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A4tech KLS-23MU Keyboard Review

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Article created on: Jul 29, 2006
A4tech isn't the kind of brand that I thought I'll be recommending to other people. You see, I'm the kind of guy that usually only use "branded" or well known products. I always go for brands like Creative and/or Logitech for peripherals. But when I was looking around trying to look for the best overall keyboard for my setup ... best in terms of functionality and looks ... I ended up purchasing this keyboard instead. And to tell you the truth, I'm really glad that I purchased this one and didn't pay more than double for a Logitech keyboard with less features/functionality.

Aesthetics: 8
The looks department (as with any devices) is always subjective. For me, it is not as good or sturdy looking as Logitech's (ex: Media Keyb Elite) ... but it looks good. A4tech obviously didn't aim for anything flashy with this keyboard but it does have a couple of things that makes it look a bit better than your usual "bundled" looking keyboards.
The majority of the keyboad is silver, with the exception of the keys and a black plastic frame that covers the upper and left/right end side of the keyboard. There are 6 additional buttons up on top of the function keys: decrease/increase volume, mute, play/pause, rewind/fwd (w/c will be further discussed later). The lock lights looks like a horizontal thermometer (a horizontal light with a circular left end) ... the lights however doesn't have an internal divider w/c sometimes makes it confusing if a caps lock (for example) is enabled or not if the num lock w/c is sitting right on top of it is enabled ... its only an issue if you look at them on a high angle though.
The keys are only around half of the usual height when compared to most keyboards. It adds up to the "slim" look and feel of the keyboard since this is only .66 inch thick. The keys are not arranged in any "weird" fashion as with other keyboards. This one follows the typical keyboard keys orientation.
The only thing that I probably didn't like with regards to the looks of this keyboard is the "AntiRSI" logo on the lower left and the pink mic and green colored headset labels on the upper left. They just do not completely fit the overall look and theme of the keyboard. Not a real biggie though.

Features / Performance / Value: 9.5
A keyboard ... is a keyboard ... right? Well, for most of us ... yes! A lot of keyboard manufacturers focus primarily on looks, forget the extra features ... and pump up the price. Some bombard us with extra function keys ... and even add up a scrolling function w/c more often than not is already a feature that your mouse already have ... then ask you to pay more for it. While others give you features that is not often times seen with keyboards ... but will make you say "why the heck they didn't thought of this before?!" ... all at a price that anyone can afford!
That what basically A4tech had in mind with this keyboard. There's a USB 2.0 compatible extension (not expansion) port on the upper-right edge of this keyboard. I find it very useful since I have a couple of devices that I really hate connecting to the back of my tower. I can easily connect my bluetooth dongle key, MP3 player for file transferring, and Samsung E730 cellphone for charging etc. Not only that, the port itself can serve as an extension chord if I wan't to play games with my gamepad while lying down on my bed.

Now the audio and mic ports serves pretty much the same purpose as the USB. Its an extension port that can be used to connect headset and the likes. No need to worry about short mic, headphone, or headset cables ... this keyboard fixes that issue.
A couple of extra stuff that this keyboard offers is the AntiRSI (Repetitive Strain Injury) A-shaped keys. This is nothing new and you might have seen this feature with most newer Microsoft keyboards. This keyboard however doesn't completely separate the keys into two ... the keys are just aligned or shaped so that they look like they're leaning towards the middle. So regardless if you're used to using a non A-shaped keyboard before, or have used one of those in the past ... this keyboard will suit you just fine since it doesn't force you to tilt your hands in an angle.
The keyboard keys are labelled as "silent". But I myself don't consider this keyboard as such since it still create quite a loud "tapping" sound when being used. It however generates around 50-60% less noise when being used compared to other non-silent keyboards.
There's no palmrest on this keyboard w/c doesn't really bother me. The lower end of this device is a bit wider when compare to others and can serve as a palmrest. And oh, underneath the keyboard you'll find 3 rubber feet (all positioned on the lower portion). They are stuck inside a slot w/c is better than other keyboards whose rubber feet just sits on top of the flat plastic bottom of the device (w/c easily gets damaged/peeled out).
Like I mentioned before there are multimedia keys above the function keys. The said buttons can only be used when the driver is installed though. Weirdly enough, A4tech didn't add a disc with the drivers ... that can be obviously because A4tech is trying to reduce the price but just how much will it cost to add a single disc to the package? Either way downloading the driver isn't all that painful since its only around 600kb. The said driver will add another tab inside the mouse properties and needs to load at start-up for it to function properly. The said software/driver allows you to record your own keystrokes if you want any of those 6 keys to function differently than the default actions. 
Overall: 8.75
This keyboard may not look as great as the other overly expensive ones ... but the additional features/ports, combined with its very affordable price (less than more than half) makes this keyboard a steal! I wasn't able to find a good review before I purchased this device. Now I hope this review will make your decision a bit easier =)