A hybrid of a mechanical and membrane keyboard is not an easy thing to come by and some might say why bother when there are so many perfect offerings on the mechanical and the membrane front? Where would we be if we didn’t try? Perhaps Roccat has spotted a window to excel in, or at least become note worthy.
Roccat has put together an exceptionally good-looking gaming keyboard that will intrigue the skeptical and increasingly brand loyal gaming community. Roccat is one company that is determined to make it in this section and their feature set is second to none for the price bracket.
From the pictures, the first thing you are going to notice is the wheel at the top right and wonder what’s that for? Roccat calls this the “Tuning Wheel.” This is something similar to a Surface Dial, allowing for navigating various options whilst using the mouse. It’s not in the most useful place for a right-handed user. If you are left handed you are good, however, there isn’t an option for to placement when purchasing. As a right-handed user, I had to reach across the desk with my left to use the wheel, right next to the mouse in my right hand. For simpler tasks, like adjust volume in-game it was just as handy to use my right hand, leaving the mouse to tinker and then back again. Whilst my left was on the standard controls or taking a break, depending on the game.
Initially, the Tuning Wheel works with scrolling and volume. Windows 10 includes extra functionality to customise the wheel according to our task at hand. After a little tinkering, I was able to use the wheel to zip up and down the timeline whilst editing a video. Leaving the mouse behind and using keyboard combinations allowed for more flexibility, holding down the control button allows for zooming in and out, then releasing it to move left and right. At this point, I realised the Tuning Wheel is well positioned for a creator or professional, more so than a gamer. There was a little more precise when dealing with the timelines, being able to scroll frame by frame, is sometimes a little clumsy with a mouse, the tuning wheel felt a lot more fluid and whilst not perfect, it’s worked better.
Roccat has added an array of hotkeys across the top of the keyboard which can be used in conjunction with different actions on your mouse allowing for greater flexibility. Whilst I do not use Photoshop anymore, I can certainly see the benefits of the wheel for shading and colour selection.
In the end, the placement of the wheel has just as many cons as it does pros, however, it depends on what to are purchasing the keyboard for.
Another feature that comes from the left field is an optional holder for your phone that can be printed using a 3D printer. A different addition and there are links provided to purchase one if you do not have access to a 3D printer. I didn’t explore this however the mobile version of the Swarmm App is pretty impressive.
Half of me is a gamer, the other a creator. There is no simple solution to using both approaches to keybaord, short of having a mechanical for gaming and a membrane for typing. I have recorded podcasts in the past realising that I have not switched keyboards and having to try to record without making much noise on the mechanical kaybaord, similarly typing a review is less smooth on a mechanical. Yet the responsiveness of the mechanical in games is essential.
Roccat’s keyboard has a shallow layout. A “membranical” switch can’t have that bubble wrap feel that works for typing. The resistance on a mechanical keyboard is minimal, however the membrane can’t mange then as you have initial resistance as the membrane started to bend, after this the membrane gives way and you notice the fall toward the backplate, this is the area Roccat was hoping for but the initial resistance means you have to push at little but harder to collapse the membrane and in a flash you through the area of less resistance.
To be fair there are not many games that are going to fall down due to this technical problem and really only the hardest of hardcore gamers are going to have problems with it. However, over longer typing periods the membrane might become tiring for the user.
To the left of the keyboard are a column of five macro keys, they have a Chiclet feel as you would see on a laptop for macbook. These are fast and responsive when you need to use them. However, the lower left has three buttons, control, windows and alt, each button is the same as the next and it’s very easy to hit the Windows button instead of the Control when focusing on the screen.
Roccat ave spent a lot of time developing their software so the Aimo brand has a presence on the desktop. Their mice and headphones have a striking look, synchronising the colour scheme through the setup and the Horde fits in there too. Initially, I felt he colours were understated however after use I found the colour movements to be a little distracting whilst concentrating and had to turn it down, not much, just a little. Took me a while to find the right balance, however, the software is very accessible and has a lot of functionality that switching profiles from gaming to working can be done in a snap.
The Roccat Horde Aimo is not without it’s problems, however, it more than makes up for it in style and usefulness. It’s worth getting the whole set if you are looking at just the keyboard as a mouse and headset factor in so comfortably and if you spend some time getting to know the software that Roccat have designed the you will benefit to no end.
I’m sticking with the Horde and he Aimo setup for the foreseeable future and I’m glad of that. Their pricing is incorrigible, the build quality is satisfactory for the money but it’s the features, Roccat know their stuff and if it seems a little crazy, there is probably a little method to their madness.
You can find the Roccat Horde Aimo on Amazon here.
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