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A KEYBOARD is so much more than just a drab tool that you bang at every day, passive-aggressively telling Susan that you're "reattaching the report for her convenience". It's a statement piece that speaks as much about you as the outfit you wear. It deserves to be paired with a matching mousepad, a custom-made cable, and yes, that one very special keycap set you picked out.
Are you using one of those plastic, grime-encrusted membrane monstrosities that came with your company PC? That thing belongs in the bin.
This is where GMK, a company specialising in the design and production of customised keyboards, keycaps, control panels and peripheral devices, comes in. Now I really want to direct your attention to the geekhack forums and the selection of keycap group buys available there.
Maybe you're a fan of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Perhaps you like the sea and the roiling of the deep blue waters. Or maybe, you just really like jamón ham. Believe it or not, there's a set inspired by each of these things.
GMK Mizu's colours are drawn from those of the Water Tribes featured in the Airbender animated television series, and mizu means water in Japanese. The set's novelties - a handful of keycaps with stylised legends - pay homage to both The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, featuring Naga the polar bear dog, moon and ocean spirits Tui and La, and Aang's blue arrow tattoo and eyes. One of the blue arrow keys even has glow-in-the-dark legends, no doubt a reference to Aang when he enters his avatar state.
Then there's GMK Hammerhead, which wants to "evoke the feel of chilled, oceanic spray against your cheeks". The blueish-green legends on the Deep Water kit are the color of the water when you peer up at the surface from the depths of the ocean. To further set the mood, there's a whimsical Enter key novelty with a hammerhead on it, in addition to various other nautical-themed keycaps, including a lighthouse, pipe and ship's wheel. Unfortunately, the group buy for this set has been put on hold while the creator works out some kinks, but I really hope it comes back.
GMK Jamón is less elaborate, but the entire set is colored a deep, lush red that looks absolutely delectable. The novelties are also pretty hilarious, including bacon, ham, and of course, a pig. There was even a collaboration with Rama Works for a white aluminium keycap with a glistening yellow enamel infill that looks just like a fresh sunny-side-up egg.
If you're a coder, you might appreciate GMK Dracula, a homage to the Dracula theme colour scheme for a range of code editors and applications. There's even a quirky "ERR!" add-on kit that further references the set's coding roots, on top of a brightly coloured Highlight kit with pastel and neon keys in Dracula colours.
Unsurprisingly, someone has drawn inspiration from science fiction and cyberpunk dystopias as well. GMK Night Runner is all about the dark, inky sky hovering above a neon-drenched metropolis, recalling scenes from Blade Runner and Altered Carbon, a Web science-fiction television series.
If Night Runner isn't your thing though, GMK Pulse is running right now on Drop till the end of the month. It's another somewhat futuristic-looking set, with deep black alphas and bright turquoise modifiers that really pop. I have the SA version of the set, and I think the GMK version with its Cherry profile looks even better. SA and Cherry are different keycap profiles manufactured by different companies, with Cherry being the lower profile one that's generally easier to get used to.
The keycap sets all have GMK in front of their names because they're made by GMK, a German company known for its doubleshot ABS keycaps and use of original Cherry tooling. It is considered one of the higher-quality manufacturers out there, to whom many of the best designers now take their sets for manufacture, but many other keycap sets are available in different profiles and from different factories.
Unfortunately, some of the sets mentioned here have already run and no longer available to buy now. If you want something to get excited about though, you can probably check out MT3 Serika, GMK Peaches n Cream or SA Bliss, GMK WoB Hiragana and even GMK 8008. There's something for nearly everyone. If you're looking to pimp out your battle station, one of these custom sets will do far better than any RGB gaming keyboard.
- This content first appeared on hardwarezone.com.sg