Ozone Strike Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
Reviewed by: BluePanda
Reviewed on: December 6, 2011
Our friends at Ozone are back again, this time with a new mechanical keyboard. For those of you who know a little bit about keyboards, this one comes with your Cherry Black switches. For those of you who are a little less familiar with this terminology, cherry black switches are linear (non-tactile) switches and are considered one of the best types for gaming. The idea is to give you a smooth feel and provide the exact same release position in every key. Games with a lot of double tapping become easier and if you tend to hit the wrong key often, these are beneficial to you since they require a little more force to get that same key press. A lot of people don’t like the linear nature of Cherry Blacks, but mechanical keyboards already come down to a personal choice. If you are fan of Cherry Blacks, the Ozone Strike might just be for you.
If you didn’t know and you haven’t looked at any products from Ozone before, I feel it’s important for you to know that all their products are designed by actual gamers. They only produce gaming accessories and all of them are designed and tested by actual champions. They also sell internationally to several different countries, so if you aren’t of the ole USA and Canada region, Ozone has you covered. Today we take a look at their newest mechanical keyboard, the Ozone Stirke. Let’s take a peak and see how performs.
Right out of the shipping box the keyboard seems HUGE. The box is quite a bit larger than the keyboard itself and starts to make you panic whether or not it will even fit on your desk. Don’t fear, they had to pack that palm-rest in there somehow without it getting beat up, everything is going to be okay. The front of the box shows an actual picture of the keyboard and brags up a few of its key features, such as 1000 Hz polling rate, 2 USB hubs, audio mic ports, and a 50,000,000 keystroke lifecycle. A sticker on the box also confirms you’ve got the right layout since they have multiple options for different areas of the world. The back of the box goes with the usual multi-lingual brief specs and a few pictures to get you interested.
Opening up the box you’ll find a keyboard inside, WOW! Who would have guessed? But seriously, the keyboard is in there nice and snug with a separate compartment for the armrest and another to wind up the cable. A quick start manual is included, but with the PS/2 option there is no need for drivers. This is already shaping up to be a good find. Throwing all the cardboard aside, the cable is revealed. For me this is a bit of a shocker as it’s the biggest keyboard cable I have ever seen. The braiding keeps all the cables for the mic, headset, and two USB ports all together in one neat little bundle rather than a bunch of separate cables. However, it is rather stiff and doesn’t really want to unbend itself, which will be interesting to try and rout behind my monitor. Despite the audio and USB ports, I’m not quite sure of the need for such a large cable, as I know the Razer Lycosa has a similar set up without a cable of this size.
Moving on, it’s out of the box and I’ve found some additional key caps. They’ve included red WASD keys and an easy remove tool. I like the subtle red of the letters rather than the full red keys, which is different than most I’ve seen and it gives me replacement options if I’m gaming a bit too hard. You can see the palm-rest is shipped separately, but it is held on with a couple of clips.
The palm-rest pops on alright and almost feels as if you are about to break it when putting it on the first time. But it is quite a bit stronger than it looks, give it a little push and it’ll be on there just fine. At this point you’ll also notice that it somewhat rotates with the curvature of the keyboard edge, so if your desk isn’t perfectly flat it will accommodate for you. Back to the additional WASD keys, popping them off isn’t too hard at all with the nifty little tool they sent along, my only fear is when I lose it. Either way, you can get a nice look at the top half of the switch under there. You can also see it’s not very difficult to figure out how to put the keys back on, by using some common sense. I think you can handle it.
After completely swapping out the WASD keys, I thought it looked pretty nice. If you were introducing someone to gaming you could just tell them to use the red keys, but beyond that I think they just look awesome. They remind everyone you are a bit of a gamer at heart and also go well with the accented media keys above. The red theme is brought about in the spilled blood kind of look and can be found up above the numerical keys as well as the palm-rest. “Strike” is written out so you can always tell people what keys you are using and the indicator lights light up red too!
A close up of the media keys reveals that the most important ones for music are located on F5-F8 and the volume keys are on F1-F3. I wish these would have been swapped since I like to change songs more than I like to change volume. The reach from the Ozone key to the F5 range is a bit of a stretch for me. But it’s not a major downfall, I’m just happy to have media keys. Speaking of that Ozone key down there on the left, it’s not just a shift key that toggles on and off, it actually completely replaces your left windows key. So make sure you realize this or when you hit it and the Windows start menu doesn’t pop up, it’s okay, you’ve still got the right Windows key.
Flipping it over you can catch a glimpse of how the palm-rest attaches to the keyboard. It really is as simple as clicking it in. It also won’t be falling out as it’s kinda locked in there until you pinch to two clips together to get it back out. The keyboard itself has four long rubber strips that keep you from sliding about during a really intense battle, even the palm-rest has some rubber pads. The upper portion has height adjustments for those of you who like using them, but for me, I keep it low.
I’ve mentioned to you the USB ports and audio jacks a few times now but that doesn’t really tell you a whole lot other than that they exist. So I shot a picture to show you instead of just rambling on and on. It looks pretty nice, they are well labeled so you can get things plugged in correctly and being just at the top edge of the board above your number pad, they aren’t too hard to access. Another shot of the cable as it splits back up for you to plug in and you realize again just how thick this cable really is.
Overall it looks like one pretty sexy keyboard. I’m ready to test it out and see how it competes. It will be my first cherry black so we’ll see if I’m ready for it or not. We are at least half way to gold with a nice looking set of keys.
430 x 160 x 40 mm
Gold plated Cherry Blacks
50 Million keystrokes
- 7 multimedia keys/li>
- Ozone F-Key (Left Windows Key Replaced with Function Key)
- Detachable palm rest
- 2 x USB 2.0 + Audio Jacks
- Braided cable with gold plated connectors
- Anti-ghosting / Nkey rollover function (with PS2)
- USB to PS/2 adapter included
- Extra WASD keyset + tool for easy exchange
All information provided by: http://www.ozonegaming.com/product.php?id=22
The Ozone Strike was put through a one week testing period. During this time I did everything from writing school papers, to random net surfing, and most importantly some good casual gaming. Since it works with the PS/2, there aren’t any drivers to set up, so I just get to plug it in and go!
Although a keyboard is a crucial part of any system build, there really are no concrete tests that can be performed to really define this keyboard as better than any other. However, in a subjective manner it can easily be broken down into key categories that really show where a keyboard shines, or fails miserably. The most defining traits of a keyboard can be summarized numerically under the categories of Comfort, Customization, Gaming, and Accuracy.
- Processor: AMD Phenom II X3 720 @ 3.6 GHz
- Motherboard: GIGABYTE 990FXA-UD3
- Memory: 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3 PC3-17000 9-11-10-28 Redline
- Video Card: 4870X2 2GB
- PSU: Antec TruePower New TP-750
- Hard Drives: 2x Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 RAID 1
- Optical Drive: N/A
- Case: Corsair Graphite Series 600T
- OS: Windows 7 Ultimate 64-Bit SP1
- Zowie Celaratis
- Razer Lycossa
- Logitech Internet 350 keyboard
Personally, comfort is a major player when it comes to choosing a keyboard. If I need to spend 15 hours working on a report, then I want to be miserable from the report itself and not because my hands are cramping from the unusual keyboard design. If the keys are too far apart or it has a sharp edge where my palms sit then I probably will not be much of a happy camper. With this in mind, comfort is measured on a scale from 1-10 with a score of 1 being “Are you sure this is even a keyboard?” and a score of 10 as “This keyboard was molded to fit my hands”. A 5 shall represent your typical quote stock keyboard.
In a gaming situation it might be nice to have a few keys on a keyboard that are designated for weapon selection or giving commands. The ability to assign macro keys can be the difference when you are being beaten by someone who simply does not have to click to do every action. Therefore a scale of 1-10 is assigned with a value of 1 representing “There are fewer keys than an average keyboard” and a value of 10 as “WOW! Where are my normal keys, there are SOOO many." Again a 5 is representative of the “stock” keyboard (including media keys). This category also covers the options of appearance customization (i.e. replacement keys, lighting, and other color options)
Gaming plays in hand with customization. Being able to assign macros can make some games much easier to play, especially if it replaces scrolling through several menu options. This category for rating is based on the concept of the keyboard being designed for gaming or not. This category is based completely on the compatibility to play with games. Does it have specific designed macro keys, are there many of them, and how easy are easy they to use? A scale of 1-10 is used with a score of 1 representing a keyboard with only the main keys (no media keys, no number pad) and a score of 10 means the keyboard was designed solely for a gamer.
No matter how fast a keyboard can respond or how fast you can type, writing up papers and maneuvering the battlefield both require great accuracy. If you can’t get your point across in an email because you had to spend half your time going back to retype words due to a missed or over typed keystroke, then why even bother. Same goes for in game and pressing the correct key should always, always, always produce the correct response. A scale of 1 – 10 was used to rate accuracy, with a score of 1 representing "you might as well give up" and a 10 means "your keyboard knows what you were thinking before you typed it."
With Elder Scrolls newest release of Skyrim, there's no surprise this keyboard really enjoyed some serious gaming this past week. Perhaps I just need to build up some hand strength, but these Cherry Blacks caused a few deaths for me, due to incredibly tired WASD fingers. The idea behind the Cherry Blacks is a constant pressure key press, which some people really prefer. I however just found it annoying in game when going on long runs and having to just hold down W to get where I’m going. However, I can’t really call this a downfall to the keyboard, since the keys truly respond as they are supposed to.
I was really happy to change out the WASD keys. I always like being able to make my things a little different, even if you can do the same thing when you buy this keyboard, it still makes me feel “special." For the most part, everything worked out on this set of keys. Accuracy was taken down a notch or two as I learned the keyboard. Having not used such keys prior made gaming an interesting aspect, but I eventually compensated. I really do like the keyboard, but I’m still not sure that I like cherry blacks. (sad face)
In conclusion, the Cherry Blacks are just like how everyone explained they would feel, which is heavy. I felt like I was really working to use my keyboard some nights and after long hours of game play, I just felt tired and missing key presses. Over time I was able to get used to it and gain some extra finger strength for the switches. It’s a style of switch I’ve gotten to try for the first time.
Unfortunately, I feel this review almost sounds negative since I’ve found I don’t really prefer the switches, but that isn’t how it should be read. The keyboard itself is actually very nice. It’s very durable and I’m sure if you are a fan of Cherry Blacks you will love this thing. I’ve always loved the fact that you can swap out key caps of a different color, but Ozone really took this one a bit further with only making the color of the letter change. I found this very unique compared to the full key color swap and I liked it. This keyboard really has got it and after a little longer it’s going to be hard to pry this keyboard away from me. Now leave me alone, I’ve got some Skyrim to play!
- Very sturdy
- Amazing rubber feet keep it firmly attached to my glass desk
- Removable palm-rest allows me to choose my comfort level
- Complete loss of left Windows key
- Function key for media keys can’t be used one handed (maybe I just have small hands)