Rocking Out With The i-Rocks KR-6230 Compact Keyboard

I am happy to report, that since the initial publishing of my "Mechanical Key Switch Keyboards Demystified" post, a number of the more obscure 'boards I mentioned in the piece have been made available right here in the good ol' U.S. of A, eliminating the need to import products like the Filco Majestouch, HHKB Pro, or the Topre Realforce.  In addition to the newfound availability of the aforementioned products though, a handful of other companies have begun offering mechanical key switch keyboards in the US as well, like Gigabyte and i-Rocks for example.

I was recently given the opportunity to evaluate the i-Rocks KR-6230 Compact Mechanical Switch Keyboard, which is readily available at NewEgg for about a $100, and have to say that it is one heck of a nice product if you can live with some of its unique qualities.

The i-Rocks KR-6230 is built around the popular Cherry MX Brown mechanical key switch (tactile, non-clicky--and my favorite). And the switches are mounted to a heavy metal internal plate, which means there is virtually no flex in the board. The additional weight afforded by the metal plate compliments the rubber feet on the bottom of the board too--this puppy stays put when positioned on a flat surface.  The i-Rocks KR-6230 also supports 16-key rollover over USB, which actually works, making the board well suited to gamers. And it didn't suffer from any key transposition issues when typing at high-speeds, like some other boards that supposedly support 16-key rollover with USB.

Other features of the i-Rocks KR-6230 include an integrated USB 2.0 hub, with two ports situated on the back of the board, and bright, blue indicator LEDs that are integrated into their specific keys--caps lock, scroll lock, and num lock. The integrated LEDs look very good in my opinion, and certainly add to the appeal of the board.

What really makes the i-Rocks KR-6230 stand out, however, is its overall layout. The keyboard has no Windows keys at all--which is something many gamers like, but not me. It also has an oversized left control key and a compact form factor.  To accommodate the compact form factor, i-Rocks moved the Delete, Print Screen, Scroll Lock, and Pause keys to the upper right of the board, where the status indicator LEDs typically reside, eliminated the Page Up / Page Down block of keys, and integrated the arrow keys into the lower-right group of keys in a manner similar to many notebooks. Finally, the numeric keypad was shifted to the left. The end result is a keyboard that is about 2.5" to 3.5" thinner in width than most standard keyboards.

Other changes to the key layout include an oversized "L"-shaped enter key, and shrunken backspace and backslash keys. I would have preferred the more common rectangular enter key and full sized backspace keys typical of US keyboards myself, but getting used to the KR-6230's layout took no time at all.

Typing on the i-Rocks KR-6230 proved to be very pleasurable. The keys require a light touch thanks to the Cherry Brown switches, they provide a light, subdued tactile bump, and they make no noise, except when bottomed out. The space bar seemed to be the only key that was creaky, but it broke in over time. The KR-6230's keycaps also have a distinct texture that's held up well over the last few weeks, even though I've spent way more time that I should have killing zombies in L4D with this thing. There was no noticeable "shine" to the keys, which was a good sign as to their long term durability.

If you can live with its funky key placement and layout, the i-Rocks KR-6230 is a very nice, compact mechanical key switch keyboard. Its Cherry Brown switches are excellent, the pseudo-n-key rollover function works well, the board looks good, and it's built to last. I'd recommend checking it out if you're in the market for a quality, compact keyboard.


Posted Tue, Aug 18 2009 1:56 PM by Marco C

Comments

MikeL_HH wrote re: Rocking Out With The i-Rocks KR-6230 Compact Keyboard
on Fri, Aug 21 2009 3:23 AM

Very cool keyboard. I love the 'face full of keys' style it has. It looks like serious business. The layout around the arrow keys is too weird though. Backslash is on the wrong row and slash/question mark is way out there.

I don't understand why most compact keyboard layouts insist on cramping the arrow keys around the right-shift. Placement problems can be eliminated if they just moved the arrow keys down 1 row, so that the left, right and down keys are on a row of their own. Then the only key you need to worry about cramming into the traditional layout is the up key. Having 3 keys on an extra row doesn't really increase the size of the keyboard any, and it works even better if your design features a palm rest. Really all laptops should be doing this since they always have more vertical space than horizontal.

IMHO, all of the typical "typing" keys are sacred. You don't move them at a whim. I find it very annoying when my primary machine has a non-standard keyboard because every time I need to use a typical layout I have a 30 second hand spasm when keys aren't where muscle memory expects them to be. The various function and other non-typing keys are fair game however.

Bill Bev Dafoe wrote re: Rocking Out With The i-Rocks KR-6230 Compact Keyboard
on Fri, Oct 23 2009 3:04 AM

It's all about keyboards.  The reason I could never use a laptop (except under dire circumstances- very dire) are the damn keyboards.

I have become a complete addict to ergonomic keyboards.  I have five of them, and my favorite by far is the microsoft (unk. model) black one.  When I type on it I can type super fast- and my thoughts flow better.

Also- I really think it is better for your hands.

Do miss the click though.

blue shield application wrote re: Rocking Out With The i-Rocks KR-6230 Compact Keyboard
on Sat, Dec 19 2009 3:06 AM

Thanks for the great review.  Mechanical keyboards are way better than the cheaper membrane keyboards.  It's much easier to type faster and have a better feel

gibbersome wrote re: Rocking Out With The i-Rocks KR-6230 Compact Keyboard
on Thu, Jan 28 2010 11:07 AM

Thanks for the suggestions. I've been looking into this since first reading the "Mechanical Key Switch Keyboards Demystified" a couple weeks ago.

I checked the review of the i-Rocks KR-6230 and it's well rated. The only major complaint being that the letter imprints tend to wear off quickly.

Newegg has another cheaper option, the ABS M1 available for $50. It's the one I think I'm going to try out!

rapid1 wrote re: Rocking Out With The i-Rocks KR-6230 Compact Keyboard
on Thu, Jan 28 2010 12:17 PM

    Yeah very nice keyboard. Except for the added weight of the metal, and although some extensively mobile users carry a full keyboard with them, the amount you move a keyboard by default is low anyway so the weight means basically nothing.

    Either way the only thing I like on a keyboard is a little fuller body. The responsiveness is a key thing for me to. I would like to get one of these for personal use. Either way a keyboard is important for me, and is actually one of the reasons I chose my laptop (FX7811). Where a num pad is not really a big del to me, but more of a convenience, full size alphabetical and function keys are.

    Either way  would like to try one of these out.

Marco C wrote re: Rocking Out With The i-Rocks KR-6230 Compact Keyboard
on Thu, Jan 28 2010 11:11 PM

@gibbersome - I would personally give the iRocks board a shot over the M1.  I prefer the tactility of the switches in the iRocks board myself. The M1 is linear. Although it's still a quality board, and you can't really go wrong for the price.

gibbersome wrote re: Rocking Out With The i-Rocks KR-6230 Compact Keyboard
on Fri, Jan 29 2010 2:58 AM

@Marco Thanks for the recommendation. I found the i-Rocks KR-6230 for $70-80 bucks online and for couple of tens more I'll take the leap. Interestingly, both are being marketed as gaming keyboards. Appreciate the articles and for teaching me something new.

@rapid1 I think I'd prefer the extra weight. While not as portable, I don't like it when my microsoft keyboard moves around during fast typing.

Melissa wrote re: Rocking Out With The i-Rocks KR-6230 Compact Keyboard
on Wed, Feb 3 2010 1:20 AM

Thank you for this, and for your the previous article, which could have easily been called, "Newbs guide to Mechanical keyboards."  

I found very help review for this irock over on geekhack.org.  Together, you have finally cleared my confusion!  

I was stuck wanting something i couldn't afford until you reviewed this!   I figure it'll be a good starter board, at least!  Thank you for all your help.

Marco C wrote re: Rocking Out With The i-Rocks KR-6230 Compact Keyboard
on Wed, Feb 3 2010 10:05 AM

Glad to be of assistance, Melissa!

kbfreak wrote re: Rocking Out With The i-Rocks KR-6230 Compact Keyboard
on Wed, Dec 19 2012 4:50 AM

What's the size comparison between a typical tenkeyless mechanical keyboard and something like this which is with tenkey but compact where the arrow keys are squeezed under the enter key area? Are they about the same size?

Marco C wrote re: Rocking Out With The i-Rocks KR-6230 Compact Keyboard
on Wed, Dec 19 2012 9:19 AM

This is  just slightly wider than say a Filco TKL, due to the extra row of keys.