Tesoro Durandal Ultimate G1NL Mech. Keyboard ReviewBluePanda - March 7, 2012
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Not plugged in, it doesn't have that weird "needs LED lighting" look like a lot of backlit keys tend to have. There's no weird empty feel or hard to read keys with the backlight off, it looks normal and not like something is wrong. The function key pressed with either the 8 or 2 on the number pad, cycles between the 4 levels of lighting. There is the 'off" setting, three levels of brightness, and then a fourth level that pulses the dimmest to brightest settings. It's pretty nice to be able to alternate between super bright and a little less bright for when the lights are off. Unfortunately, since each key has its own individual LED, as shown up ahead, the backlighting isn't quite evenly distributed. The F1-F12 keys all have dual purpose, with media keys or profile options, which keep the bottom half of the key from really glowing red. The Windows key on the bottom left has a dulling that doesn't quite fully light the key. Worst of all is the space bar, which I'm not sure if it was meant to be designed this way, which has a single LED in the middle and then fades off completely left and right of it. It almost looks broken or as if it was missing some lighting.
To take a little closer look at what's behind the key I decided to pull off the Esc key from the keyboard. Behind it, you'll see a literal brown switch and little red LED. With the keys lit up, you can see the uneven lighting of the media keys I've mentioned before. The other keys seem to light up pretty well, but where it doesn't seem to light up, it just makes it a look a little cheap and not well thought out.
A closer look at the keys off again reveals the nice look of them without backlighting. The keys don't have that ghosting that makes them look wrong without the lighting. They look normal as if the keyboard never even lit up. Tilting it up on edge and taking a look at what would be your upper right hand side of the keyboard, you'll find two 2.0 USB ports and connections for headphones and or a mic. Since this edge sits realitivly high up on your desk, even without the feet extended, the ports are pretty easy to get to and seem like options I'd almost consider using, as opposed to other keyboards with this feature. However, I feel that keyboards don't really need ports like this, but it seems every manufacture thinks they do.
The backside of the keyboard is about as standard as it gets. There are two extendable feet at the top, some rubber pads near the four corners, and a detachable wrist rest. These things all seem to be becoming more and more common and need little explanation. The feet that do pop up add quite a bit of height, to what already seems like a tall keyboard to me, perhaps I tend to fall a little more for the lower profile keyboards. But, this one just seems super tall.
I mentioned the upper right corner of the keyboard while I was unboxing it. Normally you find the CAPS lock, scroll lock, and num lock indicators located here. However, this one has CAPS lock, num lock, and what's considered the "G" mode. This indicator allows you to see if your gamer profiles are set (i.e. your Windows key is off and your macros are all set to active). Even without this feature, with a few presses of your macro keys, it doesn't take too many windows to open or things to not happen as expected to notice your gamer profiles are on. No one really uses the scroll lock, so it's not much of a loss, but I'm not sure it's really a gain either. There is also a super dim, almost UV purple Tesoro logo, that I've slightly photoshopped for you to see. Unfortunately when lit up even with the lights off it's difficult to see. I'm not sure of its purpose if I can't see it, but it is there.
The CD and install guide are wrapped up nicely and this is one CD you won't want to lose. The software is not available for download on Tesoro's site just yet, and without it you won't be able to take advantage of any macro settings you may so desire. You don't really need to read the instructions, you plug in the keyboard and Windows will make it work. If you want macros, drop in the CD and install, it's just that simple. There's only a one page GUI to play with, so you can't get confused or lost. You can switch profiles by selecting it on your keyboard or selecting it at the top of the software window. You can now set up to 50 macros that will do about anything you desire, from opening programs, to spamming kill commands, it's truly up to you. It takes a few seconds when you hit "Apply" to write these to the hardware itself, but once it's there you don’t even need the software to use your settings. Take this to a friend's house and without installing anything, you will still have your macro options. Pretty simple and pretty neat.
Overall the keyboard is a pretty sexy looking thing. The LED lighting is a super downer on the overall appearance of the keyboard itself. It has nice MX Cherry Browns that will make any mechanical keyboard guru go crazy. But it's quite the wallet eater for the cost, at $180.00 there's not quite enough here to warrant such demanding value.