If you’re one of the many people out there that owns a shiny new aluminium case for your PC, then you might also be interested in building up a set of matching accessories. Coolermaster has addressed this potential style conscious market by manufacturing a keyboard finished in aluminium. If the idea of an ordinary plastic keyboard to go with your brushed aluminium PC is abhorrent to you, then read on.
As with most ergonomic orientated components, a keyboard is something very personal and everyone I know seems to have different personal preferences when it comes input devices.
There are many different types of keyboards, but the standard desktop designs tend to have full size keys and a staggered layout to the keys. The Coolermaster EAK-US1 does follow the same QWERTY layout as other keyboards, but the overall form factor has been reduced, resulting in a great looking unit that’s both slim and stylish.
One of the reasons that this keyboard from Coolermaster is smaller than normal is its profile. The keys are not staggered and instead are all the same height, much like a notebook keyboard with an attached numeric keypad.
The keyboard attaches to the PC via USB which means that it doesn’t work in the BIOS or in DOS mode unless you configure your BIOS to accept USB input devices before you install it.
The brushed aluminium surround does make the EAK-US1 look very professional, but sadly this is only skin deep.
Unfortunately it’s the stylish slim look that lets the EAK-US1 down. The slim dimensions mean that there is very little travel to the keys, and the flat profile makes typing for long periods uncomfortable. Of course if you’re used to typing for extended periods on a notebook keyboard this probably won’t be too much of an issue, but if you’re switching from a conventional keyboard you could find it difficult.
The layout is not ideal either, as the keys are closer together than on a full-size keyboard making it harder to type on it, especially if you have large hands. Also, some of the keys have been shrunk to fit the small profile with the most problematic being the Return key. This may not be a huge problem for everyone, but when you’re used to hitting Return in a specific area without looking down at the keyboard you soon get annoyed.
The cursor keys have also been integrated into the keyboard layout next to the right-hand side shift key, making cursor manipulation more tricky than it needs to be. It also means that at times you end hitting the cursor keys instead of the shift key. The Spacebar has also been shortened slightly, but at least the backspace is still full-size.
If you don’t mind using a laptop keyboard, then the EAK-US1 might appeal to you, as long as you can live with problems mentioned above. That said, the price is fairly steep for what is more of a novelty item than a real keyboard.