Author Topic: Keycool 22 non-backlit Review  (Read 2341 times)

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Offline Surnia

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Keycool 22 non-backlit Review
« on: Tue, 23 April 2013, 23:20:43 »
Hey guys, first review. Hope its detailed enough, and if you need to know anything else please don't hesitate to ask!

*edit*

hidden away if you want to read it still, but I'm going to re-write it to fit the layout of my other review.
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So I was in need of a new keyboard/keypad for work, and managed to find a few options out there. Pricing does seem to vary, going from the $30 range (adesso) to the $60+ range (filco, Keycool backlits). Since I work in an open office environment that doesn't... exactly allow equipment from home, I didn't want to get too fancy or go with backlights.

As the title implies, I picked up the Keycool 22 non-backlit in MX blues, which suits my needs for a keypad. Obviously not the quietest thing out there, but I expect it to be noisy and noticeable. I picked it up with a few other keyboard things (A Choc Mini which I'll review later), and a Keycool 87 for my sister from Qtan (shameless plug, great retailer. A bit quiet/small language barrier, but extremely patient retailer!). Paid on the 15th, shipped on the 20th Via DHL and arrived on the 23rd. Canadians, if you're looking for a courier to ship your keyboards DHL is your friend.

On to the keypad!

I picked up the Keycool 22 in MX blues, with no backlight. 22 keys with the double zero, which I'm a bit iffy on.

First impressions were OK; the box had a nice holo-pattern for the image. Opening the box revealed a cheap ring keycap puller, the keypad in bubble wrap, and a gold plated USB connector. The keypad appears to be plate mounted, with a black plate. Very slight pinging is noted, only if you go crazy with mashing all the keys though (shouldn't be apparent in normal use). Plugging the keypad in, the Numlock light turned on as red... but randomly switches between blue and green. Disco numlock light! It seems to have three diodes under the window, as the light gives off a lot of glare from certain angles with the different LEDs.

Playing with the keys I immediately had a few problems. Switch consistency was horrible, and they were all horrendously gritty/dry. The 1 key clicks ONLY if you press it in the lower middle of the switch, and if you press anywhere on the upper edge of the key you get absolutely no click. At that point it almost feels like a higher force brown. The Fn key also had a similar issue, the lower edge of the key results in a sticky/high force press, while the upper edge press results in a key that won't pass the actuation point, it just stops. Numlock also was very difficult to press, but had no click problems. Another immediate problem was the fact that it wasn't sitting stable on the table. It kept wobbling... but I found the problem was that the lower left corner of the case has snapped out of its clip. Clipping that back in, the keypad sat level on the table, and the keys performed slightly better.

All in all it wasn't looking good. The larger keys use Cherry stabilizers, and again the first impression wasn't that great. They didn't feel nearly as crisp as the Costar stabilizers, however they felt... softer; as if they were dampened by O-rings.

Since all the switches felt dry, I decided to lube them all. Unfortunately I don't have a screwdriver that can access the recessed screws so I had to resort to a surface lubing. I pulled all the keycaps off, and took a look at the switches. Nothing looked out of order, so I proceeded to take my can of superlube, and spray it into a bottle cap. Since we only have the aerosol version here, I compromise by spraying it into a container and applying slowly to anything that can't be sprayed. I took a sanded barbeque skewer (smooths out the surface, makes it less... grainy). For each switch, I depressed it slightly, and applied a small drop to each side and let it creep in via Capillary action. Obviously its not a very thorough greasing, but its sufficient to make them work smoother if they're really bad. Each switch got a bit of this, and I did similar with the Cherry stabilizers. One small drop to each corner of the stabilizer, and a large drop into the metal bit inside the plastic slider.

I put all the keys back on, and it was significantly better. All the keys seemed to actuate better, and the wonky 1 and Fn keys slid better (the 1 still had click issues). The cherry stabilized keys felt MUCH better, much smoother while retaining that soft feel. I had a pack of 1st generation WASD ORings, and used those on the keys. This somehow made the keys far more stable as well, and the experience has been MUCH better since then.

The main difference from other keypads is the Fn key, which allows for media functions. The media functions work as expected, no surprises there. The double zero key seems to be a sort of hack really, Aquakeytest registers it "once". Holding it down only outputs two zeroes, so it looks like the double zero key sends out a very quick double tap on the "0".




All in all, not a bad keypad. It does what it does well enough, with the exception of the problematic switches. Once I get a chance to take it apart, I'm probably going to see if I can smooth out the problems I'm having on the 1 switch, and the Fn switch. Across the three boards I acquired in this purchase, it seems that a general consensus is that none of them are lubricated AT ALL. They all needed a tear down, and at least some lubrication on the stabilized keys. After an ORing and lubrication, the keypad functions quite well. The disco LED for the numlock is an interesting bonus, but I'm mixed on it as it does get a bit annoying when it switches to an LED that shines directly at you. I'm pleased with the purchase, although the budget price point does show.



Pictures to come later, when the lighting's better.
« Last Edit: Wed, 01 May 2013, 21:20:01 by Surnia »

Noppoo Choc Mini with MX Black | Filco 104 MJ2 Ninja with MX Black

Offline LechnerDE

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Re: Keycool 22 non-backlit Review
« Reply #1 on: Wed, 01 May 2013, 13:17:59 »
Thanks for your review. Your negative points make me reconsider if I order it from Qtan once the new Noppoo is back in stock again. Maybe I just should invest a little more and get a Filco Numpad?!

Offline Surnia

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Re: Keycool 22 non-backlit Review
« Reply #2 on: Wed, 01 May 2013, 20:05:05 »
Thanks for your review. Your negative points make me reconsider if I order it from Qtan once the new Noppoo is back in stock again. Maybe I just should invest a little more and get a Filco Numpad?!

My personal opinion is leaning towards getting a more well known brand for quality if we're dealing with MX blue, or running on a full size board. I'm not sure if it was because the numpad is a sort of afterthought in their lineup, but the usual switch QC is definitely absent.

Noppoo Choc Mini with MX Black | Filco 104 MJ2 Ninja with MX Black