CES 2013 Recap: Keyboards

CES 2013

Let the CES flood begin! I know it’s a bit late compared to some, but we will be posting recaps and individual reviews, so there’s lots of stuff coming. Recaps will be quick previews and hands-on for things we saw at the show, but most importantly it will showcase things we saw that are unique to us. You can only see so many TVs, cases and headphones you know? I will be starting off with a simple one that doesn’t come to mind often anymore: keyboards.

ROCCAT

Roccat is well-known for having high-end gaming keyboards, their main competitor probably being Razer. We had the chance to stop by Roccat’s suite and get a look at their newest mechanical keyboard. It comes in three varieties and is coming out at the end of Q1. First off the high-end Ryos MK Pro:

ROCCAT Ryos Top Black

It is truly a thing of beauty. You have a large rest on the bottom of the keyboard to aid in comfort. The keys of course feel incredibly solid, and do not make much noise at all. One of the things that sets this keyboard apart is the programmable lighting in the keys. You can have the entire thing light up, but you can also make it so only certain keys are lit. One of the examples we were shown was having your WASD keys lit, as well as your arrow keys, number pad, and function keys. This makes it a lot more convenient to game in the dark, and the important keys would be the only ones lit, minimizing your chance of error. Roccat released the SDK for the keyboard so companies can create their own set ups, very convenient. You also have a large set of programmable keys on the side of the keyboard. The high-end model will retail for $149.99.

Next up is the mid range model. It has the lighting behind the keys, but they are not programmable. The layout and the feel of the keyboard will be identical, and will have the same sturdy build. This model will retail for $129.99. The lower end model(hard to call any of these keyboards low-end) will not have the lighting behind the keys at all, but will have the same build. This model will retail for $99.99. The feel on the Roccat is great, you can confidently pound away at this guy and not worry about breaking it. We should have a full review up for these once they are released.

The other nice piece we saw was Roccat’s Power-Grid companion app. It is being released very soon for iOS and Android devices. Think of it as Smartglass for your PC, but with more controls. The app will actually work regardless of hardware you own, so you don’t need to own a Roccat device to use it. The app displays your PCs vitals, like temperature, active cores and workload percentage, etc. One of the neat features is the communication tool. It will show you if you have new tweets, Facebook messages, emails, etc on the app itself. This means you don’t have to exit your game to respond to people. You will also have the ability to make custom grids with programmable commands. For instance, they had a League of Legends grid with several shortcuts, and you activate them through the app. The app will pair with your PC as long as it’s on the same WiFi network. We will have a review of the app once it releases.

RAPOO

I’m sure a lot of you haven’t heard the name Rappo. I can’t blame you, I hadn’t either until this week. Rapoo is a chinese company already succesful in its home country and in Europe, and is now trying to bring their wares to the US. Rapoo specializes in wireless products, this includes keyboards, mice, headphones, and speakers for now. They pride themselves in making products that are different from the rest in design and quality. I’ve heard that several times before though, but from what we saw, they definitely have a lot of unique traits in their products.

rapoo e6300 white

First off we have their E6300 bluetooth keyboard. This device is incredibly tiny, smaller than standard bluetooth keyboards. It has a metal bottom and side, giving it a nice sexy appeal compared to other keyboards. It has a built-in rechargeable battery, and uses a micro-USB cable to charge. I am actually writing this entire piece on the E6300 on my Acer Iconia A500 Android Tablet. So far, not bad at all. This is a solid performer so far.

Rapoo E2700 White

Next up we have the E2700 wireless keyboard/touchpad. This unit is made to be used with Smart TVs and media center PCs. It has a built-in touchpad on the right side of the keyboard for easy navigation. We’ve seen keyboards like these in the past from Logitech and other companies, but the main difference here is the feel. Like the E6300, the base of the keyboard is stainless steel. You can feel the quality in this unit. Unlike the E6300 though, this is a USB wireless keyboard, so it’s not made for tablets unless they have a USB port. Wayne got one of these to review so that will be up shortly.

Rapoo E9080 Black

Rapoo’s next offering is the E9080 wireless touchpad keyboard. The unique thing about this unit is that you can switch between touchpad or numpad mode by swiping on the bottom of the touchpad. This is a very interesting option as it allows you to still use this unit more like a regular keyboard, but switch to touchpad mode in case you don’t have a mouse. This is another wireless USB keyboard, and like the previous ones, has a stainless steel base. All three of these models are available in both white and black options.

Rapoo makes a few more keyboards and other products, and Roccat has a few more options as well, but this was mainly a keyboard roundup. As we told a lot of people at CES, when you’ve been to so many conventions, things start to look the same, and it’s hard for any company to grab your attention. The offerings from Rapoo and Roccat excite us because they have something unique we haven’t seen from the U.S manufacturers. I loved the mechanical keyboard, the stainless steel base, the numpad/touchpad combo. The tech world needs new product innovations to get us excited. The wheel doesn’t need to be reinvented all the time, but with certain product categories, it is nice to see new contenders with innovative ideas. Do you remember where HTC and Lenovo were a couple of years ago? It’s amazing what innovation or lack thereof will do to a company. Roccat and Rapoo are two companies to keep an eye on in 2013.

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