After my review of the Roccat Isku Illuminated Gaming Keyboard, I’d thought I’d stay on the track of keyboards and see where the Roccat Arvo Compact Gaming Keyboard takes me. For this review, I also got some added insight from a fellow gamer in the building, flipside_b, aka Big Al.
The Roccat Arvo Compact Gaming Keyboard is exactly that – compact. It gets rid of most of what would be considered the non-essential keys and leaves a distilled, minimalistic keyboard behind. Is trading size and functionality for the sake of compactness really a good thing? We look into what makes this keyboard special (and not so special, this week).
Usability of the Roccat Arvo Compact Gaming Keyboard
The Roccat Arvo Compact Gaming Keyboard shares many traits with its bigger brother, the Isku. It still features the same dome-switch key mechanism that most conventional keyboards share, and its operation and feel is identical to the Isku – in fact, I tried switching some key caps on the keyboards, and they fit perfectly into each other. Function key look and layout are also the same, as is the thumb-based macro keys.
When I first laid eyes on the keyboard, I was reminded of the old series of Dell Keyboards supplied with the office machines around here – the look of the keyboard is very similar – minimalistic overall chassis with the extra bits bulging out at the sides, that same look is present with the Arvo with its ESC and numeric keypad function keys bulging out on the sides; it’s a pleasing aesthetic. Switching from a conventional keyboard to this compact layout does take some getting used to, as muscle-memory will start kicking in and causing one to make frequent mistakes initially, especially when using a keyboard for the intended purpose of typing.
Front and center, soldier!
As seems standard procedure with Roccat gear, attention is paid to the little things – Good grip on the bottom of the keyboard to prevent sliding around when the gamer rage rears its ugly head, along with a metal base-plate to keep on going after the afore-mentioned nerd-rage has subsided. Windows and other function keys can be disabled within the driver software, and alternative status illumination of the num-lock and caps-lock functions are directly on the keys, to keep keyboard real estate down to a minimum. Another little thing I noted – all keyboards have a little raised tab on the F and J keys for touch typists to orient themselves – there is a similar little tab found on the W key as well – for the touch-WASD’er to align themselves, too.
We know that there are all sorts of strange gaming types out there, even those who can’t let go of playing on the arrow keys – the good thing is there are macro keys available to those knuckle-draggers too – the numeric 1 and 3 keypad keys switch to macro keys when placed into arrow mode.
It’s all about the little things…
Drivers and Control of the Roccat Arvo Compact Gaming Keyboard
The Roccat Arvo Compact Gaming Keyboard comes with a minimalistic set of drivers. Most of the control components relate to shortcut assignment to the thumb keys as well as the two shortcut keys which activate when the arrow keys are activated. Shortcuts can be assigned as alternate keystrokes, multimedia key functions, web browser shortcuts or a full macro assigned to them. The Arvo supports up to 5 profiles, so profiles could be set up for normal Windows usage, or specific games.
Like the Arvo itself, compact and to the point
System keys can also be disabled on a per-profile basis, such as the tabkey, the Windows key, the context menu key, etc.
Other functionality of the driver includes a driver update check-up and a general help and support section.
I worked with the Roccat Arvo Compact Gaming Keyboard for a relatively short time. When playing your typical shooter title, the keyboard is adequate, but became a problem to use for anything which required doing any kind of extended typing exercise, such as when playing my favourite MMO’s. This is in no way a problem with the keyboard itself – it types and feels exactly like the Isku, but due to the small but significant change in layout, muscle memory was kicking in and I found myself mis-typing frequently. Practice is required to get used to the altered layout.
If space is at an absolute premium, I would wholeheartedly recommend the Arvo; that being said there are slightly less compact keyboards that fulfill the need of being compact while providing better functionality, especially if the macro functionality isn't being used.
For all its little niggles, this keyboard is a solid performer, although as previously stated, I would only really recommend this keyboard for the hardcore shooter gamer that really needs the real estate for other things.
- Good key-press distance and actuation
- Solid grip on table or other surface thanks to huge rubber feet
- Thumb macro buttons
- Great Space saver
- Illuminated arrow keys with macro buttons in easy reach
- Changed in keycap sizes needs getting used to
- Lack of extended macro keys and multimedia key functionality
Rating of the Roccat Isku Gaming Keyboard
Overall 2/5 stars
Recommended retail Pricing - R699.95
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