Azio Hue 2 Wireless Keyboard and Mouse review: Quiet and roomy, but a tad too sticky

Stymied by a stubborn space bar.

Credit: Melissa Riofrio/IDG

While it boasts a roomy design, smooth, quiet keystrokes, and a reasonably inexpensive price, the Azio Hue 2 tripped me up with its finicky keys, particularly the all-important space bar. That's a shame, because the Hue 2 comes bundled with a surprisingly well-built mouse, while its blue and pink variants add a splash of colorful style.

Basic features

  • Windows only
  • 2.4GHz RF wireless connectivity
  • 2 AA batteries required for keyboard with a month of battery life, 2 AAA batteries for the mouse with 1.5 months of battery life (according to the manufacturer)

Design

We reviewed the $35 (or as little as $20 on Amazon) "deep black" flavor of the Hue 2, which looks (at first glance, anyway) pretty much like your garden-variety wireless PC keyboard. Considerably more striking are the "bright blue" and "hot pink" colors, which boast white keys and a white accent on the mouse.

azio hue keyboard mouse 2 Melissa Riofrio/IDG

The "deep black" version of the Azio Hue 2 looks fairly pedestrian, but the "bright blue" and "hot pink" varieties add a vivid dash of style.

While the overall design of the Hue 2 is fairly pedestrian (aside from the colors, of course), there's a surprise lurking beneath the keyboard: a glossy underside, which comes with a protective peel-off sheet for shipping.

So, why a shiny surface where no one can see it? According to an Azio rep, the original plan was for the entire keyboard to be glossy, but the designers changed their minds when the saw how easily the shiny surface could scratch. After about a week of testing, I didn't notice any scratches beneath the keyboard, but the glossy design did manage to attract plenty of dust, fingerprints and rogue strands of hair. Ditching the all-shiny look was probably a wise decision.

The chiclet-style keycaps on the Hue 2 are square and flat. Most of the typical Windows hotkeys are present and accounted for, including hotkeys for media playback, volume, home, mail, and so on. That said, there are no programmable keys, although you can always change the default program for the Mail hotkey in the standard Windows "Default apps" settings screen.

Besides the hotkeys, the Hue 2 boasts a full, roomy numeric keypad, with directional keys and navigational hotkeys separating the main keyboard from the numeric keys.

Connectivity

Connecting the Hue 2 keyboard and mouse combo to your Windows PC is a simple matter of plugging the included 2.4GHz RF dongle into your system's USB port. Officially, the Hue 2 only supports Windows, but I connected it to my iMac with no issues—well, besides the fact that the WIndows program hotkeys were useless.

Typing feel

Armed with membrane-style switches (typical for budget keyboards), the Hue 2 makes for one of the quieter keyboards I've tested. Bumpy rather than clicky, the Hue 2's keys boast plenty of travel, with a firm bump near the midpoint of each keystroke. Needless to say, fans of clicky keyboard feedback will be less than thrilled with the Hue 2's typing feel.

azio hue keyboard mouse 3 Melissa Riofrio/IDG

We love the roomy design of the Hue 2's main keyboard and numeric keypad. The sticky space bar? Not so much.

Even those who do prefer bumpiness from their keyboards might be annoyed by the stickiness of some of the keys, particularly the space bar. I tend to strike the space bar with the side of my thumb, and all too often, hitting the Hue 2's space bar even a tad off center made it stick.

As a test, I tried striking the space bar over and over with my pointer finger, and it stuck every fourth or fifth time. Some of the other keys on the Hue 2 also felt a tad sticky (I'm looking at you, M), but the space bar was the most consistently annoying. That's a big problem in my book.

Back on the plus side, the Hue 2's square keys and roomy keyboard made it easy for my fingertips to find their way, while the generous well between the numeric keypad and the navigational keys kept me from striking Print Screen rather than Backspace.

Mouse

I was actually quite pleased with the Hue 2's included mouse, which boasts an ambidextrous design, a pleasingly bumpy mouse wheel, a reassuring weight (about 3.7 ounces, according to my scale), and solidly clicky feedback on the mouse buttons.

azio hue keyboard mouse detail Melissa Riofrio/IDG

The surprisingly well-built mouse that comes with the Hue 2 boasts a satisfying weight and pleasingly clicky mouse buttons.

I also enjoyed how the mouse glided smoothly and effortlessly across my trackpad. All in all, pretty nice for a mouse that comes in a $35 keyboard bundle.

Conclusion

There's a lot to like about the Azio Hue 2, including its stylish colors (depending on the model), quiet keystrokes and solid mouse. Unfortunately, a smattering of sticky keys—particularly the space bar—makes the Hue 2 difficult to recommend.

 

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Ben Patterson

PC World (US online)
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