One area of our gaming experience that is often ignored, yet is critical to all fragging, is the keyboard. Generally used to move your character around games, the keyboard is often overlooked, probably because of that overriding feeling of: "What exactly can a keyboard do?"
Well, SteelSeries has decided to introduce a professional gaming keyboard to the market. It's not cheap, coming in around the 90 Euro mark; however it does offer some unique and interesting features. Let's start with the coolest thing about this keyboard – it is near indestructible.
During the presentation, the big Danish Viking-like representative for SteelSeries suddenly smashed his hand onto the keyboard with the fist of an angry god. I covered my eyes with my hands like a cowardly custard before realising that the keyboard was, surprisingly, still intact.
Steelkeys 6G has been made with angry gamers in mind
, fully in the knowledge that the first thing an angry gamer takes his wrath out on is his keyboard. We had a go at smashing it up, throwing trademarked bit-tech
karate kicks and chops and it still managed to work fine. This feature is again great for LAN parties, making the gamer feel more comfortable travelling around with his keyboard, as it is less likely to break.
The other feature that SteelSeries are proud of is the ability to use up to eight keys at once. Originally aimed at the Asian market, in which a hugely popular game o2 Jam
required you to press 9 keys at once. The keyboard has now been optimised to work for FPS games, with gold plated connectors and a promise that the keys will endure 60 million keystrokes. Who's counting anyway?
I have to say that I was slightly under whelmed by the keyboard when playing Counter-Strike. Sure, it felt smooth but not drastically different from any other keyboard. I was also disappointed by the fact that although the keyboard claims to allow for 8 button presses at once, if you press lots of keys in one section of the board, it doesn't work. This is because the way the keyboard is designed, sets of keys that are grouped together cannot all be pressed at the same time. I found this didn't affect my gaming experience at all; I was able to happily play through a game of CS without noticing a problem with the keyboard, that being said, I didn't really notice any huge improvements either. To justify such an expensive price tag it really should be doing some pretty special things.
As far as general use goes I enjoyed the clickety-clack sound the keyboard makes when typing on it. It sounds like an old school keyboard (in fact, the keyboard is based on ann older Cherry model) and is a million miles away from the new Microsoft sponsored soft touch stuff that saturates the market at the moment. For some noise-purists I would imagine this will prove a bit of an annoyance . One thing that did annoy me was the size of the backspace key, it's really small and due to me being used to a different set up, I found I kept missing it.
The packaging for the keyboard is pretty nice and it comes with its own little covering bag, a bit flimsy but a nice touch anyway. It also comes with a whole different set of grey coloured keys, along with a handy key changer device that makes switching keys easy. The thinking behind this is to help newer players become accustomed to games with lots of key configuration. In reality though this is a bit of a useless function, experienced players already know where the keys they need to remember are, and for those games where there are lots of keys to press what difference will it make sporadically laying out grey keys instead of black ones? A better option may have been to offer a variety of colours, so that you could mark out certain keys, two colours is not very useful.
Overall this is a solid keyboard that will be able to withstand a lot of physical abuse. However, don't expect miracles in terms of improved gaming performance as it just simply isn't there. The difference in key responsiveness is so minimal I wasn't able to notice it at all and the gimmick of being able to swap the keys is nothing more than novel modding for beginners. The keyboard is set for release sometime this month, and even though it has a little information booklet that comes with, telling you how top Counter-strike clan SK endorse it, very few people will pay the asking price.