Auravision eluminX Keyboard Review

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Auravision's EluminX Keyboard
Illuminating technology

"Burned in" by Robert Maloney
July 30th, 2003


While we here at HotHardware have written countless articles on motherboards, video cards, and the like, we haven't often found the time or reason to comment on one piece of everyone's setup, the keyboard.   For the most part, keyboards and mice get the short thrift by most users.  We know we need them (in fact, we couldn't really do anything without them) but they are often an afterthought.  However, as more and more people are customizing their computers, every individual piece of hardware starts to come under consideration.

When in comes to keyboards, Microsoft and Logitech are two big names that probably come to mind first.  Today's article features a board from Auravision, that goes where the other two companies have never gone before.  Imagine a board that's sturdy and light, and comes with its own built-in light source, glowing in what we would refer to as an "Indiglo" effect.  It would be perfect for LAN gaming, late night web surfing, and anything in between.  Well, imagine no further.  Auravision's EluminX keyboard has arrived, and it may change the way we think of peripherals like this, forever.
 

Specifications / Features of the EluminX keyboard
A lean, mean, glowing machine

   
CLICK ANY IMAGE FOR AN ENLARGED VIEW

Technical Specifications:

General Description
Features: 1 Year Warranty, Highest Quality EL lamp, Sleep Function
Interface: PS/2, Plug and Play
Compatibility: Windows 95/98/2000/NT/ME/XP
Keys: 104 keys, 12 Function keys, Hard Plastic, Full Size Key Caps
Patented Scissor Keys, Laser Printed Keys for Long Wear
 High Quality Hard Plastic Keys, Ergonomic Tactile Key Technology

Environmental
Operating Temp: 0° C to 50° C
Storage Temp: -20° C to + 60° C
Humidity (Operating): 80% RH to 95% RH

Key Technical Parameters
Size: 420 (L) x 156 (W) x 16 (H) mm
Cable: 1.35 m Straight
Connector: PS/2
Keyboard Weight: 0.8 kgs/pc + (EL Panel + Components ~ TBD)
Total Key Travel: 4.0 +/- 0.5mm
Peak Tactile Force: 30 +/- 8 Grams
Contact Resistance: 500 Ohms Maximum
Switch Reliability: 10 Million minimum
MTBF: 60,000 Hours


Let there be light!

At first glance, the board reminded us of a laptop's keyboard; compact, with all of the keys grouped tightly together.  It also has a sleek profile, coming in less than 2 inches in height.  One might have expected a thicker, bulkier board considering the lighting mechanism, but the EluminX is light and thin. Although it has such a slim profile, the EluminX keyboard didn't feel brittle or flimsy, and should stand up to some rough game play. The keys are necessarily translucent to allow the light to pass through, and gave a good tactile feel when typing out a few e-mails and letters. 

We connected the EluminX to our test system via the PS/2 port, although an open USB port could be utilized with the appropriate adapter (not included).  Although the board stands out in its own right, once we turned out the lights and turned on our test system, we were really in for a show.  First used for military purposes, the electroluminescent back panel lights up the keys for use in dimly lit areas, radiating a soft light blue glow.  The keys are easily readable, yet the light is not too bright, so it is not to harsh on your eyes.  The illuminated keys are an absolute boon for gamers playing late at night in dark rooms, or those working in the wee hours to write reports (or reviews!).  Rather than fumble around or tilt the keyboard to the monitor to find a certain keystroke, everything can easily be seen.  Words are not enough to fully describe the clarity that the keys can be viewed with, and we highly recommend viewing close-ups of the lit keys by clicking on the thumbnails above.

We did have a few minor complaints, none of which have anything to do with the actual use of the board.  First, when powered, the keyboard emits a fine high-pitched whine.  It's mostly noticeable when using the keyboard in a quiet room, and would be completely drowned out by other ambient noises, but it did begin to get on our nerves while testing.  The other issue we had was that the keys remained lit for a good 10 minutes or so after we powered our system down.  Again, this is a minor point, and might normally not be noticed, but if you keep your system in your bedroom, the glow makes it harder to get some well-earned shut-eye at the end of the day.

Auravision has definitely come up with an innovative product with the EluminX keyboard.  It's a perfect fit for late night surfers, LAN-party gamers, or anyone looking to get something different when customizing their system.  The EluminX is slim and light and can easily be setup on most desks, or carried with a system in a LAN-party bag.  While we received a black/aquamarine board for testing, Auravision plans on eventually offering three base colors (bone, black, & silver) and six illumination colors (citrine, white, amethyst, sapphire, aquamarine, and tourmaline) to satisfy all wants and needs.  One area that may keep the EluminX from reaching widespread acceptance is its price.  We think the $99 MSRP may be a bit steep for some to pay when non-illuminated boards go for a fraction of this price.  As far as we are concerned, the cost equals the coolness and "wow" factor.  We recommend giving it a try.  Our friends over at Crazy PC carry them.  Tell Nick HH sent you.  We'll give the Auravision EluminX keyboard a 8.5 on the HotHardware Heat Meter.

 
 

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