Angry Miao's new keyboard uses touch gestures for arrows (2023)

Angry Miao is back with another unique mechanical keyboard that costs a small fortune. This time he thought, "Hey, wouldn't you love to use perfectly straight swipe gestures instead of physical arrow keys?"

This new card is called AM Compact Touch. Angry Miao calls it a 65% dash, but it has no arrow keys. Instead, it has a small trackpad on the front to swipe up, down, left, and right. If that sounds tedious and finicky, well, you're right, although this keyboard is so much more than that. It's also a combination of impeccable build quality, excellent typing feel, and some confusing design decisions. YourExpires February 2nd on Indiegogo, which ranges in price from $398 to $615, depending on the build and package you choose.

Angry Miao's new keyboard uses touch gestures for arrows (1)

At first glance, the AM Compact Touch looks like thehappy keyboard hacked(affectionately known as HHKB), a unique mechanical keyboard with a hardcore fan base who love its design and heavy-sounding Topre switches. However, the Compact Touch's nods to the HHKB are superficial. While the symmetrical layout with "blockers" (white dots in the corners where the control keys usually go) is pure HHKB, the Compact Touch lacks its other features, such as a split backspace key or a control key instead of Caps LOCK. If you're loyal to HHKB, you're probably howling and pulling your hair out right now. I can sympathetically listen to complaints about the inefficiencies of stretching your little finger too far to hit Backspace, though frankly I'm used to living in sin like this, and it's easy to reassign control to the Caps Lock key inAngry Miao Custom Software.

In addition to HHKB mimicry, the Compact Touch shares some features with other Angry Miao keyboards. Inside, use crossbows like theAFA general, allowing users to adjust the flexibility and firmness of the board. In pre-built form, it comes with pre-lubricated frosted silver linear switches - the brand's hot-swap switch of choice. Its metal case is CNC-machined from a single block of aluminum, using a similar process to the extremely expensiveHatsu. The company says it takes a total of five and a half hours to make each Compact Touch chassis. And at the base of that chassis is the familiar wireless charger that allowscybermatgo wireless.

Angry Miao's new keyboard uses touch gestures for arrows (3)

The Compact Touch is released in seven different colors. Some take direct inspiration from pop culture: "8-Bit" has similar colors to the Nintendo Famicom, "Back to the Future" bears some resemblance to its namesake DeLorean (and by that name, perhaps calling Universal's cease-and-desist Pictures). , and there are special editions called "Laser" and "Mech Love". Those last two are pricier, the former having a blacked-out design with front RGB scatter lights similar to Tesla's headlights, because of course, and the latter being black and white with pre-wash wear and Tesla-inspired illuminated, death and robots.

The variety of colors is a welcome addition, in my opinion. I think most of them look pretty fancy, even if some, like the hiragana sub-keys on 8-bit keys, get close to creepy levels (par for the course with Angry Miao). And I'm pretty relieved that we're starting to see the often-used smoked clear keys with much cooler gray printed subtitles instead of the ugly pea green I used to use before.

Angry Miao's new keyboard uses touch gestures for arrows (4)

Angry Miao says his goal with this board was to reduce the popular 65% design to a smaller, more symmetrical, and aesthetically pleasing design. Right. But a 65% board has dedicated arrow keys by default, and the Compact Touch doesn't. Instead, Angry Miao has given it a front touchpad, which is about two inches wide and half an inch tall. While it allows you to enter arrow keystrokes in all four directions, it's often difficult to do so without making mistakes. This often leads to moving the cursor up when you meant to move it to the left or down when you intended to move it to the right. You can swipe and hold for continuous inputs (the equivalent of holding down a physical arrow key), but it's easy to go overboard. I acknowledge that this is a user input error. But since Windows and Mac operating systems weren't built for this, you have to learn to live with the occasional misplaced arrow or "git gud" with those perfectly straight swipe gestures, like you're playing the worst one-thumb game.Ninja fruit.

The best part of the touchpad is that you don't have to move your right hand from the home row to use the arrow keys, although other boards have figured this out with the use of layering functions and keys like J, K, L., and i, or even Fn + [; ' Y /. And every time you save moving your hand about six inches is wasted when the cursor inevitably jumps to the top or bottom of a paragraph or line instead of the next letter. If Angry Miao had some sort of software solution to allow the touchpad to control the cursor like iPhones allow when you long press the virtual spacebar, it could be a game changer.

Angry Miao's new keyboard uses touch gestures for arrows (5)

Also, Angry Miao missed an opportunity to make this keyboard a bit more left-handed friendly, since the touchpad is centered on the front of the keyboard case and not centered where your hands rest on the home row. This gives the Compact Touch cleaner, more balanced lines and a sleeker design, but it also means the touchpad is better positioned for the right thumb than the left. It could have been nice to make it more ambidextrous, but it's no surprise that Angry Miao sacrifices functionality for AESTHETICS.

There can be a little sense of satisfaction when you hit the right arrow moves, like pulling off a well-timed combo in a fighting game, though it's hard to deny the feeling that all you've managed to do is get over an obstacle you've set for yourself. . And this became more apparent to me when I realized that I was using the mouse more often to select text and move the cursor, because our brains are wired to find the path of least resistance. Maybe that's why small form factor boards like the HHKB use function layers to mimic missing arrow keys. You can customize the Compact Touch to do just that, though if the touchpad isn't fully utilized, you may be wondering where you spent that money.

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But I give Angry Miao credit for trying something new, and arrows aside, this has become my favorite AM keyboard in actual use. I'm a fan of compact keyboards in the 60-75 percent range, and the Compact Touch really has a lovely design, typing feel, sound, great battery life, and quick pairing and switching between up to three devices via Bluetooth.

Part of me wishes Angry Miao would stick with a standard HHKB layout and not worry about the finesse of touch gestures. But frankly, it wouldn't be an Angry Miao keyboard without some quirks.

Angry Miao's new keyboard uses touch gestures for arrows (7)

Photograph by Antonio G. Di Benedetto / The Verge

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