Review: AZiO Levetron Mech4 Keyboard

Update 6/4/2013

A lot of people have had issues with this keyboard.  Mine is typing duplicate letters randomly.  I can not longer recommend that anyone purchases this keyboard.  The form factor is great. The execution, not so great.

Original Review

Keyboards have been boring.  Did you know that there are mice out there that you can put weights in so it weighs the exact amount you want it to weigh? I have such a mouse.  It frequently turns to my keyboard and has a good chuckle.  Thanks to the AZiO Levetron Mech4, that chuckle has been silenced.

The number pad is one of the least used things on everyone’s desktop.  Why does it exist?  Why is it not optional?  Why does everyone have to tilt slightly to the left all day so they can type?  Typically, the mouse is on the right side of the keyboard.  All the more reason to get rid of 4 inches of unused number pad. The mech4 makes the number pad optional.  What a great idea! It seems so profound when you buy a keyboard that actually has had this done.  This was the #1 thing that I was looking for in a keyboard.

The #2 thing I was looking for was anti-masking.  Most people would not care about anti-masking enough to even know what it is.  Let me explain it simply.  Hold down the ‘J’, ‘K’, ‘L’, and ‘;’ keys with your right hand, then hit any other key with your left hand.  Did the key you hit with your left hand actually type?  If not, you are experiencing masking.  This doesn’t usually matter.  Who hits 5 keys at the same time anyway?  The people who care are typically gamers.  I want to move to the upper left (2 keys), while walking (1 key), and casting a spell (1 key), and taunting the guy I am casting the spell on (1 key).   This was also an issue when I rewired an old keyboard to make two player arcade controls.  All of the sudden, one player couldn’t move.  It was because their movements were getting masked.  It seems like a feature that should just be there in a premium keyboard, but like the number pad, often overlooked.

With a keyboard that is going to cost over $100, you expect quality.  The #3 thing that I was expecting was quality.  With the Mech4, I knew going in that it was a mechanical keyboard with Cherry black keys.  That means that the keystokes were going to take a consistent amount of pressure to register.  There are a lot of keyboards out there that have keys that are not consistent with the pressure you need to press a key.  Test out your keyboard (I apologize if I have now made typing annoying for you :)).  Cherry black keys are also somewhat loud.  You need to know that going in.  It doesn’t bother me, and my cat is currently lying with her left-rear foot about 1/2 inch from the keyboard, so it’s not too much of an issue for us.  A co-worker may not be so happy about the noise though.

Those were the three major criteria for me.  There are a few keyboards that meet this.  And, as you already know, I purchased the AZiO Levetron Mech4.  It not only meets my three criteria, but it adds a few interesting changes from your normal keyboard.  There are programmable buttons on the left of the keyboard, a button to turn on and off the ‘windows’ key, a volume knob, and a neat little contraption that sits on the top of the keyboard and provides six additional programmable buttons.  The keyboard is a rock, the skid pads are huge so it doesn’t move around on my desk, and it has a built-in palm rest.

On the negative side, there are a few things they could improve.  The keyboard takes two USB connections and does not have any option for using a PS/2 connection.  The sides of the keyboard, where the number pad would plug in if I used it, take up about 2 inches of space on the sides of the keyboard that I consider wasted.  Back-lighting on the keys was not a show-stopper to me, but may be for some other users.  Unlike some people, I usually have the lights on when I am working or playing.

Finally, someone is paying attention to keyboards!  AZiO has made a product that should make other vendors take notice.  Perhaps, more innovation will come in the near future and we all can benefit from the creative thinking that has made its way into products like the AZiO Levetron Mech4 Keyboard.

There are other reviews on this product on-line.  Please check those out as well before making a decision with your money.  As you can tell my this review, I am quite pleased with the purchase.

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