Introduction, Specifications and Pricing
If we had to think back to the only AZIO branded keyboard we have seen this far, it really does not bring back the memories of something high tech or anything more than basic functionality. This is because that only keyboard was the Large Print 3 Color keyboard, which did offer backlighting which is a huge plus, it was and is more geared to the older crowd or anyone with vision issues. Since most people who are proficient with typing do not tend to look at the keyboard, there really is no need for the mainstream user to have such a keyboard. On the flip side of the name game, their sister company Levetron offered the complete opposite. This time rubber dome switches are tossed in favor of mechanical switches, and with aggressive styling, and a detachable number pad, we did see a keyboard geared directly towards the gaming market as well.
So, where does this leave us now? Well, this AZIO keyboard keeps mechanical keys, offers backlighting, and the design is based with a brushed metal top. We do not feel comfortable saying mid-range, mediocre, or lower-end, but we will say that while being very stylish, it definitely is nowhere near as aggressive as the Levetron solution. This latest sample is able to stand on its own as a top tier offering, yet AZIO finds the way to deliver all of this without drivers, yet still offering the customers plenty of functionality.
Today we find ourselves reviewing the AZIO MGK 1, sort of a companion to the EXO 1 mouse we just saw. While this design offers a grey colored brushed metal top, the keys are black, and the sides offer a splash of bright red to accent this design. By using double functionality on the Function keys, AZIO is able to deliver a functional keyboard with all of what we previously stated, yet still find room for multimedia keys, a Windows lockout, lighting and brightness switches, and also offers switchable 6KRO or NKRO support and anti-ghosting. This is really a keyboard that needs to be seen and felt to truly appreciate, but we will do our best to convey what we find with this MGK 1 mechanical keyboard.
AZIO provides us with a basic chart of specifications where we see that this USB powered keyboard offers Kailh blue switches across the entire 104 key layout. There is LED backlighting under each keycap, and going a bit further, they can be adjusted in brightness, turned off, or even put into a reactive mode where the lights stay lit for a couple of seconds after the key is pressed. There is six feet of braided cable to make the connection to the PC, and even though 2.3 pounds seems like a lot for a keyboard, compared to many other offerings, this is a featherweight. There is also a list of the Hotkeys that include keys for the browser, email, the calculator, media player, multi media keys, and others we have mentioned, but we do see that the volume adjustment is done with a wheel much like Logitech offers. Along with the Windows compatibility, we see the dimensions of the keyboard, and that it carries a three-year warranty.
Aesthetically, we are dealing with a smaller, or using only the space needed to get the keys into the design with just a bit of trim around them. While the bottom and sides are made of plastic, and molded in red, the top of the keyboard is something different all together. There we find cylindrical key caps all painted black with the legends and iconography left white from the original casting of the key caps. Under all of the caps are of course the Kailh switches, which are then mounted to the brushed metal top plate of this keyboard. The color chosen is sort of a smoky grey color when seen in brighter lighting, but once the LEDs are in play, and since the LED is almost blue rather than true white, the color you are left with in the dark is almost identical to that of the top of the EXO 1 mouse.
What really puts the rest of the market in check, sans a select few that we have seen in our time here, is the ultra low pricing we found this keyboard being offered for. The MSRP upon release was set at $89.99 and for a mechanical keyboard, that is on the low-end of the scale. Consider though that at both Newegg as well as Amazon, currently both are selling the AZIO MGK 1 for just $70 with free shipping at either location. Kicking another $20 off an already lower priced keyboard is not a sign of weakness, as this keyboard has been a real trooper in our testing.
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