Thursday, November 24, 2011

Lite-On SK-1688U/B Keyboard

Rating: 3 out of 5
Pros: Works well and is pretty durable
Cons: Rubber feet wear off in a mess, remaining plastic is a little uneven

I bought this Lite-On SK-1688U/B Keyboard about 5 years ago, and I've been pretty happy with it. It's lasted longer than most generic keyboards, and though I've replaced it with the Logitech K120 Keyboard I still keep the Lite-On as a spare. I don't remember exactly what I paid for it, but it was around $10. My only problems with the keyboard have been the plastic feet on the bottom (detailed below), and the LED for the number lock key has dimmed by about 90% over all this time.

It's a standard black 104 key membrane switch keyboard with a QWERTY layout. Now there's a couple different QWERTY layouts - one with an L-shaped enter button, and one with a straight enter button. Whenever I use one with the L-shaped button, I'm constantly hitting enter instead of backslash and backslash instead of backspace. It annoys me, so I always make sure to get one like this with a straight enter button layout. It has no extra media, sleep or power buttons or anything of the sort. I occasionally hit one of these buttons on accident when moving my keyboard around, so I always make sure to get a keyboard like this that does not have them.

The keyboard measures 18" long and 7" deep. It's not heavy, but has a little more weight to it than most budget keyboards. It's about 1" tall in the front and 1.5" tall in the back, creating a slight forward angle even without the plastic stands on the bottom flipped out. If you use the stands, it adds an additional 3/4" or so to the height in the rear. While the stands are still in good condition, I haven't really used them very much due to the slight angle the keyboard already had when flat. There's no rubber non-slip surface on the bottom of the stands, so it tended to slide around a bit when I did use them.

There are 4 rubber coated plastic feet on the bottom of the keyboard - one in each corner. Unfortunately, the rubber wore off surprisingly fast. Not only that, but as it wore off it smeared black rubber marks all over my desk as the keyboard slid around a little bit here and there. It was surprisingly hard to remove from the desk surface, and I've found the feet underneath are not level. There's about 1/16" difference between the tallest one (right rear) and the shortest one (left rear). This makes the keyboard jostle around a bit as I type, despite the fact that it's a little heavier than my other one.

The keys themselves are about 3/8" tall and slightly concave on top which allows your fingers to sit on them nicely. Key travel is average, but they have a good feel to them and are quite responsive. They're also quiet - no clicking, clacking or ticking while typing. The letters painted on the keys haven't started to wear off yet, but the clear textured finish has - especially on the enter button, space bar, arrow keys and W/A/S/D keys that I use a lot. The letters are a little thin and the paint a little dull, also the left arrow key is also starting to become loose and wobble around, though it's still attached and functioning. I can still clearly feel the ridges on the F and J keys, and I can't complain for 5 years of heavy use.

There's not much trim around the groups of keys, nor around the outside of the keyboard. The trim in the front is rounded down and the sides have a sort of twist to make them lower in the corners than in the middle - but they strangely decided to leave all 4 corners of the keyboard squared. It has a 52" USB interface cable and is Plug-and-Play capable with any semi-modern operating system. The Lite-On SK-1688U/B Keyboard is made in China and backed up by a 1 year limited warranty.

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