It's got the looks, but has it got the goods?
When it comes to keyboards, gamers want a unit that has all the necessary keys in a convenient location — as well as something that looks good. While the Exprex Cheetah 9051H does well with the latter, it falls down when it comes to fundamental game control.
- Attractive design, interesting light show, good expandability options
- Keys inconveniently placed for gaming
The Emprex Cheetah 9051H may have style, bling and expandability, but this gaming keyboard fails to provide a better gaming experience.
Price$ 129.00 (AUD)
Aesthetically, the Emprex has plenty to offer the modern gamer. A rotating trio of colours (orange, red, blue) shine through both the keys and the Cheetah symbol on the lower section of the keyboard.
Lightshow aside, the Cheetah is a streamlined and mean looking device that won't be out of place at any serious LAN party or gaming cafe. Two rubberised palm-rests provide an easy grip for the player's hands and four rubber feet hold the unit on a table strongly. All of this is coloured a stylish piano black.
Two built-in USB 2.0 ports provide great expandability options, as do the microphone and headphone ports. The unit needs to plug into all these ports on the computer itself, and does this via a rather thick cable set; the net gain is one USB 2.0 port and a lot more flexibility.
The most eye-catching feature is the rotatable keypad on the left-hand side of the unit. Seventeen of the most common gaming keys have been placed in a good position for gamers to gain maximum flexibility in an effort to outplay the opposition.
But, as most gamers will tell you, situational awareness and sneaking around are two of the most important aspects of taking out your opponents. Sneaking is traditionally used with the Shift key and crouching with the Ctrl key, so the designers have dutifully included both on the left-hand panel.
Unfortunately, the Shift key is placed in an abnormally high position, so that those using it will constantly hit the Q key. All 17 keys on the left-hand panel are important to gamers, so remapping a button to a more convenient location will merely put the replaced key in the inconvenient location. The symmetrical circular design means that rotating the panel doesn't change the layout.
The lack of a Tab key on the panel also means that players will need to reach across to the main keyboard to use the function, which slows down game play and potentially makes the gamer an easier target.
Although these factors are a little less important with non-shooter games, almost every genre that would benefit from a streamlined keypad will need the aforementioned buttons within a hand's reach to properly compete.
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