RedShark Review: For nearly fifteen years now, Danish-based Logickeyboard has been busy producing custom colour keyboards that interface industry standard video, audio and graphic packages, and the new Astra LED backlit series continues in that fine tradition. By Iain Churchill-Coleman.
I’ve used them frequently and happily over that time with just about every software application they directly support.
One thing that is always limiting about general purpose computer keyboards is that the multimedia production suite, whatever the application, is often a dimly area so that operators can focus with clarity on the important job at hand — producing great content. Backlit, general purpose computer keyboards, have been around for quite a while now, but wouldn’t it be nice to have your coloured edit keyboard light up? Step-up the new Astra LED backlit series from Logickeyboard - just the ticket!
Too often at home, when the sun sets and my own office-come-edit suite slips into darkness, I’ve found myself relying on the monitor light to illuminate the keyboard surface. Rather than stop work, walk four metres (!) to the light-switch and break the creative flow I just carry on squinting (ever closer) at the keyboard and hope the right keys get hit! A double-edged sword: risking incorrect and untimely key-presses that jeopardise the benefit of actually carrying on working! I do have a goose-neck USB light that solves the issue, but it’s really not that pleasant working in low-light spaces with that in front of your field of view.
Our review Astra unit was mapped for Grass Valley's Edius NLE, but units are available for all the popular production software offerings from Avid, Adobe, Apple, Autodesk, Sony & Quantel.
Looking the part
Connected, operational and looking great straight out the box, we hit the edit suite lights and got to work. No need to mess around popping out (flimsy) back legs to angle the unit towards the operator, the Astra is already ergonomically angled forwards avoiding hand/wrist strain - editors work long sessions and poise is a very important consideration. Stylish aluminium end panels finish off the look in-situ nicely.
For user configuration there’s five levels of brightness settings available (100/80/60/40/20) , so balancing the units surface intensity to contrast comfortably against our dimmed ambient lighting was a couple of button presses on the dedicated key. In backlit operation, the light smooths down to a lower level after three minutes of down time. The keys in both lit and unlit environments have punchy colouring and crisp, clearly laid out keycap symbols.
How does it feel?
We worked a two hour edit session with our test unit, it was a joy to use. The key-press mechanics from the scissor switch had a welcome short travel and operation was quiet and responsive.
A keyboard is just a keyboard, right?
Wrong. An on-board dual-port USB hub is conveniently provided so you can limit the cables to the computer when connecting additional USB devices right on the desktop.
What more can be said? If you work in a darkened environment to get the best results out of your production sessions you can’t go too far wrong than placing the Astra at the sharp end of the operator's physical interface. There’s a free carry bag for the first 1000 shipping units so you can protect your device suitably when travelling between sites.
Further details: www.logickeyboard.com
*If you miss out on the carry-bag offer (or need one anyway) these are priced at £16.90