Official Review Hardware Updated
Azeron Cyborg Gaming Keypad (Hardware)
Official GBAtemp Review
Azeron is back with another gaming keypad! Is the Azeron Cyborg as revolutionary as their first device?
How to improve something that’s already great? This is probably the question that Azeron, the Latvian gaming keypad manufacturer, asked themselves after releasing the Azeron Classic. I reviewed the latter last year and would recommend checking it out before diving into this review. Despite its unconventional design, it proved to be an impressively ergonomic and customizable keypad that wholly replaced the keyboard+mouse combo for me in favor of the Azeron+mouse combo.
So when Azeron announced their next-generation keypad, the Azeron Cyborg, I was really curious to see what improvements they could come up with given that they already had an impressive device. And I was positively surprised to see that that device could actually be improved upon and these improvements are aptly embodied by the next generation of Azeron keypad, the Azeron Cyborg.
Azeron’s keypads have always been about customization and ergonomic gaming, and the Cyborg takes it up a notch. While the design is mostly similar at a glance, there are some noticeable changes. For one, while the Azeron Classic packed 26 programmable keys, the Cyborg adds 3 more for a total of 29 (there is a 24-key version as well). It forgoes the two upper keys in two proximal towers (which required quite a reach) in favor of 4 keys closer to your fingers and one to the side of your pinky. I found this new arrangement of the keys in the Cyborg to feel more ergonomic as well as more within reach.
Adding to this ergonomic aspect is the additional layers of possible adjustments and customization that the Cyborg allows; and it adds quite a number of such layers. The towers can now be lifted and tilted to better align with your fingers. Similarly, the thumbstick can be tilted and rotated for the optimal personal angle. You can also adjust the height of the palmrest by taking out the elevation plate underneath it which will reduce the height by around 5mm. Add to those the existing adjustment options in the Azeron Classic that the Cyborg brings back like the tower distance and tower angles from your fingers, this new generation of Axeron keypad feels indeed very versatile to use comfortably and with minimum travel distance from your fingers. This not only makes it adapted for competitive gaming, but also ergonomic for gaming in general.
However, this range of adjustments comes with a slight caveat since it will require some degree of a learning curve and some patience to adjust the keypad to your personal configuration. The angles, distance and tilt of the parts need to be adjusted with screws which can take some time but once you’ve set it up, it’ll offer a custom-fitted experience. But if you are sharing the keypad, you will have to undergo through the whole process again which might not be optimal.
I used it to play The Ascent and No Man’s Sky and it’s simply a joy to game with a more natural posture/positioning of hands. You can fine-tune the positioning of the parts to the millimeter and it honestly delivers an unparalleled custom-fitted experience. My experience with FPS games are really enhanced with the Azeron Cyborg; better than a split keyboard + mouse and I can already say better than the Azeron Classic + mouse. Flicking, tapping and pressing keys with my fingertips with minimal travel distance feel more intuitive and comfortable than navigating on a keyboard. The Cyborg and its new adjustment options makes this experience even more enjoyable.
The device’s appearance might seem intimidating to use and I’ve used the Azeron Classic before, so I’m familiar with such a setup. But even when I first used the Classic, I was surprised to see how intuitive it was to use from the get-go. What will require a learning curve is if you have different profiles for different games (the device can hold 2 with its on-board memory; but you can have many more in the companion software) and you might need to remember which keys do what for each profile. But you can easily look the mapping up in the software in case you forget or want to adjust them again.
Software-wise, it’s worth noting that the device can work as a joystick, keyboard or in hybrid mode (direct input) depending on your preferences. I prefer hybrid myself so that I can use the joystick to move and use the other keys for keyboard binding. But the profiles don't emulate a controller, so the device is essentially compatible with all games. That is, provided you have a PC since the Azeron software is currently only available for Windows. But there are workarounds for Mac/Linux like Joystick Mapper/ AntiMicro respectively. This compatibility issue is ongoing since the Classic keypad launched and I hope that Azeron expands the software to more OSes.
In addition to the enhanced customization and adjustment options, it was very pleasant to see that the company improved on other aspects I pointed at in my review of the Classic. Unlike the latter, the Cyborg’s USB cable is easily detachable for storage or decluttering your desk from wires when not in use. It’s a small but very welcome improvement. Additionally, they now sell palmrest pads to make for a more comfortable experience. This was also an issue I raised in my review of the Classic. It would have also been welcome if they included the padding in the build itself rather than as an extra add-on.
Since the Azeron team seems to be taking suggestions seriously, I’ll throw in a couple more in this review in the hopes that these get noticed and make for an even more compelling device. One option could be a Bluetooth-enabled version of the keypad for those who aren’t much into competitive gaming and prefer less wires in their tangled tech jungle. An option that would be welcome by competitive and non-competitive gamers alike would be tenting like in split keyboards. This would further help in making the device an even more ergonomic one.
Another nice option for buyers would be themed keypads. Azeron lets users freely customize and visualize the color of their keypad. I went pretty wild with the Azeron Classic but the manufacturer helped me build one with a “radioactive” look. The gritty palmrest unfortunately isn’t so easily available at the time of writing but I wish it were as I’m in love with the design! Even if the 3D printed yellow parts don’t match the palmrest’s yellow at a 100%, the team did a pretty slick job, especially with the fluorescent accents on the keys. So having the team professionally design such themed keypads would surely be a welcome option by gamers.
Now about the build quality, it’s the same as the Azeron Classic. Except for the metallic base, screws and hard plastic palmrest, all of the keypad’s parts are 3D printed. They are of very respectable quality and I find it hard to find any faults given how the Azeron team painstakingly assemble each keypad before shipping, as you can see in the timelapse that they provided below:
All things considered, the Azeron Cyborg offers a compelling package for €165. Don’t feel intimidated by its looks as it’s incredibly intuitive to use. The experience it delivers might even convince you to permanently adopt the Azeron+mouse combo (as I was convinced to do).
What We Liked ...
- Phenomenal level of possible adjustments
- Improved design and features over previous model
- Easy to use and ergonomic
- Simply a joy to game with
What We Didn't Like ...
- Learning curve to physical adjustments
- Software works only on Windows systems
- No tenting option
out of 10