A keyboard can reveal a lot about its user. Depending on the design and layout, they can reveal whether you’re a gamer, your color preferences, the software you use regularly, and even what you enjoy snacking on at your desk (“Why yes, I love chocolate chip cookies! Did you know?”). With an ever growing selection of keyboards being developed, it’s easy to express yourself beyond the standard model that came with your desktop or to use externally with a laptop Asia, a brand of keyboard that offers input devices with a unique and indelible sense of style.
Azio’s keyboard catalog includes several contemporary designs, including colorful options and even those that have been treated to prevent microorganisms from multiplying on their surface. But it is Azio’s Retro Classic Collection that stands out most clearly, a range entirely dedicated to the collection’s namesake, offering designs that are somewhere between a contemporary and a steampunk aesthetic.
As someone who switched to a compact keyboard in order to keep so much valuable desk space while preferring the ergonomics of a smaller layout, I tried Azio’s Retro Compact Keyboard (RCK) with a little trepidation. Upon unpacking, it was immediately clear that this keyboard, which is modeled on a vintage typewriter, is not only an aesthetic treatment, but is surprisingly heavy compared to the typically light and plastic finish of most contemporary keyboards.
Even with a shortened layout, the Retro Compact Keyboard (RCK) offers an extremely solid desktop presence that does not slip during use and can be easily adapted to Macs or PCs – a switch at the top allows you to toggle between various operating system-specific keyboard layouts (Mac-specific Keycaps are also included). This weight is attributed to the materials Azio uses to build their keyboards: durable zinc alloy frames with real leather or wood veneer on the top.
The keys themselves are satisfactorily solid, with enough tactile travel to allow typing, and each is backlit for improved accuracy at night. Azio also includes a matching palm rest, a set of interchangeable feet for adjusting the typing angle, a USB Type-C cable for charging or switching from Bluetooth wireless connectivity to wired mode, and one final surprise – a small dust brush to keep the keyboard clean to keep away from the above chocolate chip cookie crumbs and other residues. Azio also offers a matching leather-wrapped wireless mouse and Retro Classic mouse pad to complement and complete the retro design.
Compared to the brighter-sounding click-clack of my current NuPhy F1 keyboard, the round keycaps of the RCK create a deeper, filled keystroke similar to a brown switch, which is suitable for working in the presence of others, while still being audible enough enough feedback, to satisfy the fans of mechanical keyboards. I was concerned about how difficult it would be to swap from my existing keyboard, but the RCK’s subtly concave keys help adapt from rectangular to round keys, and within half an hour I was typing with a workable level of accuracy and barely Typos.
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