First off a big thanks to Xoxide for sending us this keyboard. They shipped the package quickly and it arrived in perfect condition. A most often overlooked aspect of the PC experience for the casual user is the keyboard and mouse.
Many homes that I have been in to service a PC have the same old keyboard and mouse that is often packed with an off the shelf desktop computer. For those of us with years of gaming experience and many hours a day at our computer desks we have a rabid appreciation for a quality keyboard and mouse.
I have used keyboards from the time of the IBM AT desktop all the way through the high-end wireless makes sold today. I am highly selective of my interface devices and will not settle for anything less than a perfect fit. I want to preface this review with some words of caution, much of what I enjoy about a good keyboard are things that I have become used to. Features and quirks that are unique to my experience and taste. I will try to distinguish from the true faults and what I consider a short coming based solely on what I am used to. Let’s get to it.
Currently I am using two Microsoft Internet Pro Keyboards on my desktops. They are heavy and very durable. One has survived multiple drink spills. I am about as tough on a keyboard as one can be and I have been very happy with the performance of these. My Current setup also includes the use of a flexible, USB light, which is connected to the 2 port USB hub on the Microsoft keyboard.
When considering the new lighted keyboard the lighted keys played a big part in my choice to replace one of my Microsoft boards. The USB spot light does a poor job of lighting the key surface evenly and is only marginally helpful. The size of the lighted keyboard is also a nice feature compared to the bulk of my MS board. I have a slide out tray on my computer desk and the extra room is a welcome benefit.
The lighted keyboard came packaged in a plain white box with a plastic window. I believe the simpler the packaging the lower the cost to produce and sell the unit, a plus in my book. The unit has 99 keys that are quite small and streamlined. The layout is a bit different, with the Page up, Home, page down, and end keys flanking the right side from top to bottom.
The size and shape of the primary section reminds me of a notebook keyboard and the keys are about the same thickness. The keys also have a similar amount of travel and feel as a notebook keyboard. This keyboard lacks all the extra internet and other various keys that have been added to newer model keyboards, also a bonus in my mind. I never use any of them.
On the top right is an ON/Off button to toggle the El lighting on and off. I really like this, as El products have been known to have a short lifespan, this can greatly increase the useful life of the light feature. For it’s small size I was very surprised at the weight of the keyboard, it has a nice solid feel and does not slip and slide when bumped. The over all profile is very low and gives the unit a sleek simple look that’s easy on the eyes.
The keyboards translucent keys are easy to read whith the lights on or off. When the lighted surface is on it is bright, but easy on the eyes in a dark room.