Saitek have for the longest time been well-known for their specialist flight sim joysticks above all else in gaming circles, but with the release of the PC Gaming Keyboard they could start taking on Microsoft and Logitech in this particular peripheral market as well.

There are a number of subtle but well thoughtout design touches, aimed squarely at the gamer. Touches like the way that the keys are all level instead of them sloping upwards, so no angling of wrists to use the function keys. Clever huh? But not as clever as the accompanying programmable command pad. Although to configure the profiles for this you do need to use the supplied Saitek Smart Technology software, which rules out anyone not using either Windows XP or 2000 unfortunately.

That said, if you can use it you will be able to map 27 keys and combos to any single key on the 9 key pad with it’s two shift buttons. The software itself is quite cool with a full 3D view of the keypad being programmed and easy to follow key mapping instructions.

Sure, it’s not the most complex programmable pad available, but the back to basics implementation is sufficient for most users and makes for a refreshing simplicity.

If there was one thing, sad yet easily amused geek that I am, I was looking forward to in relation to this keyboard it was the promised adjustable blue LED backlighting.

Not least because I like blue LEDs, a lot, and the thought of an illuminated keyboard to help my less than perfect eyes was something of a comfort. But not for long, because although the lighting was indeed adjustable by way of a dimmer control, and for that matter blue, it was not very practical.

Let me illuminate, which is more than the keyboard did. The problem being that the spaces between the keys are lit, not the keys themselves, so you still need some kind of overhead light source in order to be able to type properly in darkness.

But maybe I’m missing the point here, this is a gaming keyboard after all, not an office replacement. Which is just as well, because the lack of key travel makes it less than comfortable for someone who spends much of the day bashing keys. It is far and away from being the worst keyboard I’ve used and I would have no problem in typing the odd letter or email with it.

Verdict

If your main squeeze is gaming but you still want to do a bit of office work, you won’t be disappointed as the combination of sturdy construction and programmable pad make it a joy to use in a combat situation while remaining usable for civilian letter writing as well.