Las Vegas—Roccat has been in the PC peripheral game for some time, but this year they’re showcasing something really neat: a mechanical gaming keyboard with programmable key lighting and customizable Cherry MX mechanical key switches. If that reads like gibberish, let me back up and explain that mechanical keyboards are awesome because they offer much more tactile feedback than your typical keyboard — check out our mechanical keyboard guide to learn more.
That’s not all: Roccat is going even deeper down the hardcore hardware nerd rabbit hole by shipping the MK Ryos Pro with an SDK (software development kit) for the lighting. It’s a neat step forward, but you’ll need to have some basic coding skills to program the keyboard to light up the way you want it to. If you do, you can configure the MK Ryos Pro to light up specific keys at specific times; that makes it possible to hack your keyboard so it lights up the QWERTY keys while you’re at full health and gradually dims them from right to left as your health bar drops, or have the visual equalized for your music player translated into lighting patterns on your backlit keyboard. If your coding skills aren’t up to snuff you’ll need to wait for enterprising Roccat-enthusiasts to get to work. Unfortunately we don’t know exactly how much they’re going to be asking for the MK Ryos Pro, but we know it should go on sale in the first quarter of 2013.
But wait, there’s more : Roccat is showing off a free iOS app that lets you wirelessly monitor and control your PC. It’s called Power-Grid, and while it’s still in beta (and has been for some time) I spent some time testing it at CES and it works surprisingly well when connected to a PC via Wi-Fi (Bluetooth support is in the works). You use it by downloading the free Power-Grid app to your smartphone and installing the free Power-Grid software on your PC, then pairing them up and personalizing the phone app for your needs.
You can use the Power-Grid app to remotely mix and control your PC volume, monitor vital PC stats like available memory or GPU temperature, launch programs and communicate via social networks, Skype and Teamspeak. You can also download custom grids for specific games that let you control the game with your phone; this may seem a little silly (after all, who wants to try and play Starcraft II with an iPhone) but in practice it works well for managing skills in slower games (like spells in Skyrim) or broadcasting orders in fast-paced multiplayer games like League of Legends. There will be a few custom game grids available at launch, and more are expected throughout the year. The Power-Grid apps should be available soon and will be free to download and use, though it’s possible that premium features may be introduced in the future for a small fee.