Review: Drakken Prothero Spektrum Keyboard (Hardware)
Contents and Features
The Prothero Spektrum comes simply packed along with a key puller tool and a little baggy of replacement mechanical switches. Since the keys are all solder-less, it's extremely easy to swap out keys that may wear out somewhere down the road (I'm looking at you, WASD), or keys that may be damaged from spills or rage slamming. The keyboard has simple, but customizable (per-key) RGB back-lighting that stores the profiles on the keyboard, as opposed to being controlled by the PC side software. There isn't a huge range of options or effects in the software, but it covers all the basic patterns and reaction types, and the LEDs are bright and colorful.
On the right hand side is a USB-A and two 3.5mm jacks for headphones and a microphone, all of which piggy back on the main keyboard wire in one extra thick wire bundle that breaks out into 4 inputs on the tail end. The knob on the top right corner switches between brightness levels when spun and LED profiles when the center is pressed. The mechanical switches are a bit on the loud side, when compared to a much quieter product like the G910, but I seem to recall that Drakken also offers a "quiet" version of their keyboards that is available to choose during checkout (nicknamed the "black/soft - quiet" option).
As you can probably already tell, the main cord bundle is short-- REALLY short. When I stretched it out, it came to just about 5 feet. The wire bundle is also incredibly thick and unyielding, which all-together meant I couldn't use the keyboard by properly running the cable behind my desk and routed along with my other cables, it was just a bit too short and didn't want to play nice with my cable ties. The extra ports themselves worked great, however, and I got perfectly adequate speeds from the USB extension and no line-feedback when testing with my N60-NC and Samsung Level noise-cancelling headsets.
Programming the key lighting with the software from the website throws the keyboard into a "programming mode" which disables some of the lighting functions on the keyboard until you reboot it with a hotkey (FN+ESC) which persists even through unplugging, which I found totally bizarre and confusing. The manual has a truck load of hotkeys the keyboard doesn't natively indicate, some of which are hard reboot functions for the keyboard itself, which again I find sort of odd-- should I be worried about my keyboard crashing on me mid-game? So far, I've given it the benefit of the doubt and it hasn't let me down yet. I've spent quite a few hours playing MOBA and FPS type games and the key response feels amazing. The switches are snappy and accurate and the keyboard itself is very heavy, so it doesn't scoot around during use.
I often found myself wishing the knob in the top-right was a volume knob, like it is on my G910, especially when using my headset. The dial itself is very stiff and doesn't feel great to turn, however I never use it anyway since it's only function is to adjust the LED brightness level (which you can do with a hotkey press). There wasn't even a way to re-map it in the PC side software, and I imagine they do that because they want the keyboard to be autonomous from any client-side requirements-- something I can totally get behind, but I think they missed the mark a bit on this. The keyboard can store a handful of macros as well, but I don't typically find a use for those so I didn't know what to test for... but it does work.
The placement of the function key also gave me some trouble-- I often lock my computer with my right hand, thumb on the Windows key and index hitting L quickly to stop cats or corporate spies from accessing my PC. Since the right hand Windows key has been replaced with a FN/Function key, I now require two hands to log out. The same effect happens in reverse when I want to adjust the PC volume while using a headset, since the FN key is on the right side of the keyboard and the volume controls share a place with F2-F4, it again requires two-handed operation, like some sort of early cave-man input device.
While these two things are only personal gripes, the volume knob and the FN key placement are literally the only thing stopping me from using this instead of my G910 as my main keyboard. I could work with the short, unyielding cable bundle, but the inconvenience of the key placement was a bit too much for me. All that aside, for around $69 USD this is definitely a mechanical keyboard I could see myself recommending to anyone on a budget or someone who is new to mechanical keyboards and is looking to get their feet wet without making a huge cost investment.
+ Fantastic Tactile Feedback
+ Easily Replaceable Switches
+ Onboard LED/Macro Memory
- Stiff/Useless Lighting Knob
- Inconvenient Hotkey Placement
- Short, Stiff Cord
out of 10
Some users may find the negatives of this product a non-issue, but despite the shortcomings, the Prothero Spektrum is still a fantastic keyboard with just a few minor issues that could easily be remedied in future revisions.