Saitek Eclipse II (2) USB Gamers Keyboard Page: 1
Introduction

Saitek are a company who entered the gaming peripheral field in 1993 and have been making products for gamers ever since. With some excellent joysticks, game controllers and mice: they are a company associated with gaming.

The Saitek Eclipse was an excellent gaming keyboard in it's first edition. With a strong backlight and soft touch keys, this keyboard was comfortable and well laid out for gaming.

I have grabbed a sample of their newest keyboard: the Saitek Eclipse II. How well does it measure up?

Packaging

Saitek have provided the Eclipse II with pretty standard packaging. It's good to see a full picture of the keyboard on the box.

saitek eclipse II

The main features are highlighted, showing three different sets of key colours - nice.

saitek eclipse II

The back again highlights the key features of the board and lists some specs. It's nice to see a couple of pictures of the keyboard itself on the packaging. This would help prospective buyers if it was on the shelves.

The packaging is very sturdy and certainly protects the keyboard from wear and tear of couriers.

Package

There isn't a whole lot to say about the package on the Saitek Eclipse II other than it comes with an additional wrist rest and a manual and install guide.

saitek eclipse II package

The keyboard is plug and play and requires no extra drivers to function. It's a standard bundle and it's good to see a wrist rest included for those long haul games when RSI sets in!

Let's take a closer look at the keyboard...



Saitek Eclipse II (2) USB Gamers Keyboard Page: 2
Saitek Eclipse II - A close-up

The Eclipse II is a slight departure from the design of the original Eclipse. With a silver fascia and black keys the design is perhaps more striking than the old keyboard.

saitek eclipse II saitek eclipse II

As you can see the rest is also colour co-ordinated and clips onto the keyboard. This is adjustable and can be set close to the keyboard, or a slight distance away.

Saitek have opted to keep the corner rests on the keyboard. These give it stability and are a nice contrast at each corner to the silver finish.

saitek eclipse II keys

The keyboard has a standard QWERTY layout and the keys have a slight "dappling" effect on them. This helps with grips whilst gaming and enhances touch. You can also see that the black surround for the keys is quite shiny, and unfortunately easily picks up dust.

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sqaitek eclipse II saitek eclipse II

These pictures show how the backlights show up in the light. The dimmer is a pretty nifty feature of the keyboard and allows you to turn it down or off if you fancy.

The keyboard has media buttons: play/pause/forward/back/stop. Also included is a volume up and down key. The key on the right in the second row changes the colours of the keys.

Let's take a look at those keys in the dark!

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saitek eclipse keys dark

All three colours are very easily seen in pitch black. I will say that the blue backlight is quite a lot less bright than on the Eclipse, but is still easily seen in the dark. The keys are cut in such a way that the backlight really lets you see enough the letters if typing in the dark. Perfect for gaming at a LAN or late at night!

The purple backlight is the brightest, possible as it is closest to white light. Note that the backlight is even across the whole keyboard and not highlighted more in one area than others.

For some added "bling" Saitek have included a clear section where the light omits from the side of the keyboard.

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This gives the keyboard an extra "wow" factor when it's on your desk - once again it will certainly make you stand out at a LAN.



Saitek Eclipse II (2) USB Gamers Keyboard Page: 3
Testing

As there no quantitive measures of a keyboards performance, you will have to rely on my judgement.

I have several keyboard that I have compared the Eclipse II to:

Saitek Eclipse Keyboard
Microsoft Internet Keyboard
Dell Standard USB Keyboard
Logitech G15 Keyboard
Apple Pro Keyboard

saiteck eclipse II

I used the following environments for testing:

Gaming

Using Counter Strike: Source and Quake 4 Multiplayer I tested how the keyboards felt during gaming.

Extended Typing

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.

Media Playback


I watched a DVD and listened to some music to see if the extended functions of the keyboard actually worked.

Results - Gaming

The main contenders here were the G15, the Eclipse and the Eclipse II. The other keyboards were just not as easy to use in gaming.

The Eclipse I and II are both extremely competent gaming keyboards. The soft-touch of the keys and the quick response time whilst gaming means that you frag easier. The G15 does not have quite as nice response on the keys (in my opinion) but the difference is minimal. The Logitech's assignable keys are good to have there whilst gaming, but you can do without them.

The Logitech wins here on features whilst the Eclipse and Eclipse II win on key touch.

Results - Extended Typing

I found that the Saitek Eclipse and Saitek Eclipse II were ahead in this test. The soft touch of the keys and more standard keyboard layout, along with the wrist rest meant that the Saitek keyboards were excellent and kept the RSI at bay.

Media Playback

The Microsoft Internet Keyboard, Eclipse II and the Logitech G15 were the main contenders here. The logitech is certainly very useful with the LCD display and the media keys on the Saitek came in very handy whilst playing back a DVD and music. I considered these to be a bit of a gimmick, but they do work well and I will use them from now onwards.

Overall View - Performance Saitek Eclipse II

The Eclipse II was on top, or a very close second place in all of the tests I put it through. This says something as it was facing some very good keyboards.

The touch of the keys is soft without being over-soft. They are positive and not "clacky" - something I am not keen on in a keyboard. Typing is incredibly comfortable and response times in games is excellent.

For gamers the Saitek Eclipse II really is at the top of the bunch - up there with the G15 from Logitech.



Saitek Eclipse II (2) USB Gamers Keyboard Page: 4
Conclusion

Saitek have taken an already impressive gamers keyboard and made it better in my opinion. The touch of the keyboard is excellent and the response time is very good.

The Eclipse original was a great keyboard and the Eclipse II is even better. This puts the Eclipse II up there with the much more expensive Logitech G15.

Priced at £33.44 @ SpecialTech the Eclipse II is a very reasonable price and cheaper by £15 than the Logitech G15. Whether you want to spend the extra £15 for an LCD screen and some extra keys is up to you - but in my opinion the Eclipse II is worth every penny

With excellent backlight, soft touch keys and great gaming response I am giving the Saitek Eclipse the "Gamers Choice" Award along with a "Value for Money" Award.

saiteck eclipse II gamers choice

saitek eclipse value for money

Pro's

+ Excellent soft touch keys
+ Great Looks
+ Selectable colour backlight
+ Good Value for money
+ Comfortable

Con's

- Not as many extra's as others on the market
- Attracts dust in places

Thanks to Saitek for providing the product for review

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