Kingston’s HyperX Part II: Keyboarders R Us & What’s Coming for 2018

13 Jan

HyperX Logo

Kingston’s HyperX Alloy Elite Keyboard needed two creative minds to look at this product. This design is much better than others in the market because different models exist to suit each user’s need and budget. The elegant design of this unit is what got our attention!

This manufacturer made the perfect choice for the basic unit based on the fact red light is what astronomers use to preserve their night vision. To include additional functions where other colours can shine or be programmable to offer smiley faces in the dark is neat (and is offered in the next model up), but in what this input device must do: to take a pounding by writers (Ed) and gamers (Shawn) alike. The essential part of this device’s engineering needs to be examined more. But for those who love this multicoloured light-up feature, the HyperX HX-KB2BR2-US/R1 Alloy Elite RGB LED edition is spotlighted at the Consumer Electronics Show 2018 and is available for purchase on Amazon.

Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest) — I feel this keyboard is made to compliment any nerd room. Its stylish design looks far nicer when compared to other brands and yes, I prefer black over silver. When I’m typing in dark or playing Borderlands 2, to have a selective lighting mode is great. Quite often, I leave it in its default mode, where each key I press lights up and fades. This feature is ultra cool. I can blaze away at my top typing speed of 165 WPM and get hypnotized with this effect. Plus, there’s no ghosting and no lag. That’s assuming the computer system is not being taxed with a whole ton of other background processes at the time. A wired keyboard makes for all the difference.

This keyboard is plug and play. It works on PC based systems (sorry Mac) from Windows 7 onwards. Usually, this feature goes unadvertised with certain brands of gamer keyboards. As I bounce between both platforms, to swap this keyboard to either system when I like what the extra keys offers can be handy. Try at the latest version of OS X did in its attempt to recognize this model (I hoped Apple might have improved their keyboard & mouse driver), High Sierra had troubles.

For touch typists, the smooth feel of the keycaps calls back to my days of using electronic typewriters. If this keyboard is brought to an office workstation, it will definitely get a lot of people talking and ask why bring such a fancy product to a business to use? When looking at the usual brands which lurk within this environment, none of them can take the pounding.

As with most mid-range keyboards, it comes with a single USB2.0 port to make connecting with the mouse easier. I have to wonder if the technology has hit a stall with these devices though. I do not see many with a top-down port design. The reason usually because of keeping the product looking slim than fat. However, to offer a keyboard that goes beyond gaming really must include a few extra features for the non-gamer to use (like added ports) to make the transfer of information from flash drives and SDXC cards easier. Keyboards with a built-in card reader are few and far between. Those with user-defined macro keys help automate some processes. Their 2018 model offers programmable choices which are defined by the driver. I welcome this change. Editing in InDesign and Photoshop can be a mess without some control of navigating the layers or automating specific tasks.

Shawn Trommeshauser — (Dreaming in Digital)

hyperx closeup

I’ve never given much thought to shelling out for a ‘gaming’ or ‘mechanical’ keyboard. I always figured those were mostly gimmicks and marketing that wouldn’t end up meaning much in the long run. I was pleasantly surprised at the matte black, minimal design of the Alloy Elite keyboard upon unboxing. It is about the same size as the average cheap replacement keyboard that you can find anywhere for about $20, but that’s where all the similarities end. It was a much heavier piece of kit than I was expecting due to its steel frame, and I have to say that this board feels rock solid in my hands.

One of the first things I noticed about the design is how the keys are elevated.  This makes the unit much easier to clean since there’s nowhere for dirt and crud to accumulate under the keys that a quick burst from a can of air can’t easily clean out. When I tapped on a few keys to see if this keyboard felt that different from the common Microsoft brand models I usually use, I didn’t notice THAT much — at least at first, but more on that later. The plastic that the keys were made of seems much more rigid than keyboards I’ve previously owned. Hopefully, that means they will last a lot longer without wearing smooth.

Another plus to the design is that the Alloy Elite takes up far less space than most keyboards I’ve used in the past, leaving me extra room for the mouse to move around. I used to have to move it up to the surface of the desk when gaming; having the mouse at a different height and distance than the keyboard can feel disconcerting.

There are no drivers needed to operate this keyboard, so I was able to start working with it as soon as I sat back down. First I tested the four multimedia keys and the roller which control media playback and system volume without needing any special software. They worked just fine with my video player applications as well as iTunes.

There are a few different modes for the lights, such as a wave that continually cycles across the keyboard, or one of two ‘reactive’ modes where the keys light up as you type. I still see it as a gimmick, but while I was playing with the lights I did start to wish that the color of the lights could be varied. The most useful modes to me are to have all the keys fully lit for typing in the dark, or the custom mode where you can define what keys remain lit which could come in handy for gamers to keep track of specific buttons more easily. There’s also a mode that shuts off the ‘Windows’ key so you don’t accidentally open the start menu while gaming. Nice touch!

After working with the Alloy Elite for several hours of productive and recreational use, I have really come to appreciate the Red Cherry MX mechanical key switches that it uses. The keys are so consistent so even a poor typist like me can notice how much my performance has improved in the last several hours. I’ve been missing far fewer keystrokes, and a particularly bad habit of hitting two keys at once has been virtually negated. I am convinced these improvements are due to the build quality and consistency of this device’s design.

I also spent some time playing Overwatch and Starcraft 2 in order to get a feel for how well the keyboard responds, and I found that after a short period of adjustment, I was as comfortable as I’ve ever been. I set the keyboard to keep specific shortcut keys highlighted so that could identify them at a glance, and it really reduced the amount of time I spent glancing down at the keyboard.

There’s also the wrist pad which seamlessly attaches to the bottom of the keyboard and it works just fine whether or not you extend the legs. But my wrists simply slide off of its rubberized coating, meaning that every few seconds of use, I have to adjust where my hand is so that I can reach the upper rows of keys.

But even with these incredibly minor issues, the Hyper X Alloy Elite has completely sold me on mechanical keyboards. It’s not just for gaming, but for everyday typing as well. Every other keyboard I have in my house feels flimsy and poorly assembled in comparison.

PROS

  • Red LEDs to preserve night mode (vision).
  • Slim design. Does not take up much space.
  • Same feel as the HyperX Mouse; see review here.
  • Braided cable

CONS

  • Ultra thick cable; not easy to tuck.
  • No macro (programmable) keys.
  • Not usable on a Macintosh.
  • Location of the USB port. It’s not easy to access.
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