Hardware Review: Saitek Eclipse Keyboard
A lot of gamers prefer to game in the dark to increase the level of immersion in their games. Will a glowing keyboard help?
Peripherals from Heaven
The market for PC peripherals is rich. A visit to either an online or brick and mortar PC store will yield dozens of choices. Speakers, Monitors, mice, keyboards: many of these products are geared specifically toward gamers. Gamers are often willing to pay a little extra to give themselves a small edge. FPS gamers especially need the best hardware they can find. But gamers of all stripes can benefit from better equipment. For those looking to gain an edge in their gaming it would seem to be raining peripherals from heaven.
Saitek has a well established reputation as a quality hardware manufacturer. Recently they sent us a keyboard to check out. The Eclipse connects to a computer via a USB port and is plug and play. My desktopís hard drive died not long ago and I thought it might be a good idea to test drive the Eclipseís plug and play on my laptop. Plugging it in it worked right off the bat. Windows XP immediately recognized it and I started using it. At first I was concerned that my laptopís keyboard suddenly started acting as though the number lock key function had been activated. That was caused by the fact that I had turned on the number lock on the keyboard. Toggling that off had my laptopís keys working like a charm. It is indeed plug and play.
Blue lighting is the color of choice these days. Glowing blue PC cases, laptop power indicators, blue buttonsÖblue is in. Saitekís contribution to the trend in blue is their Eclipse keyboard. What separates the Eclipse from the competition is that the keyboard is backlit. More on that in a moment, but first I want to discuss the keyboardís merits as a conventional keyboard.
Comparing the Eclipse to the standard keyboard that came with my Dell desktop the first thing I noticed was that the keyboard is full sized with the exception of the Function keys, which are just slightly narrower on the Eclipse. Folks who know how to type may find that a benefit: it can be a good tactile clue that theyíve moved from the number keys to the Function keys. Practically speaking I havenít noticed the difference in size. The space bar is oversized, presumably because thatís often a critical key used in games.
The keyboard isnít overburdened with lots of extras such as buttons to pause and play music or videos, scroll keys for reading documents, or something to instantly start my email. Those extra keys might have been nice, but they arenít really necessary. I never used them on my desktop and rarely use the built in ones on my laptop.
There are four special function keys on the keyboard and those are useful: increase volume, decrease volume, mute sound, and a key to adjust the level of illumination. There are three light levels: high, low, and off.
They keyboard also includes an adjustable and detachable wrist rest. The wrist rest was easy to attach and, can be slid about a quarter of an inch away from the keyboard in order to adjust to the userís preferences. It also quickly detaches for folks like me who decide they donít need it.
Flipping the Eclipse over there are four large skid pads which hold the Eclipse firmly to whatever surface it is on. And there are two feet which can be flipped out to prop the keyboard up for those who prefer a slightly angled keyboard. I havenít had a problem with the feet but they seem just a bit thin. Itís not as if Iíll be walking on the keyboard so I donít anticipate theyíll break, but I have seen keyboards with sturdier feet.