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I currently have a Logitech MX 5000 keyboard for my PC. I've been playing WoW on it for about 2 years (maybe longer, but I'm not certain), but it has a problem where it suddenly just "wigs out" on me. The keyboard is wireless (bluetooth, I think), and I'm certain that this has something to do with the problem. I'll be playing WoW and all of a sudden the keyboard will stop responding and it shows that it's disconnected on the LCD screen, and then it usually takes about 10 seconds for it to reconnect. However, I digress...

I'm seriously looking into getting a ZBoard, but I'm not sure if its overkill for WoW. So I'm hoping to get some input from the gaming community, and more particularly from gamers who have this keyboard.

I do play some online shooter games (black ops lately), but not nearly as much as I play WoW.

Also, I've tried to make this question non-subjective, but if it still appears to be so then if anyone has any ideas on how I can edit it in order to make it non-subjective I would be much obliged.

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We're not a hardware review site. I can't even really tell what your asking other than "Is this a good keyboard". Try adding more as to what you're looking for. Otherwise, this is looking little past the kind of shopping recommendation of "Should I buy this?", which as per our FAQ is off-topic. –  Grace Note Jan 11 '11 at 19:22
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Not all subjective questions are bad. Ask something specific, don't just state "I'm hoping to get some input". What exactly are you looking for from the ZBoard, how can it be measured, etc.? –  Matthew Read Jan 11 '11 at 19:22
    
Do the problems with your keyboard only happen in WoW? You might consider asking a separate question for that part. –  Mana Jan 11 '11 at 19:23
    
I consider it blasphamy to use anything other than a Das Model S Keyboard when playing video games; and if you buy the "quiet" version I'll reach through the internet and rip your fingers off. –  tzenes Jan 11 '11 at 21:48

1 Answer 1

up vote 3 down vote accepted

So let's talk about Keyboards. It's no secret I take my gaming very seriously and as a result I take my Keyboards very seriously. I realize many people don't, and that's a subjective quality I can't help you with. However, there are objective qualities that can be observed about keyboards and I'm going to go through them.

Before we talk about what makes a keyboard "good" or "bad" it's important we define our terms. There are two kinds of mistakes a keyboard can make:

  1. Producing a Key-Stroke you did not mean to hit (false positive)
  2. Not producing a Key-Stroke you did mean to hit (false negative)

By in large, I optimize for the fewest false negatives over false positives. The reason being that a false positive is usually easily observed even at 200 APM. If I accidentally select my Hatchery when I meant to select my Overlord I get a visual indication (something changes). In the reverse case (I think I've selected my Hatchery and I am still on my Overlord) nothing changes. Since the human visual system is built on change its easier to notice the false positive than the false negative.

Keyboard Parameters break down into 3 important qualities:

  1. Tactile
  2. Roll-over
  3. Polling/Interrupt

You could also add Ghosting to this list but modern Keyboards rarely exhibit this behavior.

Tactile Keyboards

There are three kinds of Keyboards in the world: Mechanical, Scissor and Rubber (I'm ignoring anything based on Cameras for the moment as those are rare). Rubber Keyboards (the most common) are based on using a Rubber Dome as a spring. Scissor use a harder plastic as a Spring. Mechanical use a metal spring as the contact. I'm not going to spend time breaking all of these down I'm just going to cover Mechanical, a longer explanation can be found here.

Of the three Mechanical is by-in-large considered the most superior. Mechanical keyboards use a spring that provides for a very different tactile response when the key is considered "pressed" then when it is not. This difference (shown below) guarantees that you do not consider a key "pressed" when it has not been. This is crucial to avoiding false-positives

alt text

In many Mechanical Keyboards this also makes an audible "clicking" sound to reinforce this concept.

Roll-Over

N-Key Roll-Over is the idea that a keyboard can only tell when a maximum number of keys have been pressed. For high end USB keyboards this is usually 6+4 or 10 total keys (4 modifiers). It should be noted that USB stipulated a maximum of 6+4 key rollover but this does not guarantee you will get the full 10 on your keyboard. By comparison a PS/2 keyboard provides full N-Key Roll-Over. Because its keys use interruption instead of polling (more on this in a second) this means you will never be in a case where you hit too many keys at once and some of those keys are not transmitted. Again, this cuts down on false-positives

Polling vs Interrupt

There are two different ways key sampling can be provided. Either the keyboard can transmit a new signal every time a key changes states (using an interrupt) or the computer can poll the keyboard for its current state. Unless you're hitting 400-500 APM this is actually a philosophical difference more than a practical. Because keyboards poll very quickly it is almost meaningless to talk about the difference between a polling keyboard and an interrupt keyboard.

So after all that let's evaluate your question: I'm seriously looking into getting a ZBoard, but I'm not sure if its overkill for WoW

The ZBoard is a USB keyboard (thus limited to 10 Keys, thought they only say 7). It does not have Mechanical Keys. It discusses having built in Macros (so almost certainly polling).

Based on what we discussed this is not a high-end keyboard and certainly not worth your time.

Instead you should consider the Das Model S or a Unicomp Board


I don't know a lot about BlueTooth or Wireless Keyboards, but I assume they work similarly to USB.

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Wireless keyboards work on interrupts, I believe -- at least the one I owned did. How do I know? When the keyboard battery is low, keyboard messages such as "key depressed" are lost and yorrrrr typppppn staaaaaars lkig liiiiiiiiiike hissssssssssssssssss –  badp Jan 11 '11 at 23:24
    
Ooooh! a silent Das - nice, I may have to shell out for it! I have the excellent Ultimate, but it's living in the cupboard because the clicking was just too much :s –  ChrisAnnODell Jan 11 '11 at 23:39
    
@badp that kind of ghosting can also be the result of polling. When it polls for a state change it reuses the same state if it cannot retrieve data from the keyboard. –  tzenes Jan 12 '11 at 1:25

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