Saitek Smart Technology (SST) is a clean and intuitive program that allows you
to record various keystrokes to each of the nine buttons in three different
states (un-shifted, mode A and mode B). This provides you with 27 potential
custom commands. Very elaborate macros can even be recorded with so much control
that you can even specify how much time should elapse between key presses.
I'll not dig into the details of SST in this review as
it's been well covered in many other reviews (see Google). Suffice it to say,
SST works well, is highly customizable and is very well documented
via HTML help files on the CD. I did have a few minor gripes in that some
keystrokes that I recorded such as Windows Key + E, CTRL+ESC, and
CTRL+ALT+DELETE either didn't work at all when assigned to a key on the
Command Pad or had a noticeable delay before their resulting action took place.
While gaming, however, I had no gripes at all as the Command Pad always worked
SST System Tray menu
A really nice touch is that the SST software provides
you with the ability to print out your configurations. So, if your system ever
gets hosed you can at least have printed out backups of all your game configs.
Game Config Printout
It should go without saying that keyboard preference is a very subjective topic
and no single keyboard will ever be a "one-size-fits-all". Now that we're clear
on that I'll just let you know what my personal impressions were about this
The RJ-45 connection between the
Command Pad and the keyboard seemed like a curious choice. Some may wonder why a
USB connection wasn't used and while I don't have an answer I would venture to
bet that it's because the Command Pad will not function as a stand-alone unit.
Another curiosity is that the shift mode buttons on
the Command Pad are not illuminated. This wasn't a big deal to me as I never
used more than nine commands per game anyway.
Command Pad's RJ-45 Connector
In short, it's one of the best keyboards that I've
ever used. Until I began using the Saitek PC Gaming Keyboard my favorite was the
Logitech Cordless Elite keyboard (famous in the MX Duo package with the MX700
mouse). The Saitek keyboard has every bit the quality feel as the Logitech
keyboard, if not more so. I particularly liked the feel of the key press action
on the Saitek. It is a bit softer than the Logitech but not "squishy"
at all. There is
still very good response but with practically no noise. The Saitek PC Gaming
Keyboard is one of the quietest keyboards I've used. The layout of the keys is
also very standard so you don't have to adjust to any funky key placement.
The build quality of this keyboard was impressive. Despite how much the
housing looks like brushed steel it is, in fact, plastic. I'm no materials
expert but it has a very sturdy and durable feel to it. I'd compare it to the
newer highly durable plastics being used on many of the current digital cameras.
are four hex bolts (one on each corner) as well as many other retaining screws
on the bottom that keep everything firmly in place. The hex bolts also add a
neat industrial appearance to the keyboard itself. For those that don't know
you can remove these with an
(more on that in just a bit).
Hex Bolts On Corners
The blue LED lighting is obviously one of the calling cards for
this keyboard and I naturally liked it. Saitek went a few steps further though
by allowing you three lighting modes. There is a single toggle button that
switches between an off mode as well as dim and bright
modes. The difference between dim and bright isn't great but it is
noticeable and the option is nice to have.
Volume And Brightness Toggle Buttons
The blue LED effect is well done. The lighting is very uniform and
looks really cool. While it won't light up the characters on the keys (they keys
are opaque), there is plenty of definition for all but the most blatant
hunt-and-peckers out there to keep your bearings in a dark room. :)