Always Looking For Input...

Everyone that has dared enter my office / lab over the last couple of years has noticed that I burn through input devices like Joey Chestnut through a pile of Nathan's Hot Dogs on the Fourth of July. It is not because I am particularly hard on them, it's just that I have a bit of OCD and can't (or don't want to) tolerate imperfections, whether they be aesthetic or performance related. Being the true geek that I am, I also like to experiment with the latest and greatest mice and keyboards, so needless to say Microsoft, Logitech, and Razer have all gotten their fair share of my disposable income.

Over the past year and a half or so, I have had three or four different mice installed on my personal machine, and six different keyboards. The wireless devices in this group were all retired fairly quickly--I can't stand keyboard lag and hate fighting with a cordless mouse that goes to "sleep" too quickly, especially when doing fine work, like trying to select a single pixel in a high-res image in Photoshop for example. Annoying!

Up to this point, my favorite keyboard has been a Unicomp Customizer. The Customizer is a vintage looking clicky buckling-spring keyboard that's built like the old IBM model M of days past. The Customizer was great to work with, but the loud, clicky keys were somewhat annoying to those around me, so it was relegated to one of my test platforms, which doesn't get nearly as much use daily. I also liked my Razer Tarantula, but wasn't too fond of its key feel--the keys always felt a little mushy to me. And Logitech's Wave and Microsoft's Comfort Curve were OK too, but they just didn't quite hit the mark.

Then recently I was given the opportunity to try a couple of keyboards from Enermax. Many of you probably know Enermax for their popular line of power supplies, but they also make a myriad of PC accessories and peripherals. I specifically had a chance to try their Aurora Premium and Caesar keyboards. What make these keyboards standout from many others is their diamond cut, brushed and anodized aluminum construction, with scissor key switches, and pseudo-notebook style keys. The aluminum construction of the Caesar and Aurora give them a very sturdy feel and also make them heavy enough to stay put when gaming or typing (think ~3lbs.). The scissor style key switches, which reside under a rubber membrane, give the keys a decent feel and provide enough of an audible report to make users realize they have actually pressed a key. The shorter, notebook-like keys took some getting used to, but as someone who switches between a desktop and notebook constantly, I found the keys easier to get re-acclimated to after road trips or extended sessions with my notebook. Other useful features of these Enermax keyboard are their built in USB 2.0 hubs, USB audio controllers for the headphone and microphone jacks, and three height adjustable stands. And the Caesar also has 10 media keys that have come in handy under Windows Vista.

So far, the only drawbacks to the Enermax Aurora and Caesar keyboards have been their small backspace and backslash keys and oversized enter keys, and the quality of the finish on each key. These keyboards mimic older keyboard layouts that had jumbo, backwards L-shaped enter keys, which definitely took some getting used to. And the finish on the keys as already begin getting shiny from use, which is somewhat disappointing considering they are only a couple of weeks old. Ultimately though, at least for me, the positives outweigh the negatives, so I don't foresee a keyboard update anytime soon. If, however, Enermax refreshes these units with a new layout that features a standard enter key, and the keys get treated to an anti-shine coating ala HP's 2133 Mini-Note, I'll be all over 'em.