Unveiled more than three years ago, the Optimus Popularis keyboard has been finally made available for pre-order at Art. Lebedev design studio's website. Each key of the Popularis incorporates a tiny LCD running at 64 x 64 pixels resolution and can display any chosen image (or even an animation), performing any function assigned by the user. Art. Lebedev is also taking orders for the Optimus mini six external keyboard which offers six programmable LCD keys.

Instead of the OLEDs used in Optimus Maximus, the Popularis uses LCDs. Each key supports 262,144 color palette and videos up to 10fps and there's also a fully customizable LCD display bar located between the main keyboard and function keys at the top.

There's no numeric keypad, but the Fn key at bottom-left allows you to bring out the functions that are normally found on the right side in a regular keyboard.

The unit is a obviously great tool if you need a keyboard with non-English characters, such as Arabian, Hebrew, or Russian. In fact, the layout might not contain letters at all, allowing you to replace them with music notes, numerals, codes, math functions, images, or any special symbols.

Made of aluminum and plastic, the Optimus Popularis connects via USB 1.1 or 2.0 and its programming software is compatible with Windows XP, Vista, or 7, as well as with Mac OS X 10.5.1 or higher.

Optimus mini six

The second upcoming member of Optimus family is the mini six. It comes with six fully customizable keys, featuring 64 x 64 resolution each and displaying 65,536 color palette. They are also 10fps video-capable. As with Popularis, the mini six is a wired peripheral utilizing USB 1.1 or 2.0.

Art. Lebedev's Optimus Popularis and Optimus mini six are currently available for pre-order at a price of RUB31,500 (US$1086) and RUB10,900 (US$376) respectively. Shipping of the Popularis keyboard is slated to begin June 1, 2012, while the mini six will arrive on November 1, 2012.