The keyboard debate on the PC side is honestly just brewing, while some have made their camp with Cherry Red, Blue, Black, Brown, Clear, Green and so on, there are new entities also jumping into the field.
Today I review none of those competitors or even similar Cherry keyboards side by side. I’ve been a gamer on the PC for decades now and this is my first venture into this area as my main gaming keyboards were the Auravision Eluminix and the Everglide DKT which held on for many years and took shifts with standard OEM boards to avoid burning them to bits.
So what do I think? First impressions tend to shine when the product is good, the Ducky maintains that with a delivery that’s solid from start to finish. My only concern was a minor one, the manual for the LED system comes on the included Ducky cutout card, once you flip through that, everything makes sense and it’s off to clicky heaven.
When I went into picking out what mechanical system I would end up with it was a bit of a process, watching all the feedback on gaming and daily use I ended up going for the blue switch. I like the clicking sound and honestly it doesn’t bother me as my desktop audio system is solid and my headphones are fine. Each press is dead on, there’s no catching, no squish or other bad issues that come with a membrane. My old keyboard going into this had a problem with keys starting to catch on the sockets and I’m glad I’ll never revisit it.
After the honeymoon:
So far I’ve used this over a week straight, it’s been a nonstop barrage of emails, contacts, writing code and gaming and I have to say, it’s really so much more enjoyable. The slight frustrations with a key getting stuck, extra characters coming out or not registering is a thing of the past. In gaming I can get the response I need on demand without having to guess if it’s going to properly register or not. When the party is over I can switch off the game and resume my work like nothing happened.
So it’s well and good that Ducky has produced something that works for everyday action and gaming. Some say the keys are tough to press and honestly I’m not even sure what that means, everything goes down easily and I use this thing about 8-10 hours a day with no issues.
That’s not to say it’s perfect, the blue switch does mean more noise and it brings about the issue of ambient recording. If you’re a streamer even casually or active on TS3 or Vent then you might actually annoy your neighbors / chat guests a bit, the blue switches are loud and in my case I do my best to point the mic in and attach extra foam to dampen the incoming sound but honestly it’s enough to probably irritate others easily. The Zero comes in other configurations though which means even if you want red keys or black keys or brown keys you’re not screwed but you will have to dig around.
I’m a computer mod whore, I don’t even hide that, my case is a Phantom, I use Eyefinity, I have LED case lighting and now my keyboard glows too. It’s a magical thing and honestly I don’t think I would have it any other way. Ducky provides 7 stages of lighting with the option to pulse / breathe for the 8th option, when you’re going to be inactive the keyboard also supports lights out where you can shut the LED’s off or use the LED light saving mode.
In the day I admit I use the LED’s on a lower setting just because they’re available and why not. In the evening I like to push forward with the full stage 7 brightness to carry things on. It’s a good look and if you use the lock keys, it’s the only way to have even brightness on your keyboard as these are apparently not adjustable at all and always run at full brightness.
Eventually with a long enough span of time, any keyboard becomes a problem or has issues, this is because they’re actively used and abused each day, I felt like a week of daily use was enough time to gauge performance on the keyboard and really get a feel for it. I can say safely that I will probably never go back to a membrane keyboard again, any company is free to try to show me how they can be competitive but there’s a design difference at the core level that divides these two classes for me. Maybe it can be overcome, maybe not, the laptop format keys felt like a last hurrah to try to bridge the cap in distance and try to create a new feel.
The Zero Shine is available online and in stores for about $100 with LED lighting and it also comes in orange lighting if you can track it down. There is a light model that strips lighting out entirely and costs about $20 cheaper if you want just the action and none of the theatrics to go with it. Personally once you get this high, it feels safe enough to just invest the extra if you’re that close.