If you’ve read our hardware content for any length of time or listened to our podcasts where we’ve joked about my “throne of keyboards,”, then you already know how much I love mechanical keyboards. What began as a passing interest has grown into a full-on hobby and a collection of more than three dozen boards. I love these things, so believe me when I say that there’s something exciting about the HexGears Gemini Dusk and Dawn.
If you haven’t heard of Hexgears, don’t worry. They’re a new company looking to establish themselves in the West after developing a strong presence in Asia. They’ve partnered with Input Club, a keyboard start-up out of California whose grown quite famous in the mechanical keyboard scene. In fact, we’ve reviewed two of their keyboards here with the K-Type and WhiteFox and found each of them extremely impressive. What’s more, this is a company that prides themselves on not cutting corners, pushing keyboards to the next level, and honing in on the tiny details core keyboard enthusiasts get giddy over. Put simply, if Input Club puts their weight behind backing someone, even putting it in their Kono storefront, you can trust there’s something special about them.
And of course, we at MMORPG have heard of Hexgears before. In fact, we reviewed their first offering in the West with the impressive X-1 wireless low profile keyboard. It was a neat, novel idea. Low profile keys, a small layout that somehow managed to keep nearly all the functionality of a full-size keyboard while coming in a TKL size. It was cool and I said so. Since then, they’ve continued developing and hinting at cool things to come. The Gemini Dusk and Dawn are two of those things.
Above is the Dusk and below you’ll find the Dawn. Each keyboard is a side of the same coin. As you can tell, they feature beautiful RGB illumination with custom super-bright LEDs, including a customizable wrap-around ring for some impressive underglow. What makes them special goes deeper than that though.
The core thing you need to know is that these are enthusiast grade keyboards coming in at a gaming-grade price. If that sound derogatory of gaming keyboards, it shouldn’t - gaming keyboards are great, if you’re alright with paying the “gaming tax” on top of the keyboard itself.
What do I mean by that? It’s simple really: mid- to high-end gaming keyboards charge you a premium purely because it’s targeted at gamers hoping to buy an advantage. Companies will skimp out of parts and oversell others, then stick the words “gaming” and “eSports” on a box before slapping on a solid mark-up.
Enthusiast keyboards like the Gemini, and the obviously inspirational K-Type, spend less on marketing and reinvest into the keyboard itself. The keycaps on most “gaming” keyboards are thin, UV-coated ABS that shine, scratch, and feel cheap under the fingers. The Gemini uses thicker-walled doubleshot PBT to prevent all of those things. “Gaming” keyboards stick an “aircraft-grade aluminum!” top-plate on top of a plastic body. The Gemini is solid aluminum and doesn’t try to hide the fact that pretty much every mechanical keyboard uses a metal plate of some kind. “Gaming” keyboards often strap thick, non-detachable cables on the back, forcing you to buy a whole new board if it breaks. The Gemini uses a detachable USB Type-C connector that’s replaceable on the cheap, and if something does break, you can open the keyboard and fix it. There’s no gaudy branding, no ridiculous sharp edges or dangerous looking plastic. It’s just a solid, well-made keyboard that looks good and works better.
The Geminis have another trick up their sleeve: hot-swappable switches. While most keyboards, even most enthusiast keyboards, solder their switches into place, the Gemini allows you to pull them straight out and press a new one in. This is, hands down, one of my most unexpected favorite features of technology in 2018. Rather than buy an expensive new keyboard to change up your switches, you can by the switches by themselves, usually for $30-50 for a whole set, and completely change your typing and gaming experience.
This opened a whole new world to me. Did you know there are literally dozens of different kinds of switches? You wouldn’t know it by looking at the gaming world where it’s blue, red, and brown until the cows come home. I started with Hako True switches, then went to Kailh Bronze, and again to NovelKeys x Kailh Box Jade, which has become my new favorite. I’ve literally had switches shipped in from Taiwan. Last year, I would have called that madness. But, thanks to eBay, I could do it for under $30 with no import costs, and have a keyboard that feels completely different and so much better than anything you can walk into a store and buy. It really is that cool.
Hopefully you can see now why this keyboard has me excited and I haven’t even gotten into the open source software or the community that’s actively developing on it to expand what the board can do. I haven’t shared about the macro programming or the layers upon layers of keybinds you can make. Instead, what I’ll tell you is this: from what I can see now, that $140 entry price is going to get you more than most gaming keyboards ever could while also being better built and way nicer to use.
We’ll see once I can get my hands on it - expectation isn’t always reality - but this is clearly one of the keyboards to watch in 2019. Find out more at the Kono Store.