One piece of hardware that we all use every day to interact with our PC is the lowly keyboard. As a long-time staple of the home computer, the keyboard has been our digital translator in countless emails, instant messages and class assignments, conveying our thoughts in 1s and 0s on our monitors. Let’s not forget that gamers the world over would be lost without our trusty friends W, A, S and D.
With more and more companies bringing to market gaming oriented keyboards that not only break our wallets but also our desks, we can’t over look the simplistic keyboards intended for use in our daily affairs. Keyboards like these are not intended to show off our gamer attitude and they certainly are not intended to turn many heads. They are not styled for show like the beautiful diNovo from Logitech and they are not intended to excite the gaming community with lights and knobs like the practically perfect Saitek Eclipse II.
Instead, keyboards like these are built to simply serve one purpose… comfortable computing on the cheap. Today we have two such keyboards on our bench and while they both fit this budget board niche, they do so with a great deal of style and functionality.
First, our long time friends from Logisys sent over their new “ultra slim soft touch multimedia/internet keyboard.” If that seems like a mouthful it’s because it is. Logisys has been a favorite of modders everywhere with their almost endless supply of lighting accessories. We have taken looks at many of their products over the years and for the most part they have proven themselves quite capable of delivering inexpensive, yet useful products.
The other board we are looking at today is the tiny HCK-1K18A from Hiper. If you’re new to Techgage or any of my past reviews, we looked at their Anubis aluminum PC chassis a few months ago and to this day, it’s still the best case I have personally ever worked with. From its stylish looks to its “why didn’t we think of this first” side panel, the Anubis truly deserved the editor’s choice award it was given. With the HCK-1K18A keyboard, we expect nothing different from one of my new personal favorite companies.
There really isn’t anything to testing keyboards in my opinion outside of continual use so without delay, let’s take a closer look at our keyboards.
A Closer Look
Starting out with the Logisys offering, the most noticeable feature at first is the curved wrist rest running along the base of the keyboard. Offering a full QWERTY layout, the Logisys keyboard employs notebook style keys, giving it a smooth and compact feel. Built out of both glossy and frosted black plastic, the keyboard feels rather sturdy and when twisted, bends very little.
Flanking the notebook styled keys are multimedia buttons allowing the user to not only control the music they are listening to but also to open up simple programs as well. On the left hand side of the board are five such buttons intended to be used with internet browsers like IE or Firefox. Starting at the top, there is a home button to bring you back to your home page at any moment.
Just below the home key is a long vertical oval controlling the back and forward functions of your browser. While many 5 button mice have this functionality built into their 4 and 5 buttons, those without a mouse like this can truly appreciate the capability to use these keys when they see fit. Below the back and forward keys is an email button. This will bring up whatever email client you have setup as your default. In my case, I use both outlook and Thunderbird but I have Thunderbird setup as the default.
Continuing down, our next button controls our bookmarked favorites. When pressed, this will bring up our favorites side bar in IE. I want to point out that this did not work in Firefox as the hotkeys for Firefox are Ctrl+B where as in IE, they are Ctrl+I. The final button on the left hand side of the keyboard opens up a Windows search box when pressed.
Moving onto the right hand side of the keyboard, we find more multimedia keys as well as a large knob that rests on the right side of the wrist rest. Also on the right side is a sleep button as well as buttons for My Computer and Calculator. Running down the side of the keyboard is a media player button, opening up your default media player (Foobar for me please!), a forward and back button similar to the left hand side but for music, as well as the obligatory play, mute and stop keys.
At the bottom of the right side are the lock indicator LEDs letting us know that we have scroll, caps or num lock on with a gentle and pleasant blue light. Just under the number pad is the aforementioned knob, there to keep our master audio volume in check.
Turning the Logisys keyboard over, we can see that it can be slightly elevated with a set of fold out stands. These stands give the back of the keyboard just under an inch or rise, adding a few degrees to the tilt of the entire board. Others might choose to not use them but as a personal preference, I can’t help but use them. Once in place, the stands snap into place, securing themselves out until put down by the user.
Another selling point for the Logisys keyboard is its slim frame. When the stands are folded down, the keyboard stands no taller than a US penny on end. As you can see, our 16th president can’t see over the edge of the keyboard but he almost can, proving that when laid out flat, the Logisys keyboard is quite slim. If I had an intact manila envelope, I could do so many Apple mock shots but sadly, I don’t. Your luck Mac Air.
As stated before, the recessed lock lights sit flush with the curved wrist rest and glow an attractive blue when activated. One thing that you can be sure of is that when they are on, you won’t miss them as they are rather bright.
Now that we have seen the Logisys offering, let’s move onto the Hiper HCK-1K18A. The first thing that we see when we look at the Hiper keyboard is its size. Using a typical notebook layout, the Hiper keyboard, sans its number pad, is the exact width as my Dell Latitude’s keyboard. Fortunately for us however, Hiper included a number pad on the HCK-1K18A, adding some, but not much extra length on the end of the board.
Like its Logisys counterpart, the keyboard from Hiper uses soft touch notebook style keys, giving the HCK-1K18A not only a slender appearance, but also a comforting typing area. Another thing that adds to the overall attractiveness of the keyboard is its brushed aluminum face. This gives the board a solid look equaled only by the quality of its build.
Taking a look at the left side of the board, it’s quickly noticeable that instead of placing their multimedia keys on the side, Hiper rather choose to place them at the top of the board. Clearly Hiper was going for as compact of a design as possible. We can also see from this side view just how squat the notebook styled keys sit.