In this past year we’ve reviewed an extraordinary amount of input devices. As far as I know, in 2012, we reviewed more gaming devices than any other year. Because we reviewed so many products it got me thinking, every year Bob releases his ‘top products of the year’ be it cases or motherboards or video-cards but I couldn’t remember a time when he reflected back on all the input devices that were previously reviewed.
For the most part I do all of the input device reviews, whether they be mice or keyboards, at ThinkComputers. Because of that I think I have a pretty good handle on what it takes to have a solid product. But one interesting fact that most people don’t know, is that because of review deadlines I don’t get to spend as much time with each product before I submit the review that I’d like to. For the most part regardless of that time spent the conclusion that I come to stands true even after the review but because time heals all sometimes I come to certain realizations about a product weeks after a product had its review posted.
During the year if you’ve read the reviews I’ve submitted you’d know that I have a tendency to compare ‘this keyboard’ to ‘that keyboard’ but what would happen if I compared all the keyboards I reviewed in the past year and picked one to conquer all; A straight up prize fight based on all the categories that matter to you, the consumer.
This is the first Keyboard of the Year Award ThinkComputers will ever hand out, so who will reign supreme? Let’s take a look!
Comfort is an interesting category because for most people it’s the most important category. I know, you’re saying, “Nik, why would you make such an important category first? Don’t you want people to read the whole article?” and to that I say, “Whatever, that’s just how things worked out…LEAVE ME ALONE!” Whoa, where did that go? Let’s get back on topic…
Like I said earlier, Comfort is a very important category. You’re wrists, palms, and fingers spend more time on a key board than you’ll ever realize. Hell, I spent a couple hours putting this article together and my fingers rarely left the keyboard.
I have two small rules when it comes to keyboard and comfort:
1. Keep the key layout standard. I hate when companies rearrange buttons and make buttons strange sizes to accommodate the addition of a “turbo” button or some other garbage
2. Make sure my wrists are relaxed. I don’t want Carpal Tunnel surgery anytime soon. With the knowledge that we have about wrist injuries from typing there is no reason my wrists should feel relaxed while typing.
With these rules in place one keyboard stood out against all the others. The CM Storm Trigger was the most comfortable keyboard I used in 2012. A couple other keyboards stepped up and put up a reasonable fight but the Trigger was the product that made me feel the most relaxed while using it and because of that it took the Comfort category. With the combination of the standard key-switch layout and oversized wrist rest that flowed gracefully into the keyboard itself it made this choice quite easy.
Customization is an interesting category because if these were anything but gaming keyboards this category wouldn’t exist. What is customization in regards to a gaming keyboard? The answer to that question can be different because each keyboard offers different options but the one keyboard that stood out beyond the majority of the keyboards I’ve reviewed was the Madcatz S.T.R.I.K.E. 7 Gaming Keyboard.
The S.T.R.I.K.E. 7 is an accumulation of things that show the true potential of how you can customize a keyboard to make it your own. Beyond the endless lighting combinations the LED backlight can provide the keyboard can be rearranged to suit what you want to do with it. If you just want a gaming pad you can remove the main keyboard portion and transition the macro keyboard to the side of the pad. You can also move the screen.
The screen itself would have won the S7 the customization category. It includes so many functions that sometimes you forget what they all are. The biggest of these functions in the Profile feature. You can make profiles for specific programs, whether it is games or applications, which are visually reflected on the screen at the top of your keyboard.
The potential for this keyboard is much larger than any other keyboard I reviewed this past year because things you can make your own have a tendency to take a life of their own. Already we’ve seen communities start to pop up around this keyboard. Let’s see what 2013 brings.