At first sight, the Shift looks like any keyboard. The first thing that should surprise you, though, is the massive cable that sprouts out of it.
On closer inspection this cable holds two USB2.0, an audio and microphone cable. This combo-cable allows you to use the Shift keyboard as an USB and audiohub. That sounds really terrific, but what’s so great about this keyboard then?
Wait! Did you just..? Yes, I did, and I can do it as many times as I like. It’s called Shifting, baby!
This keyboard allows you to take out the keyset in a four-stage removal procedure which is, frankly, extremely easy.
Lift the clamp to the right of the numpad to heave up the three foldable parts of which the keysets consist of. What we’re left with is the Shift-skeleton.
It sports six multimedia buttons to the left and eleven plus a record button at the top, which require extra pressure to activate due to Steelseries’ special laser etching design, in comparison to the typical keyset buttons.
Hold on again! Did I say keysets? Yes of course, there are multiple keysets for this keyboard. There’s the standard, extended multimedia QWERTY keyset. Supplied with the keyboard I received the MMO-keyset and there’s also a Limited Edition World of Warcraft Cataclysm keyset out there.
At first glance they’re both just keysets, but there’s minor differences. The most obvious difference is the numpad which, in the MMO-keyset, is a flurry of round buttons with very specific functions.
The MMO-keyset: First off are the ‘Walk’, ‘Autorun’, ‘Previous Target’, ‘Clear Target’ and ‘Next Target’ buttons around the arrow keys. Moving up there’s shortcuts like ‘Roll (1-100)’, ‘Duel’, ‘Trade’ and so on! The numpad itself had an overhaul. The cross-reference to the normal keyset, like ‘+’, ‘-‘ and ‘Enter’ are not available. For that there is a wide variety of chat buttons and ‘A1-A8’ as configurable special buttons.
Moving on to the left part of the keyset, the left Windows button has been replaced with a ‘Voice’ button.
The F-buttons are still in place but have a double functionality, which is determined whether the F1- or F2-set is activated. The F1-set, for example, determines F1 as ‘Laugh’, F2 as ‘Cry’, F3 as ‘Cheer’ and so on. The F2-set states that F1 is ‘Salute’, F2 ‘Kneel’ and F3 ‘Help’.
The ‘normal’-keyset is still very multi-functional. Like with the MMO-keyset, the F-buttons have double functionality. Instead of being called F1- and F2-set, it’s the typical F-series and the button ‘Bar Lock’ provides a second layer, the B-series (B1-B12).
It also provides a ‘Pad Lock’ button which puts the numpad in secondary gear (P0-P15). By programming these secondary buttons and the option to easily switch between software keysets, one all of a sudden has a keyboard that virtually offers 150% in options of the physical layout.
Due to the extra ‘Bar Lock’, ‘Pad Lock’ and ‘Steelseries’ buttons, the actual utility keys above the arrows have been moved down, placing them in direct range of the arrow buttons. A very positive experience, I might add.
Last but not least, every keyboard needs to be stable and ergonomic. With the spacers folded in, the keyboard is slightly movable but remains sturdy in place when being typed on.
Steelseries made sure the Shift keyboard can be set to different heights. By first expanding the spacer as a whole the keyboard lifts up a few cm but isn’t movable backwards in this stage, as the spacers will collapse in again.
By returning the outside of the spacer one is left with the second of three stages this keyboard can be positioned in. It’s easily movable but still remains in place. A very nifty system I’d say!
As a last ergonomic feature, Steelseries supplies a keyboard extension to rest your arms on. This can be very useful in specific office situations where you might otherwise tire your arms by having them in a restless position; it might just cause you that one season-winning headshot!