A smart board following the current trend
of an understated approach
QPad might not be a particular well-known
brand to UK keyboar clackers, computer user or event dedicated gamers. But the
Swedish company claims a 16-year history of supporting electronic sports, and
the MK-50 does possess a considered design, which hints at such a heritage. A
smart board following the current trend of an understated approach to
peripheral aesthetics, the MK-50 has few notable features.
QPad MK-50 Pro Gaming Keyboard
The most obvious is the detachable
wrist-rest provided, extending the board by 55mm for those who prefer such
things. It’s covered in the same rubberised finish that the whole topside of
the keyboard (keys aside) exhibits, and it’s a decent choice, adding some
simple comfort and non-slip support.
In terms of key layout, there’s nothing
particularly odd going on here. The MK-50 is full-length with everything you’d
need from a gaming keyboard you can happily use for everyday tasks as well.
Right-handers be wary, though: the right Windows key has been replaced with an
‘Fn’ key of the type you’d usually find on laptops. The key has similar usage
in mind as well, with F1 to F6 providing your standard media controls once the
FN key is held down. Otherwise the ‘Q’ key character has been replaced with the
Q from QPad, which is rather cute but rather inconsequential.
With the board comes a small resealable
plastic bag containing a key removal tool and four blank, orange keys. Clearly
these are meant for W, A, S and D, and are purely for those who see fit to
remind themselves where those keys are. There’s also a PS/2 connector provided.
There are no other physical features to
mention, which is slightly odd, because at the back right of the casing (on the
board’s rear side, behind the ‘Lock key’ lights) are spaces for two USB ports,
and two 3.5mm connections.
Presumably these are meant for an audio out
and mic in, but the MK-50 makes no mention of such features, and there are no
connectors hiding behind the blocked ports, suggesting a manufacturing error.
So what’s going on? Well, it turns out that QPad’s MK-85 does make use of this
part of the chassis, and charges about another $75 for the privilege. That’s
the buyer’s prerogative, but even so it’s hardly nice to be made to feel
inadequate by unused ports on the MK-50. And it’s not particularly
professional. A black mark for me.
Still, I’m not done here and I do have
praise to level at QPad: the review sample came with Cherry MX Red as the
mechanical switches of choice. The MX Red is a linear switch – akin to the MX
Black employed in the lovely Mionix Zibal 60, but it has a force actuation of
45G rather than the 60G for the black. This makes the MX Red the lightest of
the Cherry MX switches, and perfect (for me) for typing and gaming alike. But
it’s a personal choice. Luckily, and commendably, QPad offers the MK-50 in
Black, Brown, Red and Blue switch variants, so do try to get a feel if you can
before you choose. Or head to tinyurl.com/7oxs8jc for Qpad’s own summaries.
Lastly, I should mention that the MK-50
features n-key roll-over (via USB and PS/2), meaning each key is scanned
independently. In theory, this means that no matter how many keys you hold
down, each key strike will be detected. But in practice – due to cost – it’s
normally a certain number. Six pressed keys seems to be the limit here but,
like the MK-50 itself, despite a minor foible, it’s still impressive.
Required spec: USB or PS/2 port
Not perfect but still highly recommended