View Full Version : A quiet illuminated keyboard

27-01-2012, 10:34 PM
Hey there shotgunners, I'm looking for a low-cost, good quality keyboard with quiet, illuminated keys (all of the main keys at least, but preferably all of them). It needs to be less than 19" (48cm) wide because of my keyboard tray, but beyond that I don't really care how deep, tall, or heavy it is because my tray is over 14" deep and it's height-adjustable. I've seen many low-cost keyboards that always seem to be shrunken down, which is fine as long as the backspace and backslash keys are normal sized (double-width and 1.5-width) and the Home, End, Delete, Page Up, and Page Down keys are in a separate group. I can't stand it when the backspace and/or backslash key is single-width or the other keys are in a row or column some place odd like along the top or side edge. I'd also prefer a keypad with Num Lock and the usual keys, but it's not a must-have. The same goes for specialty keys for macros, but I never use the music, volume, navigation, and shortcut keys that are on my MS Wireless Desktop Elite - except for the Calculator key, which is useful, but I can easily pin the Win7 calculator if needed. Also, I really hate the way that the normal function keys (F1 through F12) are the non-default function and that my keyboard doesn't ever remember that I've hit the F Lock button to disable the special function keys, so none of that please. Finally, I'd prefer a wired keyboard since I rarely take my wireless off the tray and I use this PC for gaming.

Long story bulleted:

Low-cost (less than $30 would be great), good quality wired keyboard (wireless is not a deal-breaker though)
Illuminated keys - the more the better, but at least the QWERTY and function (F1 through F12) keys
Quiet keys - I use my PC in my bedroom at night a lot and I hate waking up my wife because I'm chatting in a game or typing a forum post
Normal-sized keys - some "mini" and "slim" keyboards have shrunken Backspace and "\" keys
Normal key layout - some "mini" and "slim" keyboards move the Home, End, Delete, Page Up, and Page Down keys into odd positions and layouts, like horizontal or vertical groups along the top or side
Normal function keys - if they have alternate functions besides F1 through F12 that's fine, but F1 through F12 should be the default
Less than 19" wide - 19" or more and it will stick off the edge of my keyboard tray like my current one does
Preferred, but not required:

Keypad with Num Lock - I use these for occasional data entry and for using the Win7 calculator
Macro and/or multimedia keys - I don't use the ones on my current keyboard that often, but they're kind of difficult to use (especially in the dark), so I might use them on an illuminated keyboard more often
Scroll wheel - I occasionally use it on my current keyboard

I've seen a number of keyboards that match my required criteria, but they are either really expensive ($100 for a keyboard is crazy to me), have bad reviews as often as good ones, or have too few reviews to know how good they are. So do you have personal experience with a keyboard like this?

On the other hand, as I look down at my MS Wireless Desktop Elite in the daylight, I'm noticing that the keys are partially translucent (sort of a dark grey, smoked look). Does anyone know of an easy way to add LEDs to an existing wireless keyboard? It'll probably drain the batteries quicker, but maybe I could add an on/off switch for the LEDs or maybe even turn it into a wired USB keyboard. And thought/suggestions there?

The Tupper
28-01-2012, 12:54 AM
I've got a Saitek Eclipse from a few years ago that's okay-ish, I guess. Make sure that your power isn't on the edge of its capability though. The keyboard says it only uses 1.5 Watts/5V but it saw to an earlier PSU I had. It was a mercy killing, right enough.

28-01-2012, 03:19 AM
I use and love the MS Sidewinder X6 - I think it's discontinued but I cannot recommend it highly enough and there are still some for sale here-and-there...

I mainly bought it because the numpad detaches (and you'd have to do that because it's almost 21" wide with it on - 16.5" with it off).

The neat trick is that the numpad attaches at either end and can be mapped (along with 6 keys on the main keyboard) for macros etc.

All keys are (Red) backlit (brightness adjustable) - and (this is a big thing for me) the "\" key exists next to left-shift (keyboards without that drive me NUTS) - it has media controls too and some other gubbins I don't use... ;)

It's not a quiet keyboard as-such but it's not a 'clackety' one either. I find the action and reach to be superb - I've not used a better keyboard - basically.

29-01-2012, 08:31 AM
I found the Sidewinder X6 for $50 with free shipping (used on eBay) and $54 with free shipping for a new one, so I'll keep it as a possibility, but the size of it makes it a lesser option. By the way, I think you meant that the "/" key is next to the right shift key, right? It's the same key as the "?" key from the images I've seen, which is pretty standard and the "\" key is the usual 1.5-wide key between Backspace and Enter.

I looked for the Saitek Eclipse and found that the Eclipse II is about the same price with shipping and seems more simplistic. But I also found another Saitek keyboard called the Eclipse Litetouch. It's got mixed reviews (like many, many other backlit keyboards), but most of the negative ones are for the wireless edition. I found a wired one for $22.24 with free shipping and will probably end up picking it up unless anyone can convince me not to get it.

But I might also try adding EL wire to my current keyboard based on these instructions (http://www.instructables.com/id/How-To-Make-A-Backlit-Keyboard/?ALLSTEPS). It seems pretty straightforward (though I haven't taken my keyboard apart yet), cheap ($6.40 with free shipping for 3m of green EL wire on eBay), and something I might be able to disable by setting up the USB-to-EL wire connector just right. Hmm, I think I'll try that first. ;-)

29-01-2012, 07:51 PM
I meant the \ key which should (at least on UK layouts) live next to the left shift.

A lot of modern keyboards ignore it (because they're designed for people who don't know what a \ is for) :)

29-01-2012, 09:23 PM
Interesting, I don't think I've seen a keyboard without either slash key. Here in the US, the \ key is typically below Backspace and above Enter on the right-most edge while the / key is between the . key and the right Shift key. I've seen the \ key moved to different locations than the typical one, but I don't think I've seen it where the / key usually is or seen the / key anywhere other than next to the right Shift. The key next to the left Shift is always Z here.

05-02-2012, 06:25 AM
Well, soon after I decided to just add EL lighting to my MS Wireless Desktop Elite, I realized that the other main need could still not be met. This keyboard is awfully clacky considering it has silicone domes for the actual key actuation mechanisms, but that's because the keys are designed oddly. They have hollow, square risers that go down into square shafts which they click into and rest on top of the silicone domes. But there's play in between the risers and the shafts they go into, so the keys can be wiggled around when they're all the way up, which ends up being enough movement to cause the key noise. I thought about trying to jury-rig some kind of insulation, but it would be required for each individual key along with installing the EL lighting and figuring out how to get it powered and plugged in.

In the end, the cost and effort would have been more than what I'm willing to put into it, so I kept looking for other keyboards. It looks like I finally found the one to get just yesterday. For anyone interested, it's got the name PRAVIX on it along with some Chinese symbols and can be seen here (http://www.onsources.com/products/Amazing-Three-LED-Backlit-Lighted-Illuminated-Computer-PC-Keyboard-USB-2.0-New.html). The good thing is that it fulfills all of my requirements (it even out-does them by having three colors to choose from, though the quietness has to be taken on faith) and it's only going to cost $24 and has free shipping. The bad thing is that the site drop ships directly from China, so it could take a while before it's delivered once I order it. It also has a bright orange base, but that's not a big concern to me. The only thing from stopping me from ordering it already is that I put in a bid on a keyboard on eBay on an auction that will end in less than a day. I'll probably get outbid since the current bid is still pretty low and there's plenty of time left, but I don't want to end up with two keyboards and the PRAVIX ones will still be there after the auction's done.

So has anybody heard of the PRAVIX brand or, better yet, have experience with their products? If not and I end up getting it, I'll post a quick review after using it for a little while in case others end up looking for the same thing.

05-02-2012, 09:28 AM
Late to the party but I use one of these: -


18" x 8" three levels of backlight and extremely quiet.

A tad pricy, but I've been using mine for a couple of years now with no complaints.

05-02-2012, 04:30 PM
That's the K800, right? I've considered that one but it's usually over my budget. I've bid on one or two on eBay, but I've always been outbid. 8-(

05-02-2012, 06:06 PM
It's just 'Logitech® Illuminated Keyboard' as far as I can see. I'm not aware of any K800 specification. Either way though it's a decent piece of kit, is quiet and doesn't scream 'gamer' unlike all of the blue/green backlit ones available elsewhere.

09-02-2012, 07:21 AM
I think maybe your keyboard is one of those "regional branding" things. Sometimes I see it listed exactly as you have it in quotes, and sometimes the K800 number is on there too. Either way, it does look awfully nice. I suppose if the one I get ends up being crap (it is coming direct from Hong Kong, after all), I'll keep that one near the top of my wish list.

Edit: I thought I put a link to the one I'll be ordering in the post where I described it, but it appears I spaced it. For anyone interested, it can be seen and ordered from here (http://www.onsources.com/products/Amazing-Three-LED-Backlit-Lighted-Illuminated-Computer-PC-Keyboard-USB-2.0-New.html).

09-02-2012, 01:28 PM
Late to the party but I use one of these: -


18" x 8" three levels of backlight and extremely quiet.

A tad pricy, but I've been using mine for a couple of years now with no complaints.

I have one, it's very good, though the Left CTRL key has lost some sensitivity over time.