** To all who are reading this, please note that there this is an update to the original review that was done in January 2013 posted in LowYat.Net forums**
Armaggeddon is a new brand that has been in the local market for about a year now. If you have seen any of their products, you’d notice that their products are flashy and is catered mostly towards gamers. This line of products focuses on making affordable gaming peripherals and other PC components without the heavy price tags compared to other brands in the market.
This article will feature the Armaggeddon Taranis Kai-13 illuminated Gaming Keyboard provided by the good people at Leapfrog Distribution. We’ll just call it the Kai-13 for short shall we? From the official website, Armaggeddon highlighted a few of the Kai-13’s features as follows:
- Driverless On-Board Macro Programming – The KAI-13 has 9 fully Macro-Able keys that can be programmed on-board without having to use the software. The software however serves to enhance macro-programming by including the option of a time delay.
- Durability – The silent switches on the KAI-13 have a keystroke life of up to 100,000,000 times. The intensified thick cable also ensures that this keyboard will last a long time.
- Gaming mode – This keyboard comes with the option to deactivate the windows key which makes certain that nothing can interrupt you while you play. As with most other Armaggeddon keyboards, all the gaming cluster keys (WASD and arrow keys) come with anti-ghosting capability and they are highlighted in silver so that it is easier to see.
- Adjustable backlighting – The keys on the KAI-13 come with a light glow effect to ensure better visibility in the dark.
This looks very promising considering the price point the Kai-13 is at RM189. This is cheaper than most illuminated gaming keyboard that I have seen so far.
At first glance, the Kai-13 comes in a bluish box about its’ size with a windowed view of the actual product. The rest of it is an image of the keyboard along with the logo and some badges highlighting the key features of the Kai-13. At the top right corner, Armaggeddon promises a 2 years limited warranty, a nice addition being the newcomer for gaming peripherals.
The back of the box follows the theme from the front and has more descriptions of the keyboard features and specifications as well as another illustration of the Kai-13 with labels of the function keys.
The side of the box has a brief description of what’s inside and the system requirements to use the Kai-13.
The other side features the Armaggeddon branding and slogan.
The 2 ends will have the Armaggeddon emblem on a yellow background.
Opening the box, we can see that the Kai-13 is encased in a plastic shell, turns out that the window is only a cut-out haha. But IMHO, this provides better protection to the Kai-13 from both damage and dust as well.
This is all that comes in the box, warranty card is missing though but I was informed that users could enjoy the warranty once they have registered their product in the Armaggeddon website.
The user’s manual is a simple folded page with some instructions on how to use the macro keys and more illustrations of the Kai-13, very straightforward and easy to understand. Notice that there are no Driver CD provided as the Kai-13 boasts hardware programmable gaming functions; however, one could head over to the official website to download the driver.
First impression is that the Kai-13 looks simple and the build quality is quite good, its’ sturdy with little flex to it compared to cheaper options in the market. As you might have seen from the pictures, 3 of the macro keys are placed under the space bar for easy access, which is convenient but it also makes the keyboard wider than normal. Placement of the macro record, game, light and media keys are at the top left and right, which is ideal but they could have added a play/pause button as well.
The braided USB cable have a tight braided weave to it and is quite flexible though the cable is a tad bit short to my liking, some of us will have their systems situated under the desk and plugging the Kai-13 to the back may become challenging. There is no mention of the USB connector being gold plated but it does seem like it in this case. Armaggeddon emblem on the USB connector looks great and provides a nice touch to the aesthetics, would serve as an identifier as well when you’re looking at the back of the PC next time.
Placing it on the table with the Logitech G510, you’d notice that the Kai-13 is somewhat similar in size, probably due to the larger keys and the built-in wrist-rest. There are some silver colored keycaps on the WASD and directional keys, some may like this feature and some will not, but I guess we can’t please everyone.
Flipping the Kai-13 over, I first thought that the grooves are cable management tracks. Upon closer inspection, I think the grooves serve as a means to increase the structural strength.
There are instructions adhered to the back of the Kai-13 on how to use the Game, Light & Macro buttons, a nice afterthought in my opinion so that even if the instruction leaflet is lost you don’t have to rake your brains trying to figure out how to work the macro function. Four soft rubber feet on the corners ensures that the Kai-13 stays in place, and it’s in matching blue color with the base, nicely done. Also there are 2 raisers to position the keyboard in a tilt for better comfort when in use. Still, the Kai-13 would not budge while having only 2 rubber feets in contact with the table.
Plugging in the Kai-13 reveals the blue striking back light that is quite bright and visible in the lit room. This is adjustable, with 3 brightness settings instead of 5 as stated at the back of the Kai-13, by pressing the light switch on the top left and may be turned off should you wish to. I do wish that the macro keys and media keys are illuminated as well as I do game and watch movies in the dark quite often, hence I think that is an important feature that is missing.
The macro key will blink in red when pressed in combination with the macro keys which indicates that the Kai-13 is ready to record the macros. The game indicator will also light up red when the game key is pressed, which in turn indicates that the windows key is disabled, a helpful feature when gaming. The other 3 blue lights at the top are the Numlock, Capslock and Scrollock indicators.
From a distance, you could see that the LED illumination provides a soft under glow to the Kai-13. This is achieved by letting the light through the plastic cover which looks great.
As I have mentioned before, the Kai-13 is a driver-less keyboard that records every macros via an on-board memory. This means that you could program your macros at home and still be able to use the same macros when you bring over the Kai-13 to a LAN party at another location. Additional drivers are available on-line via Armaggeddon.net to unlock the additional features. Downloading and installing the driver is a straightforward process that shouldn’t take more than a few minutes.
There is nothing to do on the Home Base tab with more product highlights. Let’s move on.
At the Advanced Setting tab, there are 5 profile tabs where you could place different macros on each of the profiles for the different games you play. While this is a good plus to the feature of the Kai-13, it does lack some form of notification as you can’t change the name of the profile and the keyboard itself do not have any means to tell you what profile is currently active without the driver software open.
At the bottom, you have the option to select the polling rate from 125Hz, 500Hz and 1000Hz respectively. Should you wish to wipe the profile, the reset button is available in case you wish to wipe all profiles from the Kai-13.
On the Macro Setting tab, they provide pull-down menus for each macro keys on the Kai-13. For each macro key you’ll have the option to Assign a Macro (Duh), add Media control keys, an Internet explorer command, mouse command, a standard key press, application short-cut and disable it should you do not wish to use the macro key.
The macro key recording feature is well thought of where you could record key press sequences and delays. The interface is also easy to understand albeit the missing instructions which is welcoming for both seasoned and new users alike. Just make sure that the apply button is pressed before you exit.
I have mixed opinions when actually using the Kai-13; while gaming, the Kai-13 performs well enough. All keys are registered without much problems and the macro buttons below the space-bar is especially useful. The keys are a bit softer than the G510 that I’m used to but they do provide sufficient tactile feedback for a membrane switch keyboard. But recording macros on the fly will need some practice as the MR key is not illuminated like the rest of the keyboard.
Typing on the Kai-13 proved to be a challenge for me for a number of reasons. I found myself pressing the wrong keys due to the larger sized keycaps and the silver coloured WASD keys will draw my attention to them more than the others. The smooth keycaps are also a culprit when speed typing, believe me, the slippery surface doesn’t help at all, more often than not I’ll have to backtrack and correct my typos.
In both gaming and typing, the keys are very quiet, quieter than most generic membrane keyboard; this includes the space bar so you won’t wake up those who are sleeping nearby. Good to know since most gamers I know are night owls so to speak.
Overall, the Taranis Kai-13 illuminated gaming keyboard is a good product in its own class. Not many keyboards priced below RM200 is as packed with features such as the Taranis Kai-13 which is complete with macro recording and back lighting. While it is far from perfect for gamers, I can say that it would be a good choice for gamers on a budget, this would be a viable gift choice as well.
- Affordable price
- 2 years warranty
- On-board macro
- Adjustable Backlight
- Quiet keys
- Additional functionality when used with driver
- MR, Game, Light and media keys are not illuminated
- No indicators for profiles when used with optional driver
- Keys are somewhat slippery than usual, a menace when typing