Azio are a name most consumers probably don’t know. Producing everything from headsets to keyboards, at very reasonable prices Azio tends to fly below the radar. Making solid mechanical keyboards, mice, and headsets for a higher end audience. Normally I wouldn’t be in the market for something as nice as those keyboards, but, Luckily for me Azio was kind enough to give me an MK Retro keyboard for unboxing and review.
Being a fan of typewriters, and a fan of mechanical keyboards, I figured this board was a shoe in. I was not wrong. The retro styling will no doubt not please everyone, but for my money I love the look of the rounded keys with the raised rim, and the metal around the edges. The look in addition to the fact that its full mechanical were enough to satisfy me.
The keyboard arrived in a nicely appointed box (unboxing video link) and you can watch the full unboxing video here. I do want to correct one thing I said in that video, while it appears that there are no adjustments to how much of an angle the keyboard can sit at, in reality turning the feet changes the height of the back of board, and thus the angle. Each turn locks the board in to a diffrent angle, and there are plenty of adjustments for those that like keyboards where the top is higher than the bottom.
That being said let’s get to the features. The most striking feature of this keyboard, and the one most people will presumably purchase it for, is the look. Each key is round in shape, with an inner keycap of piano key black, with a white letter printed on it, and an outer border of shiny silver material. These round keycaps sit atop a pole that goes down in to recessed switches, giving the typing surface of the board a clean floating look that I love.\
The keys are rounded, and the design is pretty clearly inspired by a piano, as well as old typewriters. Its oozing with class. Azio says that the socketed switch design, means that less dust and grime gets in to the switch, and personally I Think it looks better too. The rounded keycaps easily pop out revealing a standard key cap cross, so if you really wanted to, or if you are Rob and lose a key, you can easily replace it. However since the switches are sunken in the the boards deck, most standard key caps will not fit on top.
Underneath those unique keys are full mechanical switches. The website says they are “Tactile & Clicky (Blue)” but not who made them. I assume that since they mention blue’s that they are made by Cherry, but I cant say for sure. The switches them selves are also green in color, which cherries are not. Still, the switches feel nice, clicky and as suggested tactile. The Azio MK Retro also offers full N-key roll over. Which means you should never have issues with pressing every single key on the board at once. So even if you smash your face in to it (not recommended as the little keys are sort of pointy) your PC will still pick up all of the letters your smash down. To test this I typed out about 15 letters at once, and was immensely pleased to find that they all showed up. So I can personally confirm that the MK Retro does indeed have more N-key roll over than you could ever need. (since you only have 10 fingers)
This is a full sized keyboard, so those of you looking for extra space on your desk can move along now. Along the top row is the normal function key set, and an additional function on each key. I wont bore you with what is where, but the vast majority of the keys are things like Media Controls, and quick access to programs. The lights that denote if number lock, caps lock, and scroll lock are uniquely styled to resemble older style light bulbs. The retro is missing dedicated volume and media keys, something I would have liked to have seen, but other than that its got everything you need.
It took me a little while to adapt to the feel of typing on the MK Retro, mostly I think becusae the keys are round rather than the standard square lay out. The numpad also seems to be a bit closer together than most boards, but that’s not necessarily bad for data entry. Finally you have the 6 foot braided USB cable, to connect it to your PC. I love this cable, braided cables always last longer and just look better. Unfortunately there are no USB pass-trough’s or cable management.
Let’s move on to build quality. Right away, and if you watched my unboxing you saw this, I accidently popped off a key cap, so they aren’t exactly on tight. I don’t think this is a bad thing, since really removing the keys on any mechanical keyboard is a feature rather than a problem. The board is fairly light at just 2.3 lbs, which makes its great for travel. Normally I would complain about a keyboard this light, but the large rubber feet, mean that it doesn’t slide around at all. They keycaps feel solid, despite being made of plastic, and even my meddling I was unable to damage the keycaps.
Overall I like this keyboard, with Blue switches giving a satisfying click and great feel. I haven’t been able to test or verify the claims of dust and liquid resistance, but since the switches themselves are recessed in to the boards deck they should be able to take a spill or two. The black and chrome color scheme looks super clean, and honestly, is probably going to be what attracts most people to this board. The oddly shaped round slightly concave key caps may turn some people off at first, but I found that after a few hours of practice I was able to achieve my normal word per minute count. For 110US dollars, this keyboard is a bit expensive, but I can understand the price based on the type of person Azio expects to buy this board, probably don’t worry about price point. If you like having shiny retro style finishes in your desk set up, this keyboard is for you. You can get this and all of Azios products at http://aziocorp.com