A few weeks ago it came to my attention a new project by Kono involving the Whitefox. I need to put the record straight here once and for all: I am NOT involved in any way with the new Whitefox Eclipse. I wasn’t part of its development, not even in a consulting position. The Whitefox Eclipse it’s a 100% Kono/AlpacaKeyboards project.
They contacted me a while back saying they were working on it and I have absolutely no problem for them to use the legacy Whitefox “brand”. So best of luck to them, but –again– it’s not a product I worked on or endorsed.
So a little bit of history for the new comers.
It all started with the Brownfox. The Brownfox is a custom keyboard I hand wired back in 2013. 65% keyboards were not a thing back then so I had to build my own. For the keycaps I used DSA Retro which is a brown set, therefore the very little imaginative Brownfox name :).
At the time I also had a bunch of white alps Keycaps so I started designing an Alps version of the same keyboard and being the keycaps white the name was… WhiteFox. Unfortunately the Alps Whitefox never came to life but together with Drop and Input Club we decided to release the WhiteFox: the keyboard that kickstarted the 65% mania.
The WhiteFox was initially a kit and many of the design choices were taken to first of all keep the price down but also to make it an easily hackerable product. In fact the keyboard came with 7 different plates and you could laser cut your own if you wanted as the project was open completely open source.
I believe Input Club (heart of Kono store) started working on the Eclipse project that then was handed over to Alpaca Keyboards for the production side of things. Anyway I know very well all the guys involved in the project and I assure you that they are pillars of the Mechanical Keyboard Community and not just a money making soulless company.
Anywho… I asked if they could send me a prototype to see first hand what the Eclipse is about and they happily obliged. It’s a very early 3D printed prototype, so it’s not representative of the final product but it’s enough to get a glimpse. I shot a short video if you are interested.
The keyboard will be with a plastic case with an optional aluminum case. It’s bluetooth and RGB and I believe the backlight works also in wireless mode. The firmware is open source and compatible with VIA for easy customization.
If you look closely you’ll notice that there are no screws, in fact it is held together by magnets. The magnetic “gasket” together with the abundance of foam and the cuts on the PCB should grant a soft and pleasing typing experience.
From what I experienced the keyboard lacks a little of “physicality” due to the plastic case, but I’m assured by Alpaca that things will be fixed in the final version.
So, who is this for? It’s a kind of weird product. It has some nice ideas but honestly I don’t know why they wanted to keep the WhiteFox design which is a bit outdated by today’s standards. It is a keyboard I would probably recommend to “normies”, which is not a bad thing. The community tends to be a little too much gate keeping lately but I see nothing wrong in trying to consolidate certain tropes at a reasonable price point.
Few months ago I reviewed a Logitech low profile keyboard that costs more or less the same but it’s a really (really) terrible product. I believe the target of the Eclipse could be the same but the new Whitefox is an order of magnitude better compared to the horrific and overpriced Logitech thing.
The Eclipse is maybe nothing to scream about but I can’t really find anything wrong with it. Hopefully I will get a final sample and I’ll make a better review then; this post is mostly to set the record straight and let the world know that despite the name the WhiteFox Eclipse is not my doing.