bit-tech.net

SteelSeries Shift Review

SteelSeries Shift Review

Manufacturer: SteelSeries
UK Price (as reviewed): £71.98 (inc VAT)
US Price (as reviewed): $94.99 (ex tax)

SteelSeries’ new keyboard, the Shift, is based on the same concept as the company's Zboard, which has a removable keyset that can be replaced with keys suited specifically to certain games. For example, there are keysets available (at extra cost) for StarCraft II, Medal of Honor and World of Warcraft, all with altered key layouts, which SteelSeries claims make you better and faster at gaming.

Additional keysets are available for around £20, but given that avid StarCraft II and World of Warcraft gamers usually put in a lot of hours, this customisation could be a good investment - if it works. The removable keyset makes it much easier to clean the Shift's keys than on traditional keyboards – when you remove the keyset, the membrane domes and circuitry remain in place.

The Shift is a beefier keyboard than the Zboard and it not only includes a huge wrist rest, but also has large, adjustable legs that alter the height to three levels, all of which are pleasant to use. The wrist rest is large, but only just reaches beyond your palm – the Cyborg V5 does a much better job in terms of wrist comfort, although the Shift is still very comfortable to use.

SteelSeries Shift Review SteelSeries Shift Review
Click to enlarge

This is mostly due to the keys being well spaced, so the WASD area doesn't feel cramped. The keys of the board are fantastic to use, with a responsiveness that’s very close to that offered by mechanical switches, but without the noise. SteelSeries has also built in three different levels of key resistance. There are also two USB 2 ports, and headphone and microphone pass-through jacks located at the top of the keyboard.

The Shift is very much focused on the LAN gamer and therefore allows the swappable keysets to be folded, presumably to allow for easy storage and transportation. However, one fold crosses the spacebar and as such, it has been split in two.

The gap is only around 5mm, but it was enough to be incredibly annoying if you don’t touch-type – our fingers continually landed on the gap, resulting in confused pauses and lots of double spaces. Touch-typing is one way around this, as your thumbs rest on each section of the spacebar, but even then your right thumb is extremely close to the gap.

SteelSeries Shift Review SteelSeries Shift Review
Click to enlarge

If you like using keyboard shortcuts, though, the Shift is definitely for you. There are 11 dedicated shortcut keys and in addition to this, using software provided by SteelSeries, you can customise practically every key with up to four separate layers, which you can then switch between. In short, you’ll probably run out of hard disk space for programs before you run out of shortcut keys for them.

In games, the Shift was brilliant and, thankfully, the two spacebars weren’t an issue when using the WASD keys. In addition, the Shift was very responsive, although we found that the primary key area was slightly compressed compared with the Cyborg V5.

Conclusion

The Shift is nearly a fantastic keyboard, but it’s ultimately let down by a few niggles - mainly the split Spacebar, lack of backlit keys and its price. With a few adjustments the Shift could be a winner, but sadly it isn’t there yet. If we were off to a LAN and needed a new keyboard, we would still plump for the Cyborg V5 instead.

  • Design
  • x
  • x
  • x
  • x
  • x
  • x
  • x
  • -
  • -
  • -
  • 7/10
  • Features
  • x
  • x
  • x
  • x
  • x
  • x
  • x
  • x
  • x
  • -
  • 9/10
  • Value
  • x
  • x
  • x
  • x
  • x
  • x
  • -
  • -
  • -
  • -
  • 6/10
  • Overall
  • x
  • x
  • x
  • x
  • x
  • x
  • x
  • -
  • -
  • -
  • 7/10
Score Guide

Specifications

  • Connection Wired (USB)
  • Material Plastic
  • Cable Plastic, un-braided
  • Extras Wrist rest, three height levels, removable keys

Related Reading

Gigabyte K8100 Review
Tt eSports Challenger Keyboard Review
ASUS Eee Keyboard PC Review
Microsoft Sidewinder X4 Keyboard Review