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40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
on March 8, 2011
**WARNING: I originally wrote this review for the U9BL-S (Cherry MX Brown) but my review has recently been linked to the U9BL (Cherry MX Blue) which I have NEVER used. Again, this review was originally linked to the correct keyboard which is apparently no longer available through Amazon.**

First, a little about why I made the decision to purchase this keyboard and a few notes on mechanical keyboards in general. I was looking for a keyboard for both typing as well as gaming in a dark room. I had grown to really like the back-lighting on my previous keyboard (Microsoft X4) and while I was open to a keyboard without it, back-lighting was definitely a factor. Also, even though I'm a fast touch typist at 100 wpm, I play a variety of fps/rts games where my hands aren't alway positioned in the same place, or uncommon keys are used for uncommon actions. Needless to say, in a dark room the back-lighting can be very helpful at times. Previous "gaming" keyboards I've owned have included macro keys and shortcut keys which I found very little use for. Sometimes they would actually just get in the way. However, I've used media keys regularly so that was a factor. As a typist, another big factor for me was key layout and placement. Standard key positioning and key size was an absolute must. I was definitely not going to purchase another keyboard with oddly positioned function keys (Razer BlackWidow) or worse, undersized function keys. I also avoided keyboards with a repositioned backslash key which is common with the L-Shaped Enter key (Steelseries 6Gv2).

I had tried a keyboard with Cherry MX Blue switches, specifically the Razer BlackWidow and absolutely loved the feel of the keys for typing. In fact, if you're looking for a keyboard just purely for typing, Cherry MX Blue is arguably the best option aside from possibly Buckling Spring (IBM Model M) or Topre switches which I haven't had the opportunity to try. Topre switches are basically a hybrid mechanical & rubber dome switch, which provide a nice mechanical feel while being much quieter then Cherry MX switches. However, they're also very expensive.

Getting back to Cherry switches, here's a basic overview of the most common varieties:

Cherry MX Blue (Tactile & Clicky): The one negative (or positive) for many people with Cherry MX Blue switches is the distinct clicking noise they make. For some, the noise alone is a deal breaker as it can be annoying to you or the people around you. On the other hand, the light tactile feel and sound of the switches can actually make you a faster typist and improve accuracy. The original XARMOR-U9BL Backlit Keyboard Illuminated Mechanical Keyboard uses Blue switches as does the Razer BlackWidow Ultimate Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

Cherry MX Black (Non-Tactile & Non-Clicky): If you're looking for a keyboard purely for gaming, these switches are commonly considered the best option since they're linear without any tactile feedback until you bottom out. If you want to try these out look for the Steelseries 6Gv2 Gaming Keyboard which you may also be able to test at a local retailer. Note that they still actuate half-way down but there isn't any tactile feedback at the half-way mark.

Cherry MX Brown (Tactile & Non-Clicky): These are the switches used in the U9BL-S. They're considered a good middle-ground between Blue & Black switches. Due to the tactile feel, you can actually type very lightly without the need to "bottom out". You can feel the keys actuate half-way down, thereby eliminating the need to press them all the way down. This does take a little time to get used to but I've been typing on them regularly for almost two weeks now and at first I would always bottom out since I was used to typing on traditional rubber dome keyboards. Adjusting to the feel of the keyboard will actually result in quieter typing when you're not bottoming out.

Other impressions and experiences after 2 weeks with the U9BL-S keyboard:

The spacebar sqeaked occasionally at first but that has actually stopped completely after a few hours of use. I can't make it squeak at all no matter the location and speed that I press the spacebar down. If the problem comes back I'm confident that white lithium grease will resolve it.

The surface of the entire keyboard, wrist rest and keys have a soft matte texture which both looks and feels very smooth and somewhat soft/silky. If you're curious to see what the surface feels like, try out the wide grip that comes with the Logitech G9x mouse which has the exact same surface. I don't know if there are any disadvantages to this or how it'll wear over time. If it's the same quality as the G9x which I've owned for over a year, it won't become shiny/slippery in the heavily worn areas. I have noticed areas on the wrist rest where oils from my skin left an impression but it's not permanent and wipes clean with a damp cloth. Lint and dust particles may stick to the surface a bit but that's nowhere near as frustrating as finger prints and smudges on keyboards with a glossy black surface.

The wrist rest is a really nice addition and I find the angle to be quite comfortable. While being a little flimsy it's better than nothing and easily removable if a padded wrist rest is preferred.

The original U9BL keyboard used a shift key modifier for media and brightness controls. Thankfully they went to a Function key in place of the right Win key for the U9BL-S.

I found the back-lighting state isn't remembered on reboot (both USB and PS2), my Microsoft X4 didn't have this issue. The default state is off so pressing Fn + Numpad8 twice will set it back to the 2nd lighting level.

There are 4 brightness levels for back-lighting, 5 if you count turning it off. I almost always prefer the 2nd level and sometimes the 3rd. The 4th is very bright to the point of being distracting. It's a good range of options though, I don't think anyone would complain that it can't be set to a comfortable level. For anyone that's not into lighting, the keys have a nice gray on black look when the lighting is turned off. The keys won't turn shiny and wear off either.

A keycap puller and 4 replacement orange keycaps are included. They're intended to replace the standard movement keys for gaming (WASD). I put them on once just to see how they looked but probably won't ever use them again. It's a nice option though and the keycap puller has been improved from the original U9BL so it doesn't leave marks on the sides of the keys.

The XArmor website is practically nonexistent, currently consisting of nothing more than an email address for support. For me and I'm sure many others, the brand is one of the biggest causes for concern with this product but I took the risk seeing that the Amazon seller has a solid rating. I concluded that if I received a defective unit that I could at least have it replaced by the reseller.

The backspace and right-shift key were raised a bit higher than the other keys, even after a good amount of typing as I didn't notice it at first. Just something to watch out for if you pickup this keyboard as there may be a few keys that need to be properly seated.

While they adjusted the legends (letters/symbols) a bit for better lighting coverage than the U9BL, there are still some keys that are a bit unevenly lit. Since the light is under the upper-half of the keys this is most noticable with the F1-F6 keys where the media icons are on the lower half of the key. There's also a wide horizontal line on the spacebar which isn't fully lit but I don't really mind, it's actually kind of a cool effect. It's also noticable on the Windows key when the lighting isn't on the highest level since the Windows Logo is in the center of the key.

All things considered, I absolutely love this keyboard. Seeing that there were only two reviews written so far I felt compelled to review it since it definitely deserves more exposure.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on March 16, 2011
As a newcomer to mechanical keyboards I wasn't sure what to expect or how to decide on the different types of switches. After doing some research I settled on the cherry brown switches for their tactile feel with less noise than blue switches.

With the switch settled on the hardest part was choosing the board itself. Once I saw it I was immediately hooked on the XArmor. This keyboard has it all; cherry brown switches, individually backlit keys, full n-key rollover (not important to me at all but may interest others) and more. The usb hub and audio jacks are nice additions but not a make it or brake it feature for me.

Best of all the conservative styling and font isn't flashy or obnoxious like some other manufactures (razer, das ) but is still well thought out and unique. There is a small groove just above the arrow keys that make a comfortable place to rest your fingers when not typing. It also features a smooth rubber coating on all the exposed surfaces, including the keys. This is my favorite part as its very nice to touch and keeps maintenance to a minimum. I haven't seen any other keyboard with this before and it really feels great.

Of course the best part is the mechanical keys. Since I had never used one before I didn't know what to expect and was a little concerned I wouldn't find much difference from a standard keyboard. Those fears were gone as soon as I starting using it. This is the best typing experience I've ever had, if you've never used one before the difference is immediately apparent. The brown switches were the right choice for me. They have a great feel to them and still have an enjoyable sound that is less than you'd get with blue switches (thankfully XArmor also offers the board with blue switches if that's what you'd prefer ). I'm sure other mechanicals provide a similar typing experience but the features of the XArmor put it at the head of the pack for me.

Seeing as I replaced a ten year old keyboard with this the price is more than justified for the features and quality offered. I wasn't expecting the board to feel so solid and well built, it has a nice heft to it that speaks to the quality you don't get with a standard cheap keyboard.

This board is well worth the price and I'd encourage anyone who has never tried a mechanical keyboard before to give it a shot. As a final note for anyone ordering from Canada the seller ships with UPS who have high brokerage fees. I failed to ask before shipping but it might be worth asking the seller if they can ship via another method although they did make efforts to keep the fees as small as possible, so kudos to them!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 16, 2011
This is my first mechanical keyboard I've ever owned and let me tell you guys it's awesome typing and playing games on this keyboard. Before this keyboard I used MS X8 keyboard which is not a bad keyboard but I wanted to try out a mechanical keyboard.


*Cherry brown keys are great.
*Fn key for media keys and backlight.
*Two USB 2.0
*Headphone and microphone jack.
*Backlight (this has a bug that bothers me).
*Nice rubbery feel on the keys and the wrist rest.
*Not too loud as I thought it would be.


*backlight: For some reason every time I restart or start my pc my keyboard will not remember my backlight setting and starts the keyboard with the lights off. Very annoying. I have to turn up my lights every time I restart my computer. My MS X8 keyboard did not have this problem so I'm sure this is a bug.

*The backlight on the keys does not illuminate the whole key sometimes. For example, the media keys aren't illuminated because the LED only illuminates the upper part of the key. So it's uneven.

*No sleep button like Razer Blackwidow.

Overall it's a great keyboard but it does have a few bugs.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on May 27, 2011
I had been using a rubber dome microsoft media 3000 keyboard for awhile. It was a decent board but I needed something with some backlighting for dark conditions while playing games, especially things like flight simulators where I needed to use the keyboard in conjunction with a flight stick and I needed to be able to see specific keys without feeling them out. I got into some research because I wanted to get something that would last. I learned about mechanical keyboards in the process of my research and that intrigued me. I noticed that technically the Steelseries 7G would have been great, but it didn't come with backlighting because they felt like distributing snobbery against their rivals. I also looked at all the other big board makers like DasKeyboard and Majestouch and whatnot, they don't realize the usefullness of backlighting either and are very overpriced for what they offer. I'm a fan of Razer mice, I own a great razer mouse, but looking at their keyboards, I just wasn't attached to their aethetics and the only backlit mech keyboard they offer has loud cherry blues which I knew I wouldn't like. After so much digging, I finally found this board... why no one knows about it is probably from a lack of any advertising campaign. But THIS, THIS IS THE MOST PERFECT BOARD.

I was originally worried because I had not tried any mechanical keyboards between the options of blue, brown, red, clear, black. I was worried about the "tactile feel" aspect of the browns getting in the way of my ability to double tap for dodge manuvers in games like Unreal Tournament... but I feel that the tactile feel actually helps you now. Since the keys actuate at the tactile point, you can become very nimble in your presses by learning your board and tapping at that optimal point making you much speedier. Typing feels absolutley amazing on this thing. I'm loving the process of typing this review right now.

- Compact form, no unnecessary frills makes it look elegant.
- Solid construction, when you pick it up, it's heavy and doesn't flop around like thin, cheap plastic boards.
- Backlighting with 4 levels for a wide degree of options from Off, dim, to blind your ass.
- Compound media keys, the keys are incorperated into the function keys, so if you are using headphones without a volume control, you can easily control your volume without exiting a game.
- Microphone/Headphone jacks, very nice if you need them.
- 2 USB 2.0 ports, eliminated my need for another USB hub.
- Full Nkey rollover with PS2 connection. I tested it, it's flawless. You can press all keys at once and they all register.
- Very nice finish, no glossy fingerprint absorbing surfaces.
- Cherry Brown mechanical keys, these are a rediculous dream to press. If you know how to type traditionally, you will love these.
- Soft key presses too, I made this a seperate pro because there is a lot of info on mechanical keys, apparently Blacks are the "best for gaming" but they're also supposed to have the most tension. I like the soft press of these keys and my hand doesn't press them down just be resting on the keys. Great for FPS!
- PS2 plug, I always use the PS2 port for my keyboards because it frees up more USB ports, and this board has a native PS2 plug instead of a USB->PS2 adapter like all the others which makes it a much cleaner connection IMO. It does come with a PS2-USB adapter, but then you don't get the full Nkey rollover with that.
- Rugged cord. That braided cord fad is kind of behind me... I've seen a picture of a razer black widow keyboard with a busted up braided cord just from the user being mobile with it. This keyboard has a THICK cord to house all of the plug cables and it feels solid.
- Comes with a wrist rest that looks great with the board. I don't even use it though because of limited space right now and the keyboard is still very comfortable.
- Extra keycaps if you want to differentiate a certain group of keys for easy identification, includes a keycap puller which will make it easier to address cleaning.
- When the backlighting is off in daytime, you can still see the characters, that's something that a lot of other keyboards don't do.

- Yea, the backlighting on boot as of right now is funny. When I shut my computer off the backlighting stays on, and when I boot the lights shut off. It may not be the boards problem, but a specific motherboard issue. I contacted xarmor/ione recently to see if it could use a firmware update to fix it. I'm still waiting on their reply. Another funny thing I noticed is that if I remove the USB connection that powers the backlighting while the lights are set on, the lights will shut off, and when I plug it back in, the lights go back to the same level. So it confuses me as to why the lights reset on boot. Might be the PS2?
- Yea, the media keys don't light up as much under the dimmer lighting levels, but it maintains the uniformity of the function keys this way... also, when you're familar with the board you'll know that F1=mute, F2=Volume down, etc.... so I don't see it as a real con.. The rest of the keys light up great... much better than any other keyboard out there, which some of them don't even light up all of the characters on the board like the alts ;/:, [/{.

For the price of this board, you get more than any other board comparatively priced. I recommend this equipment to EVERYONE who loves gaming.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 7, 2011
This keyboard is epic, feels much better than the standard keyboards of today. No ghosting, allows me to play DJMax 8 key.

Not much more to say, it has a really good feel and functions well above my USB non mechanical keyboards. I dont use the any usb connection(no glow). The wrist rest feels very good also. Well worth the price over a standard USB gaming keyboard, or cheapo keyboard.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 5, 2011
This is my first ever mechanical keyboard and I've had it for about a month now. So far I am an absolute fan and am happy with the purchase. I was looking for a keyboard primarily for typing, but for some gaming as well. I probably spent a week researching different mechanical keyboards and Cherry MX switch types before I decided on this one. This keyboard has Cherry MX Brown switches, which are purported to be a "middle ground" switch between ones that are best for typing and ones that are best for gaming. This keyboard is advertised as a "gaming" keyboard, but most "gaming" keyboards include dedicated keys for setting macros. this does not, but I don't use macros anyway.

There are some very excellent and comprehensive mechanical keyboard reviews out there (including this one, which I recommend: [...]). I also watched many Youtube videos to get an idea of the sound and look of them in action. A particularly helpful one for this keyboard is found here: [...]

- I am a fan of backlighting and the backlighting on this keyboard is good because each key has its own light. This version has 5 (including 'off') levels of brightness, which is completely adequate. Combined with the laser-etching of the keycaps, the keys light up pretty evenly, although if you inspect closely, some are very slightly brighter than other.
- The headphone and mic jacks are a very convenient inclusion.
- The included wrist is really great. Normally I find wrist pads cumbersome and unhelpful, but this one is excellent and I can't imagine using the keyboard without it.
- Removal of keys with the included keycap puller (which isn't mentioned in the details but is included in the product pictures) is very easy -- much easier than I thought it'd be.
- While some reviews have mentioned the lack of more robust media function keys, I am happy with what it provides, which is minimal, as I generally hate media keys (the only ones I ever use are volume, anyway).
- The home key bumps are just the right size. (I've used many keyboards that had dinky bumps on the home keys and found it annoying).
- My typing speed has improved by a good 10 WMP. I also perceive myself making fewer errors in typing, but cannot actually confirm this.
- Standard Windows 104-key layout - rectangular backspace, rectangular enter, tilde at the top left, and Ins/Home/Del keys in 2 rows. Any other layout enrages me.
- I like the bright, prominent lights for the Caps/Num/Scroll locks.

- The keys feel somewhat plastic-y when typing. I do not know if this is due to the Cherry MX Blue switch tactile response or the actual keys themselves.
- The wrist pad has small indentations that are a magnet for crumbs/particles and I have to clean it every few days.

- This keyboard boasts gold-plated connectors which I consider pretty much a scam / irrelevant to modern technological capabilities.
- One thing very important to me is sturdy plastic 'joints' (I'm blanking on what they are actually called) located on the underside, that elevate and angle the keyboard. The ones on this keyboard feel slightly more solid and strong than most other keyboards I've used, and take a bit more force to fold up and down, which I consider a good thing.
- My PS/2 vs. USB soapbox opinion: Unlike most mechanical keyboards, the cable for this one is PS/2, and includes a PS/2-to-USB adapter. My understanding is that most similar keyboards actually use a USB cord, and include a USB-to-PS/2 adapter. PS/2 supports N-key rollover (i.e., you press as many keys at once as you can, and all of them get recorded, whereas with USB, there are limitations to the number of keys you can press at once -- USB does not currently support N-key rollover, but has the capability of doing so in the future). PS/2 users an "interrupt" type operation, where keystrokes "interrupt" the computer processing, forcing the CPU to register the keystroke(s), whereas USB keystrokes are "polled" by the CPU. However with today's computer, you can't tell the difference. I'd argue the only reason to use PS/2 is if you, for some reason, needed your keyboard to register more than 6 keys at a time, or if your computer does not have a USB port.

All-in-all this keyboard has so far been well worth the money. The Brown switches produce a light, tactile feel that is great for typing but does not impede gaming (such as causing double taps). Typing gives a very satisfying click (so be forewarned if you need to type in silence). However, as of this review, the price on this keyboard is $180, and I paid $140 for it. $140 was slightly over the amount I wanted to spend, and I probably would not have bought this keyboard for $180. You can actually find it for $135-140 other places on the internet, so I'd recommend purchasing elsewhere until the price on Amazon comes back down.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 2, 2011
The The XArmor U9BL-S keyboard is a seemingly perfect marriage of the old IBM clicking keyboards combined with the allure and beauty of my Saitek Eclipse. While the old black and silver Saitek is a better design match with my new Dell Optiplex 980, after 5 years the once decent blue glow has faded to a ghost of its former glory. Some key paint has worn off - apparently not fond of traces of Purell on my hands.

What the XArmor U9BL-S lacks in sheer beauty, it makes up in practicality and utility. No longer a hard core gamer, I need a productive keyboard which occasionally lets me save the virtual world. My beloved beige PS/2 IBM keyboard simply has lost cosmetic appeal in the backlit, black and silver world of modern computing. But modern keyboards have the problem of not being practical in my metallic keyboard tray, with only 6" of space between the inside tray lip to the computers' function keys. The large and swoopy lips on new keyboards are simply out of the question. There is something to be said about not mucking around with perfection. No featherweight at 2.8 LBS, the rubber feet keeps your keyboard in place. The rubberized wrist rest is nice, but not nearly as good as a gel one.

With the advent of Speech Recognition in Windows 7, I want something where the joyful chuckle of the keyboard is less of a noise issue, but do not want to give up too much tactile sense. I think I found the happy medium with the XArmor U9BL-S. 4 levels of brightness give the TRON-like joy of typing with light. The responsive feedback gives the level of professionalism I enjoy. As expected, the pleasant keys sing a symphony of clickiness beneath my fingertips without the crisp metallic "ting-ting-ting" of the IBM. The plastic clicks may not suit everyone, but the springiness is pleasant enough and shouldn't cause finger fatigue.

The keyboard includes a standard PS/2 connector with USB adaptor. PS/2 is required for N-Key rollover to function. The N-key function is impressive. It detected up to 10 key presses when I pressed with all fingers simultaneously - albeit, not in the order in which they are laid out on the keyboard. It detects "mashing" when I pressed both palms into the keypad causing it to beep, indicating a buffer overflow.
The second USB connector is optional only for lighting the keyboard and activating the built-in hub. Fear not if your computer is short on rear USB ports. The XArmor's rear connectors double as a media center utilizing standard microphone and speakers jacks, along with two USB ports to handle your mouse and game controller.

I see the wisdom behind a backlit keyboard defaulting to "off" when the computer is turned on. After 5 years my Saitek Eclipse keyboard has outlived the LED's which now barely register to the eye. I have consigned in my heart that turning the light on as needed is far better than remembering to turn it off to preserve life. I'll spend the first few weeks enjoying the lights, and thereafter use them only as needed - or to show off the extra bright glow to family and friends. It delivers a healthy glow even in the face of ambient light.

This is the brightest LED backlit keyboard I have seen. With 4 levels of brightness, most back-lit keyboards compare to level 2 or 3 of the XArmor. Obviously, the second USB plug is for light and powering the 2.0 hubs. Light adjusting requires pressing the FN key with the 8 or 2 keys on the number pad. You may barely control it one handed using your thumb and pinky. No matter which setting you use, each key glows a bit brighter when depressed - a direct result of being closer to the light source. The FN key replaces the seldom used Windows Logo key on the right side.

The four orange keys with key puller are mostly suited to gamers fond of the "WASD" layout. I'm more of an "ESDF" man myself as the home row F & J keys have touch nubs for sightless location. There are no lighting options for game-only keys. Considering my layouts are customized for a traditional typist, I'm not missing anything except the occasional keystroke. I suggest you try "ESDF" for the more natural slope of the keypad.

Minor dings:
Would like easier one-handed light settings. Numbers and special characters crowd the top of the key taps where the LED emitters are located. The dimming effect is most recognized with the media control function keys. The rubberized keyboard top (not the keys) gives a Borg-like allure of touch, but will scratch and mar over time, perhaps even peel and certainly grunge up. It could use an indent on the Caps Lock key. None of these failings should bother touch typists.

The XArmor U9BL-S has few compromises and achieves a blend of utility for both professionals and moderate gamers alike. You will look forward to making "cherry brown" a part of your daily computing experience.
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on August 30, 2011
This is a mechanical keyboard that uses Cherry MX brown switches. These keys aren't as "clicky" as the blue switches, it allows for a more smoother keypress and isn't quite as loud as the blue "clicky" switches. Still, keep in mind that it's not super quiet either (although quiet by mechanical keyboard standards), so if the sound of keypresses will annoy you or someone else in the room, pretty much any mechanical keyboard will be noisy.

The blue backlight is user controllable from off to super bright and a couple steps in between. As mentioned by others, if you reboot, this keyboard seems to forget its backlight setting and most of the time turns it off. You'll have to turn it back on each time (by pressing a special function key combined with a corresponding key on the keyboard to increase the brightness.)

The media control keys are the F-keys and are activating by holding the special function (Fn) key down, so it's a keystroke combo for volume up/down, mute, play, pause, etc.

Integrated mic and headphone ports are convenient, and work as a pass-thru to the back of your PC with stereo cables (note that this doesn't act as a usb sound card, it just passes-through to your existing sound card).

The USB ports work, and have had a Logitech MX518 connected to it, but sometimes when I've rebooted, it will stop seeing the mouse connected. I've had to disconnect the mouse, reboot and then connect the mouse again for the OS to see it.

Aside from the backlight and USB quirks (which is why I can only go 4 stars), this is a great keyboard for typing and gaming, and comes with a detachable wrist wrest. If you're looking to switch from a "rubber dome" keyboard to a mechanical, this (or other Cherry MX Brown KBs) provide a balanced experience without having to press too hard and without the loud clicks.
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on July 27, 2011
As a preface, I play StarCraft II, pretty much daily, and was shopping for a Cherry MX Brown mechanical keyboard with N-key rollover on PS/2, preferably with a backlight. Heretofore, I have been playing on a laptop keyboard, which is not actually the worst thing in the world key-action-wise. It's just not very ergonomic.

[Edit: I keep thinking of things I forgot to mention. I wanted the PS/2 N-Key rollover for when I build a PC, probably this winter. For now, I'm on USB, and tested the sub-N-key rollover for USB. I can roll over all of the W, A, S and D keys, and all of them register. Starting at Q, I can add W, E, R, T and Y, and all of them register, but if I add U, it does not. This is actually pretty good from what I hear.]

I have two other keyboards, and I couldn't even tell you what specific board they are other than that one is made by Logitech. They're meh, probably sub-$40 keyboards. They weren't even worth plugging in to use over my laptop keyboard.

This XArmor board is different. It's like everything I could want out of a peripheral: no cheap plastic, no superfluous features or keys to pad its resume. The keys are orgasmic to type on, but you can look up reviews of Cherry MX Brown keys elsewhere. [Edit: I will say this: The key action is so quick that it makes me feel slow. It turns out I'm playing at a faster speed than I was on my laptop, but I just feel slow because I know I could be striking these keys much faster, if I had the hand speed.] It's the rest of this keyboard that makes it worth the $200 I spent.

The first thing I noticed when I pulled it out of the box is that the board is heavy, so it doesn't feel like it's going to bend, snap, or slide around. I keyspam at 300-400 hits/minute, so that's really important. The board also has a grippy/rubbery finish to it that is sort of hard to explain. If you have a laptop, this is probably the same material the laptop's slip-resistant feet are made out of. It just feels more like a finished product than a plastic form. It also has textured grips on the sides (thin rectangular stripes, like modern architecture or something) that make it easier to slide it around when you do want to move it. The wrist rest is the same material, but I'm undecided about its utility for my specific purposes. No matter, it comes separately wrapped, and is easy to remove if you don't like it.

The backlighting, which I wanted so I wouldn't have to play with the light on at 2 in the morning, is surprisingly attractive. I expected a painful blue light between keys and coming through the letters, but it's actually dull on lower settings, and looks almost like a fiber-optic iridescence at its lowest setting. It's really hard to capture this with a cell-phone camera. If you want the blinding blue light, you can get that, too, with two levels in between. I don't care to have the additional functions on the F1-F10 keys lit up as brightly, and they're not. My only complaint about the backlighting is that, on the lowest setting, the "R" key seems to unevenly lit (dim at the bottom). On the second lowest setting, the problem vanishes.

I love the attention to detail. The toggle lights for Caps Lock, Num Lock and Scroll Lock aren't the ugly single bar with a center-LED like every other keyboard I've seen, but brightly lit, beveled rectangular outlines of light. You can see this in one of the photos on Amazon.

If there's any negative for anybody (other than price) to this keyboard, it's going to be the cat-of-nine-tails that is its data and power plugs. Wrapped into one cord (thank God, but an issue if your ports are spread out further than the width of a laptop) are: One PS/2 with USB converter (small, good), one USB to power the accessory ports, one mic cable and one headphone/speaker cable. At any rate, I wanted these features, so I like them there; but if you just wanted the backlit keyboard, and not the accessory ports, the cord could be an issue.

Anyway, I give it 5-stars because I couldn't design a better keyboard in my dreams. It's perfect.
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on June 19, 2011
The XArmor U9BL-S is a very nice keyboard. This is the first mechanical keyboard I have owned. It replaces an old Microsoft keyboard that has worked well for me and the family. The XArmor has just slotted in without an issue. The keyboard is used by the whole family so I wanted something functional, but not over the top like some gaming keyboards.

Actually this keyboard was the only one that had the feature set I was after: Cherry Browns, backlit keys, 2 USB ports and headphone port, able to connect via PS/2 port.

The feel of the keys on the keyboard is light, with a nice feedback when pressing keys. The physical structure is solid, and the keys are coated with what appears to be a non slip surface. After a months usage so far there is not a mark on them. The layout is compact. Without the media keys of my old keyboard it makes for a nice compact size. The XArmor does have some media keys which are combined with the function keys.

I specifically chose the U9BL-S over the U9BL for the quieter clicking sound when pressing keys. There is still an audible click sound but it is not loud.

The keyboard has two USB ports which was something that was a must for me, as my old keyboard had two USB ports as well. A little unusual in that the XArmor has two USB cables where my old keyboard has one. This is actually a plus as I have the "keyboard" part connected to a PS/2 port (via the supplied converter) and the USB part of course connected to a USB port at the back of my PC. What this means is I get the advantage of n-key rollover with the PS/2 port (I can press as many keys as I want at the same time and all of them go through) without losing the USB ports.

Two other features that are new to me is the backlit keyboard and headphone/mic ports.

The backlit keyboard is handy if I want to game in the dark. The backlight has 4 levels. The brightest level I found distracting for a while but I seem to have gotten used to it. Most of the time I leave it at level 2, as it more subdued but still easily visible.

A more important feature for me though is the headphone port. I can now listen to sound without having a long extension cable connected to my headphones. Nice.

The keyboard comes with a wrist rest. This was quite difficult to fit, and while functional it appears to be shining a bit where my hands rest on it. I guess oils from the skin leave a mark on its surface.

A minor gripe is that the keboard light setting is not remembered when the PC is restarted.

Value for money *for me* was not the best, but that is because this keyboard is not available in my country and had to be shipped to me. In the end I was willing to pay extra for this keyboard.
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