Closer Look at Hardware
Now let’s take a closer look at the peculiarities and functionality of this keyboard. Optimus mini three can be installed easily without any problems. Once you install Optimus mini Configurator software and connect the device to the USB port on your system it will be detected by your OS. However, the Device Manager will recognize this keyboard in a very specific way: it will be displayed as Prolific2 USB-to-Serial Bridge.
It means that Optimus mini three is actually not a USB device at all: it works via the serial RS232 interface. Of course, it makes programming the keys a lot easier, but at the same time it results in a few drawbacks that will be immediately noticed by most users. The major drawback is the use of slow interface for keyboard-to-system communication that affects the keyboard performance noticeably. The keyboard response time to the events taking place on the PC is quite high. For example, Optimus mini three should switch between the key layouts together with the applications on the computer, however in reality the layouts change about 2-3 seconds later.
There are a few other frustrating drawbacks that I have to bring up here. For instance, the keyboard produces some strange sound during work. Although Optimus mini three should be a completely noiseless solution, it is constantly producing some high-pitch whistling noise that may be generated by the internal voltage converter required for OLED displays. We had a chance to play with a few keyboard samples, as all of them produced this whistling noise. In other words, this is a massive issue with these devices, to our regret.
However, Optimus mini three can also boast a few really great features that cannot be left out. For instance, I was really impressed with the quality of bright OLED screens in the keys. The screens are very bright, they can display undistorted image at all angles and boast pretty decent resolution to display graphics as well as text.
The drawback of these OLED screens is their relatively low refresh rate, which is only 3fps. It is definitely not enough to watch any movies or videos on the keyboard. Moreover, when the image displayed on the key needs to be refreshed or changed you can notice very unpleasant flicker of the OLED screen. Luckily, there is no need to refresh the entire picture all the time: only a part of it can be changed if necessary. If the software developers working on Optimus mini three take note of this peculiarity, they will be able to eliminate most of the flicker effect and make the low refresh rate not so noticeable for the user.
As for the hardware stuffing of the Optimus mini three keyboard, it is built on the programmable PIC18F8722 microcontroller. This chip works at 40MHz frequency, features 3.8KB of RAM and has 128KB of integrated flash-memory where the managing software is located.
The keyboard assembly is of very high quality, which is not surprising at all, actually, as Artemiy Lebedev’s Studio pays special attention to production quality. The keyboards are manufactured in Taiwan, however the partner names haven’t been disclosed yet.