The ROG Strix Flare II Animate puts a tiny dot-matrix display on a keyboard

ROG, one of Asus’ gaming brands, announced the Strix Flare II Animatea mechanical keyboard that gets its name from its built-in LED screen, which can play animations or display logos, similar to the dot-matrix displays ROGs have built into the lids of some laptops.

Asus calls this technology the AniMe Matrix LED display and says you can use it to display all kinds of things; custom graphics and animations, system information such as battery life, time and date, and even audio visualizations. It’s blingy to say the least and more eye-catching than an illuminated logo. That could be a good thing though — this keyboard costs $220, so it has to justify that price somehow.

As if the Strix Flare II Animate didn’t have enough lighting with the 312 mini-LED display, Asus also added an RGB strip on the bottom. “But wait,” I hear my hands protest. “Won’t adding a wrist rest cover up all that relief?” And indeed, it would be – if the palm rest that comes with this keyboard didn’t have a diffuser that gives it a colorful undertone.

The Flare II Animate also has a laundry list of non-screen and RGB-related features, including:

  • 8000Hz polling
  • Media control, which takes the form of a button, scroll wheel and button
  • USB 2.0 passthrough
  • PBT Double shot keycaps
  • Sound-absorbing foam

Finally, and somewhat important when it comes to a keyboard, are the actual key switches. The Animate comes with Cherry MX Blue, Brown, or Red switches. You can also get it with Asus’ own ROG NX switches, also in three different flavors. It even has interchangeable switches, so you can disable switches depending on your preference – for example, you can make it harder to press the spacebar and easier to press the WASD.

If you don’t like the heavy bling (and price) of the Animate, Asus will also sell a standard Strix Flare II for $180. There are more caveats, though. It doesn’t have that many switch choices, as they aren’t easily interchangeable, and it can’t be equipped with Cherry switches. You’re also missing the AniMe screen, of course – it’s been replaced by an RGB ROG logo (the lights on the bottom are gone too). Other than that, it’s similar; it still has most of the features of Animate, such as N-key rollover, a 2 meter braided cable, and macro support.

The Strix Flare II without animation will be available at the end of this month, and Asus says the “tentative” availability of the Animate will also be around the end of January.

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