Armaggeddon bumped me up one day with this one, been a while since we've taken a look at their products but they came through with the bran-new NightHawk Kai-19 gaming keyboard. Mighty thanks for all the trouble bringing this to us here.
This is not a mechanical keyboard, but retailing for RM140 SRP in the Malaysian market, I think it hits the mark perfectly for those looking for a keyboard full with features such as this one.
The Kai-9 Sentinel is packed in traditional Armaggeddon colors of black with yellow accents. Straight up dominating the front is an image of the Kai-9 keyboard, some features highlights, branding and a small cutout for users to feel the buttons on the directional keys.
At the back details more of the features and specifications of the keyboard. One interesting feature is that the switches are rated for 100 million key presses despite it being a membrane keyboard. Not too sure if that's actually a typo or something.
Nothing much in terms of accessories, you get an envelope with the Kai-9 Sentinel wording on top and inside is user manual, a driver CD and four replacement rubber feet.
For a gaming keyboard, the Kai-9 looks good albeit a little bigger than most. The surface is matte so fingerprints shouldn't be an issue and the buttons are not as slippery this time around compared to their own Taranis Kai-13 that we reviewed some time ago.
The profile keys and launcher is located on the top left.
While the media keys are on the top right.
6 Macro keys are placed on the far left of the keyboard which is somewhat ideal given that it's only a short travel from the WASD keys. We'll get back to these in a while.
Flipping to the back of the keyboard, it's pretty plain save for the sticker in the middle depicting the brand and model along with some information about the Kai-9. Four mini rubber pads are located at the bottom part and on both top corners, you'll find flip up feet for some elevation should you desire but the absence of a rubberized feet for them would make the Kai-9 a little more prone to sliding.
Connection to the Kai-9 is via a gold plated USB cable at the end of a braided cable. Time to plug this in :)
The Kai-9 Sentinel lights up green as soon as it's plugged in. The lighting is quite even but the first thing I noted is that the space bar, profile buttons and media keys is missing out on the show.
Profile one is the default setting as shown via a blue LED above the numpad.
Switching to profile 2 will light up the other one
While profile 3 will illuminate both LEDs. So far, only the lighting intensity is adjusted so let's dive into the software.
After a dictionary installation, you can launch the driver software and be greeted with a home page. Again, this does page nothing aside from reminding you about the key features of the Kai-9
Going to the Button Setting tab lets you re-assign the keys on the keyboard aside from the macro keys, function keys and the profile and media keys. Different from Macros, you can only assign a single key to them.
Macro settings tab, as implied, will allow macros set on the 6 buttons on the far left side. The process is pretty simple and is intuitive as usual so that you could do up your settings in a jiffy and get gaming.
Advanced Setting tab is where you would adjust the keyboard polling rate, turn on/off the windows key, set the response time and light intensity. As you can see from the screen shot above, you can also select circular breathing in which is the only way the keyboard is going to show different colors on the LED illumination.
The typing experience is good on the Kai-9 Sentinel, the matte surface on the keys made a difference by not being slippery. Now this isn't a mechanical keyboard so you do have to bottom out for the keys to register but the keys does have that tactile feedback and they are fairly quiet with the loudest being the space bar and the enter key. I do wish for a wrist rest but it is just my preference I guess.
Gaming is equally pleasant with the keys registering without a problem and the macro keys does help, particularly on the MMO's I tested with. Profile switching is okay but the buttons are a little hard to actuate, the same can be said for all the extra keys on the top left and right of the Kai-9; being not illuminated is another downfall if you're gaming in the dark.
ConclusionThe Kai-9 Sentinel is an entry level keyboard and for the price, it's quite a good one too. Solidly built with basic functions that works well enough and the back light is a trend for any first time gamer. But there are a couple of hiccups that Armaggeddon need to work out for it to become competitive.
The LEDs used on the Kai-9 is capable of displaying 6 other colors aside from green but it is only accessible when you select "circular breathing" in the software with no physical controls to adjust it. That being said, the illumination could just as easily cover the profile keys and media controls at the top left and right, leaving them in the dark (pun intended) just doesn't makes sense. Finally the software could be better.
- Matte surface
- Solid construction
- Backlight illumination
- Other colors are only available in "circular breathing" mode
- Profile keys and media controls are hard to press and not illuminated
- Software is lacking
With this, I give the Armaggeddon Kai-9 Sentinel a Tech-Critter Bronze badge.