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Corsair K100 Air Wireless RGB Review: Thin Is In

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An ultra-low profile gamer with genuine mechanical switches. If you like laptop or Apple keys, this is the gaming keyboard for you.

(Image: © Tom’s Hardware)

Tom’s Hardware Verdict

The Corsair K100 Air Wireless RGB offers an incredibly thin form factor with a genuine mechanical keyboard feel. It comes at a high price, but is feature rich and feels great to game on.

Pros
  • +

    Incredibly thin design

  • +

    Cherry Ultra Low Profile switches feel great to use

  • +

    Highly customizable and programmable

  • +

    Tri-Mode Connectivity

  • +

    Dedicated media, profile and lighting keys

Cons
  • Very expensive

  • Keycaps show oil and shine quickly

  • Flat key profile can lead to typos

  • Brushed metal top collects dust and debris

Why you can trust Tom’s Hardware
Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

2022 is shaping up to be the year of the low profile mechanical keyboards. Earlier this year, Razer refreshed its Deathstalker lineup with the low profile DeathStalker V2 Pro. The Nuphy Air75 and Air60 have been making waves all over Instagram. Logitech released its slim MX Mechanical Keyboard, and now Corsair is back in the game with the Corsair K100 Air Wireless. 

The K100 Air is an ultra-thin gaming keyboard that makes few sacrifices compared to the best gaming keyboards, which are typically much taller. In fact, it adds features with Slipstream wireless and Bluetooth connectivity with up to three devices, an 8,000Hz (0.125ms) polling rate over USB, and Cherry’s latest Ultra Low Profile Tactile switches. Add in battery life that stretches up to 200 hours and this may just be one of the best wireless keyboards too. It doesn’t come cheap at $279.99, but this is a unique keyboard with a lot to offer gamers and typists alike.  

Corsair K100 Air Wireless Specs

Swipe to scroll horizontally

Switches Cherry MX Ultra Low Profile
Lighting Per-key RGB (up to 20 layers)
Onboard Storage Up to 50 profiles
Media Keys Yes (Dedicated)
Connectivity USB Type-C, Bluetooth, Slipstream Wireless
Polling Rate 8,000Hz
Battery Life Up to 50 hours with RGB backlighting, 200 hours with backlighting turned off
Additional Ports None
Keycaps Laser-etched ABS
Construction Aluminum top plate, plastic shell
Software Corsair iCUE
Dimensions (LxWxH) 17. 3 x 6.15 x 0.67 inches
Weight  1.72 pounds

The Corsair K100 Air is shockingly thin. At its thinnest point, it’s only 0.43 inches (11mm) and gets to a mere 0.67 inches (17mm) at its thickest. It lays completely flat, and at first glace you could be forgiven for thinking it was outfitted with old fashioned chiclet keys. Type on it, though, and you’ll quickly realize you were mistaken.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

The K100 Air is the first keyboard we’ve reviewed to feature Cherry’s new Ultra Low Profile (ULP) Tactile switches. They’re a huge departure from traditional MX switches, utilizing a spring and pair of metal wings to attach to the keycap, but manage to offer nearly 2mm of travel and satisfying tactilty. At only 3.5mm in total height, they’re the perfect choice for a keyboard like this and allow the keycaps to sit much closer to the plate than any other low profile mechanical keyboard we’ve seen.

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(Image credit: Corsair)(Image credit: Corsair)

The keyboard offers more tricks than just its thinness. It’s also wireless, with full support for Corsair’s Slipstream 2.4GHz tech, allowing for wireless connections speeds up to 2,000 Hz — twice that of most wired gaming keyboards, and is compatible with both PlayStation 5 and Xbox.   It supports Bluetooth with up to three devices that can swapped between connections on the fly (quickly and reliably, I might add). And if you choose to keep the wire, you can push the connection speed all the way up to 8,000 Hz, unlocking 0.125ms of responsiveness. 

Compared to the full-size K100 RGB, the Air lacks almost nothing. Inside of its svelte chassis, it uses the same AXON processor. It’s an overkill keyboard CPU if ever there was one, but opens the door to a lot of functionality. This processor unlocks those fast response times described above and allows you create custom lighting effects with up to 20 Photoshop-like layers. It also comes with 8MB of onboard storage to save up to 50 separate profiles of keymaps and effects (depending on their complexity). 

The K100 Air is generous with battery life. With RGB enabled, Corsair quotes up to 50 hours of runtime. Turn RGB off and that jumps up to 200 hours. Lighting is a particular treat with this keyboard, and I made full use of it: maximum brightness, multiple layers of effects, all of the time. After a week of daily use, I’m only now coming up on my first recharge. When it does run dry, it can be replenished in 3-5 hours depending on if you’re also using it while it’s charging.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

Remove the low profile design, and the keyboard is immediately recognizable as a Corsair flagship. It features the same brushed aluminum top plate we’ve seen on its prior keyboards (it’s just as hard to clean here), as well as dedicated media buttons and an aluminum volume wheel above the number pad. There’s a glossy panel in the center that showcases a backlit logo and hides its different indicator LEDs when they’re not in use. To the left are three more buttons for changing profiles, adjusting the brightness of the backlighting, and turning on Windows Lock for when it’s time to game. 

Along the back edge of the keyboard is an on/off switch (which needs to be ON when typing, even when connected over USB), a USB Type-C port to connect the braided USB cable, and a cutout to store the 2.4GHz dongle when it’s not in use. There are no additional ports or connections for headsets, which is a shame. But if you’re using multiple Corsair peripherals, its Multipoint functionality will allow you to use that same dongle to connect to a headset and mouse and save on USB ports, so it pays to keep it in the family.

The bottom of the keyboard is made of plastic but is sturdy and trimmed with eye-catching glossy triangles. I am actually surprised at how little flex this keyboard has for its thin frame, even when pressed from the back. There’s a pair of two-stage tilt feet to set the keyboard up at shorter or higher angles, but even the highest is still very slight. I prefer a bit of tilt, so I appreciated even this minor angle adjustment. Combined with the overall slimness of the design, using a palm rest wasn’t necessary.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

Returning to the front, the keycaps do a good job of showing the per-key RGB backlighting evenly through the legends. The lights aren’t as bright as the full-size K100, but they still look very good, especially in low light. The keycaps are standard laser-etched ABS, but feel good to use and sound fine on the Cherry MX ULP switches. Corsair didn’t describe any special coating or treatment being used on these, so they will show signs of wear and tear (shine) over extended use. 

A word of caution: Do not try to remove these keycaps. Corsair advised us ahead of the review that removing a keycap can easily destroy the switch below. That kind of risk is worth a special call-out, but there’s really no need to remove them anyway. The mounting style of the keycaps is unique, so aftermarket keycap sets are out. But don’t let your curiosity about a new switch put your warranty at risk unless you’re confident you can do so correctly.

The keyboard is fully programmable for both lighting and macros. In fact, there are four dedicated macro keys above the Numpad that double as wireless selectors for Slipstream and Bluetooth when tapped with Fn. The positioning here isn’t very practical to use in the middle of a match, since you have to take your hand off the mouse or movement keys to access them. But, for slower-paced games and application macros, they work very well.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

Every key can be programmed and remapped, including the volume wheel. You can assign macros, key strings, launch programs, change profiles, and even control the mouse by assigning those functions in Corsair’s iCUE software. There are also built-in functions for changing between preset lighting effects (there are nine preset effects and eight static colors to choose from).

In short, this is the full Corsair flagship experience in a thin, chiclet-like package. The typing and gaming experiences are far better, however, which makes this a perfect choice for fans of Apple’s Magic Keyboard and laptop gaming aficionados that find full-height mechanical keyboards too tall.

Typing Experience of the Corsair K100 Air Wireless

The Corsair K100 Air Wireless uses Cherry’s latest and greatest low profile switches: Cherry MX Ultra Low Profile (ULP) Tactiles. It’s a mouthful but a descriptive one, because these switches are fantastic if you’re looking for an incredibly thin keyboard that also delivers a satisfyingly tactile yet fast and familiar mechanical switch feel.

One of the reasons these switches feel so nice to use is their increased travel distance. Compared to Apple’s Magic Keyboard, the K100 Air’s keys offer almost twice the amount of key travel, bottoming out at 1.8mm. The tactile bump occurs right at the top of the press, which gives them a level of poppiness under the fingers that’s very satisfying to use. The keys actuate at 0. 8mm, but with such a short travel distance, bottoming out is pretty much a forgone conclusion.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

At 65 grams, the ULP switches require more force to actuate than their full-size counterpart, Cherry MX Browns. The difference is only ten grams (MX Browns require 55 grams of actuation force), but it’s noticeable. The flat design of the keycaps also makes the increased force necessary to minimize typos, but it’s not a complete solution.

Typing on the keyboard is a lot like typing on a laptop, with the added benefit of that improved key feel. Since the keyboard is so thin, it can lay completely flat or have a slight tilt by flipping the built-in feet. Unlike most laptops, there’s extra space between each key, so finger positioning stays consistent with other full-size desktop keyboards.

The keycaps are well designed but have a learning curve if you’re coming from a full-height keyboard. Each keycap has a scoop to guide your fingers to their center. When you’re in position, centered over the keys, they feel great to use. But when you’re a little off, their low height and lack of sculpting between rows makes it easy to land between the keys, usually resulting in a typo. This is something I naturally got better at after a few hours of use, but for a while, it left me feeling sloppy as I regularly hammered the backspace key.

Once you’re used to it, typing on the K100 Air feels almost effortless. The combination of low height, “just enough” travel, and fast actuation creates a “best of both worlds” combination that’s fast and fluid while also satisfying and intentional.

I lacked nothing in typing speed compared to my full-height Corsair K100 and even found that I could achieve higher burst speeds in words per minute. While my average with full-height keyboards is around 110 WPM with 96% accuracy, the K100 Air allowed me to push that to 117 WPM across ten 30-second typing tests. My accuracy was slightly lower at only 94%, but my overall typing speed remained slightly higher thanks to the reduced height and excellent tactility.

Gaming Experience on the Corsair K100 Air Wireless

Gaming on the K100 Air Wireless is just as good as typing. Compared to the standard K100, there are a lot of features carried over. The choice between the two really comes down to how much you crave the low profile design or value the larger K100’s multifunction dial.

The K100 Air offers excellent gaming performance. Whether you’re connected over USB or using Slipstream wireless, you can count on an exceptionally fast and responsive connection. The wired 8,000Hz polling rate is cutting edge (although largely overkill since no human can press 8,000 keys a second). Wireless isn’t quite as fast at 2,000Hz, but doubles the polling rate of most wired gaming keyboards available today. Corsair has spared no expense with the gaming tech at play here, so whether you’re a casual keyboard warrior or dedicated esports athlete, you’ll never be able to blame keyboard delay for not nailing a win.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

With that said, I don’t think the polling rate is really the reason to choose the K100 Air. Any setting above 1,000Hz was difficult to feel, so these rates acted more as mental reassurance than something that actually felt better to use. What it does feel like is identical to wired gaming keyboards without the need for a cable, so there’s no sense of sacrifice or trade-off when using the Slipstream dongle.

Kicking things up to 8,000Hz does use more system resources, however. That’s something to be aware of if your system is already struggling to play a game at acceptable frame rates. My Ryzen 9 5950X didn’t break a sweat, but if you’re already living on the edge with an older Core i5/Ryzen 5, it’s best to leave it set to 1,000Hz.

Bluetooth is best left for typing and slow-paced games. It doesn’t benefit from any kind of speed boost the way Slipstream does, which means you’ll be limited to the standard 125Hz, or 8ms, polling rate. That didn’t make much of a difference when I played slower games like World of Warcraft, but you can feel it when raising your weapon and firing in Battlefield 2042.

Gaming on the Air is a different experience than with a full-size keyboard. The keys only have half the travel of a normal Cherry key switch, so there’s no sense of being able to prime your fingers. The pre-travel is so short that pressing and actuation feel like they occur at the same time (though there is 0.8mm of pre-travel). Paired with the high tactility of the switches, they feel much more “on or off” than a full-height key switch.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

Playing a mix of first-person shooters, this turned out to be a good thing. I never once ran from cover or strafed in the shadows by accident. I usually game on full-size linear switches, and that little bit of pre-travel can make it difficult to know exactly when a key is going to actuate when you’re hovering, waiting for the perfect moment. The Cherry MX ULPs’ tactility (and higher actuation force) means your presses will be more intentional and precise.

The programmability of the keyboard also pays dividends if you’re a fan of macros or multiple keymaps for different games. The built-in macro keys mean that your most used custom commands won’t force you to give up other keys to assign them. These keys aren’t as convenient to press as the normal K100’s left-side macro row, however, forcing you to take your hand off the mouse to access them, which is never convenient.

The K100 Air also features a PlayStation mode for easy PS5 compatibility, and it works natively with Xbox Series X. You simply plug in the Slipstream dongle, hold the key combination for PS5, and you’re good to go. The implementation is overall very easy and straightforward.

Software for the Corsair K100 Air Wireless

Like the full-size K100, the Air relies on Corsair’s iCUE software to unlock its full functionality. It’s an incredibly feature rich program that offers a huge array of options and gaming features. It’s also gigantic at over a gigabyte to download. While you technically don’t need it (there are built-in lighting presets and macro recording), you’re leaving performance and features on the table if you don’t.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

If you already have other Corsair peripherals, you’ll be familiar with iCUE and will see the K100 Air appear in your device list and know to click on it to access its different options. This is where things get a little confusing. Thanks to its AXON processor, the keyboard is able to store advanced lighting effects and key maps, but it’s still a keyboard processor and has its limits. When iCUE is running in the background, options become almost limitless and can interact directly with Windows to provide even more settings.

Because of this, iCUE presents you with a confusing array of tabs: Key Assignments, Hardware Key Assignments, Wireless Lighting Effects, Hardware Lighting, Performance, and Device Settings. Settings that live on the keyboard and will follow it from computer to computer are designated as “Hardware” options. Things like custom lighting schemes and programming options do not automatically save and become available on both varieties of tab. You’ll need to save particular lighting settings, then manually import or rebuild them in the other tab if you want them to live on and travel with the keyboard.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

As you would expect from a flagship Corsair keyboard, the lighting options are plentiful. There are 11 different preset RGB effects that can be customized for color and animation speed, including the expected rainbow options, breathe, and reactive lighting. There are also five custom options: Gradient, Ripple, Solid, Static Color, and Wave. These can be completely tailored with personalized gradients, lighting tails, loop modes, and velocity settings. If you’re using the keyboard with the software running in the background, you can also one-click sync your keyboard with your other peripherals or tie lighting effects to your system audio.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

Lighting effects can be applied in layers for some truly unique animations. I use Corsair RGB fans and memory in my PC, and I was able to create a unified thunderstorm effect across my PC and keyboard with a purple static background, a rain effect, and a final layer of randomized white flashes at 50% opacity. It only took me about 10 minutes to create, is uniquely my own and much cooler than any stock effect (in my opinion), and can run completely without software once it’s saved on the keyboard.

The software is also where you’ll remap keys, create profiles, and link the keyboard with Corsair’s VoiceMod streaming software. By clicking the option you want, you can easily remap individual keys to other buttons, send text strings, control the mouse, adjust media settings, and even launch programs. There’s a dedicated section of VoiceMod commands if you use that software for streaming. The biggest difference between the hardware and software options is the ability to launch programs and control VoiceMod, so they’re very close overall.

All of your hardware lighting and key assignments can be saved to individual profiles, which can then be saved to the keyboard’s onboard storage. The keyboard has enough memory to store up to 50 profiles depending on complexity, so there’s ample room to create custom options for different games and applications.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

iCUE also gives you the option to change basic parameters and settings for the keyboard. Within the Performance menu, you can customize what happens when you press the Windows Lock key, such as disabling Alt+Tab and the Windows Key.

Under Device Settings, you’ll find more options, including the ability to change the polling rate. By default, the keyboard comes set to 1,000 Hz but includes options for 2,000 Hz and 4,000 Hz, as well as slower speeds all the way down to 125 Hz. You can also set how quickly the keyboard falls asleep to save battery power, manually enter it into PlayStation Mode, enable adaptive brightness, and more.

The iCUE software has come a long way over the years and is, in my opinion, the most powerful suite currently available for any gaming keyboard. It ran reliably in my testing without any crashes or slowdowns (although clearly that’s not true for everyone). But thanks to the K100 Air’s plentiful processing power, you can feel free to disable it once you’ve done your initial programming.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

The Corsair K100 Air is an excellent low-profile gaming keyboard. At just 11mm thick at its thinnest point, it’s immediately reminiscent of the chiclet keys of yesteryear, but manages to deliver an impressive mechanical keyboard typing and gaming experience. At $279, it’s unquestionably expensive (before any Corsair discount codes), but succeeds in being the most feature-rich and satisfying gaming keyboard in its class.

If such an ultra-thin design isn’t your cup of tea, the Razer Deathstalker V2 Pro offers a slightly taller profile with similar features, better keycaps, and a cheaper $249.99 price. If you like the design but don’t need the gaming features, the Nuphy Air75 is also an excellent option that includes full PBT keycaps and a travel-worthy 75% layout for only $129.99. 

Corsair has created something unique here. While there are still some areas for improvement (like the shine on the keycaps), it’s the thinnest mechanical gaming keyboard I’ve seen from a large gaming brand, and Corsair has nailed the execution. The biggest thing I’m left wishing for is that smaller layouts were available at launch to make it my go-to travel keyboard. As it stands, this is an excellent choice if you’re a fan of chiclet-style keys and clean mechanical typing.

Check our list of Corsair promo codes for savings on your next hardware buy.

Chris is a regular contributor for Tom’s Hardware, covering mechanical keyboards, peripherals, and content creation gear.

Akko 3098B / N Wireless Keyboard Review: World-Class Typing and Build Quality

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Classic looks make this a great keyboard for grownups.

Editor’s Choice

(Image: © Tom’s Hardware)

Tom’s Hardware Verdict

An impressive productivity keyboard with gaming prowess, the Akko 3098B / N combines a first-class typing experience with classic good looks, a compact 96-percent layout and plenty of wireless functionality.

Pros
  • +

    + Classy Design

  • +

    + Fantastic ASA Keycaps

  • +

    + Hot-Swappable Switches

  • +

    + 2.4-GHz, Bluetooth and Wired Connectivity

  • +

    + Long battery life

  • +

    + Multi-level flip-out feet

Cons
  • Default switches lack clicky option

  • Software issues

  • RGB Could Be More Customizable

  • No switch puller included despite hot swappable switches

Why you can trust Tom’s Hardware
Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

Your keyboard is the part of your workstation that you interact with the most, so getting a better one can change how you experience your computer. Akko’s 3098B and 3098N are just the kind of devices that can take your productivity and gaming response to another level of comfort and efficiency. Starting at $109, these keyboards — identical but for the model of controller chip inside of them — offer a smorgasbord of key features including: terminal-style SA keycaps, hot-swappable switches, colorful RGB backlighting and the ability to connect via Bluetooth, 2. 4-GHz or USB-C. 

Perhaps more importantly, the compact 96-percent design and deep curve of the keycaps make for a first-class typing experience. However, if you don’t like linear switches, you may want to swap in some of your own.

Akko 3098B / N Specs

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Switches Akko CS Jelly White, CS Jelly Pink, CS Jelly Blue (3098B) or Akko TTC Silent Red V3 Switches or TTC Princess switches (3098N)
Lighting Per-key RGB
Media Keys No
Connectivity 2.4 GHz USB Type-A dongle, Bluetooth 5.0 (up to 4 profiles), wired
Cable USB Type-A to USB Type-C, braided, detachable
Additional Ports None
Key Caps PBT SA Keycaps
Construction Aluminum top plate, plastic base
Software Akko Cloud Driver
Dimensions (LxWxH) 17. 7 x 9.8 x 1.7 inches (450.7 x 248.4 x 42.3mm)
Weight 2.4 pounds (1.1 kg)

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(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

The Akko 3098 series is an incredibly handsome device that, in the Black and Gold color scheme we tested, is professional enough for the most conservative office environment while offering the kind of retro design flourishes that a serious mechanical keyboard fan will fall in love with. Sitting at my four-monitor workstation with this terminal-like keyboard made me feel like Hugh Jackman’s master hacker character in Swordfish

The matte black plastic chassis has an extremely premium feel and, at 2.4 pounds (1.1kg), has enough heft to make it feel as sturdy as a tank. There was not a hint of flex or creaking on this chassis, even when we tried to squeeze it. Noise dampening foam prevents any kind of rattle.  

The 96-percent layout strikes a perfect balance between saving desk space and having just about every key you could want. At 15 x 5.3 inches (382 x 134mm), the Akko 3098 is significantly narrower than the Hexgears Impulse (17.3 x 6 inches), which is one of the most compact full-size keyboards on the market and looks even slimmer in comparison to the top-rated Patriot Viper V765 (18.4 x 6.4 inches). The Corsair K70 RGB TKL, our favorite tenkeyless keyboard, is only 0.8 inches narrower than the 3098.

The keyboard gives you not one, but two different sets of flip-out feet so you can adjust the height to your liking. With all feet retracted, the rear of the Akko 3098 is raised about 30mm off your desk. That height goes up another 10mm with the shorter feet active and yet another 10mm (a total of about 50mm) with the longest feet extended. I found the height and angle with the smaller feet ideal. 

In addition to the feet, the bottom has a recessed space for the USB-C port, which works with both the included wire or any other USB-C cable you have lying around. There’s also a toggle switch which allows you to choose between USB mode, wireless Windows mode and Mac mode (for Mac layouts). The only real design flaw here is that there’s no place to store the 2.4-GHz wireless dongle that comes with the Akko 3098, so be careful not to lose it.

Akko achieves its svelte form factor by pushing the arrow key block much closer to the Left Shift and Enter keys, doing away with the 9-key block with Home / End / Insert / Delete that usually sits above the arrow block, and adding another 4-key row above the numpad. However, you do lose a few keys in the process, including the ever-important Prtscr key and the dedicated Home / End keys, but you can always replicate these with 7 and 1 on the numpad. 

I quickly learned that hitting Fn + P invokes the print screen function, but I still missed having a dedicated print screen key. Akko doesn’t provide a built-in way to remap your keys, but other programs such as Sharpkeys provide ways to do that. I would definitely trade the Insert key, which I never use, for Prtscr.

ASA Keycaps on Akko 3098B / N 

Akko’s own ASA-style, PBT keycaps are the star of the show, providing the curved shape and large fonts you might find on an old-fashioned mainframe keyboard, but without the elevated height of SA keycaps, which some typists find a little too hard to press. The keys are a mixture of black and dark gray but with bright gold legends,many of which are spelled out in a retro style. For example, instead of a Windows key with the Windows logo on it, the legend says “WIN” in all caps. Other keys like ALT and CTRL are in all caps too, which is reminiscent of terminal keyboards. 

The Akko 3098 also comes with a set of 20 alternate keycaps that are gold with black legends on them. These include a spacebar, backspace, enter and shift keys, along with function keys, arrows, Esc and a few keys that have cute drawings on them such as a flower or a cat’s paw. There’s even a key with a legend that reads “PS,” which I would use if I remapped the Insert key into Prtscr.

If you don’t buy the Akko 3098 and just want the keycaps, the company sells them separately for $59. So, if you consider that part of the price, you’re paying a miniscule $50 to $70 for the rest of the keyboard.

Configurations of the Akko 3098

The Akko 3098 comes in a wide variety of color schemes and three major model names. The 3098 regular is the wired-only version and typically goes for less than $90, depending on the keycaps and color. The 3098B and 3098N, both of which we tested, provide three means of connectivity: Bluetooth, 2.4 GHz wireless and wired. 

The differences between the B and N models are very minor and not apparent just from looking at the keyboard. The 3098B, priced at $109, uses a Beken brand controller chip which provides brighter RGB backlights and purportedly uses a little more power than the Nordic brand chip in the $129 3098N. The Beken can use either Bluetooth 3.0 or Bluetooth 5.0 to provide up to three Bluetooth profiles while the Nordic only uses Bluetooth 5. 0 only to support up to four profiles. The Nordic chip allows you to program macros directly onto the keyboard without software (more on that later) while the Beken cannot.

Key Switches on the Akko 3098B / N 

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

A bigger difference between the Akko 3098B and the 3098N is the switch selection. The 3098B comes with a choice of either Akko CS Jelly White, CS Jelly Pink or CS Jelly Blue switches while the 3098N has Akko TTC Silent Red V3 Switches or TTC Princess switches. 

If you don’t like linear switches, you’ll want to take advantage of the 3098’s hot-swapping capability to install ones you like. Though you get a choice of switches when you buy the keyboard, most of them are linear and I didn’t see any clicky options available.

I tested a 3098B with Akko CS Jelly White switches and a 3098N with the TTC Silent Reds. Though I am huge clicky-switch fan and generally dislike linear switches, I really enjoyed typing on the CS Jelly White switches; they made a pleasant sound on the way down and had as much of a tactile feel as I’ve ever experienced from linears. The company says its Jelly White’s require only 35 grams of actuation force with 4mm of travel and 1.9mm of pre-travel. 

The TTC Silent Red switches, on the other hand, were extremely unpleasant to use as hitting them felt like pushing down hard against a cardboard box and, after using them for just a few minutes, I couldn’t wait to hot-swap them out for something better. They are specced for 45 grams of actuation force and 4mm of total travel.

Hot-Swapping on the Akko 3098B / N 

If you are a clicky aficionado like I am, you can still get a ton out of the Akko 3098B / N; you just have to swap out the switches. Akko makes it easy for you, because the switches are hot-swappable and the sockets support either 3 or 5-pin switches. The only real problem is that the keyboard doesn’t come with a switch puller so, if you don’t have one, you’ll need to buy one. On the bright side, there’s a very competent keycap puller in the box.

To test the hot-swapping experience, I pulled all the TTC Silent Red switches out of the 3098N and replaced them with some Kailh Box White clicky switches, my favorites, that I had in the house. Removing the switches wasn’t difficult; it just required a little elbow grease as I used my puller to wiggle them until they dislodged. Popping in my new switches required a little precision because a few times I bent the pins on a switch by not lining it up properly. However, these issues are the same as I’ve experienced on other hot-swappable keyboards. 

After an hour or so of work, I ended up with a dream keyboard: one that combined the wonderful, curved terminal feel of ASA keycaps with the snappy, tactile feedback of Kailh Box White switches and a compact but generous 96-percent layout. It would be ideal if Akko offered the 3098 with a clicky-switch option, but since the company only uses its own TTC and Jelly-branded switches, many folks would still want to bring their own. Considering the very affordable price of the 3098B ($109), it’s not too much of a stretch to also buy switches.

Typing Experience on the Akko 3098B / N

I found typing on both the Akko 3098B, with its default CS Jelly White switches, and 3098N, with my Kailh Box Whites, thrilling. Normally, I’d say that typing on a great keyboard is a pleasure or a joy, but I’ll use the word “thrilling” here, because thanks to the curved, retro-style keys and the auditory feedback I got, I felt like I was typing like people do in blockbuster movies. 

WIth the loud clack of the linear CS Jelly White switches and their tactile feel, I felt like I was Matthew Broderick hacking into WOPR in War Games on his old-school IMSAI 8080 computer. I’ve never liked linear switches, but these CS Jelly Whites give just enough of a tactile feel and make such a great sound that I really like typing on them. On the 10 Fast Fingers typing test, I was able to achieve a speed of 105 words per minute, with less than a 5-percent error rate, which is really good for me and above my typical 95 to 100 wpm.

The default TTC Silent Red switches on the Akko 3098N were so bad that I didn’t even attempt a typing test on them. Pressing down on each switch seemed to require a ton of force and the keys were stiffer than even the worst rubber dome keyboards I’ve used.  

However, using my Kailh Box White switches on the 3098N took my typing experience to a whole other level. Combining the great indentations on the SA keycaps with the sharp springiness of the switches made me feel like I was sitting in the newsroom of the Daily Planet, banging out a breaking news story at breakneck speed. The keys felt like an extension of my fingers as I hit a strong 114 words per minute with a low 2-percent error rate. 

Gaming Experience on Akko 3098B / N

In its instruction manuals, Akko claims that both the 3098B and 3098N have N-Key rollover. Using an online test, I found that the keyboard is able to report at least 10 keys at a time. 

In anecdotal testing, the keyboard was more than adequate for gaming. When I fired up a session of Cyberpunk 2077, I had no problem running around in a gun fight and didn’t notice any lag when connecting over 2.4 GHz wireless. I found that, perhaps unsurprisingly, the linear Jelly White switches on the 3098B were better for quick presses than the clicky switches I hot-swapped into the 3098N.

Bluetooth and 2.4-GHz Wireless on Akko 3098B / N

Both the Akko 3098B and 3098N offer a combination of 2.4 GHz, Bluetooth and wired USB connections. The 3098B supports three different Bluetooth profiles and can accommodate Bluetooth 3.0 or 5.0 connections while the 3098N has four profiles that use Bluetooth 5.0. Both models come with 2.4GHz dongles and long USB-C to A cables. I was also able to use my own USB-C cables as a substitute.

All modes worked well and I was particularly impressed with how quickly and easily I could switch among them. On the 3098B, moving from mode to mode was as simple as hitting Fn + E, R or T for Bluetooth profiles, Fn + Y for 2.4-Ghz or Fn + U for wired. The 3098N uses Fn + number 1 to 6 for its four Bluetooth profiles, 2.4-Ghz and wireless modes. It would be more helpful if these shortcuts were labeled but would probably mess with the aesthetic.

Pairing via Bluetooth was pretty seamless, but since this is Bluetooth, there were a couple of brief frustrations during pairing. I found that the 3098N would not Bluetooth pair with my Windows PC until I had deleted the wired profile for the keyboard. And the first time I attempted to pair the 3098B with a Raspberry Pi 4, it somehow tried to pair as Bluetooth 3 and didn’t connect until I deleted and paired again (this time it appeared as Bluetooth 5.0). 

However, after that, connecting and reconnecting was a breeze. It took a second or less to switch from one connection to another, allowing me to use one keyboard with both my Pi and my PC at the same time. If you include all five or six connections, you could easily control that many devices from one keyboard. 

A three-setting switch also sits on the bottom of each keyboard, allowing you to choose from Windows, Mac or USB modes. It’s important to note, though, that putting the switch on USB, the middle setting, doesn’t actually put the keyboard into USB connectivity mode; it just effectively turns off charging. You still need to select wired or wireless modes using the Fn key.

Battery Life of the Akko 3098B / N

Akko claims that the 3098B uses more power than the 3098N, with the former rated for 14 to 20 hours of wireless use while the latter is rated for 30 to 40 hours. With anecdotal testing, it’s hard to say how accurate those numbers are. I used the 3098N, with RGB enabled, for two to three really long days in a row on 2.4-GHz wireless before it needed a recharge. I didn’t use the 3098B in wireless mode for nearly as long but did, at one point, need to charge it.

RGB Lighting on Akko 3098B / N

While the RGB backlights are a little bit brighter on 3098B than the 3098N, both models offer vibrant colors and a wide variety of more than 20 animations, from the traditional “breathing” and “wave” effects you see on almost every keyboard to “Laster,” which shoots an animation rightward from whatever key you press. Note that the keycaps are not translucent so the light goes around them, but not through them as you’d see on many gaming keyboards.

Overall, the Akko 3098 comes with 20 different lighting effects built in and the ability to do per-key lighting via software. Toggling among the effects is as easy as hitting Fn + Del, Ins, PgUp or PgDn as each of these keys has five effects assigned to it. You can slow down or speed up the effects by hitting Fn and + or -, adjust the brightness with Fn + up or down arrow, change the direction of an animation by hitting Fn + left or right arrow or change from RGB to a single color by hitting Fn + \. 

If you download and install the Akko Cloud Driver software, you can view and select all these effects from a pull down menu and you can configure per-key lighting. There are also two “Music Follow” profiles that make your keyboard’s lights flash in time to whatever you’re listening to. When I put on AC/DC’s “Hell’s Bells,” I could see the lights moving to match the ringing bell at the beginning and then the pumping drums and guitar licks. Note that you need to be plugged in to use the software and for this to work.

Built-in Macro Functions of the Akko 3098B / N

While many keyboards come with built-in macro functions or software that enables macros, you can almost always get a better experience by using free, third-party macro software such as AutoHotKey, my personal favorite, or Clavier+. Akko provides the ability to create macros and save them directly to the 3098’s memory, which means that they will run even if you connect to a computer that doesn’t have the keyboard’s software installed. In my experience, though, the benefits weren’t worth the hassle.

The Akko 3098B sets up its macros via the Akko Cloud software. First you go into the Macro tab, click a button to create a new macro, hit the Start button there to record, enter your keystrokes and hit stop. You can edit the list of keys and the delays between each press after you are done recording. Then you can navigate to the main tab which contains a key map and you can select the key or key + fn combo you wish to assign the macro to. You can use this same menu to remap keys, which I did, turning the / key on the numpad into the Prtscr key.  

Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the assigned macros on the 3098B to work properly. When I created a macro that was supposed to type “tomshardware.com,” and assigned it to a key, at first all I got was the letter “t.” Then I tried to shorten the delays between each key press in the phrase and the next time I invoked the macro, the keyboard went crazy, rapidly retyping tomshardware.com and then repeating the letter “m” at the end over and over again without stopping until I pulled the plug. 

On the Akko 3098N, unlike with the 3098B, you can program macros without installing any software. By using a series of key combinations, you can put the keyboard into record mode, record your action and then assign it to a key combo. I was able to create a macro successfully on the 3098N using this process, but since there’s no UI to edit or even view your macros, it’s not very convenient.

Software on Akko 3098B / N

You can access most of the functions of either the 3098B or 3098N without installing any software, but Akko does have a couple of apps you can download on its website. For the 3098B, there’s a utility called Akko Cloud Driver, which I used to customize the lighting, remap keys and attempt to set macros (with issues). You can also use this utility to check for firmware updates.

The 3098N allows you to set macros without software, but if you want to customize the RGB lighting or check for firmware updates you’ll need to download the “3098N Firmware & Driver” zip file from Akko’s site. Unfortunately, this zip file was flagged by both Windows Defender and Avast antivirus as having an unknown virus so I didn’t try installing any of the software inside. 

It remains unclear whether the 3098N Firmware & Driver download is actually infected or if it is triggering a false positive on two different apps. However, I wasn’t about to take the risk of installing it. I sent a note to Akko’s PR asking about this problem and will update this review if I receive a response. On the bright side, you really don’t need the software for the 3098N, unless you want to set custom per-key lighting or use the Music Following lighting effect, which is a gimmick you’ll probably get bored of after five minutes.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

In the course of testing for this review, I spent a month using the Akko 3098B (Jelly White switches) as my everyday keyboard at the office and the Akko 3098N (with switches swapped for Kailh Box Whites) as my daily driver at home. I fell in love with this keyboard’s snazzy design, fantastic build quality, compact layout and, best-of-all, world-class typing experience.  During my toughest days of the year — working 18-hour shifts on Black Friday weekend — the keyboard was my tool of choice and it made my job more pleasant.

The SA style keycaps, themselves worth $60, really made the experience as the deep curves cradled my fingers for an extra-tactile experience. The refined look of the Black & Gold color scheme makes it the perfect look for grown-ups, classy-enough for a conservative office space but, like a James Bond tuxedo with a bright gold bowtie, full of flare with the option for an RGB party in the backlight. The build quality of the keyboard belies its affordable price, providing a rock-solid, rattle-free chassis with two-levels of height adjustment. And the 96-percent layout is perfect not only for saving desk space but also for fitting on your lap.

If the Akko 3098B and 3098N were wired-only keyboards, they’d still be a top choice for typing and gaming. However, the 2.4-GHz wireless and Bluetooth capabilities provide a significant helping of gravy on this already scrumptious feast, particularly when you consider the ability to switch back and forth among up to five or six devices at the same time. 

As with any feast, there are courses we’d recommend skipping. The software ranges from mediocre in the case of the 3098B’s app to unusable for the 3098N’s download which registers as malware. However, you don’t need either download and would be much better off using a third-party utility such as AutoHotkey to create macros or a program like SharpKeys to remap keys.

If you like linear switches, it’s hard to beat the CS Jelly White switches you can get with the 3098B. It would be ideal if Akko provided a clicky switch option at purchase. However, if you like clickies, you should plan to buy your own switches and hot-swap them into the keyboard. Considering the quality and flexibility of the 3098, it’s still a good price if you include the extra few dollars needed to buy your favorite switches.

When choosing between the nearly-identical Akko 3098B and Akko 3098N, the 3098B is the better buy as it costs $20 less, has better switch options and brighter lights. However, in either case (provided you like or swap the switches), you’re getting a keyboard with world-class build quality and the ability to up your game both at work and play.

Avram Piltch is Tom’s Hardware’s editor-in-chief. When he’s not playing with the latest gadgets at work or putting on VR helmets at trade shows, you’ll find him rooting his phone, taking apart his PC or coding plugins. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram developed many real-world benchmarks, including our laptop battery test.

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VKB Virtual Laser Keyboard / Peripherals

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Having practiced a lot with entering various fragments of text, we can say that despite the feeling of unreality of what is happening over time, you are still gradually drawn into the process and you almost forget that there are no real buttons

… I had to go for Khlebovvodov, who was lying
thirty meters behind, tattered, with torn trousers
and very surprised. It turned out that he suspected us with the
commandant of a conspiracy, as if we quietly put the car
on blocks
and we drive mileage for selfish purposes.

Driven by a sense of duty, he decided to get off the road and
lead us to clean water by looking under the car. Now he was
Literally amazed that he didn’t. We are with the commandant
dragged him to the car, laid him down so that he

personally convinced himself of his delusion, and they themselves went to the aid of
Farfurkis, who was looking for and could not find
goggles and upper jaw
. Farfurkis looked for them in the car, but the commandant found them
far ahead.

©Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, “The Tale of the Troika”.

I think it happens to everyone in life when you imagine
the principle of operation of the device, is well aware of the implementation of the corresponding
technology, but… you just can’t believe that this thing is really
can work. Until you touch with your own hands and look
with my own eyes. So with a virtual laser keyboard I got it
the same story: even at the time of the news about the release of the first prototype
this keyboard in March 2002 at the CeBIT exhibition with the principle of operation of everything
it seemed to be clear. And at the same time, I just couldn’t believe that someone really
will be able to bring this idea to the finished mass retail product.

However, it happened, and as soon as it became known that in our laboratory
a sample of the virtual laser keyboard already on sale, I am the first
volunteered to test it. From the very beginning, I honestly admit: in fact, not like that.
I am also a “mobile user” to have applied to this new product
interest. But I really wanted to test the technology in work – I just couldn’t believe it
and that’s it. That is why the quotation with the unlucky Khlebovvodov is included in the epigraph of the article,
and not, for example, with the old man Edelweiss and his textbook “thinker” with “neon
inside”. The virtual keyboard really works, and works perfectly,
therefore, the experimenter turned out to be ashamed today. In a word, enough introduction,
let’s get to the point.

The idea of ​​implementing a virtual keyboard without wires and buttons was born several
years ago within the walls of the Israeli company Developer VKB Inc. Featured on
CeBIT 2002 by Siemens Procurement Logistics Services is the first
virtual keyboard without a single mechanical or electrical element
became the first practical implementation of this idea. Laser Interface Developers
virtual keyboard suggested that their development in practice could be
integrated into any mobile device – phone, laptop, tablet PC
and even sterile medical equipment. However, at the moment retail
we have what we have – iTECH Bluetooth wireless virtual keyboard
Virtual Keyboard (BTVKB), Russified and “ready to use” with
decent list of different devices.

The principle of operation of the virtual laser keyboard is simple and clear without long
explanations. The design uses two semiconductor diode lasers
– “red” for keyboard projection and invisible infrared
with IR photodetector to identify the key that has been touched
your finger. While you are typing at ease on the laser projection of the keys
– as on a regular keyboard, an invisible beam analyzes the position coordinates
fingers and processes the received information accordingly. Adding
to this design Bluetooth wireless interface – and virtual keyboard
for all types of stationary and mobile devices – PCs, laptops, pocket
PC or smartphones, ready.

That, in fact, is the whole “mystery” of the design, you can go
to a description of a real retail sample and the experience of using it.

In Russia, supplies and sales of iTECH Russified virtual keyboard
BTVKB is a RV-2 Company,
it was she who provided us with a sample for testing. By the way, in the world
there are also options for a virtual laser keyboard with a conventional interface
USB, but agree, is it worth building such a garden for the sake of the same trivial
wires? In my opinion, in this case, the Bluetooth interface can be called not
a whim of the developers, but a real necessity.

Here we come to the technical specifications of the iTECH BTVKB keyboard.


Wireless virtual
laser keyboard
iTECH Bluetooth Virtual Keyboard (BTVKB)

Splitter 63 full-size keys of JZUKEN and QWERTY layouts
Projection size 295 x 95 mm
Reading speed Up to 400 times per minute
Bluetooth interface Version 1. 1 class 2
Supported Bluetooth profiles HID, SPP
Supported operating systems

Pocket PC 2003 (HP h5550, iPaq h3210, iPaq h2940, iPaq
rx3417, iPaq rx3715, iPaq hx4700, Dell x50V)

Pocket PC 2003 Smartphone 2003 (HP h6300 Series, O2
XDA II,
T-Mobile Qtek 2020,
Orange M1000, O2 XDA III,
Orange SPV-M2500,
Qtek 2020i,
dopod 699,
HTC Apline, O2 XDA IIs, Orange SPV-M2000,
Qtek 9090,
Vodaphone VPAIII,
T-Mobile MDA II,
HTC Blue Angel, O2 XDA II mini,
htc magician,
Qtek s100,
I-Mate Jam,
MDA Compact,
Dopod 818 Motorola MPx220)

Symbian Series 60 (Nokia 6680, Nokia 6630, Nokia 6260, Nokia
3650, Nokia 6600, Nokia N7650)

Symbian UIQ (Sony Ericsson P910i, P900, P800, Motorola A1000)

Palm OS (Palm Tungsten T3, Zire72, Tungsten T5, Treo 650, Xpore M68)

Power supply Built-in lithium-ion battery, more than 2 hours of continuous printing
Weight 80 g
Dimensions 90 x 34 x 24 mm
Warranty 6 months

In addition to the above drivers, the compatibility of the laser
virtual keyboard with desktop and laptop operating systems
PC – Windows 2000 and Windows XP, as well as drivers that have already appeared on the company’s website
under Windows Mobile 5.

Converting the dimensions and weights indicated in the specifications into comparative terms
we can say that in fact the iTECH BTVKB virtual keyboard is smaller and lighter
most of your mobile phones, maybe a little thicker than many models.

Supplied in a simple stylish black box, in addition to the keyboard includes
includes a convenient case for carrying the device, an external charger, a CD
with drivers and instructions, as well as a “paper” manual for quick
step by step installation of the device.

The keyboard installation process is so easy that there is no point in stopping
on its details. I will only note that the Bluetooth driver is installed first
– IVT BlueSoleil, then, already by pressing the combination
virtual keys Shift + Fn + B resets the factory settings of the keyboard
(the main key combinations are painted on the back of the device). After
pairing devices, entering a password and setting the keyboard port, all that remains is
install
keyboard driver by selecting it from the proposed list of devices.

If this is not your first piece of iron, then perhaps you have been reading longer
these lines, how long the keyboard installation process will take.

After start
keyboard drivers, you will see a special icon in the system tray, which
displays in the keyboard settings menu with six tabs.

Strictly speaking,
now on the “Connection” tab it remains to select the port that is displayed
when installing BlueSoleil, and at this point the connection to the PC is completed. with those
or other variations, the keyboard connects to any other device.

keyboard. At the bottom of the device design, a special
a button that should always be pressed when using the keyboard. Other
words, as soon as you raise the keyboard above the surface and the button is released,
the device is automatically de-energized.

The surface of the device has a minimum of control elements, ports and indicators:
in addition to the power button and the auto-off button, there are blue
and red LEDs installed at the top and used to indicate
various modes of operation of the keyboard, as well as a connector for connecting the charger
devices. Strictly speaking, this is all, all other control and management functions,
including the synchronization process, are carried out using combinations of virtual
keys.

You don’t have to worry about their performance: the keyboard turns on successfully
and accompanies each touch on the virtual key with a characteristic squeak
and without connecting to an external device.

Starting to print for the first time, I must confess, I did it with apprehension. No,
the keyboard works flawlessly and without failures, but still at first you feel
somewhat unusually: a kind of uncle sits and, like a child, taps his fingers on
countertop. However, getting used to the printing process without pressing any tangible
buttons happens quickly enough, for which special thanks to the soundtrack,
clearly fixing each “click”.

that, despite the past feeling of the unreality of what is happening,
nevertheless, you gradually get involved in the process and almost forget that the real buttons are
No. On the other hand, hand on heart, I will say that I personally hardly ever
would be able to achieve the speed of printing, which is achieved by a blind 10-finger
method on a standard PC or laptop keyboard. The thing is, no matter how hard you try,
but from time to time you still have to look at the keys, because in practice
it is impossible to place the projection of the keys in some clear physical framework with
accurate to the millimeter, therefore without being physically felt by the pads
the fingers of the buttons will have to look at the pattern of the virtual buttons every time
until a certain speed is reached. On the other hand, I don’t know
another equally compact keyboard that takes up physical space on the table
like a matchbox.

During testing, the keyboard was “run in” on a variety of
surfaces. By the way, the projection size indicated in the specifications is 295
x 95 mm is achieved on a flat and smooth horizontal surface, although the keyboard
able to work at an angle (until the base located at the base is wrung out
button), in which case the projection size is, of course, changed. This is on my
the look is still a plus, adding flexibility to the keyboard.

In my experience, the keyboard works great on any smooth surface.
On any, including polished countertops, smooth wood, a sheet of office paper,
a slightly crumpled sheet of a glossy magazine with colorful illustrations, finally,
even on a somewhat corrugated cardboard box from under a laptop. In this, actually
speaking, and was the whole point of “testing” the keyboard. Everything above
the listed surfaces were perceived by the “guidance system” of the keyboard
no problems, operation continued without interruption.

Another thing is a rough surface, such as a cloth bag. Alas, plaintive
the chaotic squeak of the receiver notifies that the beam has “lost” in
villi of fabric, and there will be no holiday. Theoretically, of course, virtual
The keyboard can be used with fabric surfaces, but these must be
very dense smooth fabrics.

A few words about the stability of the keyboard. Since the whole structure is in working
state is put “on the priest”, I have big doubts that her
can be used, for example, at the table of a compartment car of a standard domestic
trains. Here somewhere in Germany, in the cabin of a high-speed train, which is not
rumbles at the joints, the virtual keyboard, I believe, does not move. However,
if it was really necessary, I personally would be able to “force” to stand
this keyboard without moving even in a boat on a stormy lake. It’s already a matter
dexterity and taste.


In general, I want to note that despite the amazement that has passed after testing
the principle of operation of this interesting novelty, in the soul still remained forever
delight from a witty approach to solving the issue of data entry for any, most
constrained circumstances. An additional plus of the design is undoubtedly the use
Bluetooth interface, which really turns the virtual laser
keyboard into a very handy device.