The hardest part when testing a keyboard is actually trying to come up with an ‘as-objective-as-possible’ opinion. It’s not really possible to distill hard facts, there are no absolute numbers and there’s no overclocking headroom percentage. So how do I test it? I’ll type a text, no wait, I just did! That’s done then. I’ll play a bunch of games and lastly tell you how I like using the keyboard in a practical way.
I’ve just written most of this text and didn’t get the urge to smack the keyboard at the wall (yet), so that’s good. In fact, the typing goes really smooth but I’m left with a problem: even though all keys are responsive and every missed symbol is by my own failure, I often get double characters. Sometimes, ironically so, the ‘Shift’ key seems to hang. Problems like these occur:
This being my name, I’m used to typing the word ‘Alberrt’ – it did it again.. -, so ‘Albert’ that is. As you can see, the keyboard simply messes up sometimes. Now I’m a rapid typer and can say, without any arrogance intended, that I’ll keep up with practically anyone in typing speed[you’re on, Ed.]. This can come in as a problem if the keyboard is over-responsive in a way. If keys hang, for example, you’ll need a darn good text editor to automatically correct a lot of these mistakes. This is, of course, a major disadvantage for a keyboard of this calibre.
The keys aren’t of spectacular quality but they do their job and are very responsive.
For gaming this keyboard is a luxury indeed. For normal games that don’t need a spectacular amount of buttons, like FPS or specific RTS, this keyboard will work like any other, besides its special features. Now for MMO’s, specifically, this keyboard offers a lot of comfort. You get all the macros, which are customizable. You get pre-configured keysets with a handy layout – World of Warcraft specific.
I found this keyboard to be doing a highly satisfying job whilst I’m not typing essay-long pieces, like this one. For gaming, and especially in World of Warcraft, where I shortly reactivated my account, I found the Steelseries Shift to be a gem. It’s great how you can just switch out a keypad which, on loading your specific game, loads a user-specific profile which allows you to do so much more with your keyboard than the typical €5.- piece will allow.
Comfort and ergonomics are very important. Besides the ‘feel good’ factor the keyboard should allow you to maintain a position that ensures the durability of your physical condition, arms and wrists, specifically. For me, the Shift keyboard feels good, even though I sometimes feel my thumbs are getting very close together when I’m writing. That means the physical layout isn’t very extensive; there’s a lot crammed into a slightly-bigger-than-standard size package (the Shift-skeleton).
For ergonomics, to make sure your arms and wrists feel good after a few hours of typing, the plastic extension pad might really come in handy for specific desktops. I prefer to type without, but I’m already heaving my arms a bit, which isn’t necessarily the best position either.
One last point I’d like to make is about the Steelseries logo that is in the very right top corner of the keyboard. I really like it by day and by night, but NOT when I’m sleeping. There’s no way to turn this thing off, and it’s a little too bright considering my PC is in the same room as I sleep in. I like to sleep in darkness, and such a LED logo can do a lot in disfavour of this. I’ve got an easy solution to that, though, whatever I take off last, will end up on the keyboard!
Pricing and Availability
The Steelseries Shift keyboard is widely available for prices ranging from €68.- up to €82.- (12 shops). You’ll be paying a good bit more than you would for a standard keyboard.