System76 is a company that’s best known for selling Linux PCs, but last year the company entered the peripheral market with the introduction of a configurable keyboard with open source firmware and software. With a $285 starting price, the Launch Keyboard clearly isn’t for everyone.
Now there’s a (slightly) more affordable option. The new System76 Launch Lite has just about all of the features that make the original stand out… but it has fewer keys, a more compact design and a $199 starting price. It’s available for purchase now.
Like the original Launch keyboard, the new Launch lite is manufactured in Colorado, features a choice of Kailh Box Jade, Royal, Silent Pink, or Silent Brown mechanical key switches, features per-key RGB lighting, and supports software that lets you remap keys, allowing you to rearrange the keycaps and use them in just about any configuration you’d like. Changes are saved to the keyboard’s firmware, which means that they’ll be applied whether you’re using the keyboard with a Linux, Mac, or Windows PC.
What’s different is that while the Launch keyboard has 84 keys arranged in six rows, while the Launch lite has just 70 keys in five rows. And while you can use the Launch keyboard as a 4-port USB hub, the Launch Lite has just a single USB 2.0 Type-C input for connecting to a computer.
Overall it’s smaller and lighter than the original Launch keyboard and has fewer components, which helps explain the lower price tag.
The original Launch keyboard measures 306.5 x 135.3 x 30.25mm (12.07″ x 5.33″ x 1.19″) and weighs 948 grams (2.09 pounds), and the Launch Lite is 306.5 x 107.5 x 30.25mm (12.07″ x 4.23″ x 1.19″) and 816.5 grams (1.8 pounds).