Zalman ZM-K900M Overview
Digging into the box we find the keyboard fully enclosed in a thick plastic back and held securely on both ends with molded foam pads. The whole assembly can be pulled out at once.
Removing the bag we find only a manual, a USB to PS1 adapter and the board itself in perfect condition. In addition to the bag you will find a piece of plastic protecting the “Z-Machine Gaming Gear” logo that is above the arrow keys.
Moving in for a closer look at the key layout we find a standard deck plus num pad with some pretty big exceptions when you look at the key functions themselves. Nearly 60% of the keys have a secondary function. And while this seems like just good multi tasking on Zalman’s part it does make the layout slightly more confusing and aesthetically unappealing. Frankly the board is just too busy. Part of the reason for this is due to the lack of software control for the lighting and macros. The result is all of the many, and there are many, LED functions must be represented by a key. We’ve seen this before on other keyboards the difference lies in the complexity that Zalman offers. This is not simply an RGB deck with a standard set of preset light effects. The ZM-K900M offers fully customizable keys with tons of effects as well as macros and a built in speed meter (which incidentally is misspelled on our test sample) which must all be controlled and programmed from the standard board.
Aside from the lighting and macro double duty keys you will also find that the whole top row of “F” function keys also have multiple functions. Pressing the “FN” key will grant you access to the alternate function of any of the keys. This includes the following:
– My Computer
– Web Browser
– Into the Desktop (wallpapers)
– Media Player
– Volume Down
– Volume Up
– Mode Change
– All keys-Lock
– Windows key-Lock
– Additionally pressing the “FN” key plus G, Z, or B launches web pages to Google, Zalman, and Bing respectively.
The keys themselves are nearly standard size, I would say maybe just a hair shorter than what I would say is average. Meanwhile the spacing is a bit wider than average. This deck is likely going to take some time to get used to typing on so keep that in mind if you decide to give it a try. I’ve been using the ZM-K900M for around a month and to me it still feels a bit awkward to type on at times. I still find myself snagging the wrong key when I’m in a hurry. As was mentioned, the switches are Kailh blues. They deliver a decent mechanical feel but are not quite as precise as what you would find with a Cherry switch. However compared with other Kailh blue equipped boards I do find that this Zalman is a step closer to that Cherry feel. The switches are embedded in a reflective silver base. While it looks good standing alone behind the matte black keys it no doubt also assists in reflecting the LED backlighting out from behind the keys as well.
The bulk of this keyboard is in the base of course and thankfully there is a good amount of bulk to the keyboard. Sure there might be a few boards out there that are heavier, but the ZM-K900M is certainly no feather weight. During my many hours of use I’ve not had the deck move around on me even once. The angle of the board is to my personal liking and works really well without a palm rest. I would say it is a pretty standard slope with the legs collapsed and tucked away, but they are there if you do need them.
Signal is carried from the keyboard to your PC via a 1.7 meter long braided cable that ends in a gold plated USB connector. Also included is a USB to PS2 adapter if you find yourself needing that. The cable is acceptable, though it would have been a nice feature if it were removeable it’s also not necessary.
On the base of the ZM-K900M you will find channels at the back for the cord to exit left, off left, right, off right, and center. There are five rectangular rubber grips to assist in keeping the board in place as well as the previously mentioned collapsible risers which are also rubber coated.
Internally this RGB mech boasts a pretty impressive list of features. First is the “Z-Engine”. Zalman claims the tech allows the ZM-K900M to send a signal to the machine once every .0001 seconds at 1000Hz, meanwhile most USB keyboards can only do 125Hz or once every .008 seconds. In theory this means more inputs while gaming and perhaps an advantage. In addition the board will accept 104 simultaneous key presses which is the total number of keys. Basically this should mean no missed keypresses. Ever. Electronically you will find a dual layer water-resistant circuit board doing the heavy lifting.