There are a couple reasons a keyboard can get as expensive as Corsair's $280 K100 Air (£280, roughly AU$415): If it's a modular gaming keyboard that you essentially build yourself or if it's wildly feature-packed while supporting wireless operation. The K100 Air falls firmly into the latter class, with $250 competitors like the Logitech G915 Lightspeed and the Razer DeathStalker V2 Pro. And I feel the same way about the K100 Air as the DeathStalker -- I love it, but that's a high price to pay.
- Thin enough to slide under things like monitor stands
- Can store the multidevice wireless dongle on board
- Dongle is PS4 and PS5 compatible
- Secondary key functions (like @ or %) aren't backlit well enough
- Crumbs can get stuck under keycaps
The broad set of features includes 2.4GHz wireless, three Bluetooth pairings and wired operation, four dedicated macro keys, 2.4GHz compatibility with the PS4 and PS5, and 8MB memory to store up to 50 custom profiles on board. That's on top of the usual per-key RGB lighting, gaming features and media keys. As with all these keyboards, some of the features aren't available on console, such as customizing the backlight rather than cycling through the presets. It also lets you boost the polling rate to as high as 8,000Hz when connected via USB, which I'm not sure you really need.
It's also the thinnest of the bunch, mostly because the Cherry MX Ultra Low Profile mechanical switches it uses are laptop-thin (Logitech and Razer use their own), with the keycaps sitting much closer to the surface. Normally I don't care much about relative thickness, but in this case it means I can slide the keyboard underneath my monitor stand.
The flip side is that if you get crumbs beneath the keycap on the other models you can easily shake them out. They're less likely to fall in under the K100's keycaps, but if they do, they're hard to dislodge. And they're not replaceable. I had one brief incident where a key got stuck, but a little pounding seemed to do the trick and I haven't had any other issues.
It's a full-size keyboard, and pretty well designed; stiff, with balanced keys (no spacebar wobbling) and concave keycaps that prevent finger slippage. It uses one of Corsair's small Slipstream multidevice USB dongles, which has a little nook to slide into. That's not an issue if you stick it into your system and forget it, but my box o' dongles overfloweth. The multidevice dongle is only compatible with a handful of Corsair devices at the moment, though.
The edges of the aluminum top plate feel a little sharp, but just annoyingly sharp -- not bloodthirsty. It also suffers from one of my pet peeves, a lack of backlighting on secondary characters like "$" and "%".
The K100 Air only comes with tactile switches. Because of the laptop-like short travel distance, it's hard to feel a separate actuation level -- you kind of press hard and they bounce -- and I'm not sure that they're well suited for games where a quick, light touch is required. But if all you're doing is WASD-ing around with some interaction, it's nice.
And it's comfortable for typing, with enough force to minimize accidental strokes. It's especially suitable if typical wireless keyboards leave you cold (raises hand). Because it's relatively quiet for a nonlinear mechanical switch, it's appropriate for work as well.
Corsair rates the battery for about 50 hours with the backlight off. I work and play in the dark, so my backlight is always on, and I get a few days on it before I feel compelled to plug it in.
Switching among the various wireless connections is seamless, though it's a little frustrating that there doesn't seem to be a way to switch between wired and the Bluetooth connections -- you can switch to Bluetooth, but not back. So, for example, gaming wired on your system and answering Slack messages or taking notes on your phone (raises hand again) is cumbersome.
It took me a while to get used to the feel of the keyboard, but I've come to like it a lot. It's definitely great for typing and general work, and decent for casual gaming. (That's "casual" in the "what-comes-below-enthusiast" sense.) That price tag is probably a big sticking point for some people, but if you're OK forking over $250 for the competition then it's certainly worth the extra $30. And if it goes on sale, it's definitely worth thinking about.
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