Price: $ 80-100
After making an impressive debut with the low-profile X-1, I really wanted to review some of the other designs by rookie keyboard maker Hexgears. The Impulse, a mid-size model with Kailh's box switches, does not disappoint.
Here is what we
- Kailh BOX key switch
- key and body lighting
- PBT keys "pudding"
And what we do not
- Hard to program lights and Macros
- Non detachable USB cable
This design lacks some of the fancier features of the more expensive options, especially any kind of programming feature. This makes up for it with a combination of useful features and excellent build quality. While the impulse is not perfect, it offers a light show that should appeal to gamers and a selection of switches that make your fingers jump with joy. For less than $ 100, this is a simple mechanical keyboard recommended for both beginners and connoisseurs.
BOX switches highlight the hardware
Hexgears sent us the pulses with Kailh BOX White switches and pudding caps. The first point first: This is one of the few ready-made keyboards available with the BOX switch designs.
Kailh's BOX switches largely resemble the familiar Cherry key switch and its myriad clones, and insert a plastic rectangle around the trunk. This keeps the keys compatible with standard keycaps, making the ride much more stable and quiet. Hexgears offers the keyboard with BOX Brown (medium stiffness and feel, a noticeable bump without clicking), BOX White (medium stiffness and Clicky) or "Hako Clear", a niche and much stiffer tactile switch.
The Kono Store only sells the Impulse in one size, but with combinations of solid white LEDs and RGB LEDs and the "pudding" sound caps presented in this review. Prices vary from $ 80 to $ 100, depending on the option. The keyboard is marketed as "leak proof". However, this is more of a function of the keyswitch than anything else. Since these stems extend completely around the entrance of the switch and the keycaps, it is very difficult for water (or coke or coffee or beer, etc.) to access the delicate mechanisms inside. Hexgears says the keyboard is waterproof to IP56 and is suitable for anything less than immersion in liquid.
Other benefits of this design include LED button illumination and a full ring of LEDs around the plastic case, PBT (read: fancy) plastic button with translucent legends and a six-foot braid cord.
All lights and sounds
This keyboard is solid in a word. While you can not get the complete metal case, detachable USB cable, or modular premium premium design switches, the excellent build quality surpasses most popular keyboard makers in this price range.
Kailh's BOX switches provide smooth movement of the keys, and the two-tone pudding keycaps provide dramatic lighting even at low intensity. While not explicitly a "gamer board", the lack of linear options will surely erase some – the independently controlled button light and LED ring will delight users who want to turn their desks into a miniature rave , The main ports and standard layout are compatible with all ANSI-formatted keycap sets, so the Impulse is a good board if you want to customize it after purchase.
Underneath are the usual fold-out riser feet, though the keyboard is so thick that I doubt many users want an even bigger profile. A gently curving deck with a fairly large, printed logo on the top is the only decoration. If you need to open the plastic case (see Water Resistance Test below), you can easily remove the screws and expose the PCB.
Programming could be easier
The lack of a detachable USB cable is understandable given Hexgears promotes this design as splash-proof. The same applies to the plastic construction – no risk of rust and easier cleaning. However, the lack of any control software is a downer, if only because the administration of the two LED lights can only be done with the standard push buttons.
This is doubled for macro programming. While it is technically possible to use only the keyboard keys and function commands, this is a serious headache. As boring and exaggerated as most game programming software may be, I think it's a much better way to handle complex keyboard programming tasks.
The lighting is offered with at least a variety of flashing and constant modes, enough to satisfy even the most sought-after LED enthusiast. Hexgears does not provide API integration with the popular PC RGB programs, but the main lighting suffers almost brightness (you can turn it down) and can be controlled separately from the edge lighting. It's a shame that most feature controls are just imprinted and can not be seen in solid office lighting.
In the name of thorough testing, I splashed the pulses with the liquids. It's likely to be found in every desk. With the keycaps – it seems unlikely that anyone else would drink anything – I doused the deck with water. After wiping the surface spray, removing the caps and cleaning the deck, it worked flawlessly.
A more intense round of liquid attacks was too much for the keyboard. After pouring six ounces of water, cola, coffee and beer directly onto the caps and allowing them to dry for a few hours, it still worked, but had significant input errors. That it dried up even more did not help. At some point I had to remove the caps, then the screws that hold the plastic housing together, and finally a hairdryer to work on it to remove all the moisture collected in the housing.
Even then, some keys were flaws, so I had to do some tests carefully with the PCB exposed and clean some debris from the bottom to make the pulses fully functional again. Nevertheless, the switches work great and seem to have suffered no internal damage – just like normal cherry-style switches. Probably the Impulse can not handle spilled drinks, but occasional water or coffee spraying will not work if you clean it up quickly.
The Hexgears Impulse is a solid keyboard for any price, but with an impressive array of BOX switches starting at eighty dollars, it's a particularly compelling choice. I wish it would be easier to program macros and lighting, and a linear selection for switches would appeal to PC gamers, but it's still an excellent option for those looking for a quality mech that will attack one or two spilled drinks can survive.
Price: $ 80-100
Here is what we want
- Kailh BOX key switch
- Key and body lights  PBT "Pudding" Keycaps
And what we do not
- Hard to program lights and macros
- Non-removable USB cable