Roccat Skeltr Review

December 14, 2016 // 3:02 p.m.

Tags: #app #gaming-keyboard #roccat #roccat-skeltr-review #smartphone

Roccat Skeltr Review

Manufacturer: Roccat
UK price (as reviewed):
£149.99 (inc VAT)
US price (as reviewed): $159.99 (ex tax)

While basic keyboards are still widely available, recent years have seen the market's price ceiling creep ever upwards as companies have taken advantage of marketing them towards gamers and enthusiasts with mechanical keys, a seemingly endless feature set and a heavy focus on customisation. As writers and gamers ourselves, we can appreciate the logic of investing in something you use so often. Top-tier models these days, almost without exception, sport a full set of mechanical key switches. We say almost, because there are indeed a few exceptions, and at £150 Roccat's membrane-based Skeltr is one of them.

Roccat Skeltr Review
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So, what on earth is lying beneath the Skeltr's bulky plastic exterior that could possibly justify such a cost? While it does have deep key customisation options and RGB lighting, the same can be said of mechanical keyboards that cost the same. Instead, the answer is its main unique selling point and something we first stumbled upon at Roccat's booth over two years ago at Gamescom 2014: smartphone integration. Indeed, Roccat itself describes the Skeltr as a 'smart communication gaming keyboard'. In a nutshell, the Skeltr can be used to charge your device, take calls through your headset, reply to messages and monitor and control your system by using your phone's screen in a similar fashion to keyboards with integrated LCD screens. We can't personally say that we've been itching for a keyboard like this, and with its £150 price tag this is clearly a super niche product. Nonetheless, it's an interesting break from the norm so we were keen to take a look.

Roccat Skeltr Review
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First impressions aren't great, sadly. Build quality is low relative to what we're used to seeing in this price range. It's an all-plastic design (available in white, black or grey like our sample) with no internal steel reinforcing plate making it more lightweight and flexible than we'd like. It will certainly stand up to sustained use, but the look and feel are of a keyboard far cheaper. It's not all bad news, at least, with plenty of rubber on the base giving it a good grip and a thick and well braided cable that's fairly secure at the connection point.

Roccat Skeltr Review
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The thickness of said cable is a result of it housing a second USB connection and a pair of audio jacks for USB, headphones and microphone pass-through purposes. All connectors are along the back: The headset ones are at the top-left and labelled for easy connection, while the USB port is centrally located next to the cable itself, along with a mobile-style audio jack which allows you to feed your smartphone's audio signal into the keyboard – more on that over the page.

Roccat Skeltr Review Roccat Skeltr Review
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The Skeltr is described as having five-zone RGB lighting but the entire key set counts as one zone while the other four are located two each at the sides. This being a membrane keyboard, it's easy for Roccat to create an even effect across the keys with all keycaps being well lit, although at typical viewing angles you do see some dimming towards the top of the top two rows of keys.

Roccat Skeltr Review
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Comfort is one area where the Skeltr excels. The back legs give you a pleasant typing angle and a large removable wrist rest is supplied. Clipping in easily, it gives you great support and although the surface is hard plastic it didn't give us any discomfort.

Roccat Skeltr Review
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With its rather standard membrane keys the Skeltr is not something you buy for the typing experience. In fairness, the action isn't too bad, although membrane keyboards never age as well as mechanical keyboards – keys have a tendency to become squishy and stickier over time, and Roccat does not give an expected lifetime for the membrane keys. Out of the box, at least, consistency is high and the actuation force feels well judged. One benefit over most mechanical keys is noise, with the Skeltr being substantially muffled in comparison to the horde of mechanical keyboards that typically line our desks. The keycaps are not too loose and they're also aligned along a single plane so your fingers naturally jump from one to the other fast. In short, this is a keyboard we could live with and it's about as good as you can expect a membrane keyboard to be in this department, but it won't win over anyone already committed to mechanical switches.

Roccat Skeltr Review
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Custom functions along the top row of F-keys include media and volume control, calculator, computer/browser buttons, brightness control and macro recording. These are triggered using the FN key on the bottom row.

Roccat Skeltr Review Roccat Skeltr Review
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You also get five dedicated macro keys to play with down the left and three 'Thumbster' macro keys below the spacebar which are excellent in their positioning and very easy to reach from a typical gaming position. Furthermore, the Caps Lock is swapped out for Roccat's EasyShift+ key, which gives a secondary function to all macro keys and 20 of the main keys while held down. Custom functions are all controlled via the Swarm software which is detailed over the page.

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