Today we are diving into a whole new switch type with our latest sample from KUL offering Cherry MX Clear switches. The switches themselves actually have white stems, but none the less, we are excited to gain more experience with another switch type to broaden our advice giving knowledge. While we are dealing with a mechanical keyboard that is built for the typists out there, KUL didn't leave out the obvious beneficial features for multi-media controls. KUL even added something called a Power Mode, where Windows keys are not so much eliminated as they are repurposed. Also, not only is this keyboard completely driver-less, but it is also the first keyboard to hit our desk that offers DIP switch functionality with seven functional options.
We came about this sample by way of a friend of a friend, who knows this guy, who put us in touch with Keyed Up Labs, and from there things went right from the introduction, and within a week the keyboard we were interested in was at my door. On top of getting the keyboard, we were also greeted with a ton of information regarding what goes into the design. That knowledge alone could very well stop you right in your tracks, and cause you to snap around to give this new keyboard a much closer look.
In our email correspondence with Keyed Up Labs, we learned that they source all their components for their board from major manufacturers, and they do their homework to be sure they have all the best gear to put forward. Keyed Up Labs does this even knowing that accomplishing this with high quality control is an expensive way to go about building a keyboard. Very admirable.
There are design implementations to make this keyboard very rigid and flat, so it will not flex under weight. The textures used on this keyboard will last a long time, while still being paint friendly for modding the solid molding of the key caps with laser etched legends. They have even added a few LED indicators around the board to signify functionality of the Caps and Scroll lock, as well as on the Escape key to show that Power Mode is active. The list just goes on and on, even down to the fact that with the flip of a DIP switch, this keyboard is natively compatible for OSX.
If what you know so far about this keyboard doesn't get you excited to see the KUL ES-87 that Keyed Up Labs has sent over, then you are either too game-oriented in your buying decisions, or the rubber dome keyboard from your last pre-built is good enough for you. If do lack enthusiasm for this board thus far, we would like to encourage you to continue reading, because you may like what you have seen by the end of this review.
For most of us that write for TweakTown, gaming has become secondary since we spend quite a bit of time clicking away endlessly to bring forth all the newest goodies. So, it almost goes without saying that we find this keyboard is quite exciting. The KUL ES-87 is almost custom fit to the needs of anyone who does quite a bit of typing at the PC, but still desires enough control to blast music while doing so. Best of all, when it does come down to game time, you don't have to swap out keyboards, as this KUL ES-87 will do a fine job there as well.
With a name like KUL ES-87, being a tenkeyless offering comes as no real surprise since the "87" refers to the amount of keys in this layout. The chart states that this keyboard comes with Cherry MX switches, and that varying switches are available from third-party retailers out there, but our sample is based on Cherry MX Clears. We see that this mechanical keyboard is fully compatible with Windows, OSX, and Linux/Unix operating systems. We also see that electronic traffic is carried over a USB 1.1 cable, the cable is detachable from the keyboard, and there is a PS/2 adapter included as well.
As the physical dimensions show, this one kilogram keyboard is 364mm in width, 14mm in depth, and stands 37mm tall at the back. With the feet extended, we get 13mm more height at the back edge. There are cylindrical, solid color ABS keycaps with laser etched legends, and the chart even shows the pitch of the keys in comparison to the textured frame as they are angled. The entire keyboard is black except for the white left on the keys from laser etching, and three blue LEDs. There isn't even any branding on the board as it is shipped; there is a logo sent along with the board, but its application is optional.
The lower chart shows us what is included in the package. Of course, we already covered the ES-87 keyboard, the detachable cable, and the PS/2 adapter, but there is still more to find. There is a clear PET plastic cover that ships on this keyboard, but it is also usable on the desktop as a cover to keep dust out of the keyboard if it's left for long periods of time. There is also a key puller, additional keycaps to give the keyboard your own personal touch, and a manual with a quick reference to functionality and DIP switch options.
Looking around, it is very possible to obtain your own KUL ES-87 keyboard. From what we see, pricing isn't nearly as expensive as we would have thought considering what goes into making this keyboard. We did find two switch variations of this keyboard at Amazon.com, where they are asking $129.99 for the Cherry MX Brown or MX Red versions. If you are looking for the Cherry MX Black, or the Cherry MX clear variant that we have here, you will have to drop over to Elitekeyboards.com to locate those versions; they are listed at the same $129.99 asking price. While we certainly feel the price is justified, take a closer look with us and see for yourself why the KUL ES-87 has us so impressed.
PRICING: You can find the KUL ES-87 Tenkeyless Keyboard for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing, but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.
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