Continuing on their trend of improving their products, Saitek has released a new version of their popular Eclipse keyboard. With new multimedia controls and improved lighting this keyboard may finally be the last keyboard you need to own.
- 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
Saitek Eclipse II keyboard is an upgrade from the Eclipse keyboard that Saitek released a while ago. The main difference between the two keyboards is the addition of new multimedia controls, new backlight colors, and a variable backlight adjustment.
There are slight changes all around, but the Eclipse II keyboard is almost exactly the same as the Eclipse keyboard. The colors of the keyboard have been reversed on the Eclipse II keyboard. The keys are now black and the trim around the edge is silver, and the wish bone design is not as pronounced. There are also three colors (Red, Blue and Purple) that you can choose from at the t
ouch of a button. In addition to the design changes, there are also some functionality changes, these changes include: new multimedia controls and the variable backlight adjustment.
When you first look at the Eclipse II keyboard you are going to notice the change in color and design. The colors have been changed slightly and the wishbone design is not as pronounced. I consider this a positive change because it makes it easier to put a joystick or something else next to the keyboard. I would not mind if they continued to remove the wishbone design in the next revision of this keyboard.
Despite the changes in the color of the keyboard your eyes will eventually move to the top right of the keyboard. This is where all the biggest changes have taken place. The Eclipse II keyboard adds to the volume and mute buttons of the original Eclipse keyboard by adding a play, pause, fast forward, rewind, color change button and also a knob for dimming the backlight.
Saitek was able to keep this area very compact by using slim buttons and having each button perform two tasks. For example the color change and the mute are on the same button, but each side of the button does something different.
Like the Eclipse, the Eclipse II also features a Zero-Slope design. This means the keyboard is flat. It is completely up to the user to determine the slop of the keyboard. If you want a slope on the keyboard, then all you need to do is extend the risers.
There is not much to mention about the bottom of the keyboard except to point out the very nice rubber anti-skid pads. Those in addition to the extra weight should keep the keyboard from sliding around.
One additional feature they could add that would make this better is a built in USB hub. I have found that you can never have enough USB ports. I already have about 8 USB ports filled up with various things and it would be nice to have more. Especially one on my keyboard that is really easy to access.
Performance on a keyboard comes down to how it feels while you type. With the Saitek Eclipse II keyboard there is also the issue of lighting. The lighting on this keyboard works well. I usually have to leave the light on high to pick out all the right keys, even in the middle of the night. There are some keys that suffer from blooming. I often found that I could not pick out the different symbols that are above the numbers. They are small and the designs are more complicated than letters and numbers, so the light blurs things. I had to turn down the lighting so that it cut back on the blooming. This usually helped me to be able to see all the keys correctly.
The dial that adjusts the lighting is a little flawed. When it is turned all the way up you actually have to turn it half way around before you notice a change in the lighting. The opposite is true for when it is all the way down, only the first half of the turn adjusts the lighting, the second half does nothing. This seems like a flaw to me because it turns a lot farther then it needs. This is not a huge issue, but it would be nice if Saitek would either reduce the turn radius of the knob or make the lighting change during the full turn. Then again, maybe I just got a broken keyboard.
Being able to change colors does not make the keyboard more or less usable, but it is nice because if you already have colors in your case or something, you can change the color of the keyboard to match. As you know from the review of my new computer, my case came with blue lighting, so I can adjust the keyboard to blue and everything looks great together. Or if you want it to match your optical mouse, which has a red laser, all it takes is another button push and your keybard is red.
Even without the lights, the keyboard is very capable. The keys respond very nicely to touch and they have a nice textured feel. They are not really bumpy, but in the same respect they are not glass smooth. Because of the price I would not recommend this keyboard unless you really like the lighting.
Installation is a snap. All you need to do is plug it in. Because the keys are not programmable, you do not need to install any drivers or special software.
As with all of Saitek’s products, there is a two year warranty on the Eclipse keyboard. This is decent, but I keep hoping that more companies will offer lifetime warranties.
The Saitek Eclipse II Keyboard is very nice. Except for some design issues, I have nothing but good things to say. One can only hope that in the next revision that they will add some of those features that I mentioned above, and make it even better. I highly recommend this keyboard to anyone who simply wants to enjoy using their computer, even in the dark. This keybaord retails for $69.95, but as always make sure you compare prices on the keyboard so get the best deal.
|JusTech'n editors' rating|