Thursday, August 2, 2012

Review: Ducky Shining

The Ducky Shining DK9008S:

After increasing aggravation due to the decreasing performance of my keyboard, I finally decided it was time to upgrade to a mechanical board. 

I researched many options and educated myself on the various mechanical switch types out there.  After much consideration, I decided on Cherry MX black switches, and ideally, a backlit board - since most of my real keyboard use is spent gaming after the Mister has gone to bed. The board I decided on is the Ducky DK9008S “Shining” with white LED backlighting and Cherry MX black switches, ordered from tiger imports.

The board was in stock, and shipping only took a few days via FedEx home delivery. I found the shipping box and packing material inside more than satisfactory. The actual Ducky box was sturdy and nice looking. The keyboard itself came in a velvet-like slipcover bag, and had a molded plastic cover over the keys - I assume to protect the keycaps from scratches. I was surprised at how heavy this keyboard is, the construction looks and feels very solid.  I found absolutely no issues in the finish of the case or keycaps.  The keycaps are translucent white plastic with a dual coating of matte black textured paint. The legends are then laser etched away from the top surface, allowing the backlighting to show through.

The box also included:
• the USB cable, which is separate and connects to the board with a mini-B plug - nice.  
• a USB to PS/2 adaptor
• a plastic ring-style keycap puller
• a set of red alternate WASD keycaps (didn’t even know those were going to be included)

Backlighting on the Ducky Shining has several options in mode and brightness. Modes include: Off, WASD and Esc only, everything but tenkey lit, full board lit, and full board lit with a pulse effect. I find the lowest brightness completely adequate even in a dark room, but there are increased brightness settings to choose from.  Caps lock, num lock, and scroll lock are only lit when “on”, which is a nice minimal way of handling the indicators, IMHO. The board’s light leak is negligible. 

The appearance of the board overall is minimalist. Enter, Backspace, and Shift only have their corresponding arrow symbols instead of the traditional “word above arrow” legends. The arrow keys have simple triangles pointing the appropriate direction. The num row keys have the numerals above the symbols, so the numerals are more strongly lit (the LEDs are positioned at the top of each key.) There is no branding on the board aside from the small Ducky logo on the front of the spacebar.  

As far as switch type, first I was leaning towards Cherry browns, since I like tactile feedback when typing and they have a lower actuation force than black switches. Then, after a particularly frustrating night of gaming, I noticed crappy rubber dome boards have turned my delicate little fingers into veritable key-hammers, and the slightly higher actuation force of Cherry blacks will not likely cause fatigue for me.  Sure enough, now while typing I find myself either bottoming out, or overcompensating and making mistakes. Gaming, however, I have nothing but pure joy to report. I’m glad I went linear. However, If I did more typing, I would definitely want a tactile switch. The Mister does more typing than I do, and we’re talking about getting him a board with browns or clears. (I like blues, but he didn’t like the noise.)

The only media/macro keys are 4 shortcut keys for Calculator,  My Computer, Email, and Home, found above the tenkey. Ducky did away with the menu key and replaced it with a Fn (function) key, which is for backlighting adjustments and the media controls on F1-F7. All the bigger keys feel solid and stable with straight up-and-down action, even when struck off-center. 

*After a few months of what I’d call heavy use, I am happy to report that the keycaps do not show fingerprints. The surface of the keys remains a nice matte black with a very slight texture. 

Conclusion: I couldn’t be happier with this keyboard. When I buy a second mechanical board, which *will* be happening, there is a strong possibility it will be another Ducky Shining with a different backlight color and different switches. (maybe purple backlit with MX blues...)


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