Middle-earth has seen more than its share of trials and challenges, but perhaps none more pressing today than the lack of mechanical keyboards that some of the various peoples can actually read. For ages, everyone from elves to dwarves had to make do with keyboards with legends in unknown languages. Today, keyboard and audio brand Drop has released two pre-built mechanical keyboards to rule them all – or at least elvish and dwarven speakers.
Drop + Lord of the Rings Dwarvish and Alvish Keyboards ($169) are the first to get official Lord of the Rings licensing, Drop said in its announcement today. The keyboards are based on Drop’s November release of Lord of the Rings keycap set, also written in Elvish and Dwarven, and follows Drops Lord of the Rings craft keys made of resin.
Drop’s new pre-built keyboards are aimed at people who want a keyboard that JRR Tolkien would be proud of, but don’t necessarily want to go on an epic Tolkien-style journey to build their own.
Drop’s Elvish keyboard has legends written in actual translations of the Tolkien-created languages of Sindarin Elvish and, for the modifier keys, Tengwar, the form of Elvish found in the oh-so-special ring.
The Dwarvish keyboard, on the other hand, uses the Cirth language, while the modifiers are inspired by the Erebor language.
The translations, found on the product page of the keys, are somewhat loose. For example, Shift on the Elvish keyboard is “ortho”, the word for “raising”, and Shift-lock on the Dwarven keyboard is “ahdun ashfât”, which apparently means “contains moves”.
All the keycaps are PBT plastic, so we expect them to have better quality and texture than the typical ABS key. The keycaps also use the MT3 profile, a taller, thicker, vintage-style form factor with deep curves that hug the fingertips. The profile is also used in the Drops Islay Night keyboard.
Color sublimated legends should also help ensure that the legends do not fade. The technique also tends to give an inky look, which works well for this aesthetic.
The keyboards use the Drops Entr tenkeyless mechanical keyboard (typically $90) as a base, with detailed Lord of the Rings– themed design and colors on the plastic top cover and anodized aluminum cover. The keyboards also use Drops Phantom stabilizers ($25 per pack), bilingual keycaps ($130), and Holy Panda X tactile mechanical switches (a pricey $35 for 35). We haven’t tried them personally, but the keyboards appear to come with mundane USB-C to USB-A rubber cables. At least the cables are removable, in case you want to swap them out for something more interesting or durable.
Holy Panda X switches should have less wobble and a more consistent feel than the original Holy Panda Frankenswitch which combined Drop Halo tactile and Invyr Panda linear mechanical switches. You can see Holy Panda X’s power curve below:
Holy Panda switches are known for being extremely tactile, and Drop’s product page for the Holy Panda X claims they feel “incredibly similar” to its predecessor. When we tried the Holy Pandas on the Islay night, they had strong tactility and a bold and memorable pop when they released a key.
Unfortunately, Drop only sells the keyboard without a number pad, so you get one Lord of the Rings keyboard in any other form factor requires you to build your own. Building your own keyboard will also allow those fluent in Elvish or Dwarven (or confident touch typists) to have keystrokes that skip the English legends entirely.
Drop said the keyboards will begin shipping to both elves and dwarves “in early October.”
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