Like many gamers that trace their gaming roots to the late 80s and early 90s, I began my gaming career on the NES, SNES, and Sega Genesis consoles. As I grew up and entered high school, console gaming gave way to PC gaming, a brotherhood of gamers of which I’ve been a part, in one form or another, for the past several years. In all that time, I’ve built and upgraded my gaming rig, including a fairly significant overhaul just recently, but the two pieces of my PC that I’ve never really spent much money on upgrading are the two that are perhaps the most important: the keyboard and mouse.
While I’ve never really liked the feel of most gaming keyboards and mice, or thought that I needed all those features they tout, there’s always a first for trying these things out and seeing what the fuss is all about. As a first time experience with this type of hardware, I could not be more pleasantly surprised by the ROCCAT Isku keyboard (MSRP: $89.99) and Kone[+] mouse (MSRP: $79.99). Each has its own features that make it a worthwhile purchase, but their true strength lies in working in unison.
The ROCCAT Isku keyboard features adjustable key illumination, five gaming profiles (which save all of your key customizations), five macro buttons, 20 programmable keys, and three thumb buttons (three buttons placed at the bottom of the keyboard near where your thumb usually rests). The 20 programmable keys are centered around the commonly used WADS keys and can be set to other individual keys, key combinations, in-game timers to countdown to certain events (e.g., mob respawns), and macros. Switching back and forth between these keys’ standard configuration and their altered one is achieved through what is traditionally the Caps Lock key.
The Isku's Easy-Shift[+] key lets you change the configuration of some of the most frequently used keys in gaming
That particular key has been replaced with ROCCAT’s Easy-Shift[+] key which toggles alternate key configurations for the 20 keys mentioned above, as well as the five macro buttons and three thumb buttons. Looking at a game’s controls and figuring out which actions/features I wanted to be able to access using those 20 programmable keys took a little time to work out and some out-of-game “practicing,” but once I had everything set, using them in-game became a breeze. A quick press of the Easy-Shift[+] key and I was accessing features I usually had to either stretch over to the right-hand side of the keyboard to use, or were just far enough away that it would interrupt/distract me during combat. The thumb buttons helped as well as they could be set to different keystrokes using Easy-Shift and thus gave me an additional six keys to which I didn’t have access before.
Recording macros (in this case, a combination of keystrokes that translate to particular in-game commands/actions) is also a straightforward process. The “Macro Record Live” feature allows you to create macros in-game as you’re playing and assign them immediately to one of the five macro buttons, or they can be recorded outside of the game and assigned to any of the programmable buttons. A voice recording prompts you through the steps to take in order to record your macro, and the system is set up to automatically detect any key lag so if you’re intentionally waiting a few seconds before pressing the next key, the macro replay will do the same.