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Keyboard Bliss: Rosewill 9100BR Hits The Mark
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Date: Dec 24, 2012
Section:Gadgets
Author: Joel Hruska
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Italian Seduction (Introduction)
I have a confession to make: I'm an addict -- and it's 100% Marco's fault.

12 months ago, I was perilously tight on funds and short on keyboards. More precisely, I was short on keyboards that weren't $5 bargain-basement pieces of junk. While I keep plenty of those on hand for testing various system builds, I prefer something with a little more heft for personal daily use.

I asked Dave if he had any keyboards handy. Dave said to ask Marco. So I did.

 The face of evil
"Well," said Marco, his black eyes gleaming, "It just so happens that I do have some mechanical keyboards I'm not using at the moment. Have you ever used ALPS key switches?"

"No," I said, feeling foolish. "I mean, I know a lot of people swear by the IBM Model M..."

"Pfagh!" he said. "The Model M is awesome, but not for gamers like you; a worthy effort whose time is past. And there are keyboards with other types of mechanical switches that can match its durability without weighing 40 lbs. As I said, I have... options."

His tongue caressed the last word lovingly.

That night, I agreed to trade my faithful rubber-dome keyboards of a decade for some swanky mechanical options. Soon, I found myself pouring over charts and graphs. Consulting ergonomic charts. Dvorak and Colemak haunted my dreams. ASCII characters swam in the murky depths of my subconscious. I dreamed of Cherries. Red. Blue. Brown.

Learn from my mistakes, readers -- and hopefully, pick out a nice keyboard in the process. What we have on tap for you today is the Rosewill 9100BR. It's not as flashy as some of the other mechanicals on the market, but it gets the job done with style.

 

So how nice is this Rosewill 9100BR? Pretty damn sexy. In fact, I'd say it hits the Goldilocks zone perfectly. If the Osmium's keys (reviewed here) were a bit too light for your taste but the ALPS switches and Cherry Blacks came off too hard, then Cherry Brown key switches are damn near perfect.


Cherry Red on the left, Cherry Brown on the right. You can see the tactile "bump" mechanism

Most importantly, after weeks of fighting with the Osmium due to its unfortunate key bounce issue, the joy of a fully functional keyboard is amazing.

There are a few things I don't like. The Numlock key glows *nuclear* green for no reason I can see; I can't tell why Rosewill felt the brand was best demonstrated by a lurid green glow. And there's no way to turn this off; or even turn it down.
 
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Features, Conclusion
The Rosewill 9100BR doesn't offer all the features of Gigabyte's Aivia Osmium, despite retailing for roughly the same price. There's a set of USB 2.0 ports (no USB 3.0 on this model) and some additional key functions via a FN key. The FN key combo works, but it's not as handy as dedicated media keys. There's a button for a dedicated right-click option, but no Windows lock key. There's also no audio jacks.



But the typing? The typing is phenomenal. Cherry Browns are designed to offer performance halfway between a gaming switch (smooth, linear) and a typing switch (stiffer, tactile, possibly clicky if that's your thing). There's a slight tactile bump to let you know you've depressed the switch and a soft report when the actuation completes. The keys are also backlit, which is another plus.



In a lot of ways, this keyboard is the opposite of the Aivia Osmium I reviewed recently (which, as of this writing, still suffers from double-strike, key bounce problems). The $120 price tag, however, is a bit steep. There are mechanical gaming / multimedia keyboards out there with broader features than the 9100BR, and in the same price range. One potential show-stopper for gamers is the complete lack of macro keys. The 9100BR is programmed with secondary functions via the FN key, but there's no way to remap them or program key sequences.

Like the Cherry MX Browns themselves, this keyboard is a balance between traditional typing and gaming features. If you're a light gamer and heavy typist, you won't miss the macro option. Cherry Reds are supposedly superior for gaming, but I personally prefer the Cherry Browns. While they might take a millisecond longer to push, Cherry Reds are extremely sensitive to a misplaced finger. I often found myself inadvertently hitting "W" or "S" simply from resting my fingers on the keyboard.

That's not a problem that you'll have with Cherry Browns, and they're my new go-to for mechanical recommendations.

 

  • Cherry Brown MX are great
  • Sturdy design, 2x USB ports
  • Pre-programmed keys increase utilty
  • Keyboard is fairly pricey
  • No macros or key reprogramming
  • No audio jacks, USB 3.0



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