Ideazon Zboard Gaming Keyboard - Software for the Hardware

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Ideazon Zboard Gaming Keyboard
Bundle of Joy and More!
Software for the Hardware

Software & Setup:

As previously mentioned, the Zboard comes with the Z-Engine software which works under Windows 2000 and up.  Installation is very simple, and the default layout and configuration work very well.

The standard keyset can be tweaked and adjusted.  If you love macros, you can easily set up some macros to simplify cutting and pasting, dodging in UT2004 and more.

Z-Board Software
Z-Board Software

 

Although other gaming keysets are available, the Z-Engine software is the same for each keyset, and other than some replacement of the gaming keys on specific keysets, the generic gaming keyset can be used with built-in gaming profiles for many of today's popular games.

 BF2142 Layout
BF2142 Layout
Shadowrun Layout
Shadowrun Layout

 

One of the biggest reasons Ideazon sells gaming keysets is that they commemorate your favorite games and add some personality and custom tweaks to your gaming machine.  For instance, the BF2142 keyset is laid out almost identical to the standard keyset, and with the same Z-Engine software provide the same functionality.  The reason for purchasing the limited edition BF2142 keyset is mainly to customize and personalize your gaming rig.

 

Testing The Zboard:

Let me start the "testing" section with a little disclaimer.  I'm a big fan of Logitech keyboards.  My personal computer has a Logitech Multimedia Elite keyboard plugged in, and one test rig has a Logitech Cordless MX Duo.  My wife uses a Logitech MX3000 Wireless Desktop, and I often find myself using an old standby PS/2 Logitech keyboard when doing some down and dirty testing.  For gaming, I absolutely love the Saitek Eclipse II keyboard as it feels super smooth, offers a nice backlight, and is quiet even when pounding on keys trying to dodge away from Nicao or BoneRAK.  I've played around with the Fang, but the learning curve and side jump button is hard to get used to.  I say this, because I like good keyboards.  I like quiet keyboards.  I like keyboards that feel like you're putting your fingers in pudding.  The Zboard offers many features and is handy, but doesn't feel like pudding.  It's more like putting sweaty hands in corn meal and then trying to do pushups on a cement floor.

 

It's really not that bad, but it is a little gritty and lacks the soft responsiveness of the Saitek Eclipse II or my Logitech keyboards.  This is due largely to the design of the keyboard/keyset and would not bother many people.

I do a lot of typing and when using the Zboard with the standard layout, I found myself making a few more type-o's - mostly due to capitalization.  I traditionally type around 60-70 words per minute with very good accuracy, but when using the Zboard, I dropped to 45-50 due to errors.  When trying to capitalize a letter, I found the shift keys a bit stiff, and I didn't press them hard enough, fast enough to capitalize the first word of a sentence.  As I used the keyboard more, I found it easier and my speed increased.  Once I moved back to the Saitek board, I found myself typing even faster.

Although this board exhibits some weakness in terms of a standard office, web keyboard - in my opinion - it does make up for it when it comes to gaming.  This is really where the Zboard shines, and it is the market that Ideazon is trying to reach.  When it comes to gaming, key presses are usually harder, and more frantic as the intensity of the game increases.  The position of the "Butterfly Keys" is excellent and they work fantastic in games.  The ability of the software to quickly change key assignments to match your favorite game, and the ease at which these can be customized is fantastic.  Even though you've got some proprietary keys bound to your game, you still have the ability and availability of a QWERTY keyboard at your fingertips.

 

Conclusion:

Although the Ideazon Zboard may not be for everyone, it has some features that make it an excellent gaming keyboard.  For general office use, the keys are a little stiffer that many other keyboards on the market and the action isn't as clean.  The keyboard is a little noisy to type on as well.  For gaming however, the Zboard is pretty hard to beat.  With interchangeable keysets, and hot-swap ability, the Zboard packs quite a punch and is very handy for gaming.  At this point, it has replace the Saitek Eclipse II for gaming on one of our test rigs.  Lately, I've been playing Bioshock and Shadowrun with it and absolutely love it.

This makes score the Zboard a little difficult.  It has some major strengths, but also some weaknesses that should bring down the score.

Pros:

  • Interchangeable keysets for gaming, office, and specific applications (stay tuned for more information).
  • Easy to program profiles and macros.
  • Keysets can be changed on-the-fly.
  • Excellent gaming keyboard with great functionality.

 

Cons:

  • Key action is a little rough - and noisy,
  • Non-Standard QWERTY layout on gaming keyset. 

 

BCCHardware.com Rating
Quality:
7/10
Performance:
7/10
Software Pack:
n/a
Stability:
9/10
Features:
9/10
Value:
8/10
Total Score 8.0

 

I'd like to thank Ideazon for sending out this keyboard for us to review.  There are some new products coming from Ideazon, so make sure you stay tuned to BCCHardware for all the detailed reviews!

If you have any questions or comments, please head on over and post them in our forum at the comments link below.