The A4Tech KD-600L's backlit keys will come in handy if you like using your computer in the dark.
By DONOVAN QUEK
The first thing that you'll notice when you unbox the A4Tech KD-600L is that it is just a normal black keyboard that comes with no extras.
Plug this USB keyboard into a computer and it's a different story - unlike standard keyboards, the KD-600L uses LED lights to illuminate its keys in blue.
The illuminated keys should come in handy if you are the type that uses the PC late into the wee hours of the morning with the lights off or dimmed.
The keyboard, which measures 478 x 148 x 15mm in size, isn't exactly the smallest one around but it doesn't feel too big either.
As this is a USB keyboard, it is pretty much plug-and-play and works as soon as it's hooked up to a computer without installing additional software.
Let there be light
On the bright side (pun intended), the LED lights on the keyboard work just as advertised. The keys look classy when the LED light is switched on in a room with dimmed lighting.
I tested the keyboard in a pitch black room with the only source of light coming from my monitor. The keys looked beautiful but they didn't improve my typing speed significantly.
After all, if you are familiar with a standard keyboard you would know the placement of the keys and wouldn't need to look at them in the first place.
The keyboard will be more useful for those who don't type as much and still need to look at the keys to type.
The keyboard comes with a number of dedicated shortcut keys for quick access to many functions including media control.
For instance, there are shortcut keys for opening a new window, launching Outlook, searching the Net and navigating between tabs.
In terms of multimedia playback, there are keys for launching the media player as well as to play, pause, mute and control the volume.
All the keys work as they should, and I found them to be very useful when toggling between songs and tabs. This is the KD-600L's main strength.
One major gripe I have with the keyboard is that its Enter button is shaped differently from the standard design - it is longer vertically than horizontally.
To accommodate this design, the "\" button has been moved from standard position of above the Enter button to the left of the Enter key instead.
This takes a lot of getting used to and I found myself occasionally hitting "\" whenever I intended to press Enter. Maybe this is where the lighting comes in handy.
The buttons are generally responsive but aren't very comfortable to use. The keys are a lot flatter on this keyboard compared to the standard ones.
While it makes the keyboard look more compact and futuristic, it compromises on ergonomics, at least for me.
Also, the manufacturer claims that the keys are engraved with laser and are coated with ultraviolet wear-resistant surface treatment which allows them to last longer than a standard keyboard. Of course, we didn't get to test this claim.
The A4Tech KD-600L's main selling point are the backlit keys which are useful when typing in the dark and they also make the keyboard look special. However, if you are a touch typist then you wouldn't really require the light to type properly.
Another hightlight of the keyboard are the many hotkeys that make it easy to launch apps and control video/music playback.
The main downside with the KD-600L is the Enter button which doesn't follow the standard shape.
Overall, the A4Tech KD-600L is a reasonably priced keyboard with a number of nifty features.
Pros: Backlit keys; dedicated shortcut keys.
Cons: Enter key unconventionally shaped.
wired backlit USB keyboard
OPERATING SYSTEM: Windows 2000/XP/2003/Vista/7
DIMENSIONS (W x D x H): 478 x 148 x 15mm
OTHER FEATURES: One-touch hotkeys
Review unit courtesy of Vertex Distribution Sdn Bhd, (03) 4270-6961.