Art Lebedev, a leading design studio from Russia, started to take pre-orders onto its next-generation Optimus keyboards with screens inside each key. Unlike suggested, the keyboards will still be rather expensive and will become available only in mid-2012 or late-2012, depending on the model.
First of the new keyboards to be released is Optimus Popularis, which will be shipping in June, 2012, for around $1086. The Poularis is based on one large screen incorporated inside the keyboard with transparent keys, each of which can be programmed separately and perform a unique function. Unlike its more expensive brethren, which uses separate OLED screens inside each key, the novelty relies on simpler design yet it has buttons with higher resolution (64*64 pixels, up from 48*48 pixels). Unfortunately, the device sports no additional/programmable keys and will hardly become popular among those, who used to full-sized keyboards.
The two add-on keypads, the Optimus mini six and the Optimus Aux, will ship in November, 2012, for $376 and $534, respectively. The mini six has six keys based on LCD technology, whereas the Aux has fifteen keys powered by separate OLED screens.
All three new Art Lebedev Optimus keyboards have taken years to develop and yet virtually all of them will not ship on time or in the pre-announced price.
Art Lebedev presented the first concept of Optimus Popularis in mid-2008 and promised to start its production in late 2008 or early 2009. The company did not initiate manufacturing of the keyboard either in 2008 or 2009, unveiled a new Popularis concept in late June, 2010, and again failed to ship the device in 2010. Nonetheless, in early-2011 Art Lebedev promised to finally release its keyboard with screens inside each key at sub-$1000 price-point this year.