ROCCAT SKELTR Smart Communication Gaming Keyboard Review

ROCCAT's SKELTR Smart Communication gaming keyboard adds in some truly unique features for PC gamers and your mobile device.

Published Sun, Dec 18 2016 9:12 PM CST   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 6:58 PM CST
Rating: 96%Manufacturer: ROCCAT

Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing

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In our time looking at just about every kind of peripheral there is out there in the market, we have yet to come across a product quite like this. We do know that the technology exists to make something like this possible, and we are also aware of one keyboard which offered this adaptation of Bluetooth ability, but we would not have considered the KBTalking Pro to be a "gaming" product as well. What we are alluding to here is that with everything else being connected in your house via Bluetooth, why not use your desktop keyboard to be able to type on your mobile devices as well? Now, there are many standalone keyboards on the market which can be used for mobile devices, many of them you would not want to use day to day on a desktop, nor would we want to try to game very long on them either.

ROCCAT in their endless pursuit to come up with innovative and market changing ideas has developed a keyboard to do exactly this. The idea was to use all of the features in their typical offerings, yet without getting too far out of the box, making life easier for many customers out there who happen to use their phone or tablet just as much as they use their desktop. More specifically, those who want to do both at once, but don't want to constantly reach for the mobile device and using the tiny keyboards offered with this type of device. With just the press of a button, you can swap from the keyboard to the mobile device after they have been paired. On top of this, ROCCAT took it a step further and offers another button which will accept phone calls, and allow you to use headset or speakers and a microphone to process calls as well.

As we look the SKELTR smart communications gaming keyboard, we will not only be discussing what makes this a gaming product, but also what makes this design special and unique. ROCCAT has always been a leader in our mind, especially when it comes to new ideas or ideas that we later find the market moving to as well. The SKELTR is the epitome of just such an idea. While there will be some who may dismiss a product such as this, for those who deal with many devices and the PC during the day, they all know the struggle is real. For those of you who wish to bring convenience and ease of access to your office or gaming situation, we strongly urge you to carry on with this review, as ROCCAT has a serious solution which will lessen the stress and ease your day to day struggles.

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The specifications offered from ROCCAT about the SKELTR are basic, but provide just enough to get the point across. ROCCAT provides the SKELTR with a trio of Thumbster keys and also offers five programmable Macro keys as well. It also uses the Easy-Shift system, which allows for a whole other layer of control across the device. The keyboard has multimedia keys, and of course, to coordinate with mobile devices, it has Bluetooth V3.0 in it as well. The cable connecting the SKELTR to the PC is braided and is 1.8 meters in length, where the accessory wires are rubberized. There is 512KB of onboard memory to store profiles and Macros, and the entire system is under the control of a 32-bit ARM MCU. We also see that the SKELTR comes with a 1000Hz polling rate option, but most important to many customers is that the SKELTR is based on membrane switches.

System requirement state that this is a Windows-only device, but that is only for the PC side. As for connectivity, the SKELTR will pair with Windows, Android, and iOS devices easily. To bring up the level of features, ROCCAT has incorporated many other things as well. There is a universal docking slot which will hold just about any mobile device, and of course, you can type to said device, as well as managing calls from it too. The typing is near silent, there is RGB illumination, a detachable wrist rest, but to go along with mobile devices, there is an audio cable included that uses a 3.5mm jack, as well as having a built-in charging system for these devices. There is also support for the usual suspects such as TALK FX and AlienFX, but this is the only device we have had in our hands from ROCCAT which is fully supported by the ROCCAT SWARM mobile app as well.

With everything ROCCAT packed into this keyboard, we do see that a piece hike is included as well, and this may be the most expensive rubber dome keyboard we have ever used. Availability at this time is quite high, and it can be found through many retail channels as we are writing this up. What we are seeing is that pricing is pretty close to one another no matter where you decide to shop, but Newegg is offering slightly more than $5 off the Amazon listing. We saw that the SKELTR was listing at Amazon for $159.99, while at Newegg, the price is currently set to $154.88. Indeed there is a bit of sticker shock included with a purchase such as this, but the SLKETR smart communication gaming keyboard is not your average rubber dome offering either.

Chad's Peripherals Test System Specifications

Packaging, Accessories, and Documentation

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Along the top of the front panel, we see the company name and logo along with the product name, which is then followed by an indication of RGB lighting. We also see to the right that this is Windows, Android, and iOS capable, and this unit is built with a US layout. The large image taking the bulk of the panel leaves little to the imagination and even highlights how one works the call handling and device switching.

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On this longer side of the box, we find that ROCCAT shows the keyboard, but also lists the features. Here we see the SWARM software, MOBA gaming, MMO gaming, FPS gaming, Alien FX, Windows, Android, iOS, and call managing capabilities.

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Both of the shorter sides of the box are identical, and not only do we get an idea of some of the lighting features found on the sides of this keyboard, but they also show off the SWARM mobile app on a pair of devices to the right.

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The second of the longer sides highlights that the SKELTR will have 3D printer support as well, and if you are willing to disassemble the product, there are many parts which could be addressed in this fashion. To the right, we see the model number, legal mumbo-jumbo, ROCCAT's address, and that this product is made in China.

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The top of this panel repeats a lot of what we have already seen, pointing out the key features and showing us the SKELTR. Features then stretch across the middle, repeated in many languages below, and in tiny print we find the specification off in the bottom right corner.

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After removing the colorful outer box, we find a flat black cardboard box on the inside, and once it is opened, we can see the keyboard, which is shipped in an anti-static bag. As for the cables and some of the accessories, they are either in the section at the back or found under this device.

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The first part of the accessories we show is the detachable wrist rest. Not only is it easy to use and has the ROCCAT name and logo molded into it, but there are also easy to remove stickers applied to it. These show how to connect the SKELTR to the mobile devices on the left, while the label on the right describes how to pair the device and take control from this keyboard.

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Also included as part of the kit are this pair of cables. Both are shipped with a Velcro tie to keep things tidy if you are not using them. The cable at the bottom is used to charge mobile devices, using a USB 2.0 connection to the keyboard and a Mini-HDMI connection for mobile devices. They also included a cable which uses the 3.5mm headphone jack on the mobile device and attaches it to the keyboard so sound can pass through to headphones or headsets.

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Also included is the paperwork. There is a set of three stickers to apply to anything you want to, and the disposal information insert too. There is also a quick-installation guide which shows all of the connectivity information, both with the cables, as well as how to pair the devices. It also covers the buttons used to manage other devices but leaves a lot of the other features and assets to the SKELTR for you to figure out on your own.

ROCCAT SKELTR Smart Communication Gaming Keyboard

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The side of the SKELTR is highly stylized with angles and cutouts which give it a playful yet almost industrial look to it. The large cutouts in the center allow the now white panels to glow in any RGB color you can think of once the SKELTR is powered, and the SWARM software is installed.

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The frame of the keyboard is large, but not outside of what we typically see of ROCCAT keyboards. We also like the flat black against the matte gray used to surround the keys. Of course, we can also see that the caps are low-profile, and this is typical of a membrane switch keyboard.

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In the top left corner, we find a pair of buttons used for phone calls. The phone handset icon will answer a call from the mobile device, and if you do not wish to use the phone's speaker and microphone, the button to the right will switch it over to the pass-through system built into the SKELTR.

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Along the back edge of the keyboard, just inside of the device docking slot, we find the F-keys on this keyboard do double duty. These four allow the user to mute the volume, lower it, raise it, or bring up the calculator built into Windows.

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The next group continues with more multimedia keys. From left to right we find the play/pause button, stop, previous track, and next track as the secondary functionality.

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The last set offers things outside the realm of multimedia. We can bring up My PC, open your favorite browser, adjust the LED intensity in six levels including turning them off, and we then find the Macro Record button, so you do not need to be in SWARM to make it happen.

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Near the front, we run into the trio of Thumbster keys. These can be used for just about anything via software programming. This is another set of buttons with easy access, and do not have to be used like the Macro buttons on the left.

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The right third of the SKELTR offers all of the command keys and a full number pad like we would expect in a full sized keyboard layout. The lock icons are above the number pad, and we also see that the numbers can be used as arrow keys for left handed gamers.

SKELTR Continued

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At the back edge of this end of the keyboard, we find another pair of specialized keys. On the left is the button which will switch back and forth between typing on the desktop and switch to the mobile device. The key to the right is used to allow users to open the SWARM software at just the press of a button.

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Raising the feet under the SKELTR increases the angle of attack on the keys, which are not angled towards the user rather than lying flat. This side also offers the LED lighting backed panels, so that both sides of this keyboard can flood your desktop with light.

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The braided cable starts dead-center of the back edge, but we also found other things along with it. On the left is the charging port you connect to keep your mobile devices ready to use. The 3.5mm jack on the right is used to take the audio from your phone, and send it to what we found in the next image.

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Very near the left side of the keyboard, we found a pair of 3.5mm jacks built into the back edge for audio. Of course, you can use this for typical headset usage, but this is also where the audio is sent from your mobile devices.

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Before we get a look under the SKELTR, we added on the wrist rest. This drastically increases the overall size of this keyboard, yet at the same time delivers a surface which lessens the stress on your wrists. There are shadows of where the stickers used to be, but with a pass of household cleaner, they were no longer visible.

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Connecting this SKELTR to the PC is a single fat cable which breaks down into individual connections at the end of it. Along with the Velcro strap to tend the wiring, we see two USB 2.0 connections, one for keyboard traffic and the other to supply power to the charging port, and a pair of 3.5mm jacks to deliver audio to the SKELTR.

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Under the keyboard, we see four rubber feet used to secure it when it is lying flat on the desk. We also see many ridges running front to back, which helps to keep this keyboard from flexing under usage.

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As for the flip out feet that come built in along the back edge, they offer height which changes the angle, but they are also designed with rubber ends on them so that you do not find the SKELTR creeping across your desk.

Inside the SKELTR

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Many screws need to be removed to get inside of the SKELTR, and even then you need to be mindful of the attached cables from the lower section to the main PCB. We find ribs inside of the lower section to support the light panel and the membrane switches, making this a solid keyboard to use too.

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The PCB found in the lower section is nothing extra special, and we found little in the form of ICs on it. This is because of its nature in use as a pass-through board. This takes signals and addresses some lighting but is only a secondary stop which transfers inputs from another PCB inside the keyboard.

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The right half of the main PCB inside of the SKELTR is dedicated to lighting as well as it is where we found this IC soldered to it. The 8CM20730 is the Broadcom offering in Bluetooth 3.0 technology and is what allows the SKELTR to connect to mobile devices.

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The LCP1752FBD80 is the ARM Cortex-M3 32-bit MCU of choice in this design. This means we are offered an IC which is capable of handling all of the regular features ROCCAT product come with, but it is also able to take on the Bluetooth traffic with ease as well.

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At this point, we have reassembled the SKELTR and have it powered up. We did pick blue for the LED backlighting, but the flood of light in our booth has drowned it out, almost completely. We also added in our phone, to show how the universal device dock works, and it also shows how much room you have to use there.

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Continuing the LED backlighting, the lighted panels on either side glow to match the keyboard key color, by default. These panels do offer quite a bit of intensity and will make the area to the right and left of the keyboard for the first six inches to be flooded with light.

SWARM Software

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While all SWARM software comes with a pinned tab, we passed it by to show what options you can change, and what can be moved to the pinned tab. Under the heading of settings, we can play with sounds which can report every click of the board, or you can select specific uses for the sounds. You can also address the LED feedback to work with these sound effects and commands. To the right, there are sliders for repeat delay, repeat rate, cursor blink rate, and a bar to test them. There is a section on Bluetooth pairing, and below it, out of the image at this time, is a section which resets the keyboard back to factory defaults.

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The key assignment tab allows a user to redefine what the keys do, and it can be done with drag and drop ease. This is where you can pick from many of the presets found in the list and inside of various side windows, but is also where you can assign Macros after they are recorded and stored in the onboard memory.

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When it comes to tinkering with lighting, you then click on the key illumination tab. It is here in which you can use one of the presets, or chose a custom layout. There are various modes built into the software, you can turn the lighting off here, adjust the brightness, or pick a color when using a preset, or when using a custom layout, each LED section can be addressed by this box as well.

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Along the bottom of the previous window there is a profile manager tab as well, and here you can add profiles for productivity or gaming. You can add an image about the profile, you can name it, and you can add the application which should activate said profile. To do that, you need to check the auto-switch box to deliver that ability, and this is also where you can bin them by clicking on the trash can icon.

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The Macro Manager is full of things to choose from, without any energy and though using the long list of games found on the left. If you wish to make one, you click on the folder icon, and once it shows on the list below, you can name it. You then need to click on the start recording button and input your desired Macro steps. Also, you can select to record delays or not, set a fixed delay, if you want it to spam when pressed, as well as how many times it should do so.

SWARM Mobile App

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After installing the SWARM app to our phone, we first stopped in the menu to see just what this app can do. Here we can see the various segments of the software included with this application and it makes swapping between them very easy to do.

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The section labeled home offers multimedia functionality, but also provides a view of some of the important factors from the PC as well. You can see RAM usage, network usage, the GPU and CPU temperatures, and even how much load is on the CPU, all in real-time.

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We then moved to the SKELTR settings tab to see what that was about. Here we can activate the auto switch feature, change the LED mode, and even adjust their intensity. You may also change the rate the LEDs react in their modes, turn the lights on and off, or set the default profile. There is even a section here which allows you to remap the keyboard right from the mobile device.

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Under the heading of SKELTR tools, there is a real-time meter to show you your Actions Per Minute. It will keep a graph going as you use the SKELTR, and even show the highest amount of presses, an average while doing it, and in a second tab, will list some mistakes you made too.

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While we are unsure why this did not seem to work correctly, we assumed this would populate with a list of both the games and programs sections. Since it remained blank throughout our testing, we are unsure of its usage other than showing what it might recognize as installed for their informational purposes.

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There is also a section where ROCCAT wants your input as to what they should add to the features of this application. They start you off with 12 points out of the gate, and we assume you can gain more with usage, but saw no increase in ours. There are sliders in which you adjust them, distributing your points to the features which matter the most to you.

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This last section is for the settings of the application. You can have the software auto connect once paired and within the range of the keyboard, or you can lock the rotation, so it does not move as you adjust or grab your device. You can use power saving mode to extend battery life, but with a charging cable right there, it is likely not needed. There is also a box in which you can take all of the results and settings you have made to the phone, and reset everything back to zero.

Gaming and General Impressions

DOOM & Overwatch

First of all, gaming was not what we were used to, not that that is a bad thing. While we typically prefer to use a mechanical keyboard, there is a certain something that has kept the SKELTR on the desk much longer than any other membrane keyboard. It has a lot to do with the fact that this keyboard offers anti-ghosting, and can read eight keystrokes at one time without skipping a beat. We also like the positioning of the Thumbster keys, and the remapping ability this keyboard provides with software and Easy Shift.

It has made our gaming in DOOM not change so much, but while all movements were taken from our fingers and delivered to the PC, it is games like Overwatch where remapping can save your bacon. Also with the vast amount of memory, and unlimited profiles and Macros, you can make the SKELTR bend to you will and get the most out of any game you choose to run.

Windows and Productivity

When it came to tinkering around, searching the web, or answering emails, the SKELTR acted like any other keyboard and showed no signs of issues in this aspect. As far as productivity is concerned, this is where we saw our greatest advantage to selecting this keyboard for day to day usage. Whether text messaging, using Skype, or people messaging us through social media, the SKELTR stepped right up and handled its business. With our phone resting comfortably in the device slot on the back edge, we could use the arrow keys to select apps, hit enter to load them, and begin chatting with everyone or answering any questions they might have had.

We also found the hands-free use of the phone calls to be a terrific use of Bluetooth, and again had us fumbling much less with the phone, and keeping our head in the game doing other things right along with the calls and writing on the phone. This is what improved on our productivity the most.

Final Thoughts

While most reviews will have us bashing the feeling that rubber dome keyboards offer, and we usually do not like how light and flexible they are, the SKELTR has kept us interested and has stayed on our desk longer than just about any other since mechanical keys got to be mainstream.

The layout and lighting are perfect for the gamer side of us, the Macro buttons, the Thumbster keys, Easy Shift, the awesomeness of the all-in-one location SWARM software is a tremendous player in this too. Even for the typist in us, because of the added features ROCCAT has delivered, we felt the Bluetooth and its ability to simplify our daily grind to be far too good to give up on a product over switch types. While there will be many out there who will never give this product a chance for one reason or another, what it does offer is far superior to any keyboard we have used in the past. It proves ROCCAT is on the cutting edge and is delivering products with features you may have never knew you needed; that is until you use them.

Taking calls with the press of a key on the keyboard is handy, but hearing it and conversing through your headset while comfortably sitting there, not having to move much at all has its pleasure to it. Add in the fact that the slot along the back will hold just about any device without a thick case on it, and the fact that I can now type replies in various applications with the press of a single button, it makes life easier on a whole new scale. Then along with everything the keyboard can do out of the box with software and your mobile device, you still have the SWARM application to consider. This nearly makes the standard software unneeded for most of our time with the SKELTR.

With our phone turned into a touchscreen display for our PC and keyboard settings, you can make changes in a game, without missing a beat. The other aspect is that you can address the majority of setting without the use of a mouse as well. As long as you can do two things at once, you can make adjustments and play at the same time, that way you don't end up dead.

In our minds, there is one glaring thing that will likely keep many customers away. While this keyboard is excellent, at its heart, it is still a rubber dome or membrane switch keyboard. That being said, we realize that adding in Bluetooth isn't free, and neither is the design process. Asking $159.99 for the SKELTR is a tough pill to swallow for many, but if you could try it before you buy it, after a day or two, you would start to appreciate the product more, and the price would likely become less of an issue. The ROCCAT SKELTR smart communication gaming keyboard has all the features you would ever need, and a couple you did not know you needed, until now. As liberating as this device is, it is sad that we will have to put it on the shelf and make room for the next submission; it is that good.

If it were mechanical key based, it likely would be replacing our go-to keyboard for use when not testing submissions, and that says a lot for a product. Even if the price is a bit scary at first, we highly recommend the SKELTR to ease your day to day life.

Chad's Peripherals Test System Specifications

TweakTown award
Quality including Design and Build96%
General Features100%
Bundle and Packaging94%
Value for Money90%

The Bottom Line: You are not going to find a keyboard that delivers like the SKELTR does! On top of all the gaming needs being met, an attractive design, and comfortable layout, the addition of Bluetooth for device communications and the way ROCCAT implemented it make this the most feature-rich keyboards ever.

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After a year of gaming, Chad caught the OC bug. With overclocking comes the need for better cooling, and Chad has had many air and water setups. With a few years of abusing computer parts, he decided to take his chances and try to get a review job. As an avid overclocker, Chad is always looking for the next leg up in RAM, cooling, as well as peripherals.

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