This year at CES 2020, Cherry announced the VIOLA switch, a new mechanical switch that is aimed at the lower-end mechanical keyboard market.
The expiry of Cherry’s patent marks the rising of the clones and imitation switches as what we are seeing today. Kailh, Gateron, Outemu and such, are some of the very common Cherry MX alternatives that are being used on low-cost mechanical keyboards nowadays.
While it’s good news for the end-users who are just getting started with mechanical keyboards, Cherry is facing tough competition in the low-end segment mechanical keyboard market as compared to the higher-end segment.
The newly announced VIOLA switch is Cherry’s fully mechanical key switch that is aimed to replace membrane switch and hybrid solutions used on low-cost keyboards. According to Cherry, the switch is designed from scratch.
If we compare the stem design to the current Cherry MX switches, the stem on the VIOLA switch does remind us of the BOX switch by Kailh. To ensure that the switch is wobble-free and scratch-free during operation, the stem is made with a tolerance of less than 0.01mm and eight guide rails on the inside.
It also features a different type of actuation design known as the V-Shope contact system. Unlike the existing Cherry MX switches, the VIOLA switch V-Shape contact system has self-cleaning properties and it offers hot-swap functionality due to its solderless design.
|Actuation Point||2 mm||2.2 mm||2 mm||2 mm||1.2 mm|
|Total Travel||4 mm||4 mm||4 mm||4 mm||3.4 mm|
|Actuation Force||45 cN||60 cN||55 cN||45 cN||45 cN|
|Switch Lifecycle||TBA||50 million||50 million||50 million||50 million|
Another unique characteristic of the VIOLA switch is the two-stage linear actuation, a rather interesting kind actuation feel which Cherry described as “CrossLinear”. The 45cN actuation force and 2mm actuation point are very similar to the existing Cherry MX Red and Silver but as soon as it goes below the initial 2mm actuation point, a total force of 75cN is required to fully bottom the key at that 4mm mark.
Based on the report by Anandtech, Cherry has yet to disclose further information on the VIOLA switch, especially on the price and life cycle. What we can assume now is that the VIOLA switch will be significantly cheaper to make, if it’s truly a membrane switch killer as what Cherry claims.