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Is this keyboard from the future?
A review of the K727 keyboard from Gearbest.com
As a note this keyboard was given to me for review samples from Gearbest.com
I always strive to bring unbiased reviews whether the item was purchased, given, gifted, dropped off a truck or any other situation. However I cannot guarantee that I can be bias free of a product if the company I am dealing with just offers terrible service. (Luckily this is not the case with Gearbest!)
I’ve owned the following keyboards (estimated ratings in brackets, stars denote review is written):
i) Ducky 9008G2pro Cherry Brown (6.5/10. I hate browns.)
ii) Cooler Master QFR Cherry Blues (6.5/10. Costar Stabilizers… Very plasticky case)
iii) Topre 10th Anniversary JIS 30G topre uniform (8/10. Fine keyboard with good aesthetics and very nice build quality / keycaps. But 30g is meh.)
iv) GoN Crystal TKL Ergo Cherry Blacks (*9/10. Case was flimsy.)
v) JD40 Ergo Cherry Clears and Custom Case (8.5/10. Nice keyboard but the keycap compatibility was lacking and the controller position was annoying for me)
vi) Blackwidow Ultimate 2014 Razer Greens (*2.25/10. Everything was bad)
vii) HHKB 45g Topre uniform standard version (I bought this board twice so I guess it does something right. 9/10. Alternative controller is extremely useful. Great aesthetics, sound and feeling.)
viii) GoN MX-Mini Stock MX Whites – (Not GoN’s PCB) (8/10. Case was really nice. MX Whites were perfectly consistent across the board. PCB gave me a lot of trouble)
ix) GoN MobiK Ergo Clears (*9.75/10. Absolutely wonderful 40%, the best really.)
x) Code TKL with Cherry Greens (7.5/10. Costar Stabilizers. Clean aesthetics and has a nice weight. Nothing Fantastic.)
xi) Azio Levetron Mech5 Cherry Black (4/10. Poor build quality. Aesthetics and design are really bad. Only nice thing was that it was waterproof spillproof.)
xii) IBM Model M Blue Logo Buckling Spring (7.5/10. Big, loud and obnoxious. Classic Aesthetics with standard layout. However they’re old and most need some work. Switches don’t feel as nice as Model F)
xiii) IBM Model M SSK Gray Logo Buckling Spring (8/10. Same as the regular Model M, classic Aesthetics with standard layout. However they’re old and most need some work. Switches don’t feel as nice as Model F)
xiv) Duck Viper x2 Ergo Cherry Red, Ergo Cherry Clears (8.75/10. The case is killer and packed with an Alps compatible PCB. Unfortunately the plate wasn’t Alps compatible and with such a layout plates are not available. Also a hassle to remap the layout, but at least possible)
xv) Realforce 91 Black 45g uniform Topre JIS Layout (8/10. Sleek black keycaps with Topre switches and stabilizers. Always a pleasure to use but there’s nothing unique about it. With an alternate controller to hardware remap the JIS-only keys the board could have been a lot better.)
xvi) Realforce x Just Systems 104UW 45g Uniform HiPro Keycaps JIS Layout (9/10. Keycaps are absolutely stunning with a very nice colorway that will make you the envy of all other thorpers. Full Sized is a pain for me though.)
xvii) Realforce 91 Black 45g uniform Topre JIS Layout HiPro Modded (9/10. Keycaps are absolutely stunning with a very nice colorway that will make you the envy of all other thorpers. The TKL size makes it a lot more usable for me but still needs an alternative controller.)
So what keyboard do I have for you today?
xviii) The E-Blue K727 which retails for $70 USD shipped directly from Gearbest (link: http://goo.gl/bBIh1I
), or alternatively sometimes offered through Massdrop. The specific version that I have is the Kailh Blues version. So of course I’m going to try and compare the feeling of the switches directly with Cherry MX Blues. For those that don’t know, the Kailh Blues are a Cherry MX Compatible switch, meaning that they’re meant to be similar but produced by a different brand, in this case, Kailh. This means that they will not feel perfectly identical to Cherry MX Blues. However they use the same '+' shaped stems for keycap compatibility.
The keyboard offers underside backlighting through a plastic bottom case with a brushed metal top plate. The keys are “Floating switch” as it’s been called. Basically the plate is the top of the case. The keyboard also features in-switch backlighting with different colors for each row. There are different backlighting patterns, mostly “Gaming” modes (such as having WASD lit up) as well as a snake mode that I first remember seeing being featured on the Ducky Year Of The Snake edition keyboard. All in all the keyboard is very bright.
Before I get onto reviewing, I should make it clear that scores for each section are not based on price, but based on absolute expectations of quality. I will of course come to a conclusion whether the board is worth the price at the END of the review. The purpose of this is to have scores somewhat comparable between all the reviews that I write. So three boards that I review have scores of 4/10, 6/10 and 8/10, the 8/10 is the best in my opinion. I feel like I should mention this first so people don’t instantly call this product garbage based on the number rating without looking at the conclusion. I will normalize the overall score to a score on 10 at the end of the review.
It may be worth noting that I normally deal with higher end products (luxury products) and therefore I hold high expectations based on my own needs.
The list of sections will be as follows:
1) Build Quality
2) Key switches
3) Stock Keycaps
5) Aesthetics (Half weight)
You’ll notice that the Aesthetics were given a half weight meaning that I give them half the weight of the others in the weighted average. Why is this? I don’t think aesthetics directly influence the performance of a product. When I consider premium products, I consider performance first and foremost.
1) Build Quality
Well the first thing is that all the LEDs are working. I’ve seen a lot worse for higher prices. This section encompasses everything to do with the build quality besides actually opening up the case. Here I’ll identify any dead switches, LEDs, bad keycaps, case damages, and, if it ever happens, any future failures the keyboard will have will be updated here. Keep in mind that my keyboard is one sample of potentially thousands of units and may not represent all the units. I may get lucky or unlucky in my sample and with only one unit to work with there’s not much else I can do about that. As I mentioned, all the LEDs were perfectly intact, however, some keys were not as uniform in the backlighting
. Taking some of the keycaps off to identify the issue, I quickly realized that the issue seems to be caused by the LEDs being angled
. This definitely could have been avoided when soldering the LEDs in. Trying to push them back into place has no proven to be a great method however if you experience this issue, it does help.
None of the keycaps seem malformed or otherwise damaged. Onto the case, oh boy. The keyboard has some printed text onto it in different locations. However the text is not laser printed on. One thing that does stand out however is the word “Meghanic”
written on the bottom left for me to see every time I lift my left hand off away for the keyboard. I can only assume that the intention was to write “Mechanic” given that this is a mechanical keyboard! But alas, the board is only a meghanical keyboard. I have brought up the issue with a rep but I’m not sure if they’d change the entire manufacturing for a spelling mistake that does not impact functionality (and, if it does impact functionality for some people, they should consider mental help instead of reading this review). Even if it’s not too important, it’s still something that could have been avoided.
The brushed metal top case has a defect in it. One specific part of the case got a bit too brushed and therefore now looks like I took a knife to it
. The resulting portion of the case is not smooth and was very obvious straight from the box. This seems more like luck than anything (or lack thereof) during the manufacturing process of the top case. The rest of the case is perfectly smooth with a fairly uniform brushed meta
Lastly about the case, it came a bit dirty around the arrow cluster. A bit of water and a cloth and it was all clean.
My score for this section comes in at 7.5/10 None of the build quality issues impact the functionality of the keyboard, only the aesthetics and even then, not by much. The LED issue probably wouldn’t even be noticed by most people without it being pointed out.
2) Key switches
Probably one of the most important sections for you guys (and gals) considering this features MX compatible switches and there’s quite a bit of controversy over them. As I mentioned earlier this particular unit features Kailh Blues (but the board is also available in other variants). I’m glad to say, I’m a belieber believer. All the switches are VERY uniform. I had low expectations for this after having owned the Razer Blackwidow which was plagued with problems all around including really poor switch performance from the Razer commissioned Kailh Green switches. The Kailh blues have a distinct click as expected from an alternative Cherry MX Blue switch. The switches feel a bit smoother overall but the force curve is different. There’s a lot of resistance at the top of the switches and it increases until it hits the click point and then it disappears. The switches feel very similar to MX Blues and even feature the different reset and click points.
The switches differ most in the starting resistance, at the top of the stroke. Whether you like this or not is really personal preference. I can’t say I particularly like it myself though. It makes the switches feel a bit heavier. Different strokes for different folks.
The stabilizers are very nice. It uses Cherry style stabilizers so none of those hellborn Costar tabs to deal with. I’ve mentioned in the past that I hate Costar stabilizers since I feel they add a bit to the weighting, even if they’re “crisper”. However a well implemented Cherry Style Stabilizer should feel basically non-existent besides the fact that it stabilizes the key. My GoN stabilizers feel VERY crisp and I doubt I’d see any improvement in that keyboard for crispness even if it had Costar stabilizers.
I guess I should get back to the K727 at some point. I find the stabilizers very well implemented in the K727. The stabilizers barely impact the typing experience of the keyboard and I don’t have the same issues as I do with the Costar Style stabilizers of having the weighting higher. One thing I should note is that if anything, the stabilized keys feel a bit lighter than the other keys on the board. It might just be my imagination. Testing the Enter key and the ‘ key, the only thing I get is a tiny bit of mushiness from the stabilizer.
The key switches also don’t wobble like the Razer Greens which was a big concern of mine with that keyboard.
To avoid including bias from my switch preference I won’t be factoring the difference in the switches for this review. Whether you like the way the switch feels or not is very personal. (Unless it’s browns).
My score for this section: 7.5/10
The stabilized keys do have a slightly different feel to them which can impact the typing experience. None of the switches were defective. The switches are quite smooth for a stock switch and feature a distinct and satisfying click with the 1u keys and more of a clack with the longer keys. I wouldn’t say they’re quieter or louder than Cherry MX Blues (which of course is the main comparison for this section given that a lot more people are familiar with those than Kailh switches).
3) Stock Keycaps
The keycaps are laser etched for the FN legends and the main legends are backlit POM. The keycaps don’t bleed a speck of light outside of the POM backlit section suggesting a PBT plastic.
They also feel sticky. Not as sticky as rubberized keys. I prefer having textured PBT keycaps like the stock Realforce or SP DSA sets. The only exception has been the Realforce HiPro 108UW keycaps which almost felt like a soft silk on my fingertips. However the K727 stock keycaps are none of the above. The plastic is a bit sticky. I’m not sure if it’s similar to the Taihao sets having that anti-bacterial coating or the Vortex sets (frankly feels closer to the Vortex sets) having this smooth un-textured sticky plastic. Anyway, I very much disliked the rubberized keycaps of the Blackwidow for the stickiness and the same went for the stock Poker 2 PBT caps (even though those weren’t rubberized). I don’t enjoy the feeling of these keycaps one however they’re not as bad as the Blackwidow disaster.
My fingers want to be caressed by the keycaps or to touch them and feel them. These are bordering clingy level and I don’t like clingy.
The font is what I’d consider futuristic
. I don’t know the exact font style used but it very much makes me think of a futuristic style font. The lines are very clean and distinct
with a lot of 90 degree angles / lines to make up curved letters (like “C”) along with open legend design (that is to say there is no enclosed space like the center of “O”). I imagine this would have to do with the keycap manufacturing process not allowing that but I think it was implemented so well into the font style. If you’re looking for a more classic keyboard, just the font style alone would make you shake your head. However I’m open to different styles and this doesn’t look bad to me. If anything the legends look quite good.
The biggest problem with the legends is actually the lasered legends. They’re a bit spotty
. They could be done a bit cleaner I think.
The keycaps all seem to be very clean and smooth around the edges from the manufacturing save for the left arrow key which just needed a bit of sanding down. No extrusions or other notes about any of the other keycaps. The backlit sections of the keycaps are very uniform
. I mentioned before that the backlighting wasn’t uniform across all the keys. Just to clarify, this is not due to the keycaps. Only the LED soldering job. The backlighting window for the spacebar is a nice touch.
The keycaps themselves are very thin though, even thinner than the stock HHKB keycaps. Some people like the thicker caps (me being one of them) for the meatier feel.
Overall the texturing for the keycaps is mediocre in my opinion but the font style is unique with good build quality for the keycaps.
My score for this section: 6/10
An interesting set of keycaps ruined by the texturing for me. Thin, backlit keycaps.
This section deals with the design of the keyboard in terms of functionality.
The first thing I noticed was the really crappy feature of not having an adjustable typing angle. I don’t think I’ve ever seen another non-custom keyboard without this feature. I actually took off some of the keycaps and used them to prop up the back of the keyboard
a bit to get a typing angle I’m more comfortable with. Considering typing angle is something that’s heavily preference based, I find the lack of adjustable feet a bit of a disappointment. I’d rather see some built in extendable feet in the case rather than just these small rubber feet on the four corners that leaves the board at a 0 degree angle. It however should be worth noting that at the price of the keyboard it may be necessary that case forego the extending feet to cut costs and make the board cheaper and more affordable.
The key layout is the standard 1.25u, 1.25u, 1.25u, 6.25u, 1.25u, 1.25u, 1.25u, 1.25u. Featuring a very standard TKL layout. You won’t get any nasty surprises like the Blackwidow F stripe staggering or the likes. You get a standard TKL layout.
As for the functionality side, the keyboard features some nice features like disabling Windows key by simply pressing the FN+Win key. You can also apparently program your own backlighting layout (still trying to figure that one out though) which might be more oriented to gamers if the preset gaming layouts don’t meet your requirements.
I however find the FN layer layout to be a bit, eh. Having the refresh rate controller keys in the NAV cluster seems like a bit of a waste since that NAV cluster is easily accessible with just the right hand and could have featured a lot more useful FN shortcuts. The same goes for the arrow key cluster. However I also do realize that the FN shortcuts are more commonly featured on the F stripe. I still feel like they could have innovated the FN shortcuts a bit here. I don’t see myself one hand changing backlighting levels in game but maybe if I’m listening to music while gaming I’d consider the one hand song change a lot more.
There does not seem to be any function to hardware reprogram the layout unfortunately.
The keyboard features a very standard TKL layout but lacks innovation in the FN layer for gaming and the FN shortcuts to control the backlighting are scattered all over the keyboard.
My score for this section: 5.5/10
The ability to reprogram this hardware side would have been fantastic or at least bettemore innovative FN layer placement. The lack of adjustable keyboard feet is brutal for me and, as I mentioned, I’m literally propping up the board with its own keycaps.
5) Aesthetics (Half weight)
As I mentioned earlier in this review, the Aesthetics section only receives half the points for weighting due to the fact that it holds no impact on performance. Frankly Aesthetics don’t really mean too much to me. However I can’t completely ignore it either considering the keyboard is the center piece of your desk!
The some of the backlighting modes like the wave make the board flash like a disco ball. If you’re streaming it could be a really fun show piece on your webcam. There’s also the breathing mode, gaming modes (preset keys like WASD being lit up) and the Snake mode along with the standard mode to give you a choice of backlighting madness. The keyboard overall is very thin and sleek with a nice case and slightly off white keycaps.
However there’s one thing that’s stopping me from giving it a perfect score here and that’s the screws that are all too visible when I’m looking at the board sitting on my desk (by that I mean when I’m not typing on it because I actually used it to write the entire review). The screws holding the entire board together are screwed in from the top case / plate
. I would have at least wanted it to be from the bottom where they wouldn’t be visible when the board is just sitting on my desk. Meanwhile every time I stop to think and look at the keyboard I’m met with these screws breaking the sleek aesthetics of the brushed keyboard case. Even better would have been if the plastic bottom case clipped on in a way that was sturdy but still allowed it to be removed. Alas, this is not the case and the screws are here to stay.
Overall aesthetically pleasing. Would be fantastic if not for the screws showing on the top case.
My score for the Aesthetics section: 4/5
P.S. As I write that aesthetics don’t impact typing I’m being distracted by the flashing lights of the wave mode which is impeaching my ability to type.
The E-Blue K727, available from Gearbest
. Overall score: 30.5/45 or 6.78/10.
For the price I think this is definitely an option to consider. I consider the only other main competitors in this price range to be the Cooler Master series of keyboards and other MX compatible switch keyboards such as the Royal Kludge and other similar boards. I also don’t think you’ll be getting higher quality with those brands, the biggest differences being the switch offerings between Kailh, Cherry MX and other similar switches. I can’t feel any serious flaws (serious referring to inconsistencies or other problematic features) in the Kailh switches in this board so really it just comes more to preference whether you like the feeling of the Kailh variants for that respect.
Aesthetically the very bright and flashy E-Blue K727 is again preference. However if you want something more low profile you could just disable the backlighting and just have a very clean keyboard with a brushed metal top case finish. This is easily the strongest point of the K727, the aesthetics (besides of course the screws showing).
The only real flaw that I find is the lack of the adjustable typing angle but the quality throughout the rest of the keyboard more than makes up for that fact. However if you’re really set on using a specific angle you would need to prop it up rather than just use the feet (You could just buy bigger replacement feet and replace the back feet).
For a budget mechanical keyboard I would definitely recommend this as an option. However there are other options that are available in the same price range where preferences will come into play.
Thanks for reading and look out for my future reviews.
GL1TCH3D More images can be found here And here