Zowie Celeritas Competive Gaming Keyboard Review

BluePanda - 2011-07-19 20:36:18 in Input Devices
Category: Input Devices
Reviewed by: BluePanda   
Reviewed on: September 14, 2011
Price: $108.99

Introduction:

If you have been looking for a new mechanical keyboard or you are looking to finally feel what it’s like to actually have full control over your computer, this might be the keyboard for you. ZOWIE returns to us today after their debut of the G-TF Speed and EC2 White Edition to try out their Celeritas mechanical keyboard. ‘SpawN’, ‘Flash’, and ‘Ho-Jun’ are the three professional gamers, that every product addition ZOWIE adds, that the products must pass by. Now it’s time to take it off their hands and see what it can do. Designed for competitive gaming, the Celeritas features the most durable 18k gold plated Cherry MX Brown switches with nylon key caps. Talk about having some bling in your keys – you might not be able to see it but your keyboard is sporting some gold.  Also, ZOWIE’s newly developed RTR™ technology allows you to define the response rate right at your fingertips, no pun intended. When plugged in with the included USB to PS/2 connector the ZOWIE function key (which replaces the right hand Windows-key) can be used to change the character repeat rate from 1x, 2x, 4x, or 8x the normal response instantly. Of course using only USB the rate control is disabled but the ZOWIE function key is still functional for the media keys on the F1-F6 keys.

For those of you who have a hard time locating your keys or tend to fat finger what you are trying to type, the Celeritas allows you to disable that pesky Windows key that keeps causing you to lose your battles and be shot down while you return to your desktop. Instead, the Windows key functions as an added Ctrl key, so now you have two of them and can’t blame Windows for your lousy game play. I must say I’m very impressed with gaming manufactures who are making it more and more difficult to come up with excuses as to why you suck at games. With a 0.2 second response time, the ZOWIE Celeritas has the fastest reaction of any mechanical keyboard currently on the market. It supports all key anti-ghosting through PS/2 as well as 6 key anti-ghosting through USB. Featuring a red or blue illuminated logo (depending on your settings) and red NUM, CAP, and SCR indicators along with red illuminated repeat rate indicators the Celeritas is your classic old school keyboard with the ever so soothing “clicky-clacky” mechanical key sound. Let’s take a closer look at what the Celeratis has to offer.

Closer Look:

Arriving in ZOWIE’s usually classy style, the box doesn’t have to brag up what is to be found inside. The classic grey and simple for ZOWIE with a simple white all caps “CELERITAS” with a peak window makes you question what is to be inside while still making you want to treat the box with some care. On the reverse of the box, about everyone that can read will find their language on the back of this box.  The selling features of the Celeratis are listed in 12 languages. A brief “how-to” guide with pictures is printed with pictures for a quick start to using the keyboard – so when you get this for your birthday and have to wait to get home to use it… at least you can figure out how to use it ahead of time.

 

 

After tearing into the box, no matter how “pretty” it may be, you finally get to the keyboard!  Since you spent time reading how to use it at your birthday party, you’ll be satisfied when there are no extra scraps of “instructions” included inside and you are essentially ready to go. The box contains only your new Celeritas keyboard, a USB to PS/2 adapter and another flashy aluminum ZOWIE sticker! The keyboard looks like your old school keyboard from when computers were becoming something back in the day, but without the gross yellowing of age.  Just in case I haven't reinforced the concept enough, the keys do make that amazing “clicky-clack” sound!

 

 

The cable is coiled nicely so that you really notice that gold plated USB plug. The fancy ZOWIE Velcro strap keeps it nicely together and looks much better than the usual twist tie.  Either which way the nice ZOWIE tie will probably get tossed with your other packaging, but if you really thought about it, you could use it to wrap up your cable for your lan parties as well as general cable management. But, I digress, let’s focus back on the keyboard.

The main features I seem to immediately notice out of the box are the key illumination, the function keys, and the usual keyboard layout - which is slightly different than normal. The right hand Windows key has been conveniently replaced with a “ZOWIE” key. It works as a function key to access all the media keys represented in subscripts below the F1 through F6 keys as well as access to the repeat rate modifiers located from F9 to F12. The key also allows for the Windows to Control key change mentioned earlier. The only other change really comes to something I fear taking time to get used to; the backslash/bar key has been moved from the usual upper right to the right of the forward slash. Although it seems to make sense for them to be next to each other and it provides room for that classic reverse L shaped Enter key, I’m not sure how much I’m going to like it.

 

 

Flipping the keyboard over a very plain smooth bottom side is revealed. Four massive rubber feet keep your keyboard from moving on any surface during even the most vigorous game play. Two nifty hologram ZOWIE logos are stuck on the bottom – too bad most people won’t ever see them. The center features the fact that it was indeed made in Taiwan and your serial number so that you know you are special compared to the next owner.

 

 

The illuminated ZOWIE logo and indicator lights look very nice once the keyboard has been plugged in. Turning the Windows key to a Ctrl key illuminates the ZOWIE logo in blue to remind you why your Windows key isn’t popping up your Windows Start menu. Unfortunately, the red backlighting is difficult to capture with my camera.  Although the pictures of the logo appear to be more orange on the logo than the indicators, in person these are blood red and are more or less the same hue of red. The image unfortunately makes this statement seem untrue, but I promise you the ZOWIE logo might be slightly less deep red but it is very red, not orange.

 

Specifications:

Dimensions:
16 x 44 x 2.5 cm
Cable Length:
1.8 m
Connector:
USB and PS/2

 

 

Features:

General:

PS/2 Specific:

 

 

 

 

All information available from: http://www.zowiegear.com/products?page=shop.product_details&flypage=flypage.tpl&product_id=22&category_id=7

Testing:

The ZOWIE Celeritas was put through a one week testing period. During this time I did everything from writing school papers, random internet-ing, and, most importantly, some casual gaming. Since it’s a partial PS/2 keyboard there is absolutely no need for driver installment so there is no wait; just 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 that can 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 with Comfort, Customization, Gaming, and Accuracy.

Testing Setup:

 

Comparison Keyboards:

Results:

Comfort:

Personally, comfort is a major player when it comes to choosing a keyboard. If I need to spend 15 hours working on a report I want to be miserable from the report itself, 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 "stock keyboard".

Customization:

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:

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 represents a keyboard with only the main keys (no media keys, no number pad), a score of 10 means the keyboard was designed solely for a gamer.

Accuracy:

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 because a keystroke was missed or over typed then why even bother. Same goes for in game – pressing the correct key should always, always, always produce the correct response. A scale of 1 – 10 was used to rate accuracy; a score of 1 represents you might as well give up, and a 10 means your keyboard knows what you were thinking before you typed it.

 

The Celeritas doesn’t have any specific features to make it especially comfortable. It has the feel of an older style keyboard with clicky noises and clicky feel to confirm your keystroke. I think what made the keyboard a bit uncomfortable as opposed to rubber coated keys or a laptop style layout would be the space bar itself. The space bar has a rather harsh edge which, yes fits in with the style, but after some use makes you want to avoid using it. The space bar doesn’t have the usual clicky sound like the other keys, as it is rather soft feeling and somewhat lacks the satisfaction for every press. With the space bar set aside the keyboard is just as comfortable as any stock keyboard. (As a reminder: this is a usual theme of mechanical keyboards – they are not typically designed for über comfort.)

It is nice to be able to turn off the Windows key for game play as long as you can remember to turn it on. Fortunately, the ZOWIE logo changing colors is a nice constant reminder that something is different than normal. The repeating rate is a nice change if you are capable of handling more than the normal speed. I’ve made the mistake of glancing down while not realizing my thumbs were just enough on the space bar to fill a few pages with blankness. But it’s so nice to be able to have such a quick response; makes typing seem so much less effortless. I really like it. But beyond this – there isn’t much for customizing your game play – but need I remind you again, take the type of keyboard into consideration before complaining that it doesn’t have macros for WoW.

I can’t tell if it is truly more accurate or if just being able to type faster without a delay in response rate nor an accidental “press of too many keys” but I really like the feel of typing on this keyboard. I would say though that the shift in location of the backslash key has really thrown me off – even after a week it’s hard to beat years of practice out of my mind of where I think it should be. With all that said, the Celeritas is one hell of a mechanical keyboard.

Conclusion:

Now for the conclusion, where I’m supposed to tell you whether or not you should buy the ZOWIE Celeritas for your own use. You and I both know that I can’t decide if this is the keyboard for you but some specific points might help you choose. First off, the keyboard is a mechanical, if you haven’t had one before, or haven’t used one before – see if you can borrow a buddy’s for a week or two. You need to know if you can handle hearing the clicking all the time – or more specifically if your roommate can handle it. Some people really like the change in feel for the keys, me being one of those, and others who simply find themselves lost after using a laptop style board for so long. Second, if macros really are that important to you, just stop now; this keyboard is not made for you – move along. Third, this keyboard is solid and offers about everything you can ask from it. It has a number pad, media keys (a little odd to use if I must say), and control over repeat rates. The media keys require you to hold the ZOWIE key like a shift key to access the sub-keys on F1-F6 which was a little awkward at first – but aren’t most things you aren’t used to? Anyway… this keyboard is quite the board; it is ready to stand up to your abusive pounding and respond loudly back with a “click-clack” for what seems to be years to come.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: