Do you spend a hefty amount of hours on the PC everyday? If you’re like John and you don’t have a job, chances are you find yourself up at all hours of the morning chatting and typing away in front of your monitor. Sometimes you may find yourself turning off the lights to reduce the glare on your monitor but then if you’re not adept with your keyboard, you may find yourself fumbling to find the right keys to respond to the other people in that all-important “Alternative Lifestyle” chatroom. So then you turn the lights back on so that you can type LOL without straining your eyes but then the glare off the monitor is making it impossible to read.
This is a day in the life of Gaming Nexus’ hardware editor, John Yan; there are no happy endings for him. You can’t have the best of both worlds right? You can’t type in a dark room and
see all your keys at the same time, right? Well let’s just say that a little company called Auravision is looking to change John’s life forever. No longer does he have to fumble in the dark to find the right keys and no longer does he have to suffer from annoying glare problems caused by nearby light sources. Now he can turn to the eluminX illuminated keyboard to solve many of his problems.
Picture of the unit during the daytime, notice how nicely the colors match my PowerMate and Z-680 display unit.
When I removed the eluminX
from its packaging I noted a few oddities with the unit. First off it’s much thinner than your usual keyboard and is only about an inch thick. Upon inspecting the bottom of the unit I realized that it’s missing those little flip-out legs that help prop up your keyboard as well. It’s also very light and compact. When you first look at it you may not notice it but there’s an oddity in the layout but we’ll get to that later.
The device is powered entirely by the computer’s power supply. This a great choice as forcing the consumer to provide batteries would have really proved to be fatal for this device. As another nice touch the keyboard uses the small PS/2 jack as opposed to a USB port, freeing up space for your other devices. The keys are translucent and behind them is a blue light which illuminates the entire unit. The unit is available in your choice of two colors, black and white with more colors to come after E3. I fell in love with the hue of blue that the unit emitted as it matched the colors of my Griffin PowerMate and Logitech Z-680 control unit.
In the daytime or under direct artificial lighting the backlight is barely visible and will make little to no impact on your typing. If anything the unit still looks pretty damn sweet, especially the translucent keys. As long as you’re typing the keys will stay illuminated and while there is no on/off switch the unit powers itself down after a short period of inactivity. It’s under the cloak of night where this puppy really shines. While you may not notice it during the daytime the backlight is pretty bright. Bright enough to light up the entire keyboard while not bright enough to become distracting. If anything the unit is a true crowd pleaser, it just looks great in the dark.
With the lights out this puppy just looks brilliant. It has that sort of hypnotic glow to it that could keep a stoner occupied for hours. During loading times I found myself glancing down at the keys, mesmerized by its brilliant glow. Sure it’s not the most useful or most comfortable keyboard that I’ve ever used but it’s still cool enough to have found a permanent place on my desk. Then again you buy a keyboard to use, not to look at.
The main problem with the eluminX is that it’s just not practical and while it resolves one problem, it introduces an entirely new problem. Chances are if you’re even the least bit adept at computers you don’t find yourself fumbling around for the right keys, not even in the darkness. You probably have spent enough hours in front of the monitor to have memorized the placements of the keys. While the backlit solution does offer some assistance for those who are still relatively inept with their keyboards it poses an entirely new problem. The layout of the keys is very strange and will actually cause you to look down at the keyboard from time-to-time due to their weird placement.
Opting to remove the entire center column entirely the designers moved the insert, page up and etc keys to fit around the right side of the left column of keys. This means that the delete key is above the backspace key, the home key is directly to its right and the end key is to the right of the shift key. What’s weird is that the arrows are right below the shift key, lending the keyboard a really cramped and crunched feeling that will have your wrists aching much quicker than you’d probably like.
I’m not sure who this unit is marketed towards, the casual consumer or the gamer. On the one hand there are no function keys to speak of, none of those little nifty shortcut keys that have become a mainstay on Logitech’s keyboards. Then again the keys are a little too cramped and scrunched together for a gamer to operate with. The spacebar, along with many of the other keys such as ctrl, have been reduced in length, making them harder to hit.
The unit at night, notice how bright and vivid the keys are.
To add to the problems the keys ride very low on the keyboard. Not to the same extent as a laptop’s keys but relatively close. While the keys do click when suppressed they retain that mushy feeling that makes typing on the laptop such a chore. To make matters a little worse some of the keys have a tendency to stick, causing some letters to not register on the computer. This is especially noticeable for us fast typers who like to multi-task while typing. At times I’d divert my attention away from the screen for the moment only to notice that one out of every ten letters or so was MIA. It’s especially annoying when you’re trying to pump out a review, such as this one, and you have to constantly go back to make sure that you didn’t miss any letters.
The unit's high price tag will also most likely put it out of the range of the casual fan. You'll need to be highly dedicated to your machine, or just have a huge fetish for tech toys, to throw down $99 for this puppy. Depending on your need for lighted keys for both the usefulness or coolness factor, you just might be able to rationalize putting that kind of hole in your budget. I wouldn't put this puppy at the top of my "needs" list though.
While the eluminX isn’t the most practical device to come down the pike it definitely has its uses. If you’re looking to build the ultimate pimp rig then you simply must own this product. Sure you probably don’t really need it and sure it may cost you a few kills on Medal of Honor
but when it all boils down, your friends will be jealous of you and isn’t that all that really matters?