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Cherry introduces new Viola mechanical switches for budget keyboards

By Koh Wanzi - on 14 Jan 2020, 11:54am

Cherry introduces new Viola mechanical switches for budget keyboards

Cherry Viola

Most mechanical switches today are modeled after Cherry's MX-style switches, including ones from the likes of Gateron, Kailh, and boutique manufacturers like Zeal PC. However, Cherry's own MX switches can be quite pricey when compared to some of these other options, which is probably why the company is introducing a new value-oriented option in the form of its Viola switches. It's supposed to help keyboard makers build cheaper mechanical keyboards, while still preserving compatibility with third-party keycaps with the familiar cross stem.

This is a brand new solder-free switch design, featuring a V-shaped contact system that is also self-cleaning. The switch housing is also constructed from a plastic polymer with tight tolerances of less than 0.01m. This precision helps guide the switch's slider better and also minimises switch wobble, according to Cherry. Elsewhere, it utilises a POM socket, which is supposed to deliver smoother key strokes.

Image Source: Cherry

In addition, the Viola uses clear plastic, so it's compatible with SMD LEDs, which should help manufacturers create cheaper gaming keyboards with RGB backlighting. 

The Viola switch appears to have something of a progressive force curve, although it's more accurately a two-stage design rather than a gradual increase in terms of force required. In Cherry's words, an actuation force of 45g is required for the pre-travel of 2mm. After that, the actuation force ramps up to 75g at the end of the travel distance, which sits at 4mm. Cherry describes this characteristic as "CrossLinear", and I'm looking forward to seeing these on actual keyboards moving forward.

There's just one switch type at the moment though, so you don't get different coloured flavours as on Cherry's MX switches. 

Cherry is also stressing that the Viola switches are still made at its factory in Germany, with all the usual quality checks for reliability and precision. The company says it thinks this will be the killer of rubber dome switches, and I sure hope that turns out to be true.