Today I will be re-reviewing a keyboard I have had for the last 8 months – the Alienware TactX keyboard.
Note: My review style is different. I’m not gonna look at a keyboard, say it’s got pretty lights, push a few keys and say A+! Buy! – no, I am going to pick it apart, find the flaws, and inform you the same way I would like to be informed.
So, lets begin!
The keyswitches used in this keyboard are the typical membrane keyswitches used in most Logitech ‘gaming’ keyboard products. These types of keyswitches are generally considered ‘bad’, and I normally agree with that sentiment.
In the case of the TactX keyboard however, they are excellent to type on. The keys aren’t actually that well secured into the housing as they wobble around a fair bit and when you wobble the keys around, you expect them to be horrible to type on.
However, I think the wobble is in some way improving the typing experience – call me mad, but it needs to be felt to be believed. Unlike keys that are improperly secured, the wobble in these do not effect the throw when you push down the key. It seems the bottom of the keys are designed in such a way to allow a bit of wobble when fully up, but as soon as you begin to push down it straightens up. This is different to the Logitech version of this keyboard, where the wobble does actually affect the throw.
Spacing is arguably the most important thing in a keyboard when it comes to typing speed and accuracy. One of the keys (no pun intended) to having a highly accurate keyboard is the distance between the contact area of a key (the top part). If your keys have small tops, but large bottoms and good spacing between the keys, it is far less likely that a user will experience typographical errors when blind typing.
As humans aren’t machines, when we use our muscle memory to strike a key our fingers strike a very close approximation of where we spacially think the keys are. If your keys are close together, its possible for the user to inadvertently push down more than one key at once – one of the most common typographical errors.
With the TactX keyboard (as well as its logitech derivatives) the spacing is, frankly, almost perfect for me. It has a 50%/100% space to contact area ratio, allowing a very large tolerance for possible typographical errors. There is only one other keyboard I know of with better spacing and that is the tarantula, one of the best keyboards I have ever used.
The key height is very very high. The base of the keyboard is already quite high, and the very long depth keys don’t help that fact. Due to the long throw it takes a bit of extra effort to type on this keyboard.
With the footrest on the keyboard collapsed the keys are as high as 3cm’s from the desk. It is almost unavoidable to use the (very large) palmrest to alleviate this. Others may prefer a longer keythrow, but personally I prefer it shorter for ergonomics reasons as well as typing speed.