A Closer Look
First is the Main part of the keyboard. I’m going to refer to this piece as the Mainboard. What made me laugh about the Mainboard is that I reviewed a product by Tt eSPORTS a while back that was pretty much just this Mainboard. The Mainboard is the standard typing part of the keyboard. The keys have a very standard layout (which I love). It also utilizes a membrane switch array. This was sort of shocking to me seeing that the last so many keyboards I’ve reviewed have all been mechanical. Due to the cost of the S7 I was expecting this to be mechanical. The last non mechanical keyboard I used was the Roccat ISKU and it faired very well so I’m hoping this membrane keyboard will do the same.
Initial key pressure seems very good and even though it’s membrane the keys seem very stable. As you can see from the side profile of the S7 the slope of the keys is quite linear. The majority of the gaming keyboards out there now use a concave design to allow your hands to lie within the “key-bed” but due to the surplus number of wrist wrest I don’t think this will be an issue. Because of the linear slope the S7 has a classic feel to it. It takes me back to the gaming of OLD (Packard Bell in the HOUSE).
The elevation that’s created from the feet on the bottom of the Mainboard is quite significant. Just from the pictures you can see the drastic change from one to the other. It’s refreshing to actually have feet that legitimately raise the back of your keyboard.
Speaking of the feet…look at these puppies. The feet on the S7 are the AIR JORDAN’s of keyboard feet. They’re about 1.5 inches long and are made of some serious metal. The feet also have a cushy rubber bumper that allows the unit to lie perfectly flat. Looking at the bottom you get the first real glimpse of how well the unit is consctructed. It features a solid aluminium unibody frame that extends the entire length of the Mainboard. The feet are just an exsenuation of the solid construction.
Next we have the Number Pad. As you can see this isn’t a standard number. This NumPad also features the middle section of the keyboard. This section is were the traditional arrow keys and function keys are located. Uniquely around the arrow keys you’ll see less heightened keys labeled C1-C5. These are dedicated macro keys to bring the arrow section of your keyboard back to the prominence it once had in the 90’s.
Now, kids, I don’t know if you remember but back in the 90’s with games like DOOM (Ask your grandpap about it) you used the arrow keys to move and the left CRTL key to fire your gun. It was a crazy notion but all those games from that era worked the same way. Once we incorporated the mouse and more and more key functions the arrows left something to be desired. The number of keys your fingers could reach around the arrows put a hindernace on how you played. People started looking for another area on the keyboard that felt the same way the arrow keys did with more acessibility. So, WASD was born! Companies like IDEAZON (purchased by SteelSeries) used to make money on the ‘WASD Sucks’ concept by marketing the Z-Board line in a way that made the WASD section of the keyboard more like the arrow section of old. Madcatz brings us WAY back by just adding the keys that were missing from my heart for all these years. (And just for reference, I still think WASD sucks)
On the left side you’ll notice an aluminum lip that serves as the mounting point for all the different attachment applications the S7 features. The bottom of the number pad features the same solid uni-body construction and ridiculous feet. If you were wondering the NumPad has 2 feet so it can be used as a standalone device, but we’ll get into that later.
The standard wrist rests that attach at the bottom of the NumPad and Mainboard are anything but standard. Each one features the ability to extend out over an inch for you people with freakishly large hands. The S7 is shaping up for be a keyboard that will easily fit any body type. At first I was a bit worried about the hinge point where the wrist rest snaps into the bottom of the Boards but after taking them on and off several times I solidified how solid the construction was
The underside of the wrist rest looks the same at the NumPad and the Mainboard. All 3 feature the thick rubber bumpers and aluminum plating.
The Gaming Wrist Rest is a bird of another color. The Corsair K60 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard featured a similar wrist rest but it didn’t have the addition of 2 dedicated macro keys. The Gaming Wrist Rest is definitely a reflection of the R.A.T. series mouse. At first glance I thought the wrist rest was actually a mouse. Sharp lines, pointless cool-looking graphics, and the ability to independently raise it up and down make this a very cool feature on the S7.
The wrist rest also features an extended base plate to ensure stability. If you look at it from the bottom you can see how large the plate is. The plate has the same bumpers at the other wrist rests and the same ability to be adjusted in and out.
The most interesting piece to the S.T.R.I.K.E 7 puzzle is the TFT LCD Touchscreen. I’m pretty sure they pulled this off the main spaceship in the movie Prometheus. The screen has 8 tactile buttons. The big black looking thing is nothing more than a large Mad Catz logo. Hey, you gotta advertise somewhere, right? The back of the screen shows where the rugged USB cable connects. The cable has an adapter for the power brick to plug in and a female USB-A connector to plug the USB from the computer in. The screen serves as the power distribution to the rest of the keyboard. If you notice on the back of the unit you’ll see several USB-mini connectors that allow all the individual boards to connect together. The back also features 2 High Speed USB 2.0 ports.
The buttons on the front set the tone for the look of the entire keyboard. On the right side you have 3 dedicated profile buttons labeled I, II, and III. On the other side you have 2 mute buttons, and 2 dedicated volume buttons. The volume buttons are the only thing that I feel about concerned about construction wise. The buttons are built on a pivot rocker and when you push either button, unless you push it near the actual screen, flexes at a weird angle. Below those buttons is a button that’s used as a ‘Home’ button for the LCD screens different applications. Later in testing I’ll show you home these function.
Lastly, but certainly not least-ly (I know that’s not a word, shutup) we have a set of dedicated Macro keys that can be either attached to the NumPad or the Mainboard. The kicker is the LCD is required in close proximity to where the Macro keys are going to placed seeing the USB cord attached to it is only so long.