by Jamie Fletcher on August 19, 2011 in Peripherals
As most of our staff consists of avid PC gamers, we tend to review a fair number of peripherals to suit that style. But with a look at Enermax’s Aurora Lite keyboard, we’re pretty well going in the opposite direction. It doesn’t feature a bunch of gimmicks, but rather focuses on delivering a good typing experience and clean design.
Enermax would probably not be the first company that comes to mind when in the market for a new keyboard; it is better known for its power supplies than input peripherals – but since when did that stop anyone? Corsair, OCZ, GIGABYTE, all branching out to create a brand identity and not just singular products.
The Aurora Lite Keyboard is a little different from many of the other reviews we tend to do. It has no real special features, no half-baked software to contend with, no media keys, no flashy lights, and gaming is an afterthought. This is a rather minimalist piece of equipment designed to do one thing (maybe two). It’s designed for typing and looking stylish while you’re doing it, and sometimes that’s all you need (and want).
It’s not a cheap keyboard by any stretch, considering what it offers. Why spend $60-$70 on a keyboard when one can be obtained that does the same thing for $10? That is for readers to decide, with a gentle prod from this here review.
Style and function were at the forefront of the Aurora Lite – a slimmed down version of the Aurora keyboard released in 2006. It’s a very thin, low slant, very heavy, brushed aluminum keyboard with a glossy black ABS plastic back. It uses scissor action supported rubber dome keys with a low travel, very similar to the keys used in notebooks.
Black and silver versions are available with various localizations, with the black version under review here. There is nothing immediately outstanding about the design or layout – it’s a keyboard. No media keys litter the edges, no complex macro key modifiers and no funny tricks with keys being moved around to accommodate various functions. This is in effect a full-sized laptop keyboard with a dedicated numpad.
The edges are milled to expose the silvery accent of the aluminum (although a little difficult to see in the photos) and the face plate looks anodized in black to show off the brushed effect. The left side makes use of a full-size extended backspace, enter and shift keys with delete home/end and page up/down in their predictable places. ( I make note of this for the simple reason that many higher-end keyboards like to fiddle around with the key placements). Three blue LEDs are used as indicators for Caps, Scroll and Num locks. The LEDs are bright, but not the blinding super-bright type.
I found the choice of glossy black ABS plastic on the back rather strange. Glossiness tends to be on the front, and since this is on the back, there is little need for it as you’ll never see it.
The only extra that you will find in the box is the inclusion of a purple, non-lint cloth. This can also be used as a keyboard cover should you so desire. The material of the cloth is actually one of my favorites as it’s extremely good at removing fingerprints without scratching the surface.
There are USB 2.0 ports on either side, providing easy access for flash drives and mice (it supports high bandwidth 1000Hz poll rate mice too, unlike a lot of passive hubs).
Feedback from key presses is the typical soft rubber dome response with a subtle muted click from the scissor switch. The keys are soft, as expected from laptop style keyboards, with minimal travel. The scissor switch actually increases the lifespan of the keys, as well as evening out pressure. Key life is estimated at around 10 million presses, compared to the standard 2-5 million of regular rubber dome keys.
With no dedicated software or drivers required, the Aurora Lite is just ‘plug and play’. It also means there isn’t the headache of dealing with more crazy software solutions. So with the feature set being rather minimal, where does the $60+ price come from? It’s hard to tell; there are no gold plated, hyper-response keys, no anti-ghosting, which is actually kind of a good thing – less to go wrong.