A Tale of Two Form-Factors
HyperX (a division of Kingston) entered the mechanical keyboard market a year ago with the Alloy series, which began as a pair of 104-key designs with the Alloy Elite and Alloy FPS. Both keyboards feature Cherry MX keys, with the FPS sporting a minimalist design with a compact frame to save room on a desk. Now a TKL version of the FPS has arrived - the FPS Pro - to compliment the 104-key version already at the PC Perspective offices, and in this review we will test out both versions of this gaming keyboard.
Both keyboards feature adjustable red backlighting
Features from HyperX for the Alloy FPS:
- Compact design frees desktop space — waste less time reorienting the mouse
- Solid-steel frame for stability, giving you supreme confidence in your controls
- Ultra-portable design with detachable cable is great for LAN parties and tournaments
- Cherry MX mechanical keys for tactile feedback and reliable keypresses
- Convenient USB charge port allows you to charge other devices
- Game mode, 100-percent Anti-Ghosting and full N-key rollover features ensure your inputs are correct
- HyperX red backlit keys with customizable, dynamic lighting functions
- Additional colored, textured keycaps spotlight the most important keys
Now take virtually the same feature list (minus the additional keycaps) and subtract the number pad, and you have the Alloy FPS Pro, an “ultra-minimalistic tenkeyless design ideal for FPS pros”, according to HyperX. This reduction in size and number of keys is accompanied by a reduction in price, and the Alloy FPS Pro will be 20% less expensive than the 104-key FPS when it launches in late August. How do these mechanical keyboards stack up? Read on for our full review!
Subject: General Tech | August 31, 2017 - 03:00 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: logitech, keyboard, craft
Yesterday it was the gaming division pushing out the release of its brand new wireless gaming keyboard, and today, the consumer side of Logitech has its own new pretty item to wave in front of us. The CRAFT keyboard is a unique option that combines wireless connectivity with up to three devices, smart backlight illumination, and a new input dial that helps creative and productivity users get more out of their applications.
Let’s start with that knob in the top right – the crown as Logitech calls it. This crown is an input dial that adapts and changes functions as you switch between applications. On a global scale it can be used to control volume, move between application windows, and change desktops. You can access that functionality by physically pushing down on the dial and rotating it to the left or right.
More interestingly, the crown adjusts its function based on the application you are in. In Excel, for example, you can toggle font sizes, move between cells, select tables and graph formats, and much more, all with the dial and click functionality. You switch between these different functions by tapping on the dial itself, as the entire surface is capacitive. There are functions for PowerPoint and Word as well, offering similar levels of integration.
The Adobe software suite of Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and Premiere Pro CC 2017 also has pre-built functionality with the Logitech CRAFT keyboard. In Photoshop you can select and adjust image brightness, change the stroke weight in Illustrator or navigate and scrub through the timeline in Premiere Pro. There are many options and capabilities that the Logitech software installer offers out of the box and you have the ability to adjust these capabilities through custom integrations as well.
Explaining in text how this dial works and how it could potential change your workflow is difficult to do. Logitech does provide a set of videos running through some examples of the keyboard in and the dial in use, and they are worth checking out to get a sense of how it functions.
This capability works across both Windows 10 and Mac OS.
The CRAFT keyboard is built with a high quality scissor key switch design that is close in typing feel to some of the best notebook keyboards we have had our hands on. The typing is relatively quiet and the dished keys help you find the proper finger placement for eye-free typing.
Backlighting a battery powered keyboard is always tricky as you balance illumination and battery life. Logitech has created a system that intelligently determines when to light up the keyboard based on your hands approaching the keyboard itself. Logitech won’t share the secret here but it’s likely they are using some kind of proximity sensor similar to what is used on smartphones. We do know the CRAFT integrates an ambient light sensor as well, dimming or turning off backlight when in a well-lit environment.
Above the Insert/Home keys rests three buttons that allow you to easily switch between controller one of three connected systems or devices. The CRAFT supports the Logitech unifying receiver as well as Bluetooth, allowing you to connect to a notebook or even your phone or tablet for advantages when replying to those text messages from mom.
Logitech claims the CRAFT should last an entire week on a single charge, though that will vary based on bright and often the backlights get used. The internal rechargeable battery gets juice via a USB Type-C connection and a Type-C to Type-A cable is included in the box.
The CRAFT isn’t cheap at $199 but the creation and use of the input dial, or crown, is definitely a value add for creatives and productivity users that see the benefit of a two handed input interface. We are still working through a couple of things on our end before doing a review (including a squeaky space bar that Logitech claims was fixed in final production and some last minute software bugs), but I am impressed with Logitech has built. If you frequently spend your time in Microsoft Office or Adobe CC software suites, you should definitely give the CRAFT keyboard a try.
A Premium Mechanical Option Under $100
In the past year or two we have seen a number of sub-$100 mechanical gaming keyboards on the market, and several of these have passed through our hands here at the PC Perspective offices. The latest of these to garner our attention is the ZALMAN ZM-K900M, a premium gaming design featuring RGB lighting effects and Kailh Blue key switches, along with a 1000 Hz polling rate and full N-key rollover. It currently retails for $89.99, though it can be found for as little as $79.99 (currently, at least) with a little googling. How impressive is it in person? Read on to find out!
The ZM-K900M offers a variety of RGB effects
The ZM-K900M certainly checks the right boxes as a gaming keyboard, with the above-mentioned 1000 Hz polling rate (which ZALMAN calls 'Z-Engine') and customizable RGB lighting, supports simulanious key presses for the full 104 keys, and offers programmable macro keys. All of the keyboard features are controlled via hot keys on the ZM-K900M itself, eliminating the need for software.
“The ZM-K900M requires no software installation and is universally compatible with any operating system. The macros automatically remember the time interval between the inputs and run exactly as you typed. The keyboard stores the data inside the keyboard so you can instantly run your macros on any computer.”
Features and specifications from ZALMAN:
- Simple and minimal design
- Equipped with Z-Engine
- Supports USB and PS/2 connection
- Intelligent hardware macro with option to add mouse clicks
- Multimedia hotkeys
- 4-stage macro speed adjustment
- 6-key and N-Key rollover
- Option to lock Windows key or entire keyboard
- High quality laser-etched keycaps
- Model: ZM-K900M
- Keyboard Layout: 104-key
- Key Switch: Kailh Blue mechanical key switch
- Keyboard Matrix: USB & PS/2 N key rollover (anti-ghost function)
- Key cap type: Step Sculpture 2
- Interface: USB
- Cable length: 5.6 ft
- Dimensions: 17.32 x 5.51 x 1.34 inches, 2.75 lbs
- ZALMAN ZM-K900M Keyboard: $89.99 - Amazon.com
Logitech G413 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
The rise in popularity of mechanical gaming keyboards has been accompanied by the spread of RGB backlighting. But RGBs, which often include intricate control systems and software, can significantly raise the price of an already expensive peripheral. There are many cheaper non-backlit mechanical keyboards out there, but they are often focused on typing, and lack the design and features that are unique to the gaming keyboard market.
Gamers on a budget, or those who simply dislike fancy RGB lights, are therefore faced with a relative dearth of options, and it's exactly this market segment that Logitech is targeting with its G413 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard.
Subject: General Tech | May 24, 2017 - 04:42 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: lance madsen, keyboard, analog, aimpad
If you missed the live stream, we have the VOD below! This is a compelling discussion about the benefits of having an analog keyboard - definitely worth watching if you are a dedicated PC gamer!
You might not have heard of the company or the technology yet, but Aimpad is set to bring about another drastic change to the world of gaming keyboards. Lance Madsen will join us from Aimpad to talk about the idea of an analog keyboard, and why having keys that aren't simply on or off can benefit gamers as they strive to find the best possible experiences.
In our live stream we will be talking about the technology that makes it work, how it will be integrated into future keyboards, and walk through a handful of demonstrations of the technology at work on a prototype keyboard integration.
Aimpad Analog Keyboard Live Stream
1pm PT / 4pm ET - May 23rd
Need a reminder? Join our live mailing list!
The event will take place Tuesday, May 23rd at 4pm ET / 1pm PT at http://www.pcper.com/live. There you’ll be able to catch the live video stream as well as use our chat room to interact with the audience, asking questions for me and Lance to answer live.
If you have questions, please leave them in the comments below and we'll look through them just before the start of the live stream. Of course you'll be able to tweet us questions @pcper and we'll be keeping an eye on the IRC chat as well for more inquiries. What do you want to know and hear from Tom or I?
So join us! Set your calendar for this coming Tuesday at 4pm ET / 1pm PT and be here at PC Perspective to catch it. If you are a forgetful type of person, sign up for the PC Perspective Live mailing list that we use exclusively to notify users of upcoming live streaming events including these types of specials and our regular live podcast. I promise, no spam will be had!
Subject: General Tech | May 8, 2017 - 02:22 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: input, waterproof, zalman, aluminium, Z-Machine K650WP, keyboard
The K650WP is a membrane keyboard with a PS/2 plug and USB adapter so for those who need to click while they type you may want to skip this review. For everyone else, the membrane design allowed Zalman to waterproof the keyboard by adding holes to allow spilled liquids to quickly drain away from the keys, as well as coating the aluminium stiffener inside with hydrophobic film and some strategically placed insulation. TechPowerUp dumped the contents of a 250 mL water bottle into the keyboard to test this feature out and it worked a charm, they only wiped off the keys as the remainder of the liquid drained through the bottom and the keyboard continued to work. At $27, even if you do manage to damage the keyboard you are not out a lot of money. Check it out here.
"The Z-Machine K650WP from Zalman is a membrane keyboard that comes in at a price point where there is really no competition from branded mechanical keyboards. At the same time, it offers a waterproof design, dedicated volume-control buttons, and an internal aluminum plate for structural rigidity, making it great value for the money."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Fnatic Rush Pro Silent Keyboard @ Kitguru
- EpicGear DeFiant Mechanical Keyboard @ Kitguru
- HyperX Pulsefire FPS Optical Gaming Mouse @ eTeknix
- OZONE Neon M50 Optical Pro Gaming Mouse Review @ NikKTech
- Patriot Viper V570 RBG Laser Gaming Mouse Review: Red, Green and Blue @ Modders-Inc
Subject: Editorial | April 20, 2017 - 11:25 AM | Alex Lustenberg
Tagged: video, Z270X, tinker board, t-mobile, RX 580, radeon, podcast, Open BenchTable, mini-itx, logitech, keyboard, gigabyte, G413, DAN Cases, asus, A4-SFX
PC Perspective Podcast #446 - 04/20/17
Join us for Radeon RX 580 review, Open Benchtable and DAN cases, Intel Rumors and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store (audio only)
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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano
Peanut Gallery: Ken Addison, Alex Lustenberg
Program length: 1:38:24
Week in Review:
News items of interest:
Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
Subject: General Tech | April 19, 2017 - 01:35 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: romer-g, mechanical, magnesium, logitech, keyboard, gaming, aluminium
Logitech has announced the G413, a mechanical gaming keyboard with the company's exclusive Romer-G mechanical switches and premium construction (including an aluminum-magnesium upper panel).
"Engineered for precision and performance, the keyboard delivers unrivaled performance in a thoughtfully balanced, modern design. The Logitech G413 features Logitech’s exclusive Romer-G mechanical switches, offering 25 percent faster actuation than standard mechanical keys, as well as a brushed anodized aircraft-grade aluminum top case, USB passthrough port and precision key backlighting for an affordable price."
Logitech lists these features for the G413 mechanical gaming keyboard:
- Romer-G Mechanical Switches: Logitech’s exclusive Romer-G mechanical switches are purpose-built for professional-grade performance, responsiveness and durability. With a short-throw actuation point of 1.5 mm, Romer-G switches register key presses up to 25 percent faster than standard mechanical switches, so you can get your shots off faster than your opponent. Designed to enhance gameplay, Romer-G switches offer the perfect blend of speed, precision and quiet performance.
- Precision Key Lighting: Romer-G mechanical switches are also purpose-designed for precise and clean lighting through the keycaps. This means keys are always visible and never distracting, especially during late night gaming sessions. The Logitech G413 Carbon features elemental red backlighting and the Logitech G413 Silver features iconic white backlighting, for a premium, focused look.
- Aircraft-Grade Aluminum Alloy: A brushed 5052 aluminum-magnesium alloy top case serves as the keyboard’s backbone. The result is a minimal design balanced with a full set of features. With a focus on high-end finish and performance, the Logitech G413 is crafted from the highest-grade materials.
- USB Passthrough: Convenience and speed are directly within reach. The additional, dedicated USB cable connects the USB passthrough port to its own input for full power throughput and data speed.
- Full Function Keys: Media control is built-in so you can use the FN key to control volume, play and pause, mute, game mode, lighting, etc. The FN toggle feature in the Logitech Gaming Software (LGS) configure the keys to perform media commands by default.
- Programmable Macros: Use LGS to program custom functions and macro commands on F1-F12 buttons. Execute complex commands, or unleash a timed series of actions or spells with the press of a button.
- Performance Keycaps: Laser-etched cylindrical keycaps come standard plus a set of 12 optional performance faceted keycaps designed by esports pros are included.
With an MSRP of $89.99 the G413 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard goes on sale this month in two versions, with a black finish (shown here) and a silver finish that is exclusive to Best Buy.
There are cars that get you from point A to point B, and then there are luxurious grand touring cars which will get you there with power, comfort, and style - for a price. Based on the cost alone ($269.99 MSRP!) it seems like a safe bet to say that the REALFORCE RGB keyboard will be a similarly premium experience. Let’s take a look!
There is as much personal taste at issue when considering a keyboard (or dream car!) as almost any other factor, and regardless of build quality or performance a keyboard is probably not going to work out for you if it doesn’t feel right. Mechanical keyboards are obviously quite popular, and more companies than ever offer their own models, many using Cherry MX key switches (or generic ‘equivalents’ - which vary in quality). Topre keys are different, as they are a capacitive key with a rubber dome and metal spring, and have a very smooth, fast feel to them - not clicky at all.
“Topre capacitive key switches are a patented hybrid between a mechanical spring based switch, a rubber dome switch, and a capacitive sensor which, combined, provide tactility, comfort, and excellent durability. The unique electrostatic design of Topre switches requires no physical mechanical coupling and therefore key switch bounce/chatter is eliminated.”
Subject: Cases and Cooling | March 18, 2017 - 01:39 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: keyboard, gaming keyboard
About nine months ago, we reported on the Wooting One Analog Keyboard. At the time, they were expecting to ship the keyboard in November, but that has apparently slipped. Of course, creating products is difficult, and even the big companies have production issues (the difference with crowd-funding is that these issues are publicly obvious). They are expecting to start shipping in April.
The hook with this keyboard is that doesn’t just know whether a key is up or down, but how far it is. This can be mapped into the driver as an XInput device, emulating an axis rather than a button. This is actually where today’s issue arises: a batch of keyboards fail to register the full range of motion, and, thus, QA. They released a video, embed above, to explain the issue, and complain about small pizzas?