Roccat Isku Keyboard Review
When we reviewed the Arvo we found it to be a keyboard with some cool features but not up to the usual Roccat standards due to its compact nature. Thankfully the Isku is everything you could expect, and lots of things that you didn't.
The overwhelming feeling we have after using the Isku for a couple of weeks is how it's almost a Pandoras Box of unlimited power. Many gaming keyboards these days are bristling with macro capabilities, but the inclusion of the some dedicated macro keys, customisable media keys and the Easy Shift really takes the Isku to a new level. In fact with the five profiles, five macro keys and eight media keys and Roccat Easy Shift you've already got 130 possible macros before you look at adjusting the F-Keys or Easy Shift-ing any of the other keys on the keyboard. It's almost overwhelming and we imagine that most people will stick with a few core macros to ensure they don't have to have to have an array of paper listing all the assignments to hand.
However, if there is one thing we adore it is control and customisation, and the Isku has it in spades without forcing you to use all of it or none. The macro editing, much like the rest of the Isku, can be as simple or complex as you desire. With the Live Record button you can just record an email signature or basic combination, yet with the software you can get into incredibly fine detail allowing you to do almost anything you can think of.
One thing worthy of particular highlight is the Roccat Talk functionality. It's the perfect way to reward consumers who are loyal to the Roccat brand by adding yet another layer of control to the user. The majority of us (all?) use our dominant hand for the mouse and our other for the keyboard which means we've generally got more brain power idle with the more simplistic nature of mice generally when compared to the move/crouch/run/jump/grenade/reload functions our other hand has to handle. So being able to use the Easy Shift on the Isku by pressing the button on the mouse is a very cool indicator. Equally if you are, for example, a sniper where rock solid crosshairs are key, then you can use the Easy Shift on the Isku to adjust your mouse. It's all about flexibility and control.
Tying up the rest of the loose ends. The lighting is excellent, every key has a uniform amount of brightness. The keys themselves have a reasonable quality feel to them. They haven't got the short-actuation of a scissor style, but neither the firm quality of a Cherry switch. Instead Roccat have opted for the standard membrane arrangement which is a bit of a disappointment. To some degree we can understand that with so many other features it helps keep the costs low, but when you're paying £70 anyway we're sure that we'd all rather pay an extra 20 or so for the reliability and feel that mechanical switches give.
Another gripe is that the inclusion of the M keys on the left-hand side has meant that your left-hand isn't quite where it expects to be. If you touch type there is a fair period of adaptation otherwise you're always one key further across than where you think you are and fill the page with incomprehensible stuff until you get used to it. Obviously your mileage may vary and if you either look at your fingers, or focus largely upon the gaming aspects, then it's less of a problem. Finally the decision to use piano black on something designed to be touched is baffling at best. If you like your stuff free from fingerprints you'll be polishing after every session.
All in all the Isku is a very capable keyboard that looks great and has more customisation than you could hope to use. The ability to talk to your Roccat mouse is a nice piece of integration. Despite the membrane design and a period of adaptation for heavy typers, you're getting a serious amount of keyboard for your money and it's worthy of the OC3D Silver Award.