CM Storm Novatouch TKL Review
Such is the single-minded focus of the CM Storm Novatouch TKL that the conclusion is going to be a brief affair.
There isn't any lighting, or software, or dedicated macro keys, or numpad. There are some alternate functions on the F-keys that control key repeat speed and the media functions. Otherwise this is entirely about the switches, and whether these Hybrid ones are a big improvement or some Emperors New Clothes.
We've tested every type of key style around, in dozens of varieties. From laptop scissor switches, through membrane and the firmest Cherry MX Black switches. The Hybrid Capacitive ones on the Novatouch TKL are an absolute joy. Quieter than even the Cherry MX Reds, and with the included o-rings installed quieter than nearly everything, noise is most definitely not an issue. The keys are very linear in their response and, lacking the more obvious sprung return you get from other mechanical switches, supremely easy to type with. Hours of stress free typing are yours, and the decision to allow you to use the multitude of custom keycaps is a real feather in the cap of the designers.
There are a few niggles, and how negative they are depends upon your needs. It is tiny, which is a bonus if you're short of desk space, but we really, really, miss the numpad in gaming and pulling up ° symbols and the like. Our box proclaimed a UK layout, but clearly it's a US layout. Whether this is a side effect of it being a review sample, or a problem in the factory we don't know. Obviously Cooler Master are a titan of the market so we'll be generous and assume a review model snafu. We don't understand why the o-rings have been included but not fitted. Who wants to get their new keyboard and spend an hour or so fitting tiny rubber rings to all the keys? Especially with such a wilfully rubbish keypuller.
Lastly the price. This is something that cannot be glossed over. Yes the switches are amazing, but when you look at a keyboard such as the Corsair Vengeance K70 RGB, which has the almost-as-brilliant Cherry MX switches, multiple colour options, dedicated media keys and a numpad for the roughly the same price, the CM Storm Novatouch TKL becomes extremely expensive in comparison.
It seems almost unfair to review this. Looking at it as anything other than a demonstration of future technologies is almost disingenuous. It's obvious the key switches dominate the product as so little attention has been paid to anything else at all. Perhaps in time CM Storm will put these fantastic switches into a keyboard more befitting of their excellence. For now, at this price, it exists only as a curiosity and gets our OC3D Innovation award. Now make an effort with the rest of it, Cooler Master, so we can enjoy them more without looking at all the things it hasn't got.
Thanks to CM Storm for providing the Novatouch TKL for review. Discuss it in the OC3D Forums.