The Solid Alloy series is the more compact version of the Superslim, but shares the luxurious 2mm thick aluminium alloy front plating of thee larger model, with the same high quality, scratch resistant, finger print free finish.
The Solid Alloy series, like the larger Superslim, is also available in both silver and gunmetal and thankfully avoids the worrying bending we found in the Superslim thanks to a much thicker plastic frame. This combined with the highly durable aluminium alloy plating makes sure the Solid Alloy completely lives up to its name – it stood up marvellously to the angry journo “Oh no, I’ve just formatted the master graphics card benchmarking hard disk and we’re supposed to start benchmarking in an hour” abuse test extremely well (Surprisingly, Harry wasn't smiling at this point - Ed.).
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The more compact size of the keyboard has predictably meant that the key layout has had to be altered, and while the Solid Alloy packs in the full QWERTY key quotient (say that fast, five times), everything is a little squished. There’s no gap between the F-keys and the top line of number keys and only the smallest of dividers between the QWERTY keys and the numpad, with the middle block of keys relocated all over the place. For normal office use it’ll certainly take some getting used to, especially as some keys such as the arrow keys and right Control, have been shrunk to accommodate the relocated keys.
Despite their aesthetic similarities, the Solid Alloy uses completely different keys to the Superslim, eschewing the scissor style keys in favour of more conventional sprung keys (although the springs have long been replaced by rubber pads in all but the most old skool of keyboards). While still responsive and with a good degree of travel, we prefer the scissor style keys of the Superslim and it’s a shame they couldn’t have been used instead of the more conventional sprung keys.
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However, the smaller size, tough build quality, durable finish and simple styling of the Solid Alloy means that this keyboard is very well suited for use atop a media centre or home cinema system (although it is wired, which might put some off), and this is helped by the excellent array of media keys located along the top of the keyboard.
While these have come at the cost of shortcut keys (the Solid Alloy has just two for both email and Internet browser), we find that media keys are of much more use than shortcuts, especially if you’re in game or mid-movie and don’t want to alt-tab or interrupt playback. The funky purple, vaguely UV LEDs for num/scroll/caps lock also make a welcome return.
Although it’s a little more expensive than the larger SuperSlim Alloy keyboard we’ve also looked at today, we think the superior build quality of the Solid Alloy makes it the better choice of the two. It’s a very attractive, wonderfully finished little bit of kit that’s great for smaller workstations or a media PC, and while there’s still room for improvement is still a fine compact keyboard.