Since I have only little knowledge on the China’s mechanical keyboard community, as much as I know is VorTex is/are the guy(s) who designed and manufactured this keyboard. KBC is a community rather than being a brand, they helps to distribute the end product. Originates from a China forum which a group of talented people teamed up to design and produce the Poker.
Hence the X that means crossover between VorTex and KBC.
So, after getting full sized keyboard for home use, I got this as my portable mechanical keyboard for my netbook. This shows how poisonous mechanical keyboards are, I no longer satisfy with regular rubber dome keyboard or laptop’s scissor switch keyboard.
Anyhow, let’s get into the review.
- 61 keys, 40% keyboard
- Lasered PBT key caps
- Detachable USB cable
- Physical DIP switch for altering key functions (eg Windows key)
- Cherry MX Black (other MX switches available as well)
- 6KRO (USB) & NKRO (PS/2)
- Function combination key for full size keyboard’s functions
- Simple multimedia function
Although the box looks plain without any extra layer of wrapping. If you look closer, you’ll notice the box has engravings of POKER logo along with four poker emblems which represents the Cherry MX switches – Black, Brown, Blue, Red.
The packaging of the keyboard is fairly secured. The keyboard is wrapped with a foam and plastic wrapping. There are paddings at the sides, top and bottom.
Included in box:
Sad huh? Cost around RM300 shipped from China (including agent forwarding fees). Natively they don’t include USB-PS/2 adapter, extra key caps, or key cap puller. We always paying more to get less. =D
Looks, Feel and Usability
Out of the box, look at the size of it. Don’t let the appearance fool you though, the keys are exactly the same size as standard keyboard’s. Unlike those laptop keyboards with shrinked keyboards.
Certain functions can by achieved via FN combination.
Bottom of the keyboard, there are four pieces of (large) rubber feet. Splendid!! I’ve seen some full size keyboards having even smaller or less rubber feet.
Although there’s no elevation feet, but the board itself is already elevated at a certain level which I think it sufficient.
Closeup for for the rubber feet.
There’s a dipswitch for altering the key functions. (turn off window key, Win/Caps swap)
The sticker label at the bottom. (I’ve yet remove the clear plastic.)
The mini USB port.
Cherry MX Black.
There are a few LEDs, but there’s only Caps Lock has the “window” part, others are regular key cap that ain’t translucent. Those LEDs functions as indicating certain feature’s active status, but hiding them under non-translucent key caps is a bit pointless.
The case is a single piece plastic serve as the bottom piece without any cover on top. Build quality of the case is acceptably solid due to the thickness.
The key cap.
I bought the PBT version – all the key caps are lasered PBTs.
Hence the sandy texture.
The Poker has much lesser key than full size or tenkeyless keyboards, but they still retains at the functionality of a tenkeyless keyboard with the FN combination. They even included some basic multimedia & system shortcuts.
Comparing the key caps with my Ducky PBT, they have exactly the same texture (PBTs), but Poker’s has darker tone than Ducky’s.
Lasered key printing would last longer than pad printed, but the contrast is fairly bad. One thing I noticed is that the Caps Lock surface looks extra reflective that other keys and it feels a bit more textured than other keys.
Tear Down & Modification
All the key caps removed.
Since this keyboard is PCB mounted, hence it weight just around 400g-500g. But don’t expect it to have the sturdiness of those plate mounted keyboards. The board flexes if you bend it.
The bad part of this keyboard – the PCB is directly mounted to the case with five screws without any padding in between. The void space between the casing and PCB leads to rather bad typing experience.
You’ll feel the hollowness when you type on it. I had a video attached regarding this matter.
Bottom of the PCB.
The dark side.
Poker uses Cherry styled stabilizers.
To solve the PCB rattling problem, I cut a piece of foam wrap and place it under the PCB.
Video comparison – Before and After
- Genuine Cherry MX switches
- PBT key caps – More durable than ABS
- Laser etched key cap printing – more durable than pad printed
- Detachable USB cable
- Simple multimedia function keys
- FN combination keys for full size keyboard’s functionality
- Physical DIP switch for windows key lock function – as well as ability to switch between Caps Lock/LCTRL
- Moderate packaging – POKER
- High customizability – PCB mounted
- 6KRO (USB) & NKRO (PS/2)
- Portability – small in size
- Single bottom piece design – Maximum customizability
- PCB mounted – Maximum customizability, lack of sturdiness
- Cherry MX Black – Stiff linear
- Cherry Stabilizers – Easy for changing key caps, but changes the feel of the key
- PBT key caps – Some might prefer ABS, hence this is up to personal preference.
- Slightly disappointing build quality – You need to add extra padding under the PCB
- lack of sturdiness – because of PCB mounted
- No elevation feet
- No accessories
- Geeky learning curve – need some time to get used to the layout especially the FN combination
Short conclusion – Superb keyboard, it’s like Cherry MX version of HHKB Pro2. You get all those full sized keyboard’s functionality in 40% of the size. Best notebook, netbook, ultrabook, whatsoever book companion.
Mechanical keyboard on the go.
[20121210 *Update* Title and Intro]