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TheVan’s Kumo is a customizable mechanical keyboard that you can take anywhere

Portable, mechanical, and chock-full of RGB. What’s not to like?

thevan kumo keyboard
Image: TheVan

Perhaps you miss the 1990s, or maybe you don’t like modern keyboard design. These days, most portable keyboard designers focus on them being flat and easy to fit in tight spaces, making long-term use a little uncomfortable. Some companies have decided to combine these options to make a portable mechanical keyboard, just like from the old days.

TheVan’s new compact keyboard, Kumo, adds new technology to traditional design. What makes Kumo so special is the customization options. You can reprogram the keyboard to fit any typing format or add and remove keys easily. Hot-swap sockets make your keyboard have a different feel for every key if you choose. The keyboard also has universal compatibility, a USB port, and customizable RGB LED lighting.

The Kumo is fully customizable

Customizing the keyboard is easy. The programming comes with an easy-to-use editor that saves your settings for every device you use the keyboard with. You can take the keys, switches, and sockets apart easily by pulling them straight up, then put everything back together by pushing them straight down. However, to make a universal fitting, TheVan is only producing one keycap size.

Kumo users can also customize its RGB indicator LED lights to varying ranges of color for flashy displays. The LED lights are more than just a feature — they’re also extremely useful. They can show what layers on the keyboard are active and indicate if power is getting to the keyboard or not. There are also the more traditional displays of indicating num lock, scroll lock, and other settings. Once you have customized the programming and format of the keyboard, the lights can do whatever you like.

The Kumo is still in development and available for purchase on TheVan’s Kickstarter campaign. At $150, the keyboard is pricey, despite the extra features for full customization. There will also be a switch plate available for about $12 and a $95 carrying case at the end of the campaign. In addition, you can choose a limited-edition translucent carrying case.

The Competition

There are, of course, other portable keyboards out there that don’t fit into the trendy flat design. Some designers are getting creative with their keyboards to show something a little different. In the Kumo’s situation, the price is the most damaging part. Finding a keyboard doing the same for cheaper would be excellent, but would also be hard to come by.

For example, the KnewKey Rymek is a retro-styled mechanical keyboard with the design of an old-fashioned typewriter. The keyboard is Bluetooth-compatible, LED-lit and has two USB ports. There is also a small stand for a tablet or smartphone, and the keys are all in a saddle-type shape.

Despite the cool design, the KnewKey keyboard is pretty bulky and impractical for portable use. There is nothing customizable about it, and the price is anywhere from $99 to $119, depending on the switches you want.

Then there’s Roccat’s Horde AIMO keyboard. The Horde AIMO is a membranical RGB gaming keyboard and lacks portability, so judging it against those merits would be unfair. What differentiates this keyboard is that it replaces key switches with a membrane, making typing nearly silent. The keyboard also comes with a multi-purpose rotating wheel that controls various aspects from volume to brightness to many other options.

The Horde AIMO is customizable, but only if you have Roccat’s Swarm software handy. The software can also update your keyboard and provide different settings. The RGB lights aren’t very bright, which isn’t a deal-breaker, and the price is low at $89.99 compared to other keyboards. However, interchangeable keys and switches are not an option on this one.

The Kumo is unique for being fully customizable and remembering your settings across every device. It’s also important to note you can use the keyboard on any device and any program. If the higher price tag doesn’t concern you, and all the bells and whistles on this piece of hardware are worth it to you, splurge a little — the current competition doesn’t compare.

What do you think of the Kumo? What’s your favorite mechanical keyboard? Let us know in the comments below.

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Kayla Matthews is a technology writer and blogger who runs ProductivityBytes.com. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter to read all of her latest posts!

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