I’m in the middle of a hardware crisis. A recent change in my marital status resulted in my having to let go of my hand built PC, and I wound up relying on my work notebook as my only computer. It’s a high end Dell, so I get by, but I’ve started looking to build a new rig. That being said, I was thoroughly excited to get my first hardware review so I could start making up my mind as to what I want to include in my new system.
Following on the heels of its successful PC Gamers Keyboard, Saitek has further upped the ante with the release of the Eclipse Keyboard. A stunning black keyboard with a detachable black wrist rest and silver keys, even at first look, this keyboard begs calls out to be gamed on.
When you pull the unit out of the box, the weight is somewhat surprising. I would say the Eclipse is about a pound heavier than any keyboard I’ve used since the original IBM PS/2. Through nearly two weeks of typing and gaming, I never once had the keyboard slide on me. Again, this is a testament to the weight and also to the oversized anti-skid pads mounted on the bottom of the keyboard. The keys offer a soft touch without the heavy clicking sound found in so many of today’s keyboards. The enlarged spacebar allows those of us with bigger thumbs to bang away at the spacebar without worrying about hitting other keys.
The true highlight of the Eclipse is of course in the backlighting. A patented Blue LED backlights the keys in the same way the PC Gamers Keyboard is lit. Saitek further improved this feature by adding a button to adjust the backlighting between high, low, and off. The true innovation of the Eclipse is the TrueVu key illumination. Each key is laser etched so that the LED shines through the characters on the key. Whether it’s used for jumping or as a trigger, the spacebar is one of the most important keys to many gamers. That’s why the line etched across the middle of its surface is such an outstanding feature.
I knew the only way to truly test the Eclipse was to hunker down for several sessions of hardcore gaming in a darkened room. The Blue backlighting of the unit is visible in a lit room, but truly stands out once the lights are off. Even in a completely dark room, the keys are completely visible and every character can be read.
The last feature that I want to mention is the Zero-Slope design. This keyboard is flat. The user can choose to extend the risers if they so choose, but I found leaving the Eclipse flat on the desk to be extremely comfortable, and a welcome change from so many of today’s keyboards with built in slope, even without risers.
One important note: unlike the PC Gamers Keyboard, the Eclipse does not include an attached command pad. While some may consider this a drawback, I think it’s a smart move. The command pad that came with the PC Gamers Keyboard while very programmable, was not quite at the level of some of its competition. To rectify the situation, Saitek has announced the Pro Gamer Command Pad, slated for release in the fall of 2005. This new pad is similar to the Nostromo N52, and a complete reworking of Saitek’s take on command pads. It will be the ideal counterpart for the Eclipse, and will be a welcome addition to any gamers arsenal.
In conclusion, the Eclipse PC Keyboard is simply the best keyboard I have ever used. For daily work, it more than aptly handles the task, and for serious gaming in a darkened setting I have never been happier with a keyboard. This is definitely going to be the keyboard I’ll be using for the foreseeable future.
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