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A Decorated Keyboard
Gamers, especially those who consider themselves part of the hardcore brigade, always feel that they need specially enhanced equipment to survive in the virtual gaming world of their choice. This equipment covers items such as the display monitor, mouse / controller and keyboard that have been developed to give gamers that extra edge to improve their performance. Offering to provide the keyboard element is the Sandberg ThunderStorm product – it does seems almost compulsory that gaming devices have an appropriate sounding title to help set pulses racing and get the adrenaline flowing.
Straight out of the packaging the ThunderStorm keyboard, with dimensions of 467 x 204 x 31mm, is an irregular shaped slab decked out predominately in matte black. The various embellishments on the main 104-key layout are coloured matte silver. A further ten multimedia keys arranged across the top of the main layout have barely visible embellishments, presumably so as not to distract the gamer during the heat of battle or other life threatening environments making up the gaming world. Decorating the full face of this ThunderStorm keyboard are what can only be described as the slime tracks left behind by a snail after a well-lubricated night on the tiles.
As you might expect with a keyboard aimed at demanding gamers, the ThunderStorm unit is a tethered device that is built around a metal plate to ensure the keyboard does not slip around due to any over-aggressive use by the player. The permanently attached USB cable is nylon braided to add a touch of style and measures 1.8 metres allowing for plenty of freedom when positioning the keyboard in relation to the monitor display and other tools of the trade.
Once the ThunderStorm keyboard is plugged into an available USB then its appearance takes on a different look. By default the appearance of my review sample was enhanced by a bright red backlight as the Sandberg logo and the slime tracks were highlighted. The only area of the keyboard not affected by this red glow was that containing the multimedia keys arrange along the top of the unit. This is where you will find keys for controlling and adjusting the volume level of music plus accessing your browser and email client when the need arises.
Positioned on the bottom row of the QWERTY style keyboard, between the Alt Gr and Fn keys, is a key bearing what looks a little like a searchlight. Pressing this key turns the bright red light into a more relaxing blue. A further press of this key will have the effect of changing the blue light into a purple glow. One more press and the light disappears totally giving you a more or less standard keyboard appearance for when using the keyboard for non-competitive tasks.
Sandberg has taken the decision not to include any drivers in the box and none are necessary for the basic use of this keyboard. Also no documentation is provided which I found rather disappointing. Even a small booklet covering some of the features of the ThunderStorm would have been appreciated. If any customisation of the keys and macro creation that may be supported by this keyboard is required then this will need to rely heavily on that which is available from the software provided by certain games. The ThunderStorm keyboard is compatible with all versions of Windows from XP and later plus Mac OS. Sandberg has priced the ThunderStorm at £48.99. This product seems more suited to those who are occasional rather than full force gamers.
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