Introduction & Specification
Now then you guys, I am back again with a keyboard review, a keyboard review with a difference, this one is not only mechanical but wireless.
Drevo is a company I am not particularly familiar with, they started out in 2004 with an ebay store. The Drevo brand itself was brought in along with an online store Arm Your Desk. Drevo produces Keyboards and SSD’s so far.
The first product to reach me from Drevo is the Calibur, quite an interesting keyboard in that it includes Bluetooth connectivity alongside a normal cabled mode while this isn’t rare for keyboards in general a mechanical with this feature I have yet to use.
Interestingly the spec sheet doesn’t mention that the keyboard is also available with Red switches and, as with our sample, Brown switches.
A Closer Look
The top of the Drevo Calibur box doesn’t have much to show except a company logo and product name, while pretty fancy looking there are no details on top to explain what the contents are, quite the minimalist look.
The bottom of the box does however offer up a wealth of information, firstly an explanation to the Calibur naming, linking the keyboard to the famous sword Excalibur, along with some marketing flair. Then on the right hand side we get a good run down of the specifications on offer.
Emptying the box contents out onto the table, we have a good selection of things, the keyboard itself of course, a usb to micro usb cable as well as a manual. Onto some nice little extras a nice wire keypuller is included and something that nearly always has to be bought separately a keyboard cover, we also get a sticker, a warranty card and two offer cards one for a free hat and the other for a 15% discount from their online store. The store seems to be US based so you may want to check worldwide shipping and customs charges if purchasing from there.
Looking at the keyboard, it is quite small while still offering full size keys. The 72 key design brings the F keys into the number keys which means using them is in conjunction with the FN key, other than that its just like a minimalist tenkeyless mechanical keyboard in appearance. The Drevo Calibur has a decent weight to it despite its small size.
The plate immediately under the keycaps is metal but the edges are cradled in the plastic base. The keys themselves are in a UK layout, other country layouts are available, which is a rare sight for anything except standard full size keyboards as we are mainly stuck with ISO layouts when downsizing.
Flipping the keyboard over, there are no less than six rubber feet to hold it in place, along with two rubber tipped legs for adjusting the angle, there is an on off switch up at the back and a label showing the serial number, name etc.
Nipping in a little bit closer you can see the on off switch is a pretty standard toggle switch, well recessed into the keyboard, so much so you may need a pen or something similar to activate it. The keypuller would of course work here using the plastic end.
Here we see a closer look at the Drevo brown swtich which is a Cherry clone; it is pretty light on key pressure and features the expected bump for tactile feedback when actuating. The housing is clear however the LED sits in the top portion. Pressing the switch gives a little bit of a ringing echo from the spring, which does sound a little weaker than what you would get with premium switches, this more affects the sound of using the keyboard than the actual typing experience.
Plugging in the keyboard reveals some good backlighting, as expected on many minimalist keyboards where the keys are not inset into the casing you do get quite a bit of light bleed, I personally think this looks good and you do have to go upmarket to avoid this effect.
The default lighting layout is quite attractive and well thought out, different zones on the keyboard have different colours, this can of course be changed with the lighting options available such as reactive, wave or breathing, which you do see on many keyboards at this price point. The Drevo Calibur doesn’t feature full RGB capability, but the 7 colours plus off are a good combination.
With the Calibur plugged in we can see the Drevo brown switch lit up, as mentioned the LED is in the top upper area of the switch however the clear housing does add some refraction to assist in further illumination.
Performance & Testing
The Drevo Calibur is certainly an interesting beast. A mechanical switched keyboard with added Bluetooth connectivity is not at the moment something you see every day. It will be interesting to see how this keyboard keeps up during use.
Plugged in the Drevo Calibur behaves just like any other mechanical keyboard in this price range, the keycaps are fairly smooth and while I prefer a textured cap, these PBT offerings are well made and pleasant to type on. The brown switches do have a tactile bump at the actuation point however with the weaker feeling springs they bottom out which can increase noise unless you lighten your typing, this is often experienced on non Cherry switches and is reflected in the price. Using this on my main rig for a week I only found myself occasionally wanting my row of F keys and print screen, these have to be performed in conjunction with the FN key to get the desired operation, this will of course happen with any keyboard with a footprint smaller than tenkeyless.
Using the keyboard with various devices including my Android phone, a windows 2 in 1 tablet and a domain connected laptop, I found initiating a pairing fairly straight forward, one or two devices proved to be a little picky connecting and the domain connected laptop with it’s limited admin privileges struggled passing the keyboard for use. Bluetooth performance is generally great and I found the keyboard kept up fairly well with typing, occasional lag was experienced but it wasn’t a serious issue. One little concern would be battery longevity, while the 20 hour Bluetooth use and less than 2 hour charge are welcome, not having a battery bay to change this or an official replacement being apparent, the lifespan of the Bluetooth functionality could be limited.
Playing my usual games which at the moment consist mainly of Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds and Counter Strike Global Offensive, I found the Drevo Calibur to be very good indeed, having the extra functionality on board did not seem to affect performance under a wired environment and I played games without any issues, save for Battlefield 4 where I have some F keys configured, that became a little tricky, which makes me think I would like something like this in a tenkeyless format as with my daily driver keyboard. The brown switches performed admirably and the NKRO functionality ensured error free gaming. The rubber pads under the keyboard kept it firmly in place which on my glass desk is a very welcome capability.
Using a Bluetooth dongle I added this functionality to my gaming rig, unfortunately there was too much lag for fast paced games and I quickly went back to gaming with a cable. I am absolutely fine with this, in order to get decent performance from a wireless keyboard I would have had to invest a premium keyboard of which there a few that include a wireless option.
Drevo have created quite an interesting solution with the Calibur, a very portable gaming keyboard with wireless Bluetooth connectivity as an option while keeping it within reach of mainstream users, this is looking good.
As with many third party switched keyboards competing at this level, the Drevo Calibur performs admirably, there are no concerns with missed switch actuation and aside from an occasional lag from the Bluetooth connection it really is a multi-device keyboard, quite fun typing messages on your mobile with a proper keyboard. When wired up the Calibur is as fast as any other keyboard in this bracket.
Being a 72 key keyboard it’s not really what I would use for day to day, however as a portable multi-device keyboard it is excellent, the little bit of space saving will no doubt tick many boxes for people who want to travel light yet still be able to rattle off reams of text without some mushy membrane keyboard slowing them down. The minimalist frame is spot on, the keycaps are well made and the switches perform well, with the exception of what feels like a weaker spring. The LED’s on offer may only offer a 7 colour palette, but the lighting options are both fun and functional. I do like the zoned colouring. Using a micro usb connection is genius as it enables you to use the very common mobile charging cables to recharge the keyboard and if the cable carries data, also wiring the keyboard in to a pc or laptop. Available with different language layouts this is a very attractive keyboard.
Coming in at around the £60 mark at the time of writing, the Drevo Calibur is quite a bargain considering the features included. Most of the competition at this price point lacks RGB, some have better switches but nothing I could easily find offered wired and wireless functionality alongside mechanical switches, so we have something fairly unique. Including a keycap puller and a dust cover only adds to the great value on offer.
Wireless and mechanical is something new to me, I am aware that some solutions are available but they tend to be at the highend premium pricing range. The Drevo Calibur has been a pleasant surprise, it is well built with a smart design, excellent performance and very portable. I could see this being a great LAN party keyboard, a tenkeyless version being only an extra row of keys or so taller would have been just about perfect. The switches are not the best available with the weaker springs but I can’t take away from how well Drevo have done with this product. I wonder if I can get away with a triple award? Here you go Drevo take a Gold Award, take a Design Award and take a Value Award, well done guys.
The Drevo Calibur is available with switch options and even a white casing from here.
- Excellent performance
- Wired and Bluetooth functionality
- Great value
- Switch springs are a little weak
- Bluetooth connectivity occasionally fussy