Date: December 12th, 2008
Article by: Jackie Mueller (Hardware Reviewer)
Edited By: Nathan Glentworth (Owner / Head Editor)
Product was submitted by: Thermaltake USA
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PRODUCT PICTORIAL AND WALKTHROUGH
Some keys have been moved around on the Soprano, namely the delete and insert keys. The delete key is placed on the topmost row above the backspace key, and the insert key has been shrunk and moved down to the left of the arrow keys.
A row of hotkeys is in the upper left section. From left to right are buttons for Internet, email, favorites, search, and volume control. The internet and email buttons open the default program each one is associated with, which in my case is IE 7 and Outlook Express, respectively. The remainder of the buttons is pretty self explanatory.
In the upper right section are two LED indicators – one for number lock and one for caps lock. They both light up blue when on. The combination of the brushed aluminum base with the blue LEDs make for a nice look.
The keyboard is designed to sit at a raised angle so there are no pull-out tabs on the back for height adjustment. Each end has plastic end caps which actually look pretty cool and are unlike anything I've seen on a desktop keyboard.
There isn't much to speak of on the back side. The only feature to note is four small rubber pads to keep the keyboard from sliding around. Despite their size, the weight of the keyboard combined with the pads is very effective at preventing shifting.
PRODUCT USE AND TESTING
All that is required for installation is an available USB port on your computer. Plug it in, and Windows will do the rest.
The majority of my computer use consists of typing up documents, gaming, or internet surfing. Over the course of several days I've used the Soprano to test out all three.
After typing up a couple documents, my first impressions of the keyboard were mixed. On the upside, it is incredibly sturdy and stayed right where I put it on the desk. As Thermaltake advertised, the aluminum base does aid in keeping your hand cool during long typing sessions or gaming. The height was exactly where I needed it to be and my wrist did not feel strained.
The downside was that my fingers felt slightly cramped due to the keys being so close together (again, like on a laptop keyboard). The keys are firm but are more quiet than clicky when pressing down on them. Personally I favor the quiet sounding keys, but fans of a more audible response will be disappointed right from the start. The advantage here though is that you won't be disturbing anyone in the next room with loud typing noises.
FPS gaming with the Soprano also has its pros and cons. The fluid response of the keys and the aluminum wrist rest area made for a comfortable Left 4 Dead gaming session at first, but after about an hour or so I noticed my fingers starting to cramp up. Again, I have to blame it on the tight spacing of the keys. I have fairly small hands and noticed discomfort after about an hour, so someone with larger hands would probably have the same discomfort after a shorter amount of time.
For typing out a short email or a few sentences of a document, the Soprano worked just fine. It was only after extended use that the discomfort reared its ugly head. In my case I'm not sure it would be worth spending $50 on because I would still need a separate keyboard to use while gaming. It also took me some time to get used to the placement of the delete key.