - link

    For me they need to remove the cloud bits and make it tenkeyless but keeping the media / volume controls. I would buy one if they did that. This looks very high quality and the volume control is nice.
  • sadsteve - Thursday, February 28, 2019 - link

    Heh, after reading the comments the cloud connected keyboard sure sounds like a failure. I know I wouldn't buy it.
  • abufrejoval - Friday, March 1, 2019 - link

    Dear God, a keyboard with an 80MHz CPU included?

    What has the world come to?

    I am typing this on an IBM PS/2 keyboard manufactured on March 28th, 1990 which in all likehood was mated to an IBM PS/2 machine sporting a 33MHz 80386 at best, a 24/16-Bit 80286 more likely...

    Whilst I'm at it, I still prefer the previous AT-style layout, because those function keys to the left you could actually reach blindly, whereas the top row requires taking your eyes off the screen every now and then. There was also a proper cursor pad uninfested by numbers and an escape key integrated within it, which you needed to navigate the intricate states software required before it got mice infested and all GUI.

    It cost a thousand solid £, $, DM whatever(no € yet) at the time and it has remained worth it.

    Of course I just picked it out of a pile of discarded computers (couldn't afford the original originally), to gether with a backup (still unused), so I won't ever have to switch to one of those plastic evils that have overwhelmed the world of keyboards since.

    Of course it could have been left out there, because of the sound these things are making: To the person driving the keyboard, it's like the engine noise of a sports car you drive.

    To any other person in the same office or room, it's like the engine noise of the sports car your neighbour drives.

    Well now you know why I have a hard time posting a short comment: Typing is a true pleasure on this keyboard, like playing a Steinway piano.
  • Azethoth - Tuesday, March 5, 2019 - link

    If it ever breaks you can get something with 18 G keys on the left and you can remap them to whatever you want, even F keys.
  • Wahaj - Friday, March 1, 2019 - link

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  • Dr_b_ - Sunday, March 3, 2019 - link

    Did the kickstarter for this, the software is terrible, the keyboard took too long to develop, especially for a dedicated keyboard company.

    The RGB illumination is decent, but the software is still too basic.

    The tilt supports on the back of the keyboard are too cheap and flimsy, one has already broken, and now i cant tilt the keyboard.

    Avoid this thing
  • azrael- - Monday, March 4, 2019 - link

    Double shot keycaps US, and ABS lasered ROW

    To the uninitiated that means that the US gets (quite durable) double shot keycaps while the rest of the world needs to make due with simple laser-engraved keycaps (thanks a lot for that). I would imagine it's ABS in both cases. However, this is in contradiction with the review claiming the US version comes with laser-engraved keys.

    Pull the "cloud" crap out of the board and it might actually be decent ...especially for US customers.
  • uberDoward - Tuesday, March 5, 2019 - link

    Can I just please get a backlit, mechanically switched, ergonomic keyboard, please?

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