Author Topic: iKBC CD108BT: Full-size Bluetooth  (Read 2356 times)

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Offline gamebynight

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iKBC CD108BT: Full-size Bluetooth
« on: Tue, 11 September 2018, 14:00:51 »
Hello again! Today Iím taking a look at iKBC's new keyboard, the CD108BT. Itís a pretty nice set of keys that comes in a variety of Cherry MX switches (red, blue, brown, and clear). Itís priced at $129.99 in the Amazon store right now and offers four different Bluetooth profiles that you can swap between on the fly, as well as traditional USB connectivity. As you would expect, it has standard NKRO over USB and 6-key over Bluetooth.

Letís take a closer look!

Specs:

MSRP: $129.99
Layout: 108-key US ANSI (QWERTY, COLEMAK, DVORAK supported)
Interface: USB or Bluetooth
Key Switches: Cherry MX Red, Blue, Clear, Brown (tested)
Switch Life: 50M Actuations
Material: ABS plastic case
Key Caps: Textured PBT (Cherry OEM Profile)
Cable: Rubberized, 6ft
Batteries: x2 AAA (included)
Battery Life: 3-4 months
Media Keys: Yes
Software: No
Macro Support: No
Illumination: None (but supported)
Anti-Ghosting: Six-Key rollover Bluetooth, NKRO for USB
Dimensions: 136mm (L) x 438mm (W) x 41mm (H) mm
Weight: 2.75 lbs
Warranty: One year

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The packaging here is simple but does a good job of protecting the keyboard inside. Opening it up, you have the keyboard in an adhesive sealed dust-sleeve and a plastic tray over the key set. The accessories are packaged in the tray at the head of the box.

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IKBC includes ten replacement PBT keycaps (without legends), a nice wire keycap puller, and a non-braided USB cord. Exclusive the keys being out of profile order. I was in a rush snapping pictures while my kids were getting ready for bed.

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I chose not to fit the blue caps on mine, but I really like how they accent the keyboard. Iíve seen people fit the blue caps over the WASD keys if theyíre gamers. I like my key legends, though, so arrows and escape it is.

The keyboard features a solid construction with a substantial weight to it. The case is ABS plastic and features a heavy steel plate underneath. Thereís only the barest bit of flex if I torque it but in normal use, none at all.

The density of construction also makes typing on the Cherry MX Browns in my sample feel very nice. After reviewing ďgamingĒ keyboards for so long, you get used to the thin, almost hollow clack behind them as manufacturers leave open space behind the PCB and use thin ABS caps.

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As you can tell from this picture, we have nice, thick-walled PBT caps of about 1.4mm. They feel great to type on, have a slight texture on their surface, and are single-shot with laser engraved legends. This is the first and most meaningful way iKBC is keeping the costs down on this board. I was disappointed to see that we didnít have double-shots or dye-sub legends but at $129.99 for a full-size, Bluetooth-enabled mechanical keyboard, something had to give.

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As I mentioned, the keyboard can function wired or wirelessly. As a result, there is no built-in backlighting, though the PCB itself supports it if you would like to add your own. I shudder to think what that would do to your battery life, however, so Iíd advise only using those if youíre plugged in over USB. The only lights youíll find are the indicator lights which are right below your media controls and calculator button. These lights also indicate Bluetooth pairing status and whether or not your batteries are running low.

On these fronts, the keyboard is easy enough to use but not intuitive enough to pair the first time without a manual. Youíll need to hold a key combination for about 5 seconds to enter pairing mode, connect it via your phone (which cannot be connected to anything else at the time), enter in the pairing code, and youíre good to go.

When it comes to batteries, the CD108BT uses a pair of AAAs. IKBC says to plan on 3-4 months of battery life. Iíve used it for several weeks off and on batteries. The low battery warning hasnít come on, so thatís good. Do note, though, that youíre response rate will be much lower in Bluetooth mode (understandably), so if youíre using it for gaming, I would stick to slower paced games like MMORPGs. In a future revision, I would also like to see IKBC adopt Bluetooth 4.0 instead of the 3.0 included here to take advantage of the low energy mode.

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Finally, we have a few pictures to give you a good idea of the Cherry OEM profile and overall design/footprint.

Notice the DIP switches on the back. This allows you to do a few key swaps like CAPS and CTRL or ALT and CTRL. Youíll also be able to enable DVORAK and COLEMAK layouts. This is important since there is no software or other programmability on the keyboard.

Conclusion

Iíve really enjoyed the CD108BT. It swaps between devices seamlessly and thereís no delay I can pick up on when typing on my phone or tablet. The overwhelming impression Iím left with is that the CD108BT knows what it wants to be. Itís not loading in tons of programmability. This is a simple keyboard for enthusiasts who want a simple set of keys that can also be used wirelessly without breaking the bank. I still would have loved to have seem some double-shot or dye sub key caps but, by and large, it feels great to use and delivers on what itís trying to do.
Hardware Editor - MMORPG.com