Author: Nik Parenti
A Closer Look
Upon first glance at the ISKU Illuminated Gaming Keyboard I had dirty filthy disgusting flashbacks of a Rosewill keyboard I reviewed a few weeks ago. I will never understand the attraction to glossy black plastic. It smudges, it scratches, and unless you have one of those cute little terrycloth wipes that come with every flat screen TV purchase it’s only a matter of time before you leave your permanent mark on your sexy new device.
Until I actually held the ISKU in my hand for a bit I realized that the black plastic is where the comparisons end to the Rosewill keyboard. Unlike the flimsy Rosewill the ISKU has a solid feel. Typically a keyboard this thin has some flex and uncharacteristically the ISKU held strong.
Sitting flat on the desk the ISKU takes up a lot less real-estate than I expected it to. Due to the large fixed wrist rest I expected to have to make room on my desk to allow this puppy to sit comfortable but after removing the CM Storm QFP I’ve been using religiously the ISKU fell right into place.
The ISKU uses a pretty standard keyboard key layout (which I love). They make use of all the normal keys, even the Windows key, but I imagine that you’ll be able to disable that in the software somehow. An interesting thing I noticed was the lack of dedicated macro keys (another thing I love). The ISKU only features 5 dedicated macro keys to the left of the standard keyboard layout. I never understood how people used some of those Logitech keyboards that have a ton of extra macro keys. The Logitech G15 featured 18 dedicated macro keys to the left of the standard keyset, kinda ridiculous. At the top of the keyboard you have your standard multimedia keys. These keys are the perfect blend between small enough that they don’t stick out and large enough that you almost want to make use of them. I don’t know about anyone else out there but it is a very rare day that I use anything other than the volume keys in the multimedia keyset.
Other than the nice, but pretty standard, macro/multimedia keys the ISKU features “Thumbster Keys” that are built into the wrist rest. When I first saw these keys I thought to myself, “When will I ever use these?” but as gimmicky as they may look they actually proved to be quite useful. The keys are recessed so they don’t interfere in anyway with anything that you’re trying to do.
The wrist rest itself is very nice. It has a different texture than the keys and the size is perfect for my wrists. The slope is very subtle but the keyboard is so thin at the bottom that it almost blends into the desk. It reminded me of how it feels when you’re typing on a laptop and you’re allowing your wrists to lay on each side of the touchpad. I know some people will complain about that fact that the wrist rest is permanent but personally that wasn’t an issue for me.
The ISKU has more LED indicator lights than you’d want to count. Every macro enabling button, profile button and your standard ‘Caps Lock/Num Lock/Scroll Lock’ buttons all have separate LED indicators. What’s nice about the ISKU is because they use a very bright blue to accent these indicators they kept them small so they aren’t visually annoying.
The keys on ISKU Illuminated Gaming Keyboard are a flash back to what you’d see on pretty much every standard keyboard out there. The spacing of the keys is very even. Due to Roccat not restricting size none of the keys feel cramped. This keyboard utilizes a membrane panel instead mechanical key switches. I’ve come accustomed to the mechanical key switch in the recent months but the transition back to a membrane keyboard was actually quite pleasant. Some people actually prefer the feel of a membrane keyboard to a mechanical key switch.
The side profile of the keyboard show you how thin the keyboard gets toward the bottom. Due to the ISKU not featuring things like a braided USB or USB ports the back of the keyboard can stay much thinner than expected. As you can see from the photo the keyboard doesn’t sit much higher with the feet popped but that’s because with the included wrist rest it’s not necessary to elevate the ISKU to make it comfortable.
The bottom side of the keyboard shows more cable guides than necessary. Due to the cable coming out the back of the unit instead of somewhere on the bottom it is awkward to put the USB cable in the guide right next to where it exits the board. You subsequently create a very sharp loop in the cable and I NEVER like to bend a cable like that due to the chance that it would break. During the setup of the board I immediately took the USB cord out of the cable guide after placing it inside one because of fear. From that point on I just left the cable coming out of the back as if the cable guides didn’t exist.
The rubber grips on the feet and the base are very thick and ensure that the ISKU won’t slide around the desk. This is just another staple in the idea that regardless of composition the ISKU did not sacrifice in quality of design towards performance.