We’ll start off by taking a look at the packaging of the K10.
It shows that a lot of effort has gone into the design of the packaging for this keyboard, which is a nice touch for an entry level keyboard and gives it an air of quality beyond its price before you even open it. Starting at the top left we see the i-Rocks logo, moving onto the centre we see the Rock Series branding as well as our model name.
Below this is a motto of sorts, ‘Surpassing the quality of all membrane keyboards’ a most noble goal if ever there was one. Moving over to the right we see some talk of the keyboard’s features, including 30 key rollover, the 1000 Hz polling rate and some initial clues as to what makes this keyboard special at the price point.
Onto the back and we are presented with a lot of information about the keyboard. Starting at the top left again we see plenty of talk about the unique hybrid key caps, some more information on the features and the same set of specifications as are featured in the introduction of this review. Onto the right and we have some information about the design of the keyboard, with the diagram talking about the key caps, the cable routing options and some more talk of the n-key rollover feature in addition to the ability to disable the Windows key.
Moving on lets get a look at the keyboard itself.
First impressions of the K10 are very good, free of stickers and contrasting writing this is sure to appeal to those who want a clean looking keyboard. This really is a good achievement as entry level gaming keyboards often end up looking gaudy or cheap, whereas the all matte black plastic of the K10 feels and looks more premium than the price tag would suggest. The premium looks are matched by build quality too, I wouldn’t bat an eyelid if you told me it cost twice as much as it does.
Whilst the lettering would perhaps look more at home on a medieval tapestry than a gaming keyboard, it is perfectly easy to read and I very quickly became indifferent to it. The only other minor complaint as far as aesthetics go is that the space bar is a slightly different shade of black to the rest of the keys, but you can hardly tell unless you specifically look for the difference.
The only major styling cue of the keyboard is this red strip that is present all the way around the middle of the keyboard. With the ever popular red and black theme implemented tastefully I should imagine this keyboard will appeal to many in the looks department.
The back is a standard affair, with four rubber feet and two height adjusters. The standout feature here is the cable routing slot, allowing you to chose which side of keyboard the cable exits. To find this feature on a keyboard of this price really begs the question why we sometimes miss it on keyboards twice the price, thumbs up to i-Rocks for that.
Finally we have the USB connector, which is fairly standard with the exception of the gold plated contacts. Again, it is great to see this on an entry level keyboard and it will be welcome to anyone who frequently swaps between machines.
So the keyboard ticks virtually all the boxes when it comes to looks, but how does it perform?
The two types of keys as we know them, membrane and mechanical, have traditionally been employed separately of each other. Membrane keyboards are cheap and useful for general domestic purposes, where there is not a significant amount of use. However for extended periods of typing, or gaming, the ‘mushy’ feel of a membrane keyboard and the effort it takes to depress the rubber domes make for a less than ideal usage experience.
Mechanical keyboards are of course better in every way to membrane keyboards, with the glaring exception that they cost significantly more. So, whilst unquestionably superior, some simply cant justify spending upwards of £60 on a keyboard.
Well, according to i-Rocks there may be a third way. The K10 we are taking a look at today employs a hybrid key, with a mechanical like key cap with a tactile sleeve which actuates into a rubber dome type switch. See the picture below for a diagram of this.
Much to my surprise, the K10 does possess some of the tactile feel of a mechanical keyboard. Whilst they cannot escape the membrane beneath them, the POM key caps do an admirable job of introducing feedback into the keystroke of the K10, and make it noticeably nicer to type on than a normal membrane keyboard.
When gaming the tactile feedback is very reasonable for an entry level keyboard, and the tactile ‘notch’ in the keystroke will be massively appreciated by those who enjoy rhythmic games such as Starcraft, where some feedback from the key when it is depressed will allow the player to increase their repetitions due to knowing exactly how much force it takes to activate a key.
I am thoroughly impressed with the K10, the experience of using it is by far and a way superior to a normal membrane keyboard. When you consider the price of the keyboard, the performance is simply superb.
Now, lets see what the mouse has to offer…