Corsair K83 Wireless Entertainment Keyboard
Desktop PC / Device
SOME WOULD HAVE YOU THINK that the appropriate place to use a PC is not hunched in front of a monitor at a battered desk scarred with the corpses of keyboards past. Increasingly, that notion is true: Nvidia’s BFG displays, to name one example, are bringing acceptable response times and minimal lag to our living rooms, meaning no-compromise pixel-pushing is putting its feet up on the couch and getting comfy. It follows that our control methods should evolve along with the games and media we’re moving out of the office, right? Hence this.
Let’s make one thing clear, though: Corsair’s mini board is by no means alone in the space. Others are out there cooking up their own solutions for couch control, and Roccat’s Sova—a big plank of a keyboard, with adequate flat space on its right edge to run a real mouse on a real surface—arguably has the better idea when it comes to games. Corsair points this at “entertainment” control, and despite its clearly delineated WASD cluster, that’s probably the fairest way to rate it. To do that, we need to inspect the real meat, and that’s all on the right edge.
You can’t miss the big circular touchpad, which, although supporting four-finger gestures, feels specifically designed for one-thumbed pointing. Gesture support obviously adds a little media control flexibility, which is important, because Corsair has put its media keys on double duty with the F9– F12 keys. In action, that touchpad is the perfect size when holding the right edge, even if you have thumbs like a ballpark hotdog, but flip your hand palm down, and it’s just too small and awkward to use consistently with a finger.
The touchpad is not the only quirky control method included, as Corsair has also dropped in a configurable analog joystick above it. Sticks are hard to get right at the best of times, and we can’t exactly say this has succeeded. Contrasting the too-small touchpad, the stick is just too large, and it covers a vast distance when moved. With it comes a pair of buttons, one on the shoulder, one much larger and sitting on the underside, within one of the K83’s two grip channels. Certainly clever placement, as they’re both easy to reach, but the execution is middling at best—their glossy finish means the base button in particular is indefinite and easy to miss or mispress.
THE RIGHT STUFF
We’re following a common thread here. In theory, we’re blown away by the K83’s design. It hits the mark on its weight, on its materials, on its strength, and its battery. Its subtle white lighting and blend-in mix of grays and blacks means it works well in a dim room, but doesn’t make a scene when you’re not actively using it. It’s versatile, offering a pair of Bluetooth connections as well as its own (much more responsive) wireless receiver. But there are so many things that don’t quite work so well, and when you add in the click-to-mute feature of the volume control—too stiff compared to the looseness of the knurled roller, meaning you’re taking a gamble every time as to whether you’ll mute it or turn it way up—they’re basically all on the right edge. That’s supposed to be what makes this special.
Even with its niggles, the K83 is not a disaster. It’s a great little low-profile keyboard, with brilliantly tactile keycaps, and enough travel and distance between keys to make it more pleasant than the typical laptop experience. It looks great, and we could see ourselves using it longterm with a media PC. But not a gaming PC. Even if the mouse cluster had fulfilled its potential, it wouldn’t have reinvented the wheel.
Switch Type: Corsair Gaming Scissor
Form Factor: Tenkeyless
Media Keys: Yes
Macro Keys: Software configurable
N-Key Rollover: 20-key
Dimensions: 15 x 5 x 1.1 inches
Warranty: Two years
Plus: Comfortable typing feel; good looks; tough construction.
Minus: Odd joystick; awkward joystick buttons; too-small touchpad.