It’s amazing what you can find if you know where to look.
It all started when Yudhanjaya and I were combing around the shops at Unity Plaza looking for budget laptops. Each shop we went to gave us the usual specs list and once you saw one laptop, you’d seen them all. Along the way, I happened to glance at the display items of one Shad’s Digital and something caught my eye. It was a keyboard.
Now I’m not one to just toss everything and buy things. I also have a Logitech G510 – that’s a keyboard worth Rs 13,000. But this was white – a perfect match for my already white themed PC. Inquisitive as ever, we went into the store for a closer look.
It turned out to be one of the best buys of my life.
This is the Havit Magic Eagle X1, priced at Rs 3500/=. It’s backlit. The packaging looks as shady as hell. And it literally blows my existing G510 out of the water.
This may seem like a bold fact to state but it is completely true. The experience you get from typing on this is unlike any other keyboard in that price range. Having had my fair share of keyboards, I wasn’t expecting it to be good. And I was right. It wasn’t good. It was great. Typing on it is the most comfortable experience that I have experienced to date. Each key has a springy step to it meaning you don’t need to press down on the keys. This also means that you don’t have to compromise typing speed to ensure that you hit the correct keys. The physical key itself is soft and contours to each finger.
Not only is it awesome at typing, its also the perfect keyboard if you’re into heavy gaming and key mashing. I spend my free time playing either DOTA 2, or Far Cry 4 and as a benchmark, I also installed Devil May Cry – that game has quite a number of keyboard combos for attacks. The X1 handled them beautifully, giving me a nice spring back which made for an almost effortless attack sequence. It’s like a Cherry MX Brown keyboard for the price of…well, dirt cheap, given that Brown keyboards generally start upward of Rs 10,000.
In fact, having used the keyboard for around 4 weeks now, it’s completely replaced my G510 as my default keyboard. My typing speed has increased considerably and even going back to my G510 seems a futile attempt. The 3,500 rupee keyboard has just kicked out something almost 4 times its price.
What sorcery is this?
In the shop, they didn’t really seem to know much about what they were selling. We asked the sales person for a brand new unit to check: he obliged and took out a brand new keyboard and plugged it in. It lit up in red. He showed me that you could cycle through the colors – red, blue and purple. That was just about it.
4 weeks of using it let me examine it a bit more. The build is plastic, but the quality is quite sturdy, and the keyboard has a considerable weight to it (800g to be precise): it won’t slip around the table. The W,A,S,D keys and both sets of arrow keys (the standard and number pad keys) all have a little design on them denoting the direction. There’s 3 levels of backlight brightness, which you change by pressing the “FN” key and the “Pg Up” and “Pg Dn” keys. In addition, there’s also a configurable breathing effect that cycles through all 3 colors for that extra bit of oomph.
In addition, the keyboard is also waterproof (which I found out the hard way when I accidentally spilled a glass of water over it). There are 4 large drain holes on the bottom of the keyboard to allow liquids to pass through.
Every person I took it to thought it was a mechanical keyboard, and indeed, the box said that the keyboard has a mechanical-esque structure. It’s not: instead, it’s possibly the best membrane keyboard that we’ve never heard of.
Of course, it’s not perfect
One issue that I came across is that the keyboard is virtually useless in a dark environment. It’s backlit, but it’s the keyboard itself, and not the keys which are backlit. So if you want to game with the lights off, you’ll be relying on your finger placement rather than looking at the actual keys (this is where my G510 scored points by having actual backlit keys).
Another tiny irksome feature was the Magic Eagle logo on the bottom right corner of the keyboard. I guess that had to be there to promote the company’s branding, but something in me doesn’t like it. Also, the indicator for Num Lock, Caps Lock and Scroll lock remains blue regardless of the selected color which for me is a bit of a shame when your keyboard is purple and there’s one light that stays blue…but hey, I’m picky like that.
But it’s epic value for money
A quick search on Amazon and eBay showed the keyboard retailed for around $40 USD, meaning that it is indeed being sold below dollar price in Sri Lanka. Whether or not the resellers know of this or whether this is some sort of stock clearance sale is yet to be determined.
Interestingly, when we went back to the shop, we tried out more of the same model. The feedback from key presses on my particular keyboard are somewhat better than the first two we tried – the third was on par. Which leads me to assume that the reason that this keyboard is so cheap is that they are not really quality tested. Keyboards of this nature are not known for their reliability, but considering what I’ve put it through, and given the fact that the keyboard still works, this could possibly be the best deal of the year.
Whatever the reason may be, if you’re in the market for a keyboard and badly want a mechanical keyboard (but can’t quite justify the cost), head over to Unity Plaza and start rifling through the Havit keyboards at Shad’s. It’s worth it.