In keyboards, less continues to be more
The Aurora's final quirk is a feature of sorts: an integrated USB audio controller, complete with headphone and mic jacks in the side of the unit. Enermax has blessedly resisted the feature creep that has turned a whole host of today's keyboards into ridiculous farces with twice as many buttons as necessary, so I shouldn't complain. But I have absolutely no use for this feature myself, and its main function so far has been to take over as the default audio input and output devices upon installation. In fact, Enermax's documentation is solely dedicated to warning against this problem. That apparently wasn't enough for me. I changed the default audio output back to my sound card, but I managed to "record" an entire hour of silent input from the Aurora Premium during our last podcast recording session, while gabbing away into an unselected mic, scuttling the entire episode. So much for "value add" features.
The Aurora Premium does have a couple other features worth mentioning. The first is a pair of legs on the back of the keyboard that can modify the inclination of the typing surface, like so:
Given how completely flat this thing is by default, the adjustability may be welcome for many folks. Like the rest of the enclosure, these legs are stiff and firm, with no hint of flex.
The Aurora's final perk is an internal USB 2.0 hub that feeds a pair of ports around the back of the unit. Although these aren't really necessary, I'll begrudgingly admit that this one extra feature could prove useful to a lot of folks.
I've been using the Aurora Premium for a couple of weeks now. I really didn't expect this, but I may wind up making it the permanent keyboard on my main PC. As I said, I'm coming off of a split/ergo MS Natural Keyboard, so this is a major transition for me. The main problem I've encountered with the Aurora has to do with its very low profile and flat key caps, along with my own familiarity with split keyboards: when casually switching away from the keyboard to the mouse or my coffee mug and then coming back to it, I find it hard to line up my fingers with the proper keys. The wrong alignment results in a touch-typing train wreck, obviously, which makes for some entertaining IM conversations. Yes, the Aurora has small, raised bumps on the F and J keys to help with finger placement, but coming from a sculpted and split keyboard, I've never learned to rely on such subtle cues. I'm adapting, but it takes time. As with so many things of this nature, your own mileage my vary.
The bottom line is that the Aurora Premium is a very capable implementation of a surprisingly compelling concept. In spite of my initial expectations, I consider it among the best PC keyboards around, easily better than the dome-switch junk Microsoft and Logitech are foisting on consumers at Best Buy, which seems to go downhill in quality with timeand in the same league as more expensive contenders like the Das Keyboard. If you've ever had the experience of typing on a ThinkPad or some other really good laptop keyboard and come away impressed, you might want to try an Aurora Premium for yourself. You may be shocked to find that your big, ol' desktop PC can learn a trick or two from a teeny little laptopwhile improving upon it, of course.
90 comments — Last by sigher at 11:46 PM on 03/18/09
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