The General Features tab exposes repeat rate controls and allows you to have sounds play through your speakers when certain events happen or even for every key press. We tried these in an office; it’s fair to say they were not very popular.
Thankfully, there’s more you can do than just playing inane sounds. The Key Assignment panel is where the real magic happens; using either a keymap view or a list structure, you can assign custom commands to Game Mode and Easy-Shift+ settings (the latter depends on the button as not all have this second option available). Having the built-in Game Mode for each onboard profile allows the Caps Lock function and every other key to work as normal until you want to play a game, which is a nice approach. I also like the long list of pre-installed custom macros that you get, as it saves you having to program loads of regularly used commands yourself, and they’re handily sorted by game and app.
Actually programming something is a simple drag-and-drop affair. If you want to create your own macros, the macro manager allows you to record your inputs with or without delays, after which they become available in the main assignment screen. Unfortunately, our pre-retail sample simply wouldn’t play back any of the custom macro functions I made, but the preset ones did work fine. However, we’ve seen enough Roccat products to trust that this will be fixed for the launch.
The final tab is Key Illumination, which takes the approach of simplifying RGB lighting as much as possible. There is the usual selection of effects to pick from like breathing, heartbeat, and so on, and for each of these you can pick colour options, speed, and brightness, but the main feature is of course the Aimo lighting. This is a full RGB spectrum mode that adapts to what you’re doing – start typing a lot in one area, and the lighting on and around those keys will shift in response, but in a subtler and more even way than classic reactive modes. I was sceptical at first, especially as I tend to prefer just having one or two colours, but I have to admit I came to enjoy the light show quickly. It definitely helps that the actual LED quality is very high, and the transitions between colours are smooth. The idea is that you can easily add other Roccat peripherals to your Aimo setup and integrate them into the overall pattern very easily. It’s a refreshing change from the endlessly complex programming required with some keyboards, but it does mean that users who want very specific patterns and maximum control will be better served elsewhere.
The Vulcan 120 Aimo is a positive step for Roccat. With good build quality, satisfying and exclusive switches, and software that strikes a great balance between usability and complexity, it ticks the boxes that a premium keyboard should. The price tag is certainly high, but it isn’t out of line with the competition. Some areas could be improved, such as the quality of the dedicated top-right buttons, but overall the offering is a good one, and the Aimo lighting system is a success too. The added wrist rest is a nice touch also, but remember that if you don’t need it you can save a little cash and get the Vulcan 100 instead. The premium keyboard market is quickly become rather crowded, but the Vulcan 120 should certainly be one that you shortlist.
December 11 2020 | 17:30