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Discussion Starter #1
Given that we're going to start putting out reviews as a team, a few of us have decided that using a consistent template for reviews would be a good idea. It will help anybody reading the review realise that these are different from other types of reviews shown on OCN.<br><br>
I've done a few keyboard reviews previously, and so I suggest this as a possible template for keyboard reviews:<br><a class="spoiler-link H-spoiler-toggle" href="#"><strong>Warning: Spoiler!</strong> <span class="spoiler-help">(Click to show)</span></a><div class="spoiler-hidden">
<div class="bbcode_center" style="text-align:center;"><b><i><span style="font-size:36px;">[Overclock Labs - Sponsored Review]</span></i></b><br><br><b><i><span style="font-size:24px;">PRODUCT NAME</span></i></b></div>
<br><i>Good quality product image here.</i><br><br><i>Brief welcoming message.</i><br><br><ul class="bbcode_list"><li>This board was provided as a review sample for no charge.</li>
<li>I will not be keeping this board, it will be given away randomly at a later date to a member of OCN.</li>
<li>This review will only be discussing the board itself, not my opinions on the switches the board uses (in this case MX Browns), opinion on switches is subjective, and you'll have to make up your own mind about what switch is the one for you.</li>
</ul><br><br>
Quick navigation:<br><br><ul class="bbcode_list"><li><a href="#user_heading1">Introduction</a></li>
<li><a href="#user_heading2">Unboxing</a></li>
<li><a href="#user_heading4">External Overview</a></li>
<li><a href="#user_heading5">Internal Overview</a></li>
<li><a href="#user_heading6">Features</a></li>
<li><a href="#user_heading7">Comparison To Similar Products</a></li>
<li><a href="#user_heading8">Cost and Coverage</a></li>
<li><a href="#user_heading9">Final Thoughts</a></li>
</ul><br><br><span style="text-decoration:underline;"><b><span style="font-size:24px;"><a id="user_heading1">Introduction</a></span></b></span><br><br><i>A brief explanation of the board. Who do you think this board would be suitable for? Is this a board for gamers or something you could use in the office? Is this a first keyboard by the company or have they been making them for a while? Were their previous products received well or were they plagued with issues?</i><br><br><br><br><span style="text-decoration:underline;"><b><span style="font-size:24px;"><a id="user_heading2">Unboxing</a></span></b></span><br><br><i>Full pictures and explanation of the packaging and unboxing of the product. Is it packaged safely? Does the packaging feel cheap or does it feel like a luxury product? Is all the relevant product information shown and explained clearly? Does the packaging look sleek or cluttered?</i><br><br><br><br><span style="text-decoration:underline;"><b><span style="font-size:24px;"><a id="user_heading4">External Overview</a></span></b></span><br><br><b><span style="font-size:16px;">Design</span></b><br><br><b>Top side</b><br><br><i>Appearance of the board, thoughts on any design choices, is it comfortable to use? Does it feel poorly made?</i><br><br><br><b>Underside</b><br><br><i>Does the board have good quality feet and non-slip pads? Does the underside feel cheap?</i><br><br><br><b><span style="font-size:16px;">Branding</span></b><br><br><i>Does the board look sleek or does it have names and logos everywhere? Would it be suitable for an office for example?</i><br><br><br><b><span style="font-size:16px;">Keycap Layout</span></b><br><br><i>Does the board use a common layout with 1.25x modifiers and 6.25x spacebar or a less common choice? Would it be easy to buy aftermarket keycaps for the board?</i><br><br><br><b><span style="font-size:16px;">Keycap Quality</span></b><br><br><i>Quality of the keycaps. Profile of the keycaps, material used, feel of them out of box etc.</i><br><br><br><b><span style="font-size:16px;">Stabilizers</span></b><br><br><i>What stabilizers does the board use? Do the stabilized keys feel mushy? Do they rattle?</i><br><br><br><b><span style="font-size:16px;">Quality</span></b><br><br><i>Does the product feel appropriate for the cost?</i><br><br><br><b><span style="font-size:16px;">Summary</span></b><br><br><i>Overall impressions of the outside of the board. Choices of aesthetic, build quality, ease of modding etc.</i><br><br><br><br><br><span style="text-decoration:underline;"><b><span style="font-size:24px;"><a id="user_heading5">Internal Overview</a></span></b></span><br><br><i>Overview and analysis of the internals of the board, quality of the soldering, components, how easy it is to take apart etc.</i><br><br><br><b><span style="font-size:16px;">Summary</span></b><br><br><i>A summary of the internals of the board.</i><br><br><br><br><br><span style="text-decoration:underline;"><b><span style="font-size:24px;"><a id="user_heading6">Features</a></span></b></span><br><br><b><span style="font-size:16px;">{FEATURE 1}</span></b><br><br><i>The feature, how useful it is and any changes you'd like to see to it.</i><br><br><br><b><span style="font-size:16px;">{FEATURE 2}</span></b><br><br><i>The feature, how useful it is and any changes you'd like to see to it.</i><br><br><br><b><span style="font-size:16px;">{FEATURE 3}</span></b><br><br><i>The feature, how useful it is and any changes you'd like to see to it.</i><br><br><br><b><span style="font-size:16px;">Summary</span></b><br><br><i>A summary of the feature set of the board, including thoughts on how well executed the features are.</i><br><br><br><br><span style="text-decoration:underline;"><b><span style="font-size:24px;"><a id="user_heading7">Comparison To Similar Products</a></span></b></span><br><br><i>How does this product compare to similar ones on the market? What does this board have that it's close competition doesn't (and vice versa)?</i><br><br><br><br><span style="text-decoration:underline;"><b><span style="font-size:24px;"><a id="user_heading8">Cost and Coverage</a></span></b></span><br><br><b>Cost</b>:<br><br><b>Coverage</b>:<br><br><br><br><span style="text-decoration:underline;"><b><span style="font-size:24px;"><a id="user_heading9">Final Thoughts</a></span></b></span><br><br>
Summary of your thoughts on the board, what was good, what wasn't? Does this fare well against it's competition? Is it good value? Does it feel like a premium product?<br><br><b>Pros</b>:<br><ul class="bbcode_list"><li><i>Ideally 3+ points</i></li>
</ul><br><br><b>Cons</b>:<br><ul class="bbcode_list"><li><i>Ideally 3+ points</i></li>
</ul></div>
 

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Call me VSG
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Don't expect everyone to disassemble a board, but other than that I like it. Having a section for the software may be done depending on how big of a feature set it is.<br><br>
I would like to add in a few simple tests: testing key roll over, PS/2 compatibility, and recording the sound of the keys under type touch and bottoming out (sound clips can be uploaded and embedded easily, and it doesn't have to be from a high end recorder so much as having an idle ambience).
 

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Discussion Starter #3
<div class="quote-container" data-huddler-embed="/t/1584985/review-template-keyboards/0_20#post_24725622" data-huddler-embed-placeholder="false"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>geggeg</strong> <a href="/t/1584985/review-template-keyboards/0_20#post_24725622"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif"></a><br><br>
Don't expect everyone to disassemble a board, but other than that I like it. Having a section for the software may be done depending on how big of a feature set it is.<br><br>
I would like to add in a few simple tests: testing key roll over, PS/2 compatibility, and recording the sound of the keys under type touch and bottoming out (sound clips can be uploaded and embedded easily, and it doesn't have to be from a high end recorder so much as having an idle ambience).</div>
</div>
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Where applicable I usually include the software in the feature section. Also, recording the sound of the keys doesn't make much sense unless we all put the keyboards on a similar surface e.g. a bed to ensure that the sound of the desk isn't affecting the recording.
 

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I actually like having a sound test as well. Just a regular typing example, but also a "close up" if it is a quiet or noisy board. As we build up more of these, it will act as a reference. Standardizing them wont be necessary, just on the desk, being used as normal, with a not to the surface its on is fine in as quiet a room as possible.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I don't think a sound test adds anything unless we have some standardized ways to perform the test. Stuff would need to be decided such as:<br><br><ul class="bbcode_list"><li>What surface is being typed on? (makes a <b>huge</b> difference)</li>
<li>How close is the mic?</li>
<li>What is the ambient volume of the environment for the test and what type of sound is it?</li>
<li>Is the keyboard going to be raised onto the feet at the back (and front in some cases), or will it be lying flat?</li>
</ul><br><br>
And that doesn't even cover the type of switch being used, which will massively affect the sound being recorded, even though it's not necessarily a feature of that board in particular. For example, testing a board with MX Blue switches might make it seem loud, but if someone else has a sample with MX Reds, then theirs will be quieter.<br><br>
If we don't establish stuff like that prior to the reviews, then we're just including data without context for the sake of it.
 

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We are not doing science here. We just want some ability to show what type of clack or thump the keys make. With a goal of "this is about what is sounds like to me as I type" as a guide. I can talk all day about the different sound my Type Heaven makes, but a quick .mp3 from my cell tells a 1000 words.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Ah, you just want to compare the sound of switches, rather than try to distinguish between similar keyboards with the same switches. In that case, surely creating a reference guide separate to the reviews with sound samples for various switch types would make more sense? The reviews could then use relevant samples from the guide, and the guide could also be referenced separately when required. That way we don't have potentially interesting information buried in a specific review, making it hard to find.
 

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Well, no. That would be handy thing to add to the mec switch guide. This is more of a "this is what this keyboard sounds like as I type" feel thing. Generic switch sound would be the exact opposite of that. Its not hard to do a quick video or MP3 of the sound of the actual keyboard as you test it. It would go with the descriptors of how the switch feels in the particular board you have. You can't just say "it feels like a red", that is only part of it.
 

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Call me VSG
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<div class="quote-container" data-huddler-embed="/t/1584985/review-template-keyboards/0_50#post_24788457" data-huddler-embed-placeholder="false"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>KipH</strong> <a href="/t/1584985/review-template-keyboards/0_50#post_24788457"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif"></a><br><br>
Well, no. That would be handy thing to add to the mec switch guide. This is more of a "this is what this keyboard sounds like as I type" feel thing. Generic switch sound would be the exact opposite of that. Its not hard to do a quick video or MP3 of the sound of the actual keyboard as you test it. It would go with the descriptors of how the switch feels in the particular board you have. You can't just say "it feels like a red", that is only part of it.</div>
</div>
<br>
Then each person would have to provide a reference sound for context as well. There would be no point comparing sound recordings across reviewers without a standard measurement setup. Both methods have pros and cons here.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I usually cover board flex in the build quality section and wouldn't mention the switch itself unless it's uncommon, e.g. the Romer-G switches in the Logitech G910 Orion Spark.
 

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The point of a keyboard review is not to scientific test them vs others. Its not a GPU or water cooler test where you can rank them according to performance. Keyboard reviews are designed to give the reader a feeling of the board, as a surrogate for them having to try them all fist. Ever bit of subjective data and description we can give is good. They are ALL based on the feeling and senses of the reviewer, we don't have to correct for that. Ambient noise will be heard by the listeners brain and corrected for automatically.<br><br>
So again, just having a video with sound of the typing to show the reader what it sounds like to the typist / reviewer is a good thing. It is subjective data, yes, but the value of the review is from subjective data. If I want hard data on a board, I can read the PR. In an all text review, a simple MP3 sound file is not an hard thing to ask for.<br><br>
And yes, we need to mention what switch the tester used as well as the switches that are available for that keyboard. That is a standard part of every keyboard review.<br><br>
For example, you say "This review will only be discussing the board itself, not my opinions on the switches the board uses (in this case MX Browns), opinion on switches is subjective, and you'll have to make up your own mind about what switch is the one for you."<br><br>
But you should say if it feels like a standard brown, or how it is different. This included sound.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
<div class="quote-container" data-huddler-embed="/t/1584985/review-template-keyboards/0_20#post_24788559" data-huddler-embed-placeholder="false"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>KipH</strong> <a href="/t/1584985/review-template-keyboards/0_20#post_24788559"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif"></a><br><br>
The point of a keyboard review is not to scientific test them vs others. Its not a GPU or water cooler test where you can rank them according to performance. Keyboard reviews are designed to give the reader a feeling of the board, as a surrogate for them having to try them all fist. Ever bit of subjective data and description we can give is good. They are ALL based on the feeling and senses of the reviewer, we don't have to correct for that. Ambient noise will be heard by the listeners brain and corrected for automatically.<br><br>
So again, just having a video with sound of the typing to show the reader what it sounds like to the typist / reviewer is a good thing. It is subjective data, yes, but the value of the review is from subjective data. If I want hard data on a board, I can read the PR. In an all text review, a simple MP3 sound file is not an hard thing to ask for.<br><br>
And yes, we need to mention what switch the tester used as well as the switches that are available for that keyboard. That is a standard part of every keyboard review.<br><br>
For example, you say "This review will only be discussing the board itself, not my opinions on the switches the board uses (in this case MX Browns), opinion on switches is subjective, and you'll have to make up your own mind about what switch is the one for you."<br><br>
But you should say if it feels like a standard brown, or how it is different. This included sound.</div>
</div>
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I guess we have different approaches. I prefer to review the board in terms of how it is different to it's competition, rather than just as a product on it's own. Hence why I don't really discuss the switches in depth if they're Cherry MX, because it's not specific to the the board I'm reviewing and it's not relevant to how that board in particular is different to other options on the market.<br><br>
That being said, the whole point of having standardised switches like the Cherry MX series is so that you know what you're getting. Even if the manufacturer mounted the switches on a backplate made of cardboard, that's still not going to change the properties of the switch itself, it's a self-contained unit.
 

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AH. But remember, you need to write a review for people who have never seen a mech before, as well as us lucky ones that have many. Adding the sound, and the feel of the switch, may seem redundant, but is helpful to people that may be looking for their fist board. Never assume your readers knows anything <img alt="smile.gif" class="bbcode_smiley" src="http://files.overclock.net/images/smilies/smile.gif">
 

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Discussion Starter #14
The reviews could get lengthy is we assume no prior knowledge at all. Besides, the point of the review is surely to discuss why someone should or shouldn't buy this particular keyboard, rather than a mechanical keyboard in general.
 
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