On the most part, CES 2020 was very colourful from multiple case manufacturers. While some stood out of the box, such as fully slidable Lian Li case and Lancool series reminding of you of the good old K57/K67 days, a lot of PC component showcase was the newer PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSDs. But on the last day of CES, Cherry rolled out a new mechanical switch family Viola made for the low-cost keyboard market dominated by membrane actuation. Cherry Viola is intended to kill the rubber dome keyboards.
The low-cost Cherry Viola switches provide 2mm pre-travel, 4mm total travel and 45 cN of actuation force. This should mimic the actual actuation, unlike many membrane/ spring-loaded keyboards with ‘memchanical’ marketing. To make these attractive, these switches are solderless design. Therefore you hot-swap these switches, making the product more durable and user-maintenance friendly.
Judging by the design, they do look like Kailh’s box switches. It has the same cross stem so these should have cross stem compatibility with all/ most keycaps. These keycaps can be paired with LEDs to glow through, making a way for a large array of cheap gaming keyboards with Cherry branding. The end-product should cost between $50-$100. Allround-PC was able to get their hands on a working unit at CES 2020.
Unlike the real mechanical Cherry MX variants that have seven parts per key, this is reduced down to four. The main housing is made of POM plastic with a V shape contact pin, a coil spring and then the box-shaped cross stem. It appears that the edges of the stems and the housing is shaped in a way to prevent the key from wobbling. We’ll only know how much it can do that once an end product is released. For a sub-100$ keyboard, we should have an open mind. Still, this is impressive as nothing really was done to replace the rubber dome keyboard interface.
The new Viola switches will be made in Germany just like the rest of the Cherry switches. We might see the end of rubber dome membrane switches once this takes off, as other mechanical switch manufacturers would provide same/ cheaper/ alternative options.
As of now, it is not known when will see the release of the keyboards with Cherry Viola keys. Since Cherry did announce this recently, it shouldn’t take long. Its unlikely Cherry MX lineups will be overlooked as it will have higher reliability and better actuation feel. But the Viola lineups will help get rid of that mushy actuation.
— Hardware BBQ (@HardwareBBQ) January 11, 2020