There's A New Convertible Keyboard In Town

When peripheral manufacturer SteelSeries bought out Zboard creator Ideazon in 2008, everyone wondered what would happen to the Zboard. The SteelSeries Shift is what happened to the Zboard.

Ideazon's Zboard was a keyboard with interchangeable keysets tailored to different popular PC titles. If one wanted to play EverQuest 2, they would slap in the EverQuest 2 keyset, gaining access to special game-specific buttons. It was a lovely idea with two major flaws: It was terribly clunky, and it didn't always work.

I went through three Zboards. One of them simply died on me. Only half of the space bar worked on the second, a problem unique to a device with a folding space bar. The third worked fine barring some software issues, but was soon replaced by something that looked better on my desk.

SteelSeries refines the Zboard concept with the Shift gaming keyboard, giving the Zboard a sleek new look and improved functionality. Every button is customisable. Each key supports up to three levels of on-the-fly macros. Users can define keystrokes that set off a full sequence of commands, including time delays.

The Shift is also a much higher quality product overall than the Zboard. Both the keyboard base and new keysets are constructed of premium plastic. The older keysets will still work but will likely feel like children's toys sitting inside the Shift.

"With the introduction of the SteelSeries Shift, we're able to bring another unique and powerful gaming tool to consumers, said SteelSeries CEO, Bruce Hawver. "The Shift greatly expands the functionality and concept of the original Zboard, which joined our product line in 2008 as a result of our acquisition of Ideazon, with new SteelSeries features that will provide gamers with a keyboard experience that can be customised for all types of games. As we bring the SteelSeries Shift to market, we are continuing to work with the best developers and publishers in the games industry to offer player's unique layouts and functionalities that will enhance their entire gaming experience."

Of course with great quality and better features comes a higher price tag. The Shift alone will retail for $US89.99, $US40 more than the original Zboard, while new keysets will cost $US24.99.

The Zboard was an excellent concept that stumbled in its execution. Does the SteelSeries Shift perfect the formula? We'll find out when it goes on sale later this year.


Comments

    Meh and Double Meh... I had nothing but drama's with the Zboard (apart from it not actually being that useful). Without the drivers installed all of a sudden random keys would stop functioning.. WITH the drivers installed it wasnt much better, the space bar would stop responding randomly..

    Exit Zboard and enter my WoW mouse from Steelseries!! When the drivers are installed creates the same issue for my Razor Keyboard, random buttons stop functioning. Without the drivers, its just an pricey pointless mouse (but atleast it works then).

    Didnt realize Steelseries bought out Ideazon, but it doesnt change the fact I wouldnt buy or recommend one of there products..

    The Zboard was the most terrible keyboard I ever owned. As well as the complete inconvenience of having to switch keysets in between games, or in between gaming and other computer use there was also the fact that a lot of the time the keysets didn't register properly, and you had keystrokes still reacting as if the old keyset was still in place.

    After refusing to work with my WoW burning crusade keyset, i then continued to use the 'gaming' keyset. Then that stopped working. Then the regular keyset stopped working. Then i throw it in the bin and vowed to never buy an ideazon product again.

    It was an interesting concept that was unfortunately flawed.

    I've since bought a logitech G15, and i've never been more happier - seriously - I highly recommend this keyboard to anyone in the market.

    Yeah, zboard was terrible and I don't think having a new one, that looks like it works exactly the same being made of "premium plastic" will change anything.

    Would not recommend or wish one on anyone.

    Even if it did work I don't think I would switch keysets every game I played.

    Funny with all the negative reviews here. Mine was flawless. I had the original ps2, that had issues, but when I went to the USB it was great. I just played FPS games, so I never switched. I never had any issues described either. I have had ALL of the good keyboards, cheap ones, and "so called god boards like the G15" and honestly, I had the best with the USB zBoard. I dont understand some people. It worked fine even without drivers. Ya it wasn't perfect...but there is no such keyboard that actually tailors to FPS titles or any other title.
    Even on the FPS layout, I can type faster on the wonky key-set ironically. As far as the missing number pad...just get a cheap numpad and use one of the USB ports...not like most gamers use them a lot anyways! (Its not a freakin office keyboard children so don't compare it to one).

    Anyways, the price is why I will not buy one. Not because some people could not adapt or learn how to set up a computer/drivers properly.

    I still have the usb zboard and think it's awesome. easy to clean and the media keys work flawlessly which is a problem i have had with ever other keyboard i've used, especially razors dear god they are bad. This new zboard looks really really really tacky compared to the original btw.

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