Keysonic have a good range of input devices to choose from: from the smart to the shape able. When I was asked to look at the Keysonic Illumiated Keyboard I thought this was a perfect chance to see what they offered.
After reviewing the excellent Saitek Eclipse II and generally being pretty keen on backlit keyboards I wanted to see how the Keysonic matched up.
Whilst not the most attractive and modern design, the packaging has its redeeming features. Topmost of which is the large picture of the keyboard all lit up.
Still, I was a little disappointed with the "for XP" logo on the front...I would damn-well hope it supported XP as its successor has been out for some time and XP itself is almost 6 years old!
Inside the packaging is sufficient for a keyboard, they dont usually need too much molly-coddling on their way to you.
Thankfully covered in clear plastic, we see the shininess of the keyboard here.
Keyboards don't usually have much in the box with them and the Keysonic is no exception. With a CD for drivers if you don't have a net connection (how are you reading this review then, ey?? - Ed) and a quick manual to show you what to plug in where the only thing I thought was lacking was perhaps a wrist rest.
Wrist rest aside, there's everything in there to get you typing.
Taken from NanoPoint's website:
• Standard keyboard with blue keypad illumination (switchable). • Integrated USB 2.0 HUB, 2-ports • 3 hot function keys • X-Type & Soft-Touch membrane technology • USB connector • Frame/key colour: Black • Available in specific locales
Product Name: KB-ACK-5000HL Article#: 10334 Multimedia: - 19 Inch: - Special Form: - Interface: USB Compatibility: Win95/98, 2000, ME, XP Illuminated: Blue Illumination Hot-Keys: + Handrest: - Touchpad: - X-Type Keys: + ACPI-Keys: - USB-Hub: 2 x USB 2.0 Dust Shield: - Construction: - Material: Plastic Colour: Black
EAN: 4250078140016 Nett Dimensions: 460 x 26 x 166 (mm) Gross Dimensions: 475 × 42 × 209 (mm) Nett weight: 0,9 (kg) Gross weight: 1,2 (kg) Packing unit: 10 (pcs) Minimum order quantity: 1 (pcs) WEEE Registration#: WEE/KH0083UX Country of origin: PR China
Keysonic Illuminated Keyboard ACK-5000HL Page: 2 Close up
The Keysonic Illuminated Keyboard is certainly a striking keyboard, that's for sure. The finish is very much like the gloss finish of the PS3 with very similar styling to boot.
As you can see, the keys are a little see-through and the finish really is mirror-like in its shininess. The keyboard has a pretty standard layout altogether with the Num Pad on the right. The extra "media keys" are on the right above the Num Pad.
Keysonic haven't over-branded the keyboard with just a subtle silver logo on the top left of the keyboard.
Here you can see the media keys as Keysonic call them...basically a couple of volume keys and an addition of the switch for the backlight of the keyboard.
Armed with a USB hub on either side of the top of the keyboard, the Keysonic Illuminated Keyboard means you will have a handy USB port or two on your desktop, a very nice bonus for any keyboard to have in my opinion.
The keys are a little bit of a Hybrid. Not high enough to be called normal soft-touch keys, they are not quite as low-profile as laptop keys. If like me you dislike the feel of laptop keys then this keyboard isn't going to hit all of your buttons. Having said that, if you don't like the feel of normal keyboards and love laptop keys then this is right down your alley. The keys are easy to use and you don't have to use a dialing wand in case you hit a key next to the one you aimed for. There is a good response when you press the keys and it certainly registers differently to a laptop keyboard, far more positively.
Like most decent keyboards the Keysonic has a couple of clips to make it stand a bit more proud on the desk. These were a little loose for my liking but they held up to my fiddling no problems and didn't break in the stress test I gave them (I sat on the keyboard). As you can see here the keyboard does seem to attract dust and fingerprints like nobody's business.
The backlight doesn't show up a huge amount in the day, although there is a decent glow from the keys.
However when you get the keyboard in the dark it really (literally) shines. This would look nice at a LAN event to bring some attention to your PC and certainly "outshines" my Saitek Eclipse II in the dark. The downside of the see-through keys is that the actual letters and numbers are very hard to see in the dark. They are painted on in white but they do not silhouette well against the bright backlit keyboard and so this makes the keyboard a little impractical to those who want to make sure they can see what they are typing in the dark.
As there are no quantitive measures of a keyboards performance, you will have to rely on my judgement.
I have several keyboard that I have compared the Keysonic to:
Saitek Eclipse Keyboard Saitek Eclipse II Keyboard Dell Standard USB Keyboard Evoluent Mouse-friendly Keyboard
I used the following environments for testing:
Using Counter Strike: Source and BioShock I tested how the keyboards felt during gaming.
I have used the keyboards for writing up several reviews and other longer periods of typing. This will show how easy and comfortable the keyboard is to type with.
I watched a DVD and listened to some music to see if the extended functions of the keyboard actually worked.
Results - Gaming
The Saitek Eclipse and Eclipse II were the superior keyboards whilst gaming. The slightly more laptop style keys on the Keysonic weren't quite as responsive as the more gaming-orientated Saitek's although gaming was still perfectly possible and certainly far superior to a laptop keyboard.
Note that the Keysonic is not aimed at the gaming market at all, though I think once you have got used to it it could be one to take a look at.
Results - Extended Typing
Both of the Saitek Eclipse's and the Keysonic were perfectly comfortable and easy to use during extended typing. The Keysonic's key-presses were accurate and gave good feedback.
The Keysonic has a couple of semi-media keys in this department but blatently not as many as the Eclipse II. Whilst the volume keys are a cool extra, the addition is more gimmicky than any actual use.
Overall View - Keysonic Illuminated Keyboard
The Keysonic performed well during testing and was generally a positive experience to live with. Whilst gaming wasn't as strong as the heavily gamer-oriented Saitek's, general typing was a decent experience and the Keysonic grew on me, despite my dislike of laptop style keyboards. I have been using the keyboard now for several weeks as my main keyboard and whilst I didn't really like it to start off with, I have grown quite fond of it.
For a little more of an objective view I gave the keyboard to my better half to try out for a while. She browses on the Internet and does a lot of "Facebook-ing" so I thought this would give me a better idea of what others thought of the semi-laptop keys. The feedback was generally good, after I got past the "but why does it need to light up?" (*sigh* - Ed) and she liked the keys as they were like the ones on her laptop but a little more "clicky" and easier to type with.
Keysonic have made a decent backlit keyboard. Attractive and fairly ergonomic it is pretty nice to use and glows very bright in the dark.
You are not going to like the keyboard if laptop-style keys are not your thing, but it does grow on you a little. If you are a fan, then this is certainly a great keyboard to put on your desk. Gaming-wise it's not as responsive as the Saitek gamer-oriented keyboards, but it can be forgiven for this as the Eclipse is a keyboard aimed directly at gamers.
At £29.36 from SCAN and £30 from Advancetec the Keysonic represents a keyboard that is in the same price bracket as the Saitek Eclipse II. As such this makes it hard for me to recommend it just on price as the Saitek has more features and is generally a fuller keyboard for the money.
However, if you're looking for something a little different for your money, I don't think you'd go wrong with the Keysonic Illuminated Keyboard. The keyboard is definately not a laptop keyboard and once you get used to it it is very ncie to use and a good competitor with the other keyboards mentioned.
+ Strong backlight + Sleek looks + Comfortable for extended typing + A little different from the norm The Mediocre
* Laptop style keys not great for gaming
- Pricey compared to better keyboards - Letters hard to see when backlit