Thanks to MadCatz for providing this keyboard for review.
(Note: When I mentioned to Mr. Hallam, who wrote this review, that the keyboard looked like something taken from a Star Trek prop room, he took it to heart, thus for anyone struggling to understand this review, we recommend you go watch all of the Star Trek series and films. It’ll be good for you.)
Captain’s log star date 2012.06.29.
The USS Awesome-Sauce has happened upon a strange new device known only to the crew as the “Cyborg V.7”. It appears to be some kind of input console or keyboard used for electronic gaming, but even our Vulcan science chief cannot explain it. Upon connecting it to our on board computing device the keyboard instantly lit up displaying what our scientists insist on calling “Backlit LED” technology. Curious.
The device, much like our own consoles, contains the standard QWERTY setup of keys but with the addition of ten extra “C” keys. A truly ingenious design that our technicians are working around the clock to backward engineer. It appears that the keyboard was also found with a set of compact discs, a technology long since phased out in the Federation but still usable.
Upon these discs were found programs able to install a set of drivers and software used to program the device. While my technicians assure me no harm shall come to the Awesome-Sauce from these ancient computer programs I’ve had them install backups and firewalls on all our systems just in case.
Once installed I attempted to verbally communicate with the programs, thinking they may be some kind of intelligent life form of sorts. Unfortunately, even after threatening the entity with my phaser after it refused to answer my hail I was forced to use another computer input device, a mouse, to access the program remotely.
This program, I have found out, is in fact some form of profile enabler and settings adjuster. While a little sparse on the settings side of things it appears that each of the ten ‘C’ keys can be programmed from here. Each key can be set to carry out a series of commands that correspond to button presses.
For example, if I program the first C1 key to use “Enter, L,O,L,!, Enter” then I may press it when I am participating in an electronic gaming product such as ‘World of Vulcancraft’ in which case my plucky level 963 Captaineer shall yell “LOL!” over the intercom at my other Vulcan chums. While I have yet to find a truly viable use for the keys, mainly due to the finer workings of the macro system requiring all the skill of a trained MIT graduate to work, they are indeed a nice touch.
Upon further inspection, after deeming that the regular QWERTY key set was indeed just a regular QWERTY key set, I discovered that above the ‘F’ keys there was in fact a touch-sensitive control panel. The buttons along the top bare symbols that seem to indicate their usage.
Ignoring the cries of my tech team who insist they test it first, I proceeded to mash each button in turn. Nothing ventured, nothing gained you understand.
The first button, shaped like what historical records suggest is a light bulb, not only turned off all the lights on the keyboard but also plunged the ship into darkness. I shall not be using that key any time soon as all lights on the ship have voice commands. It does however mean that I can use the keyboard in the dark without alerting our chief security officer Mr Huxly, a rather burly man who takes offence at his captain looking at old holovids of Klingon nude beaches. Just because the man’s mother was a Klingon does not mean I cannot indulge my vices!
Adjacent to the lights button I found a volume control which was rather self-explanatory, but the mute button beside that did seem to mute not only the crew’s rather banging rave session of Hip-drop-top-tech-rockno music but also the crew themselves. Note to self, save key for when Vulcan 2nd in command decides to lecture me on Starfleet regulations regarding mandatory ship wide wet t-shirt contests. Those tests could save lives!
Beside the volume controls are three extra buttons that form the shapes of play, rewind and fast forward buttons. When tested they did in fact work on my personal edition of a wondrous application called “iTunes” I was awarded when my last command ship, the USS Lolwothy, went back in time through a temporal wormhole to 2011 and saved Apple founder Steve Jobs from a Borg invasion. Mr Jobs is now our chief technology adviser aboard the starship Awesome-Sauce after faking his death later that year. He makes great coffee.
Upon further inspection however it seems that these buttons were also wired to the Awesome-Sauce’s engines, almost causing a crash when I paused my music during a landing sequence which inadvertently ‘paused’ the starship’s engines too. I shall never live that down…
The final set of buttons seems to control the brightness and colour of various areas of the console, allowing me to set the WASD keys to my favourite colour of magenta while the others are a rather sickly green colour. Truly a wondrous feature that serves to beautify what may otherwise be a drab piece of engineering.
Before I end this entry my I also attest to the comfort of the device. After using it for many hours for various tasks (Extra-net browsing, watching holovids and of course partaking in electronic gaming devices) I found it to be most comfortable with the added optional wrist-rest providing some much-needed support.
Overall I believe this to be a marvel of engineering. If my technicians can reverse engineer this device I believe it would be the height of comfort and style. The keys are excellent and smooth to type with while the touch-sensitive buttons along the top provide adequate and welcomed music playback control. I do not believe however that the macro system for the ‘C’ keys is of much use since it is only able to record simple key presses and not full commands making it essentially useless as things can be done just as easily using the QWERTY keys.
All in all however, I am impressed. Unfortunately, my technicians tell me that once they have reverse engineered the device a new one shall cost the Federation a whooping £75. I fear that Admiral Willkins-Buxford shall deem it an unnecessary expense and deny my request for 500 more which would be a damn shame.
This is Captain Andrew S Hallam of the starship Awesome-Sauce, signing off.
+ Looks like a Star Trek Console.
+ Extra USB port on the back is very useful.
+ Touch-sensitive media buttons are great.
- The ten extra C keys are hard to program and essentially useless without a specialised game add-on.
- Touch-sensitive screen is easy to scratch.
The Verdict: 7
It looks like a Star Trek console, feels comfortable and is easy to use over long periods, what more could you ask for? Well, maybe some better software would be nice. Really, the extra C keys are near useless except for simple macros that can easily be done on a regular keyboard. With some software like the Cyborg MMO 7 mouse that works with specific games to give each button a special function would be immensely useful and make this a truly legendary keyboard instead of just a great one.