Keyboards come in all shapes and sizes, from full size, to miniature 60%, and everything in between. Or, in the case of Mistel's latest keyboard, half-sized...because it's a keyboard that splits right down the middle! The Barocco MD770 takes the most valuable keys, condenses them into a 75% form factor, and splits them into two halves, for peak ergonomics. Is this a half-baked idea, or the perfect combination?
The Barocco MD770 is quite the sleek, professional-looking keyboard. Rather than go with the typical black or white color scheme, they instead went with a muted navy/dark gray palette, and yellow lettering on the keycaps. It's unique and stands out enough without making everyone think you bought the latest sweet rave gamer toy from Razer. Of course, it does come with an RGB option, but the backlighting is toned down, since the keys are thick and don't allow for anything excessive; just enough to see what you're typing in the dark, and enough flair to sate anyone who likes pretty rainbow colors.
Since this is a 75% keyboard, you have access to the entire F-key row, navigation keys, and arrow keys. Everything you need to game on is here, and you get to have all the bonus of a smaller keyboard without losing out on too much functionality. To fit in this small form factor and set itself apart from a typical tenkeyless, the keyboard gets rid of unnecessary spacing between the key rows, and shortens the length of some of the right-side keys like Shift and Alt/FN/CTRL. This layout is easy to adjust to, and quite comfortable for both typing and gaming. Obviously, the layout is also optimal for its main selling point: the split.
The division between the two halves of the MD770 isn't completely symmetrical; there are far more keys on the right side, but the uneven split makes sense, given the fact that it keeps everything in line with the home row typing method. T, G, and B are on the left, while Y, H, and N are on the right. This makes it easy to reach the relevant letters with each hand, once you've separated the two sides. Depending on your personal style of typing, you might find it awkward at first--I did, but only because I'd grown used to pressing Y with my left hand; now I could no longer do so, and for the first week with the 770MD, I found my index finger stretching into empty space multiple times, muscle memory confused as to where the key had gone. It became easy enough to re-learn after keeping at it, and I've grown accustomed to using my right hand when I need to type the letter now.
Another thing you'll find chopped in half is the space bar. You have a good amount of space to rest your thumbs upon, and you're able to press the key with either hand. When you push the keyboard together, the spacebar halves can look a little odd, but this keyboard is all about function. Should it bother you, you can slap on a regular-sized spacebar keycap, but that also means you'll have to take it off every time you want to split the keyboard apart. Speaking of the keycaps, they're all double-shot PBT, which is exactly what you want to see on a high-end keyboard. They feel nice, there's no annoying greasy shine after a few months of use, and they're going to last the lifetime of the keyboard as the lettering will never fade.
Continuing on in great build quality choices, the switches available to choose from are all within the Cherry MX line--top of the line, reliable, and in my case, delightfully clicky, as this is the Cherry MX Blue variant. Compared to say, Gateron Blues, the Cherrys here are bouncier, higher-pitched, and have some fantastic tactile feedback. If Blues aren't to your taste, you can grab the MD770 in Red, Silent, Black, or Brown. I find Blue switches to be ideal for a mix of both typing and gaming, and the ones in this keyboard don't disappoint.
Underneath the keyboard are a few holes, and some rubber feet to attach them to. I'm honestly not a fan of this design choice, and it's probably the closest I came to disliking anything to do with the MD770. I wish they'd gone with more options or feet with varying height, so that you could tent the keyboard, or adjust the tilt level. As it stands, you can move the feet to the few designated slots on the bottom, but it doesn't change much in terms of comfort or angle.
Over on the back edge of the keyboard are four--yes, four--USB-C ports, two on each half. The inner USB-C ports are used to connect the two sides together, with the included 80's-aesthetic curly cable, or with any USB-C cord you've got on hand. Meanwhile, the outer ones are meant to connect to your PC, like any regular wired keyboard. Or, you can use it purely as a charging socket, since the MD770 supports Bluetooth, meaning you can do all your keyboard splitting wirelessly. Mistel thought to include just about everything any niche keyboard fanatic could want here, and they've created a super solid, fantastic keyboard.
That's not everything, though. We've already gone over how you can pull the keyboard apart in order to type at a more comfortable angle, but you can also apply this to gaming as well. In fact, if you're looking for a good gaming macro-pad, the MD770 handles that as well. This is where the keyboard goes from "awesome" to "amazing." By moving one half out of the way, or even disconnecting it, you can turn it into a completely programmable macro-pad. There are dip-switches on the back to change your initial layout, and by pressing "PN," you can cycle through different custom commands and setting up your own keybindings. You also don't need any extraneous software to do any of this--I would however recommend keeping the user manual and all its commands nearby, so you know what you're doing. The MD770 lets you create three "layers," aka three different sets of customized layouts you can set up and seamlessly switch between. These programming capabilities also take it a step further, in the way that you can create macros or input combinations, but also ones with specific delays, in case the game you're playing needs a precise period between each input.
While you might be a little intimidated by either the Barocco's price or the learning curve associated with a split keyboard, Mistel has done a great job creating a keyboard perfect for those looking to dip their toes into the world of ergonomic keyboards, or for gamers wanting to get the most out of their hardware--in this case, you get a regular 75% keyboard, a split keyboard, and a macro-pad, all in one.