SteelSeries' newly announced Apex keyboards are an eyeful with their loads of macro buttons and backlit keys. Oh, and check out that spacebar -- it's huge! The idea was to make it more comfortable and functional.
Aside from this crazy spacebar, both the Apex ($99) and Apex [RAW] ($69) are packed with loads of smart design features, including raised bumps on the W key for no-hassle WASD spotting, and swappable rubber feet to change keyboard height. The raised, chunky macro keys on top and side edges are designed for speed and ease of access. The set that runs along the top of the keyboard has the top row raised higher than the second so that two keys can be swiped in rapid succession.
Both boards use the SteelSeries Engine, which lets you customize the keyboard and setup macros. What I saw today looked incredibly flexible, with options for custom key timings, and nearly unlimited strings. SteelSeries said that the software can launch profiles alongside games, loading your sets automatically. We were told that they hope to have all SteelSeries products compatible with this software eventually.
I was dazzled by a rainbow of colored keys during a meeting with SteelSeries today at CES. They told us that each of the keys can display from 16.8 million colors, and that each of the Apex's 5 zones can show up to 8 levels of intensity. Each zone has 4 customizable layers, too. Every single key is programmable, including the 22 macro keys. Lights line the side edges, and two bonus USB ports are located on its rear.
The [RAW] has the same fast keys, but only has 8 levels of white intensity. There's 17 macro keys with 2 layers, making for 250 possibilities.
SteelSeries told us that they decided against mechanical keyboards as they would have been much more expensive to make, and would in turn be limited in appeal.
There's so much going on with these Apex keyboards that standard boards look dull and featureless. I'm looking forward to spending a bit of quality time with one of these boards. Look for them this summer.