I just bought this keyboard from Amazon.co.uk
Microsoft Sidewinder X4 Keyboard (UK Layout) - £32.48
And I thought I would post some of my first impressions on here (partly to test out with some extended typing
). A couple of nights ago I spilled a whole glass of Dr Pepper over my keyboard and just couldn't clean it well enough to make it work properly, the keys just kept sticking down. Besides, it was more than time for an upgrade anyway.
I was looking for something specifically with backlit keys and macro functionality. I would have preferred wireless, but they tended to be very expensive. My other alternatives were:
However I decided to go with the Sidewinder because it was good value and I generally like the Microsoft keyboards/mice.
It arrived to me from Amazon very promptly and upon opening the familiar packaging, this was unearthed.
The box was really high quality and gave an initial good impression from the start, very solid with a nice weight to it.
and upon opening we find two things, the keyboard and the cd/manuals box:
The keyboard itself has a glossy finish on the body which shows up fingerprints quite readily but also appears to be quite easy to clean. The keys themselves have a nice satin finish with the letter, number, function and arrow keys having dipped tops and the rest having flat tops.
There is one windows key, one drop down menu key, the six macro keys and a whole host of added functionality buttons along the top. From left to right these are:
- Bank Switch Button (3 different banks)
- Macro Recording Button
- Play/Pause Button
- Volume Up
- Volume Down
- Backlight Level (3 levels plus off)
The keyboard gives a nice glow in the dark but it's not overwhelmingly bright. Honestly, I can't see a time when I'll turn down the brightness of the keys from the top level, but maybe for some it's good to have that bit more choice.
Upon inserting the CD it starts to install the Micrsoft Intelltype Pro
software. This software allows you to do some quite cool stuff. First off you can change the default functionality of a lot of keys for different banks
. This means that you can load a gaming profile with, for example, the windows key disabled so that you won't accidentally exit out of a game ever again! You can also add this functionality to start when a specific program opens (e.g the game in question) to make it easier.
And also you're able to set macros here as well:
One important thing about the macros is they also record how long you press each key and the gaps inbetween
. I know this probably isn't news to a lot of people but I didn't realise that this would be the case until I tried it out, I thought that it would merely send the keystrokes in the right order! The fact you can edit these as well means that you can speed up macros or slow them down as you please. This is a great feature, in my opinion. Having been a power user of Autohotkey before, I was dubious as to the functionality and usefulness of these macro keys but I'm really impressed. They're easy to program, accurate and they're easy to use, what more could you ask?
The three banks mean you can have up to 36 macros programmed in at a time - excellent! Some other standard stuff worth mentioning, the keys feel snappy and have a nice weight and sound to them. You're always sure when you've fully pressed a key, and for the touch typists out there the layout is good. One minor issue is that I often find myself pressing too far to the left of the keyboard, so things like Ctrl-C become S6-S, or Alt-Tab becomes Windows-S2. If you don't get what I mean this picture should illustrate:
While this is something I will most certainly get used to quite fast, it's definitely worth noting. Interestingly, on the far right of the keyboard above the numpad is a calculator key. This key, as you have probably guessed by now, brings up the calculator. A nice touch, and it can be reprogrammed to bring up anything else (or do one of the many things offered by the software). However, one little niggle is that a second press doesn't close the calculator
. If felt this was a shame as you have to move your hand all the way to the other side of the keyboard to press alt-f4 or take your hand off and use the mouse to close it. Minor, but a niggling annoying in my head.
- Keys feel and type great
- Great value for money
- Backlight not too bright and not too dark.
- Lots of functionality
- Great macro keys
- The glossy surface is a bit of a dust/fingerprint magnet
Overall I would give this a 9.5/10 for being such good value and so easy to use.
Check back here for periodic updates as I continue to use this keyboard. I shall be using it for more gaming once my exams are over so I'll really get a chance to test the macros and ghosting out.
Thanks for now.