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Keyboards with Backlit Keys

Ideazon Merc Stealth Keyboard

In addition to finding the best of the new crop of backlit keyboards, I had hoped to modify the LEDs in at least one of the keyboards for use by a blind friend. That project is still on hold, but here is my take on the keyboards I tested for use by people without visual impairment.

The Merc Stealth is designed as a gaming keyboard, with 34 dedicated gaming keys. There are two USB ports on the keyboard, and the USB cable includes integrated microphone and speaker plugs. That’s for headphones and microphones, as there are also jacks for these on the keyboard. To keep the keyboard to a manageable size, the four inverted “T ” arrow keys, and the group six — the delete, home, etc. keys — are merged with the numeric keyboard. In this modified 104-key layout style, the size of the plus key is now standard instead of oversized. The dedicated gaming keys are off to the left, as is common for other Ideazon gaming keyboards, and the multimedia keys are at the top left.

ideazon merc stealth

The blue backlight is a deep blue, but the purple backlight is more like a pink. Red is a deep ruby red; it matches or exceeds the red backlight used in the Celestron SkyScout and the telescope hand controller. Fortunately, the color choice does not reset after reboot. This keyboard would also be perfect for late-night observing sessions. Remember, for astronomy observations, the computer screens are covered with red filters, so there is no keyboard light on any laptops.

blue merc stealth

ideazon merc stealth

There are only three levels of brightness adjustment. The keyboard has a very tactile feel, while the Ideazon literature claims the keys are rubberized. The Merc’s keys are not as “smooth” or plastic feeling as the Saitek. Neither do they feel completely like rubber, but they have a very pleasant touch. The action is just a little stiffer than that of the Saitek, but not as stiff as the Microsoft Reclusa. There are two USB ports above the F10 through F12 keys. Beneath the upper part of the keyboard are collapsible stands to increase the keyboard height. The base has long-and -thin sticky non-skid rubber pads on the bottom of the lower keyboard.

I did not verify the claim that there is a simultaneous response from the keystrokes, especially during game play. Ideazon’s Z-engine software lets you map a key command sequence to a single key. Having dedicated keys for commands like “open document” or “run spell check” could be useful for handicapped individuals. More than special purpose keyboards, this gaming keyboard appears to have much more flexibility in that regard. However, my initial purpose was to look at the backlight, and to see if I could swap out something for a much brighter backlight.

  • You might want to add Logitech G15 to the list, which is not only a backlit keyboard, but comes also with superb 3x 18 programmable "G" keys and universal LCD display.
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  • Spikke
    No Logitech G15? The best keyboard I have ever owned.
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  • Any indication of durability of the keys wrt the coatings? These keys are usually made of a transparent plastic that is then coated in black - with the characters masked.

    On my G15, I found that prolonged use has caused the black masking to come off, leaving large "blue" keys that have no recognisable markings left. I bought another since there was no alternative at the time, and had to resort to applying several layers of clear nail-polish before I started using the new keyboard. So far it's working, but I'd love to know how the newer models stand up to heavy use - specially for female users with long nails that will probably wear off the masking even faster
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  • CaptainNed
    Backlit keyboards? Heresy of the first sort. Model M or death for me.
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  • Backlit keyboards review and no G11/G15? Shame on Tom's again.
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  • Drake718
    I Use the Eclipse II myself... I liked it so much I bought a 2nd one for my other computer. I had 2 reasons...

    1st, I'm a corporate IT geek and if I get a page in the middle of the night, it's really nice to not need to turn on the lights. The red is the best, no eye strain as I'm half asleep. With a black desktop background and the red light I can fix what ever it is and get back to sleep.

    2nd, Gaming. I love the feel of these keys. I actually looked for a keyboard w/o the L shaped key as it fit's my hand positioning better when gaming. Plus being the aforemention IT geek, I'm so used to having the pipe and backslash sitting above the enter key as I use them often while writing code. Using a keyboard is a lot like driving a car, you get used to where all the butons and switches are and you feel more comfortable. I can switch between my PC's at work and my home machine without mising a beat. I almost brought in a Saitek Eclipse II for work, but they backlite might have been frowned on.
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  • feraltoad
    My key paint came off on my G15, Logitech sent me a new one no charge! They had something wrong with the paint, it's fixed now. Mine WASD keys were blank, but the new ones show zero wear and I've had the replacement much longer than the original.
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  • what about the Deck Legend keyboard?!
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  • BOOOOO! Like most other posters, where is the G15? I owned a Saitek Gamer Keyboard w/commander pad for awhile, but then the veil was lifted when the G15 hit. I play Battlefield 2142 every night and with 18 programmable keys and M1,M2,M3 settings gives you 54 programmable keys. Then there is the mods for the LCD screen that gives you real-time data(i.e. Kills,deaths, ammo count,map, ping, number of players, etc....) Media Center controls, man I could go on and on!!!! I see why you DIDN'T add it, cuz then everyone would read it and be like,"Why did they mention the other 3?" The article would then read,"The uberest backlit keyboard EVEA!" Hell the only way they could improve it is add a can cooler and a toaster oven!! Mod that!!!
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  • We miss the Logitech G11 and G15 and the Razer Lycosa
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