Clock ticking for Optimus Maximus keyboard orders

Art Lebedev Studios will start taking preorders for the Optimus Maximus keyboard on May 20

In just over three days' time, Russian designer Artemy Lebedev will finally start taking preorders for his Optimus Maximus keyboard. But anyone with US$1,564.37 burning a hole in their pocket better act fast, only 800 keyboards are going to be made during the first three months of production.

Art. Lebedev Studio's Optimus Maximus keyboard is special because all 114 keys are topped with a tiny, customizable OLED (organic light-emitting diode) screen. But the keyboard has been hit with repeated delays that have postponed its release. In March, Lebedev promised to start taking orders for the keyboard in April, ahead of an expected start to shipments in December.

All those tiny OLED screens don't come cheap and help explain the keyboard's high price. (In his blog, Lebedev noted the $1,564 price happens to match the year William Shakespeare was born: 1564.)

While the date for preorders slipped to May 20, production of the keyboard appears to be on schedule, with the first units to come out of the factory in November. But quantities will be small. Lebedev expects to produce 400 keyboards by the end of December and another 400 during January 2008. The keyboards, which include two USB ports and an SD (Secure Digital) card slot, will be sold on a "first-come, first-served" basis.

Detailed specifications of the keyboard will be made available on May 20.

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