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AZIO is a company that makes keyboards that look as good as they feel when you type on them, and at Computex it was showing off the prototype for its next device. The AZIO Iris draws inspiration from the design of old-fashioned rangefinder cameras, from Leica and Fujica / Fujifilm, with unashamedly analog dials and switches. It may not be going on sale until the end of the year at the earliest, but I’m already in love.
The AZIO Iris is built in two, with the keyboard and numpad constructed (and sold) as standalone units that sit next to one another on your table. In part, that’s to save people from having to buy something they don’t need, and to save AZIO having to build full and tenkeyless versions of the same device. Inside, you’ll find CherryMX switches (no word on which color) and, perhaps surprisingly, RGB lights underneath the deck.
AZIO has chosen not to use a wired USB connection in the IRIS, and instead will let you use a (bundled) wireless USB dongle or Bluetooth. The first knob on the keyboard, top left, lets you turn it on, and choose between RF (wireless USB) or Bluetooth. In this early version, that’s it, but the finished edition should have a choice of three Bluetooth devices that you can switch between. The keyboard is rechargeable through a USB-C connection.
The knob itself is a small marvel, with a crosshatch design around the edges much like the wheel on an old fashioned camera. In a nice touch, there’s a Leica-esque red dot on top, showing you which option you’ve selected upon.
On the right-hand side, a more complicated analog wheel pulls triple duty, since it is a freestanding direction pad for option-setting. The outer wheel can be used as a volume control, while inside is another D-pad, which is used for playback controls. AZIO’s representatives weren’t clear if it would be possible to assign your own macros to the controls or not, but you would hope that you could.
The flat, polished steel on the keyboard’s frame is wrapped in textured leather, with the colors varying with each option. Gold (the best color) comes wrapped in red leather, while the Rose Gold and Concrete models are clad in white leather. Rounding out the options is the ominously-named Gray edition, itself draped in black leather and, frankly, looking a little dull.
AZIO doesn’t yet know how much the Iris series will cost, although you can expect the keyboard to cost between $160 – $190. The numpad will set you back $60 – $100, and there will be some sort of discount if you buy both together. And the range will come with a tailored version of Azio’s Retro Classic Mouse, albeit with no changes aside from a matching external finish.