Author Topic: Poker II (Cherry Reds) unboxing & review - The Keyboard to Cheer You Up  (Read 11560 times)

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Offline Coreda

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Firstly, the unboxing  :D



Boxed contents

- KBC Poker II
- USB cable (1.5m)
- Keycap remover
- Additional RGB modifier keycaps
- Fold-out manual (mostly in Chinese)

Appearance




After the multi-layer unwrapping we find the petite Poker II. Arriving after a long wait from Banggood.com in it's trademark 'The keyboard to cheer you up' packaging the box came with the expected accessories, including the Lego-like RGB modifier keycaps and key-puller.

Inside we see the black case and standard size PBT dark grey keycaps. Underneath the caps there are four LED lights - one for the CapsLock, Win key (when DIP switch 1 is on), and two under the spacebar for the Pn layer. There is also a fully backlit version available with ABS caps, however I chose to buy the standard version with PBT caps.

The Poker II keycaps use the Bank Gothic typeface, which at first seemed a little larger than expected, likely due to the overall compact size. The secondary Function (Fn) layer keys can be seen on the sides of the keys.



The more observant may also see some of the letters are off-center. One of my only gripes with the quality.

The case itself has a good heft to it, and along with the four rubberized feet sits solidly on the desk. The plastic feels sturdy and doesn't flex easily, which I wasn't expecting. :thumb:





The 'Feeling' (of Cherry Reds)



As I type this the sensation is unlike anything I'm used to. The effect of Reds is as if I'm not really typing on anything, which is nice as it's smooth and linear but obviously not something I'm used to coming from rubber dome.

I'm typing a bit slower and mostly bottoming out currently, producing a series of light 'thuds', but the overall feeling is quite 'springy'. Literally it's like pressing on light springs.

Not all the keys are light however. The modifier keys in particular feel a little bit more weighty, the Backspace key probably being the most noticeable.



Having tried the red O-ring sound dampeners on some of the keys they do soften the sound of bottoming out, but at the expense of a little less smooth key movement I think. I might pick up a complete set sometime.

Worth noting is that I can rest my fingers on the keys and not have them actuate accidentally. Everyone has differing opinions on this, but I haven't found it to be an issue yet.



Adapting to the Poker II layout and case

One of the Poker II's unique features it it's two additional 'layers' accessible via two different keys - the Fn (Function) layer, and the Pn (Programmable) layer. The Function layer contains the common secondary functions, such as the arrow keys, PgUp/Down, etc. The Programmable layer is one that the user can assign custom combinations to, containing up to 14 keystrokes per key (more about this can be found in the English PDF manual).

For the past few weeks I've been using an Autohotkey script that emulates the basic Poker II Fn layout - specifically with the DIP switch 1+3 combo which adds a Fn key in place of CapsLock, making CapsLock + WASD the arrow keys. I've included the script below for those interested. In practice I feel that arrow key combo works well, as my left hand is free to use the mouse or other input devices.

Currently there is nothing I've mapped to the Pn layer, mostly as I'm not a fan of the Pn key's placement. I've been experimenting with some alternative arrow key arrays using the Pn layer, and it's very easy to set up. The LEDs beneath the spacebar give visual feedback so it's straightforward to follow. The Fn layer can also be remapped via the same steps.

Pressing Fn+Right Ctrl enables the programming mode, then to add a command to a key I press the key I'd like to remap then enter the series of keys I'd like mapped. To finish the sequence I press Pn, and to exit the programmable mode I press Fn+Right Ctrl again. It's possible to reset the key by following the same process but instead remapping the same single key back in. Now I can use the programmable layer by holding Pn down and the key(s) I've remapped, and as a bonus the layer works with any modifier keys used.




While I've adapted to the secondary function layout, it's the Cherry Red switches that will take some getting used to, as well the fact there are no more extra keys to fall back to. I imagine I'll unconsciously be reaching for some phantom keys sooner or later :D



Moving on to the case itself, it really is quite compact and the main benefit personally is the decreased space on the desk and between the mouse - although I would have liked to have seen either a wireless Bluetooth version or a USB hub included to reduce the number of long wires. But I'll be honest, the real reason I wanted a 60% was the aesthetic of a compact board (and I'm sure I'm not alone :P).

The case is also fairly high - a full key higher than I'm used to. I think personally I could benefit from a lower profile case so I don't have to raise my hands as high.





Conclusion



Initial impressions are good overall. There isn't anything I strongly dislike about the board or the Cherry Reds which is always a good sign (even with the odd mistyped words here and there), and it does look adorable with the RGB caps :)

The quality of the board is decent, and I appreciate how solid the case is, even if the off-center keycap letters are a bit distracting. It's a minor criticism, but it's the type of thing that makes it the board feel that little bit cheaper.

For the Poker-curious trying out an AHK script beforehand helped a lot with my decision, as did buying a PCB-mounted Cherry MX switch sampler. Over the coming weeks I'll update the thread if I have any new impressions, but in the meantime I'll try to 'Enjoy the feeling' as best I can ;)


Autohotkey script I used for basic emulation of Poker II Fn layer

More
Code: [Select]
SC029::               Esc
CapsLock & SC029::    SendInput {Blind}{~} ; Tilde key


; CapsLock key and Fn

CapsLock & w::        SendInput {Blind}{Up}
CapsLock & a::        SendInput {Blind}{Left}           
CapsLock & d::        SendInput {Blind}{Right}
CapsLock & s::        SendInput {Blind}{Down}

CapsLock & '::        SendInput {Blind}{PgUp}     
CapsLock & SC035::    SendInput {Blind}{PgDn}      ; slash /
CapsLock & SC027::    SendInput {Blind}{Home}      ; semicolon ;
CapsLock & .::        SendInput {Blind}{End}

CapsLock & 1::        SendInput {Blind}{F1}
CapsLock & 2::        SendInput {Blind}{F2}
CapsLock & 3::        SendInput {Blind}{F3}
CapsLock & 4::        SendInput {Blind}{F4}
CapsLock & 5::        SendInput {Blind}{F5}
CapsLock & 6::        SendInput {Blind}{F6}
CapsLock & 7::        SendInput {Blind}{F7}
CapsLock & 8::        SendInput {Blind}{F8}
CapsLock & 9::        SendInput {Blind}{F9}
CapsLock & 0::        SendInput {Blind}{F10}
CapsLock & -::        SendInput {Blind}{F11}
CapsLock & =::        SendInput {Blind}{F12}

CapsLock & BackSpace::SendInput {Blind}{Delete}
« Last Edit: Sat, 29 March 2014, 05:53:03 by Coreda »

Offline CPTBadAss

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Re: Poker II (Cherry Reds) unboxing & review - The Keyboard to Cheer You Up
« Reply #1 on: Wed, 26 February 2014, 12:41:06 »
Great review! I really liked your pictures (nice quality) and I didn't know what font the caps had on them (Bank Gothic). I love fun facts :D
Please check out TactileZine.com!

Offline ideus

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Re: Poker II (Cherry Reds) unboxing & review - The Keyboard to Cheer You Up
« Reply #2 on: Wed, 26 February 2014, 12:43:39 »
Very nice review. And nice pictures too. While I am not into 60% more (I already have a Poker X, and even after a year I can't get accustomed to no arrows) this review is of a very high quality, and fun to read.

Offline osi

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Re: Poker II (Cherry Reds) unboxing & review - The Keyboard to Cheer You Up
« Reply #3 on: Wed, 26 February 2014, 13:00:26 »
Good review -- Nice pics!!

Offline Rena

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Re: Poker II (Cherry Reds) unboxing & review - The Keyboard to Cheer You Up
« Reply #4 on: Wed, 26 February 2014, 13:18:33 »
Thank you for this informative review. The poker looks amazing, and I was considering getting it in white but the only thing holding me back are no dedicated arrow keys

It looks like a dream to use custom keycaps with too.

Offline ideus

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Re: Poker II (Cherry Reds) unboxing & review - The Keyboard to Cheer You Up
« Reply #5 on: Wed, 26 February 2014, 13:29:07 »
I have both a poker and a fc660, and as I like the poker appearance I tried hard to stick with it for a year, the lack of arrows was the deal breaker.  :-[

Offline Coreda

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Re: Poker II (Cherry Reds) unboxing & review - The Keyboard to Cheer You Up
« Reply #6 on: Wed, 26 February 2014, 20:20:27 »
Very nice review. And nice pictures too. While I am not into 60% more (I already have a Poker X, and even after a year I can't get accustomed to no arrows) this review is of a very high quality, and fun to read.

Thanks. Will be interesting to see how I continue with the Poker II's arrow key arrangement long-term. The tricky part is using a modifier like Shift + CapsLock+WASD, both as I haven't fully adapted to such combos and as accidentally pressing CapsLock (mapped to Fn) then Shift triggers the Pn layer (although there's nothing programmed as yet so it's really just the light that pops on)

Curious which keys were mapped as arrow keys in the original Poker. IIRC the bottom right array of modifier keys could be used, were there any other combos possible? Seems like an excellent board, and more mod-friendly due to the lack of plate mounting  :D

Offline ideus

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Re: Poker II (Cherry Reds) unboxing & review - The Keyboard to Cheer You Up
« Reply #7 on: Wed, 26 February 2014, 20:47:38 »
Very nice review. And nice pictures too. While I am not into 60% more (I already have a Poker X, and even after a year I can't get accustomed to no arrows) this review is of a very high quality, and fun to read.

Thanks. Will be interesting to see how I continue with the Poker II's arrow key arrangement long-term. The tricky part is using a modifier like Shift + CapsLock+WASD, both as I haven't fully adapted to such combos and as accidentally pressing CapsLock (mapped to Fn) then Shift triggers the Pn layer (although there's nothing programmed as yet so it's really just the light that pops on)

Curious which keys were mapped as arrow keys in the original Poker. IIRC the bottom right array of modifier keys could be used, were there any other combos possible? Seems like an excellent board, and more mod-friendly due to the lack of plate mounting  :D

That is precisely the problem I have with the Poker, the use of arrows with other modifiers like shift or control that it is a bit cumbersome.

Offline note

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Re: Poker II (Cherry Reds) unboxing & review - The Keyboard to Cheer You Up
« Reply #8 on: Wed, 26 February 2014, 22:33:04 »
I ordered my poker ii today at bang good also.. Just wondering, what shipping option did you took and how long did it take?

Great review! Can't wait for my poker ii!
« Last Edit: Wed, 26 February 2014, 22:45:02 by note »

Offline Coreda

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Re: Poker II (Cherry Reds) unboxing & review - The Keyboard to Cheer You Up
« Reply #9 on: Thu, 27 February 2014, 00:10:53 »
I ordered my poker ii today at bang good also.. Just wondering, what shipping option did you took and how long did it take?

Great review! Can't wait for my poker ii!

The free shipping option, and a couple weeks, although it took a while to be sent initially as I ordered during their Chinese New Year holiday.

Came fairly well-packed as you can see from the photos, and at least I've had the experience of buying from the site. They're quite cheap and seem to regularly have discount codes, so I may buy from there again if they stock something I'm interested in.

Offline note

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Re: Poker II (Cherry Reds) unboxing & review - The Keyboard to Cheer You Up
« Reply #10 on: Thu, 27 February 2014, 00:57:44 »
I ordered my poker ii today at bang good also.. Just wondering, what shipping option did you took and how long did it take?

Great review! Can't wait for my poker ii!

The free shipping option, and a couple weeks, although it took a while to be sent initially as I ordered during their Chinese New Year holiday.

Came fairly well-packed as you can see from the photos, and at least I've had the experience of buying from the site. They're quite cheap and seem to regularly have discount codes, so I may buy from there again if they stock something I'm interested in.

Sweet, I actually paid the extra $9 for a 2-4 days shipping. Hopefully, the keyboard would be delivered by next week!

Btw, do you happen to have the same username in OCN?

Offline Coreda

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Re: Poker II (Cherry Reds) unboxing & review - The Keyboard to Cheer You Up
« Reply #11 on: Thu, 27 February 2014, 01:28:39 »
Sweet, I actually paid the extra $9 for a 2-4 days shipping. Hopefully, the keyboard would be delivered by next week!

Btw, do you happen to have the same username in OCN?

Ah, are you note from OCN with the water-cooled Hadron build? Yes, I have the same handle.

Offline note

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Re: Poker II (Cherry Reds) unboxing & review - The Keyboard to Cheer You Up
« Reply #12 on: Thu, 27 February 2014, 01:59:45 »
Sweet, I actually paid the extra $9 for a 2-4 days shipping. Hopefully, the keyboard would be delivered by next week!

Btw, do you happen to have the same username in OCN?

Ah, are you note from OCN with the water-cooled Hadron build? Yes, I have the same handle.

Yeah, seems like we have the same taste even on keyboards.

I had been imagining the Poker II beside the Hadron all day today. LOL

Offline RESPRiT

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Re: Poker II (Cherry Reds) unboxing & review - The Keyboard to Cheer You Up
« Reply #13 on: Thu, 27 February 2014, 21:13:13 »
This a great review, very well presented, and the photos are great. Did you use a lightbox and/or flash or was the lighting just really nice when you took the pictures?
;)

Offline Coreda

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Re: Poker II (Cherry Reds) unboxing & review - The Keyboard to Cheer You Up
« Reply #14 on: Thu, 27 February 2014, 22:49:31 »
This a great review, very well presented, and the photos are great. Did you use a lightbox and/or flash or was the lighting just really nice when you took the pictures?

I used a large window and natural sunlight, filtered through an inexpensive circular diffuser found on eBay. The more light the better. Around the area I propped up some sheets of white paper which reflect some of the light on the opposite side. After finishing I then processed the photos in Photoshop.

Offline bumgrapes

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Re: Poker II (Cherry Reds) unboxing & review - The Keyboard to Cheer You Up
« Reply #15 on: Fri, 28 February 2014, 04:44:26 »
Nice review. I must admit the arrow keys often throw me off. I love everything else about this board though. It's compact size was the deal maker (rather than breaker) for me.

Can't wait to get my CCnG caps for her :D

Offline gh_pp

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Re: Poker II (Cherry Reds) unboxing & review - The Keyboard to Cheer You Up
« Reply #16 on: Sat, 01 March 2014, 17:07:15 »
Nice review and even better photos / presentation!
You should have you do the product marketing!

I'd love to get the poker II just wish it was plate mounted so I can mod the switch easily.
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Offline ideus

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Re: Poker II (Cherry Reds) unboxing & review - The Keyboard to Cheer You Up
« Reply #17 on: Sat, 01 March 2014, 17:09:07 »
I love my poker aesthetics, but I hate its cumbersome navigation chords.

Offline katushkin

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Re: Poker II (Cherry Reds) unboxing & review - The Keyboard to Cheer You Up
« Reply #18 on: Sun, 02 March 2014, 00:52:57 »
That spacebar is one of the only things preventing me getting a Poker. And the fact that I think I will still prefer my KC 84.

Nice review!
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Offline Coreda

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Re: Poker II (Cherry Reds) unboxing & review - The Keyboard to Cheer You Up
« Reply #19 on: Mon, 03 March 2014, 21:24:02 »
That spacebar is one of the only things preventing me getting a Poker. And the fact that I think I will still prefer my KC 84.

Nice review!

Love the avatar. It's funny, in person I haven't found the text on the spacebar noticeable, and I was considering getting a blank replacement before I even purchased the Poker.

The Keycool 84 was another I considered. Good value little package for those that want the extra keys.

Offline bumgrapes

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Re: Poker II (Cherry Reds) unboxing & review - The Keyboard to Cheer You Up
« Reply #20 on: Tue, 04 March 2014, 02:06:52 »
I've just noticed that the sticker on the rear of my Poker doesn't have KBC. It reads 'Mini Mechanical Keyboard'



Offline Coreda

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Re: Poker II (Cherry Reds) unboxing & review - The Keyboard to Cheer You Up
« Reply #21 on: Tue, 04 March 2014, 23:25:11 »
I've just noticed that the sticker on the rear of my Poker doesn't have KBC. It reads 'Mini Mechanical Keyboard'

KBC are a Chinese keyboard community that designed the board, their site likeyboard.com was printed on the sticker underneath the box my Poker came in. Presumably the abbreviation came from 'the KeyBoard to Cheer you up'.

Looks like quite a happening place with various mods and designs created by the members.
« Last Edit: Tue, 04 March 2014, 23:27:06 by Coreda »

Offline ideus

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Re: Poker II (Cherry Reds) unboxing & review - The Keyboard to Cheer You Up
« Reply #22 on: Wed, 05 March 2014, 08:08:04 »
The label in mine says KBC Poker X. And it is metallic in red.

Offline note

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Re: Poker II (Cherry Reds) unboxing & review - The Keyboard to Cheer You Up
« Reply #23 on: Mon, 10 March 2014, 03:28:33 »
Loving my poker ii with cherry mx reds. Every keystrokes needs to be precise or else you gotta be struggling to type w/o mistakes.

Fun little keyboard! Nice review!

Offline RESPRiT

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Re: Poker II (Cherry Reds) unboxing & review - The Keyboard to Cheer You Up
« Reply #24 on: Mon, 10 March 2014, 05:00:22 »
Loving my poker ii with cherry mx reds. Every keystrokes needs to be precise or else you gotta be struggling to type w/o mistakes.

Fun little keyboard! Nice review!

You sound like you would like Topre, the actuation feels very deliberate compared to Cherry for me, and it makes typing a real pleasure  :D
;)

Offline Coreda

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Re: Poker II (Cherry Reds) unboxing & review - The Keyboard to Cheer You Up
« Reply #25 on: Mon, 10 March 2014, 05:17:11 »
Loving my poker ii with cherry mx reds. Every keystrokes needs to be precise or else you gotta be struggling to type w/o mistakes.

Fun little keyboard! Nice review!

 :D Yea, the migration from RD to Cherry Reds took a few days to get settled. Now it feels more natural, but you're right about needing deliberate keystrokes.

Really appreciating the space saving more than expected. Now I can fit other things in front of me when needed, and position it in various convenient angles - something I couldn't do with my previous full-size board.

Something that occasionally trips me up is accidentally pressing Fn+Space, which toggles between WASD being arrow keys on the first layer and on the modifier layer. There's no LED light to indicate this, unfortunately, so I just notice when the text caret moves unintentionally.
« Last Edit: Mon, 10 March 2014, 05:20:15 by Coreda »

Offline Air tree

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Re: Poker II (Cherry Reds) unboxing & review - The Keyboard to Cheer You Up
« Reply #26 on: Mon, 10 March 2014, 05:48:27 »
How long did banggood take to get it to you? And did you pay extra for faster shipping or did you use their free option?

Offline Coreda

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Re: Poker II (Cherry Reds) unboxing & review - The Keyboard to Cheer You Up
« Reply #27 on: Mon, 10 March 2014, 08:40:05 »
How long did banggood take to get it to you? And did you pay extra for faster shipping or did you use their free option?

See this post above.

Offline epzy

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Re: Poker II (Cherry Reds) unboxing & review - The Keyboard to Cheer You Up
« Reply #28 on: Mon, 10 March 2014, 08:54:55 »
That spacebar is one of the only things preventing me getting a Poker. And the fact that I think I will still prefer my KC 84.

Nice review!

>Stock keycaps
>Geekhack

Besides, if you buy a Poker 2 from Amazon, you'll get a blank spacebar instead of the one with "Enjoy your feeling" printed on it.
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Offline note

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Re: Poker II (Cherry Reds) unboxing & review - The Keyboard to Cheer You Up
« Reply #29 on: Mon, 10 March 2014, 11:32:22 »
How long did banggood take to get it to you? And did you pay extra for faster shipping or did you use their free option?

I paid extra $9 for the DHL shipping and it arrived in 2-4 days. I would definitely recommend getting that shipping option.

Offline RESPRiT

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Re: Poker II (Cherry Reds) unboxing & review - The Keyboard to Cheer You Up
« Reply #30 on: Mon, 10 March 2014, 22:41:37 »
That spacebar is one of the only things preventing me getting a Poker. And the fact that I think I will still prefer my KC 84.

Nice review!

>Stock keycaps
>Geekhack

Besides, if you buy a Poker 2 from Amazon, you'll get a blank spacebar instead of the one with "Enjoy your feeling" printed on it.

But how can you ENJOY YOUR FEELING without the text?
;)