With Red Orchestra 2 already out, Battlefield 3, the full version of Minecraft and of course, Star Wars: The Old Republic, coming in time for the holiday season, it’s prime time for gamers to prep and/or upgrade their PCs for some quality gaming experiences. Over the last few weeks, we’ve been testing out some of SteelSeries’ headsets and other gaming peripherals to see if they’ll do the job and so today, we’ll start by telling you about the SteelSeries Shift gaming keyboard.
The SteelSeries Shift Keyboard is large, but in line with other gaming keyboards. With extra keys and functions along the sides and top, the extra bulk is within reason and not as heavy as it appears. The first thing users will notice when unpacking is that the right side of the board also sticks out a bit – this is because there’s tab which can be flipped open to reveal the keyboard’s most unique feature: indestructibility (not really, but close).
Lift the tab, and literally fold the keyboard up. This allows for extreme flexibility and for users to interchange different keysets, from Medal of Honor and World of Warcraft themed sets and more (For s full list of compatible keysets – click here). This is but one example of the customizability the Shift offers users.
Key features of the SteelSeries Shift:
- Build-in media and volume controls on the left side.
- 12 customizable additional numbered keys along the top. Entire keyboard can be customized as well.
- Layered keys for the ‘F’ buttons and number pad for additional customization and control.
- On-the-fly Macro recording.
- Flexible, detachable and interchangeable keyset (see gallery below).
- Durable keys, boasting lifecycle of 15 million key presses – more than standard non-mechanical keyboards.
- A pair of built-in USB 2.0 ports on the top.
- Mic and headphone inputs along top.
- Multi-layer rubber feet to adjust height of keyboard.
Like other gaming keyboards, Shift supports macros (which can be recorded on the fly!) and comes with an extra set of a dozen customizable keys along the top for your gaming needs. If you’re an RTS fan or a player of Blizzard games for instance, this keyboard, like other SteelSeries products, is engineered for you. Set yourself up some macros which support up to 255 individual key presses and you’ve just saved yourself a lot of time and increasing your in-game efficiency (also works outside of games for any of your PC uses).
The stock keyset is very durable and should satisfy most users. It has two-layer rubber legs underneath (shown above) so the keyboard can be set at 3 different height levels. Despite the look of the keyboard, these are standard keys and not mechanical. While its durability is significantly greater than that of standard keyboard, it is less than a mechanical keyboard.
To test the device, we used the Shift for writing this review along with several articles on Game Rant and to really put it through the ringer, we utilized the Shift and its customizability to play Minecraft, StarCraft 2, Red Orchestra 2 and Deus Ex: Human Revolution. We also took the Diablo III beta out for a few minute trial because we just felt it was the right thing to do.
The keys may seem a little resistant but within minutes, the keystrokes in succession will feel very natural and comfortable. The only exception will be for the Space bar which is split into two due to the keyset’s fold-up design. This can be awkward when stroking the key where it splits into and it can be a slight annoyance until the player has adjusted to the design.
We went from a mechanical keyboard to the Shift which should emphasize how the keys. We must also callout the fact that different keys actually require different amounts of pressure – this was in an effort to increase efficiency of the mouse where SteelSeries actually adjusted each individual key in relation to how often it is pressed in normal use compared to other keys. So, the WASD gaming keys for example, are therefore easier to press than others since they’re pressed the most for first person shooters.
The Shift is a great gaming keyboard that will support all of a gamer’s needs, both from a functional and endurance standpoint. Use in conjunction with the SteelSeries Xai pro gaming laser mouse and you have all the inputs you need to be at the top of your game.
Some users may not find the Shift feature necessary and our only gripe with the keyboard outside of its heavy keys and split space bar is the key placement of the Print Screen, Scroll Lock and Pause buttons being moved right above the Insert, Home and Page Up keys. Since we use ‘Home’ quite a bit while writing, we found ourselves accidentally hitting the ‘Scroll Lock’ key instead on the regular.
Extra keysets (including themed ones based on popular video games) must be bought separately. Since the keyboard is black by default, backlit keys would be a beneficial addition to future models.
SteelSeries Shift Dimensions
- Height: 40 mm (1.6 in)
- Width: 490 mm (19.3 in)
- Length: 190 mm (7.5 in) — With wrist rest 240 mm (9.5 in)
The SteelSeries Shift is compatible with Windows Vista and Windows 7. It retails for 89.99.
Follow me on Twitter @rob_keyes.