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If you can’t stand those laptop keyboards where you barely press on a key and it slams all the way down, and it seems that breathing on a key is enough to count as typing the letter, SteelSeries has gone in the opposite direction, and it feels wonderful.
I was using a Logitech G11 until the SteelSeries 7G got here. A quality gaming keyboard in its own right, the former has long key travel (how far down you push the key) and feels pretty firm relative to a normal keyboard. The 7G, though, has a very long travel, and is very firm. At first, this sounds like a recipe for disaster; where your fingers have to move further and work harder, and it did take a little getting used to.
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What You Talkin ‘bout, Clickless?
The trick is that the keys are clickless: that doesn’t mean they don’t make a clicking sound as they go up and down; this is actually kind of a loud keyboard (the more solid switches make more noise than membrane style ones). It means you don’t have to push the key down until it clicks to register a keypress.
For the first few hours of typing, it seemed like pushing the keys all the way down was, though more satisfying and accurate, slower and more work than with a normal keyboard. Though theoretically aware of the clickless feature, it didn’t start to sink in until I noticed that when reaching for far flung keys with my pinky fingers, they would register even if I didn’t get the key all the way down.
This didn’t just mean fewer typos. Being able to depress the home keys and space bar such a long distance, while not having to push more distant keys down very far, is incredibly comfortable. Here, what is true for typing is true for gaming, just replace home keys with wasd. The high spring rate keeps the keyboard from registering accidental grazes of keys. Also, the depth of the keys means that if you are holding down a shift while typing or w while gaming and have to reach with that hand to hit another key, the first digit is unlikely to slip or roll, either off the wanted key, onto another one, or both.
As I get used to the clickless nature of the keyboard and not pushing the keys all the way down all the time, my hands are instead starting to get in the habit of flitting over and tapping the keys, and typing this way is already starting to get a little faster than on my old keyboard, after only four days.
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The Wrist Rest
I usually use a big, cushy, gel wrist pad, but the size and angle of the rest included with the 7G make it surprisingly comfortable, and I abandoned my tradition of removing the built in plastic part in favour of my ratty old pad.
A keyboard this good at being a keyboard could be forgiven for not being loaded with all kinds of frills, but while it doesn’t have funky backlighting or macro keys, it does have a couple very interesting features, which we examine in the next article.
SteelSeries 7G Keyboard Review – Feel
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.