People tend to assume that there are only two types of keyboards on the market, membrane or mechanical. And while that’s a reasonable assumption, there’s actually another option that fits in between: electro-capacitive switches. These bridge the two by using rubber domes for tactility and silence, but also some mechanical switching functions such as a spring. They also don’t work like membrane keyboards, but are activated based on differences in electrical charge – meaning you can adjust their activation distance.
NIZ WP87 Specifications:
|Storage on board||N/A|
|media keys||Must be programmed|
|Connectivity||Non-removable USB Type-A|
|Cable||6 inch USB-A rubber cable|
|to test||PBT plastic|
|Dimensions (LxWxH)||14.5 x 5.5 x 1.1 in (368.3 x 139.7 x 27.9 mm)|
|Weight||1.84 pounds (834 g)|
Design of the NIZ WP87
The NIZ WP87 is a $209 waterproof IP68 tenkeyless mechanical keyboard with electro-capacitive switches, PBT keycaps, and a vintage look and feel thanks to its somewhat sturdy plastic frame.
The design of the WP87, or rather all electro-capacitive keyboards, is based on the company Topre and its keyboards.
Topre (Toe-Pruh) is a Japanese company that makes much more besides keyboards, such as air conditioning parts. I know the idea of making keyboards and air conditioning parts is night and day, but keyboard enthusiasts covet Topre keyboards for their unique switch design. However, they are often extremely expensive.
Silent mechanical switches have few mufflers on the stem legs, which makes them feel a bit mushy, which is where Topre comes in. The switches work via capacitance detection, so you don’t need those dampers. As a result, they are relatively quiet and tactile, but not mushy.
When I got the WP87 I felt like I was getting a retro keyboard from a thrift store because of the white and gray livery accompanied by a plastic case.
While it may look retro, the technology isn’t; The best thing about all NIZ keyboards is their switches, as they have both a rubber dome and a spring. This is ironic because rubber domes are found on membrane keyboards, which have no springs at all. But in this case, we have both, and it offers a very interesting typing experience that I’ll talk about later.
Moving on, the rest of the keyboard is relatively similar to what we usually get on high-end enthusiast boards, such as flip-up feet, cable entry cutouts, and a lack of dedicated media keys *sigh*.
While I almost always prefer a detachable cable, the fixed cable works on the WP87 as it gives it more of a retro look, and I almost hope it turns yellow over time like an old board.
I mentioned before that this keyboard is IP68 waterproof, so to test that, I put the board on my kitchen island and threw water on it as if it were saying something insulting. Low and lo and behold, after a quick swipe it worked fine. I’m not going to lie; the name electro-capacitive scared me a bit here because electricity and water don’t mix well, but I was pleasantly surprised.
Typing experience on the NIZ WP87
Electro-capacitive switches are almost like advanced membrane switches because while they still use rubber domes, on top of each rubber dome is a spring and a plastic slide that makes contact with it. When combined, they create a slight palpable bump with each keystroke. As I mentioned earlier, the end result produces a slight palpable bump without sounding clunky.
It’s a hot take, but I love membrane keyboards because I’m always more accurate with them than mechanical switches. However, at the end of the day, I still prefer mechanical, thanks to their feedback and adaptability. I love that electro-capacitive switches give you the best of both worlds, with a quieter, more elegant diaphragm sound but the tactility of a mechanical switch.
However, the palpable bump is smaller here and almost feels like an over-lubricated MX color.
The actuation force is also a little too light for my taste; I tend to dabble with switches with 65g springs and the 35g actuation force of the WP87 switches was a little too light for me. However, the slight tactile bump offered just enough resistance to counteract the lightness.
Because of the electro-capacitive switches, the sound from the board was very fizzy, and I say bubbles because typing on this board literally sounds like I’m blowing bubbles with a straw. It’s beautiful and emanates from the rubber domes of the keyboard combined with the plate and housing.
A unique advantage of the electro-capacitive switches is that you can adjust their trigger point from 2mm to 3mm, but after playing for a while I didn’t notice any difference.
That said, the switches are pretty smooth and feel delicate when I bottom out, but they’re not the smoothest. By comparison, they’re about as smooth as any standard Gateron switch, but that’s okay because they’re different. There’s so much more to NIZ’s electro-capacitive switches than the standard MX switch, so their uniqueness is a worthy tradeoff when we could have just gotten another MX switch clone keyboard instead.
The worst thing about this keyboard is the stabilizers, because for some reason NIZ decided to use costar stabilizers. Costar stabilizers are not like the usual Cherry stabilizers which makes them a bit of a chore to work with as they don’t snap into place like Cherry stabilizers. When I tried to lubricate them, one of the plastic pieces kept spinning over and over. So, if you plan to lubricate these stabilizers, take a deep breath as they will test your patience.
If you don’t plan on lubricating them, the stabilizers will rattle. When I finished lubricating the stabilizers, they still rattled enough to bother me, but it was a better overall experience for my effort.
While they get some hate from the mechanical keyboard community for being too long, the keycaps included here are OEM profile and I love them. NIZ could have taken the easy way out by including dye sublimated PBT keycaps but using laser engraved PBT keycaps instead, making the legends and alphas look stunning.
The WP87 is generally a very comfortable board to type with; the feet under the board hold my mouse pad well, the quality of the keys is fantastic and the silence of the switches makes the board very quiet to type with. But I really wish NIZ used Cherry stabilizers here.
Game experience on the NIZ WP87
We often see the best gaming keyboards equipped with 45g springs or magnets, but never electro-capacitive switches. Since the WP87 has switches that are as light as 35 grams, I was curious how they would feel in-game.
I took a break from Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War because Call of Duty: Vanguard is out, so I played the (honest, insufficient) zombie mode to test this board.
The performance of the switches was interesting; I didn’t experience any input lag, but even though the switches on paper should be the fastest available due to their driving power. They felt no different than something like an MX Red in-game (which is still very fast, even if slightly heavier).
This is not a bad thing; I mentioned this in my Bakeneko60 review, but this keyboard could definitely be a sleep wonder too, especially with its “grandfather’s keyboard” style colorway.
While I’ve had no issues with the WP87 in-game, I’m not comfortable with the idea of using it for a two-hour zombie bender, due to the delicate feedback from the Switch.
NIZ’s software for the WP87 is called KB87WP and it’s just software remapping: nothing more, nothing less. Since there are no dedicated media keys on the WP87, I thought they would be nested in the function layer, but I was wrong there. To operate your media you have to program it yourself, but fortunately that is not very difficult.
After launching the software, you need to hold down FN+Pause and put the keyboard into programming mode. From there, you can remap any key to do whatever you want, so I’ll let the Page Up and Page Down keys control my media.
If you look at the arrow keys on KB87WP you will see that they are assigned to control the brightness of the backlight, which is funny because there is no backlight on this board. Only the Pause button lights up, and that’s only when your board is in programming mode.
Overall, there isn’t much to say about NIZ’s remapping software. Since it doesn’t start automatically when your PC is turned on, there are no extra features, so it just does what it’s supposed to do. Since many boards come with bloated, always available software, I really appreciate that.
To sum it up, I really enjoy the NIZ WP87; the electro-capacitive switches give a very delicate but satisfying feel when they bottom out, and the build quality is fantastic. On the outside, the keyboard also looks charmingly vintage with its white laser-engraved PBT keys with gray accents surrounded by a slightly thick plastic housing. The WP87 has a lot going for it, but at $209 (and since this is a new 2021 version), the stabilizers should be better quality.