Keyboards are probably one of the most understated peripherals available on the computing market. Does a keyboard really make any difference to your performance on a PC? Well here at Tech-Reviews I’ve been given the Saitek Eclipse 2 to review. Let’s see if it can.
Founded in 1979, Saitek was the first to use microcontrollers to create chess playing games – a market it has dominated ever since. In 1993 Saitek entered the PC games controllers market and since then has grown to become the 2nd largest brand worldwide. All these products are designed by gamers for gamers, to help them get the best out of their favourite PC games.
- Key characters and keypad illuminate through laser-etched keys
- Media keys for volume control, play/pause and skip tracks
- Variable backlighting adjusts through dimmer mechanism
- Angle adjustment and extendable wrist rest for maximum comfort to suit the way you type
- Weighted base with large area rubber feet to keep keyboard securely planted to the desk
- Quiet, cushioned keys for hours of stress-free use
- Familiar 104 key layout
- Connectivity: USB 2.0
- Operating System: Windows XP, Windows Vista
The eclipse arrived in a very colourful cardboard box emblazoned with many photos of the keyboards many features. The front of the packaging shows the keyboard in its entirety. It has 3 smaller photos showing the different backlighting colours. Already the product looks professional and quality just by looking at the packaging.
The rear of the packaging carries another photo of the entire keyboard and 8 other smaller photos. Also there is an extensive list of product specifications in 5 different languages.
Once inside the box it is possible to see that a cardboard wrap and a thin plastic bag which protects the keyboard. This does look to be adequate packaging as the box is quite thick and the keyboard is quite securely fixed in place.
Once out of the box it is possible to see that the keyboard comes only with an owners manual, this is a bit of a let down as I’m quite used to reviewing products which come with at least a sticker or a novelty key-ring.
The keyboard comes separated from the wrist rest so some minor installation is needed.
The Saitek Eclipse 2
The keyboard at first glance looks pretty ugly with the random black bits protruding from the corners but the aesthetics do grow on you after a while.
Turning the keyboard upside down it is possible to see that it boasts some huge rubber feet and a couple of adjustable stands. These allow you to choose the angle at which you want the keyboard to face you. With these up the keyboard is resting on less of a surface area so it does slide a lot easier which can be very frustrating.
The wrist rest is also adjustable allowing you to choose how far away from the keyboard you would like it to lie. I quite like this idea and I think it makes the keyboard one hell of a lot more comfortable to use when installed, than without it.
The lights for the scroll, num, and caps lock buttons are at the top of the keyboard in the middle, they look to have been put here to facilitate the installation of the backlight and media controls.
The backlighting and media control is located at the top right hand corner of the keyboard. The controls consist of: a central dial (which acts as the backlights dimmer switch), play/pause button, stop button, ffw button, rw button, volume controls, mute button and backlight colour change button. When pressed, these buttons give a nice clicky noise so that you know you’ve actually pressed the button.
The backlight has 4 different colour modes: blue, red, purple and off. The lights – when on full – are very bright and shine through the keys very well. Unfortunately the backlights can only be selected to light up the entire keyboard, alike the Lycosa we reviewed a while back. It would be nice to be able to select specific keys to light up. The backlight also shines out of the sides of the keyboard, this is pretty cool as it lights up the surrounding desk.
The keyboard uses a pretty cool bluey-grey USB cable with the inner cabling braided by some kind of flexible metal. The USB connector isn’t anything fancy though and isn’t gold plated.
There are also many other features of the keyboard that aren’t immediately apparent. These included the weighted base, which helps with grip and how the space bar isn’t as long as it is on standard keyboard but is about twice as wide.
Just above the arrow keys there is the keyboards name ‘Eclipse II’ painted on in a silver paint. Unfortunately the glossy finish surround of the keys means that dust shows up very well; which even just after just being taken out of the box and photographed builds up very quickly.
Installation and Testing
The installation for the Saitek is pretty straightforward, simply plug in the USB cable and boot up your PC. Windows will then automatically find the correct driver for the keyboard, so no driver disk is needed.
The Eclipse II isn’t a gaming specific keyboard but does carry many of the typical stylistic features of one; therefore I’m going to testing for both general windows usage and for in-game use.
During windows usage I found that the keyboard is very responsive and even when you think you may have missed a key, you haven’t as it has responds to the slightest compression. This is great as many keyboards aren’t responsive enough, hence slowing down your typing.
When using the keyboard in-game the responsiveness was not lost and the backlighting showed up the keys well and enabled me to be able to go prone quicker in Battlefield 2 than ever before to pop those deadly headshots.
The Saitek Eclipse II is both aesthetically pleasing as well as responsive and accurate, however when you consider the rather steep price tag of £35 you begin to wonder if it is all worth this price. But as the keyboard is feature packed and performs exceptionally well, I think that for the price tag, it’s still a well recommended buy.
- Great Performance
- Pleasing Aesthetics
- Good Backlighting
- Feature Packed
- Reasonable and justifiable price