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We Came Up 8 Short
Packaging materials are well thought out and solid. The exterior box was normal glossy single ply but the window was of thicker than usual plastic and further strengthened because of the 90 degree bend in it as it extends around to the top of the box. Also, the interior box and insert were of firmer than standard cardboard and not double or triple, but quadruple thick around the edges. The inserts on either side of the keyboard were very solid and fit perfectly. Furthermore, the retail box pictured came in a larger shipping box.
Usually I don’t get into quite this much detail about packaging but I wanted to give it full attention because, some how, despite all of the quality packaging and the board’s overall build quality, the 8 key was rattling around the box. Of course, I just popped the key back on and off I went, but felt it worth mentioning all the same.
Because of the quality packaging; the board’s otherwise extremely robust durability (explained below); my inability to free the reattached 8 or other keys by running my hands over them sideways, even turning the 7G upside down and shaking it, then tapping it from above; and the fact that a key coming off doesn’t really mean a keyboard is broken, you just put the key back on; I’m chalking this up to a one in a million occurrence possibly brought on in shipping, and it won’t be discussed further or impact our results.
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The second you pick up the 7G’s box, you will immediately notice its weight. With a shipping weight of 8lbs and not much in the box to add to the keyboard’s heft, this thing is indeed a brick. And it isn’t just heavy so it doesn’t slide around; this keyboard uses old-school mechanical keys with gold plated contacts, though with a modern “clickless” twist. More on the feel of the keys later, for now, just be aware that SteelSeries is claiming (and I believe it) a life span of 50 million strokes, or least 5 times that of a normal keyboard.
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What Once Was Old Is New Again
Instead of a mechanical switch on each key, modern keyboards use a flexible membrane with contacts underneath; pressing on a key lowers the underlying part of the membrane and contact, registering a keypress. This is similar to your TV remote control, but the buttons on that are usually molded directly into the membrane and come up through a face plate, as opposed to being individual keys.
The membrane method is cheaper and, of importance to laptop users, can be made smaller and lighter. The problem is, in addition to sending a $20 keyboard to the landfill on an annual basis, for many people, these keyboards always felt mushy compared to mechanical keyboards.
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For When Your Membrane Is Mushy
Even if the membrane is nice and springy when you get it home, it starts getting worse immediately and the keys start to have less and less bounce to them, some keys loosing it faster than others. After a year or so, some keys feel like they want to fall through the bottom of your desk, and others are as tight as when they were new.
The keyboard will still work, but it won’t be as lively. The thing is, you may not notice, since it is an ongoing process that happens as you use the keys. Only when things get really bad or you happen to use a new keyboard do you realize how many typos come from brushing against a key that has lost its resistance. The 7G won’t just last for years, it will feel great for years. We discuss how great and why in the next article.
SteelSeries 7G Keyboard Review – Build Quality
Some tools offer all kinds of features to simplify the tasks faced by their users. Some just do what they are supposed to do so well that they are a joy to use, and are built so well that they will be a joy to use for years to come.