Roccat strikes again
Roccat Isku (Finnish for strike) Illuminated Gaming Keyboard is a full-sized gaming keyboard with a relatively angular design. The top edge of the keyboard hosts a set of media buttons. To the right, there is a single button to adjust the lighting level of the backlit keys. In addition to the ability to turn the light off completely, there are five levels of lighting that you can choose from. On the left side, you have a similar button set beside a single led light. This is a macro recording button, allowing you to record new macros whenever you choose to do so instead of having to launch the driver program to do so. Further to the left, there are additional five led lights signifying the five profile options that you can switch between. Furthermore, on the left side of the main keyboard, you will find five M-keys for your macros and in front of the space bar there are three additional thumb keys. With the design and all these visible special features, no one will mistake your keyboard for any cheap off-the-shelf equipment.
The excellent driver software allows you to create macros for the macro keys, all the easyzone control keys (more about this later) and prepare separate keyboard profiles (up to 5) for different situations. In addition, it allows you to individually enable and disable certain keys for various profiles, these keys being the left and right Windows key, Application key, Left Shift key and the Tab key. Also, you can customise the sound feedback, illumination dimmer timer, key illumination brightness, character repeat speed and rate etc. Overall, the software gives you all the freedom that you would expect from dedicated gaming keyboard drivers. Well, except for perhaps one: backlight colour. There is no way to adjust the colour of the backlight to anything else than blue, which is a shame, really. As it is, I rushed to change my Kova[+] mouse colour to green as soon as I could, so it would have been nice to be able to make these two devices match.
Special keys and their uses
The Easy-Shift[+] and Roccat Talk are definitely the main innovations of the Isku keyboard. With the Talk making the keyboard and the Kova[+] mouse able to communicate with each other, you can assign a key on the keyboard to work as the Easy-Shift[+] key for the mouse (press the key on the keyboard to use the secondary functions on all the mouse buttons), but it also gives an extra function to the Macro keys, Thumb keys and the so-called EasyZone keys on the keyboard. These EasyZone keys are the twenty keys on the left side of the keyboard, nearest to the default Easy-Shift[+] key which is Caps-Lock. This region is the usual hotkey zone for games with WASD controls and with Easy-Shift[+] you will suddenly have an extra function for each of these keys, if you so wish. I cannot really praise this innovation highly enough.
If you are looking for a new gaming keyboard, the Roccat Isku is definitely something you should consider, at least if you do not mind a membrane keyboard. If you prefer a mechanical one, you should look elsewhere for your fix. For me, the choice between Roccat Isku and Logitech G-19 is a difficult one, which is saying much when you consider the price difference between the two.
Our total score: 9.0/10