Art Lebedev unveils compact LCD keyboard

Just to prove that some gadget fanatics have yet to be affected by the economic crisis, flashy gizmo designer Art Lebedev has revealed yet another gorgeous keyboard laden with customisable LCDs.

The new Optimus Popularis has just been unveiled on the Optimus Project Live Journal, showing a keyboard that's a similar size and shape to an old 48K ZX Spectrum. Unlike the full-size Optimus Maximus keyboard, the Popularis only features a basic typing keyboard, along with the standard F-keys, Cursor keys and both Windows and Apple keys.

There's no numeric keypad, although you can hit the Fn key to effectively treat a part of the layout like a numeric pad if you want to. There's also no sign of the Insert, Home and End keys, as well as PgUp and PgDn, although these features will be secondary functions of the other keys too.

Of course, the function of the keys is secondary to how they look on a device such as this, and this time every key apparently comes with more LCD real estate compared with the Maximus, including the Spacebar.

Not only that, but there's also a further LCD between the F-keys and standard keyboard, which we assume is customisable to display all sorts of widgets. In the released photo, it's shown displaying weather forecasts, stock prices and an email alert, as well as graphs for CPU and memory usage.

Of course, this elite piece of kit isn't going to be cheap, but it's apparently going to be significantly cheaper than the Optimus Maximus. According to Art Lebedev, it will cost under $1,000 (£668.74). Okay, so that's still a ridiculous amount of money for a keyboard, but it's much cheaper than the $2,400 (£1,605) demanded for the Maximus.

The Optimus Maximus took several years to eventually surface after the first photos were shown off, but Art Lebedev reckons it won't be long before the new compact keyboard is available to buy. According to the web site, the Optimus Popularis will be available for pre-order either at the end of this year of the beginning of next.