I was able to get a hold of a few more keyboards that I wanted to check out that weren’t available when I did my previous post on keyboards a short time ago. Today I have four more to go through following the same general rules as before.
The keyboards we are taking a look at today are the Backth Three Color Luminous Characters Back lit Keyboard with palm rest, Redradon Asura K501 USB Gaming Keyboard, EagleTec K005 Gaming Keyboard with Gaming Mouse Combo, and the Tt eSports Commander LED Illumination Gaming Keyboard and Mouse Combo.
Through some investigation I have found that the EagleTec line of products are built by the same company that Redragon devices are built and thus I initially expected them to perform nearly the same. It turns out that I can’t say that. The K005 sports pretty much all the same features that the Redragon Asura does minus some programmable keys. It has the same multi colour back lights which are pretty bright and can be adjusted lower it you like. Visually the keyboard is pretty conservative in looks compared to many gaming keyboards in this category and I cannot fault EagleTec for going this way. I don’t care a lot for flashy keyboards just for the sake of being flashy.
Physically the keyboard is easy to see why its the price it is. The frame is pretty flexible though to be honest I didn’t have an issue with this while typing. Would have been nice to see a little reinforcement to keep it a bit more rigid though still. It has a partial wrist rest but its relatively useless considering how it’s shaped. The keyboard has a standard layout though so kudos for that. Especially the regular shaped Enter key is really nice to have. The space bar on the other hand it so mushy. It’s not the worst thing out there but it doesn’t feel good while typing and offers even less feedback than the rest of the very low feedback rubber dome keys.
I wish I could find my key cap puller so I could take a look at the keys. Texture-wise they are nice to type on. I have been typing this section of the review on the K005 and it’s not the worst experience I’ve ever had but it’s far from the best. If you were in a pinch though this really isn’t the worst thing you could buy. In fact since it comes with a multi-DPI gaming mouse it’s incredible value.
As a quick look at the KS03 mouse that comes with the keyboard it’s a decent mouse for an ambidextrous design. The blue leds are very bright and only match the keyboard if your keyboard is on the blue back lighting setting. This is sad as the blue back light setting is the dimmest by far out of the colours that can be selected. The mouse only has a blue back light. That said what can you expect for a cheap mouse? I really don’t have any performance complaints with the mouse though and it does add value to the keyboard.
Thermaltake has been in the gaming peripheral market for a while now and this is one of their esports budget gaming bundles. This keyboard doesn’t boast a bunch of different back light colours but it Thermaltake does put some of their money into the keyboard itself. Visually the design looks industrial with blue back lighting. I like the look but with the extra styling use the frame of the keyboard is much larger than I would like and as such takes up so much space that i can barely fit my mouse on the keyboard shelf where I prefer to have it. The back lighting is lackluster. The blue lighting barely pushes up through the keys to illuminate the letters. There is more light exposed between the keys than anything. It seems Tt was more concerned with lighting accents on the outside of the keyboard.
Physically the keyboard is more rigid than the EagleTec mentioned before but it’s not perfect. The wrist rest has a rubbery surface feel that I really like. The real work went in to the keys and the switches beneath them. Thermaltake uses proprietary Tt Type II Plunger switches with mechanical style key caps. The key caps can be swapped out for Tt’s metal key caps and though I do not know what those caps are like they may be worth it. I am not impressed with the key cap style. The edges of the keys feel almost sharp and the recess in the keys feel too deep for me. That said the style looks to be compatible with Cherry MX style key caps and that may be a good choice.
I typed this section on the Tt Commander. I am not a fan of the key caps but the membrane/mechanical feel of the keys is surprisingly satisfying though I still prefer a real mechanical switch.
There is a mouse included with this keyboard and I cannot say it’s terrible. It has multi-dpi settings and all the requisite buttons but the scroll wheel is not good. It does have steps to it but they feel nondescript. It is ambidextrous but it does feel good in the hand.
I compared this keyboard to the the EagleTec earlier and you’d think that at nearly the same price point you’d be getting a similar keyboard. This couldn’t be less true. This keyboard is my all means superior to the EagleTec except for the Asura’s size. It is so large with it’s odd shape and extra buttons that I can’t use my mouse on the keyboard tray. As I have mentioned previously I am not a fan of this. The back lighting is as good as the EagleTec and has all the same colours with an added feature. The dimmer switch for the back lighting is controlled by a knob towards the top of the keyboard which is neat though I would have been fine with pressing the Fn button and the Page UP/DOWN buttons that most other keyboards use for brightness.
I gotta say I appreciate how rigid the frame is but then I have to mention that the outer frame is made out of shiny plastic. I think Redragon missed their target audience here. Most gamers hate surfaces that pick up fingerprints and this keyboard picks them up just by seeing your fingers nearby. The wrist rest is slippery because of the shiny plastic used on the frame but it is serviceable. The keys feel fantastic and even though they are membrane style keys I really like how they feel. They don’t require a lot of travel to work which is really nice. They are a little smoother than I am used to but They are incredibly comfortable to type with. One other ding though is the non-standard layout. This keyboard has that sill weird enter key that seems to be popular with some Chinese manufacturers. Not a fan of those again as I tend to accidentally hit the “\” key instead of “Enter”.
Typing this section out was an absolute pleasure for a non mechanical keyboard. Everything just felt right. Now $40 CAD is getting towards the top end of what I would spend on a membrane style keyboard and in most cases I would say wait a bit and save a little more for a cheaper mechanical one. In this case I would say go for Redragon Asura. It sadly won’t be a staple of mine as it takes up too much space on my keyboard tray but it may be used in our studio down the road.
So last but absolutely not least is the Bakth Back lit Luminous keyboard. Firstly, the keyboard is not luminous but it is back lit. Luminous means that it would have some glowing function when in low light. That is not the case. Technically they do not claim this keyboard is for gaming but it has features of a gaming keyboard so I went ahead and picked it up. The keyboard is simple in design which I appreciate. The back lighting is interesting on this keyboard. It has three choices. Dark blue, light blue and green. I like them all but curiously they made the WASD and arrow keys a beige colour. I actually kinda dig it even if it seems a but weird.
Physically the keyboard frame is made out of steel making it completely rigid and a bit on the heavy side. I like this. A lot. The buttons feel a bit on the mushy side but with average feedback for membrane style keys. The keys themselves on the other hand are easy to remove and reveal what is probably the Achilles’ heel of the keyboard. They are cheap, thin, painted keys that will wear out relatively quickly in heavy use. I wish they had use a mechanical style mount for the keys so I could replace them with other key caps. At the same time the layout isn’t standard again with the that silly enter button again.
I typed this out on the Bakth and I loved every minute of it and for $30 bucks I’d be pretty happy with this. I would say that if there is some way to get different key caps for this it may be a good thing but I wouldn’t even know where to start looking as I’ve never seen this style of key cap.
So what I can conclude from all these keyboards is that it can be hit or miss when it comes to deals and quality in this range of entry level gaming keyboards.