The Touch Bar refuses to die, as Corsair Voyager a1600 borrows the concept

Apple may have abandoned the Touch Bar, but that isn’t stopping other laptop companies from borrowing the concept. Last month saw Dell put touch-sensitive keys into the trackpad, and the Corsair Voyager a1600 gaming laptop is next in line …

The Touch Bar

Back in 2016, Apple replaced the function keys on the high-end MacBook Pro models with the Touch Bar – a high-resolution touch-sensitive strip that allowed access to function keys but could also have dynamically changing content depending on both apps and user preferences.

Apple described it as one of the headline features of the 2016 15-inch MacBook Pro.

The Touch Bar places controls right at the user’s fingertips and adapts when using the system or apps like Mail, Finder, Calendar, Numbers, GarageBand, Final Cut Pro X and many more, including third-party apps. For example, the Touch Bar can show Tabs and Favorites in Safari, enable easy access to emoji in Messages, provide a simple way to edit images or scrub through videos in Photos and so much more.

Not everyone was a fan, however, with the lack of a physical Escape key coming in for particular criticism. Apple responded to this in 2019 with a hybrid design, with a normal Escape key and a shorter Touch Bar. Two years later, the physical function keys were back, and it was like the Touch Bar never existed.

Dell Latitude 9330

Dell effectively embedded a Touch Bar directly into the trackpad of the Latitude 9330, though functionality of the business-focused laptop was limited to Zoom calls.

Corsair Voyager a1600

Corsair has teased the company’s first gaming laptop. The touch-sensitive strip above the keyboard looks very much like a Touch Bar, though Corsair calls it a Macro Bar in the promotional video (below) – and described it to The Verge as “easy-access customizable S-key shortcut buttons.” These are controlled via Stream Deck software.

These S-keys are powered by Elgato Stream Deck software, which means you’d likely be using them for various live streaming controls, including switching scenes, launching media, and adjusting audio. We wouldn’t necessarily expect a laptop to be the device of choice for many streamers, but it’s still an interesting idea that’s unusual in the gaming space — and can also work well as a Zoom meeting controller.

The specs certainly make it sound like a good choice for portable gaming.

Elsewhere, the Voyager will include a full-size Cherry MX low-profile mechanical keyboard with per-key RGB backlighting as well as a 1080p FHD webcam. I’m seeing what looks like a physical webcam shutter in these renders, which may be a good sign that Corsair is putting some effort into this area (which not all gaming manufacturers do). 

Prospective Voyager buyers will be able to choose between a Ryzen 7 6800HS and a Ryzen 9 6900HS — both configurations come with a Radeon 6800M GPU. You can get up to 64GB of RAM (Corsair Vengeance DDR5, of course) and 2TB of storage. The device has a 16-inch 2560 x 1600, 240Hz display and two Thunderbolt 3 USB 4.0 ports, one USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C, one USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, one SDXC 7.0 card reader, and one audio jack.

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