Gaming mice, there's a market for. Headphones too. But be honest, when has your regular keyboard ever stood in the way of you and a good time when it comes to PC games?
I mean, unless there are keys falling off, or it's covered in some kind of ooze, a $US20 keyboard normally does as good a job as an $US80 keyboard of presenting you with keys marked W, A, S and D which you can press and move around in a video game.
So when I sat down with the Mionix Zibal 60, it had some convincing to do.
The first thing you notice taking the Zibal 60 out of its box is how damn heavy it is. At 1.5kg and 44cm wide it dwarfed my existing keyboard, and when sat down on my desk seemed to sit there smugly, taking it all in, kicking its enormous feet up and saying, yes, I will claim this. My dusty old Logitech had by now crawled into the living room, whimpering like a dog who knew it was about to be kicked.
That size is great, because it doesn't ring hollow. The Zibal 60 is not so much heavy as it is solid, its entire frame made of brushed steel that Mionix claims is "rage proof". Not being one to fly into a rage that often, and having to send the keyboard back when I was done reviewing it, I couldn't independently verify this. But let's just say that if I caught someone breaking into my house, I'd reach straight for the Zibal 60. Smash some bones.
The keyboard wasn't made to be looked at or shifted hand-to-hand, though. It was made for gaming, and this is where it... well, it works. The big sell of the Zibal 60 is that it's a "mechanical keyboard", meaning that unlike regular (organic?) keyboards, you don't need to press a key all the way down for it to register. You only need to depress the large, spongy keys a little and the keyboard picks it up (sort of like feathering the analogue triggers on a control pad), saving your digits precious time and energy.
It's a nice feature! But a superfluous one. Pressing keys isn't hard, it's not tiring and it's not controversial. I didn't gain any perceptible advantage with this aside from the fact I used slightly less energy by pressing the keys down a little instead of a lot.
Indeed, in one area the keys worked against me; being quite "tall" keys, with a large gulf between them, it's easy for your finger to accidentally slip off the top of a key and either miss or hit the key next to it. Another key con: alongside their height, their "spongy" nature, a boon when slinking around the corridors of a space station, was a pain when trying to type words in an email, because I like my words to include all their letters, not just most of them.
It's quality over quality, then. They keyboard's big selling point wasn't much of a selling point for me at all. So, total bust? Far from it. It's the supporting cast that saves the day for the Zibal 60. Alongside the build quality and overall appearance (I'm a big Mionix fan for their no-nonsense approach to visuals, a rarity in PC gaming hardware), the Zibal 60 has a range of other useful features like an in-built USB hub, media ports so you can control your headset and music from the keyboard as well as backlit keys.
If you're looking for a classy, well-built and gaming-oriented keyboard, this leaves you with an important decision to make. The same question you're always faced when confronted with an expensive piece of hardware that, while a quality bit of kit, is also priced at a premium. In this case, $US150.
Is it worth $US150?I'd say for most people, given the fact the keys don't change the game the way a good mouse or proper set of headphones do, the answer would be no. For those with cash to spare, though, and "mechanical keyboard" be damned just want a heavy, luxurious keyboard with excellent build quality and a classy look, let us peasants eat cake. And while we're scoffing, go grab a Zibal 60.
The Mionix Zibal 60 is available now at these retailers. Suggested retail $US149.99.