Not so long ago, we tested the latest Das Keyboard devices: the long-awaited Das Keyboard 5Q and X50Q. Our experiences with both keyboards were mostly positive, mainly due to their robust construction and tactile switches. High-quality materials and switches are nothing new for Das.
But after years of building robust mechanical keyboards and going through different iterations of the same board to make them almost perfect for your intended market, how else can you innovate? Das Das Keyboard 5Q and X50Q introduced the concept of the "Cloud Connected" keyboard by streaming information from the web directly to your fingertips.
As interesting as the idea is, I found that the way it was implemented was somewhat unconventional and impractical for the average user. This hopes to improve what we've seen so far by offering the same cloud features that we tested last September, while adding intelligent IoT device control. These new software features have been made available to the 5Q, X50Q and now the latest 4Q model.
Das Das Keyboard 4Q combines, as the name suggests, the tried and tested hardware design of Das Keyboard 4, which we know and love, and adds the Smarts of the 5Q as well as the RGB backlighting per key.
Are the new IoT features useful enough to make the 4Q a better buy than the 5Q or even the standard Das 4? Let's find out.
Build quality and feeling
If you've already read my review of the 5Q and X50Q, or are just a fan of Das Keyboard devices in general, it's no surprise to me that the 4Q is one of the most robust keyboards I've ever used. It's just right with any other high-end keyboard and it's definitely at the level of the 5Q and X50Q.
Just like these devices, the 4Q has a solid aluminum plate and a solid plastic back. Neither surface scratches easily, and the keyboard as a whole has not warped or bent, even when I have applied strong pressure.
From a design perspective, there are some key differences between the 4Q and the 5Q or X50Q. The 4Q dispenses with the two-in-one Q-key / volume wheel system. Now there is a new dedicated Q button right next to the volume wheel. This is a small change, but it solves the problem of accidentally opening the Q software if you just wanted to adjust the volume of your system.
Some functions that have been adopted from the standard Das 4 Professional include the "Sleep" button, with which the 4Q is put into an energy-saving mode until you use it again. It also comes with a USB 2.0 hub with two ports on the back of the device. I haven't used them that often, but I can see that they are a lifesaver for those who have more peripherals and devices than I do.
Given the good and neutral changes, let's talk about some things that I didn't like about the design of the 4Q. First, unlike the 5Q and X50Q, the 4Q does not come with a palm rest. Instead, you get a cumbersome spacer bar (referred to by Das as a "baseboard"), which is attached to the bottom of the keyboard and is believed to improve ergonomics.
Unfortunately, it doesn't do that very well, and that leads me to my second complaint: the keyboard is a bit uncomfortable to use. Even with the standoff bar, the 4Q is almost completely flat, which forces me to tilt my hands upward at an uncomfortable angle to type or play.
One final design-related difference to the 5Q and X50Q: there were two accent lights on both sides of the keyboard. They weren't that visible during the day, but at night they threw a soft glow over my desk, which I like. That has eliminated these accent marks on 4Q.
From the general design, let's talk about what is probably the most important part of a good mechanical keyboard: the keys themselves.
I was not disappointed in this regard. The keyboard feels fantastic, but that's no surprise given the Cherry MX Brown switches that Das has under the hood. Browns are generally considered a pleasant middle ground between Kirsch's softer (and quieter) MX Reds and more clickable MX blues. In the case of the Das 4Q, they feel responsive and tactile without breaking the eardrum.
While working through this article on the 4Q tester, I found that my typing accuracy was as good as that of the 5Q (my previous daily driver). As an added bonus, the switches of the 4Q offer full RGB backlighting per button, which can be adjusted using the "Q" software.
The Q software
As mentioned earlier, Das tries to innovate through software and makes Q-Software one of the main selling points of its cloud keyboards. As we wrote this review, we found that it had just released a software update for January with improvements. There was another one in December, so the platform is being actively developed.
Signals are customizable in-keyboard alerts that use two third-party services: IFTTT and Zapier. This way you can connect the 4Q to various apps (like Discord and Slack) and websites (like Twitch or YouTube). Once connected, you can set custom lighting effects for a specific button that will only fire when a certain criteria is met.
For example, you can set your T key to flash purple when your favorite Twitch streamer goes live, or you can make your ESC key flash yellow when you get a message on Slack. You can even instruct your keyboard to remind you to keep up with your laundry every hour.
If you don't like the idea of signing up for multiple third-party services to get even the most basic warnings, there's good news this time. In addition to the launch of the 4Q, Das has released a free Q software update with the new "Q Marketplace".
The marketplace contains some basic (despite its name free) preset signals that are plug and play capable. Very few settings are required and you don't have to sign up for IFTTT or Zapier to use them. Among other things, you can set up Twitch notifications, get up regularly or track the outside temperature.
These functions sound great in theory, but in practice, I personally haven't found much use for them. However, this is an aspect of the 4Q experience that is completely subjective. So it's up to you to decide how much you think you can get from the device's cloud capabilities.
The 4Q's RGB lighting system isn't much different from what you've probably seen from other mechanical keyboard manufacturers. On the other hand, it is an essential feature that was missing in previous Das Professional models.
To adjust the backlight of the 4Q, all you have to do is click on the "RGB Profiles" tab in the "Configure" section of the Q interface. From there you can create custom lighting profiles and add different effects to individual or groups of buttons, e.g. B. breathing, rainbow or ripple.
Since I checked the 5Q, the IoT function has been added, so I started my tests with high hopes. I don't have many smart devices other than a few Philips Hue lamps, but I still expected other better-equipped users to be able to take advantage of a variety of IoT device control options.
Unfortunately that was not the case. Although this may improve in the future, at the time of writing you can either control your smart home lamps to a limited extent or adjust your smart thermostat – done. There are no options that you can use your keyboard to control smart door locks, cameras, or other fancy devices.
Aside from the limited options, the 4Q's IoT features are fairly easy to set up. All you have to do is take a trip to the Q Software Command Center, located in the Q Signal Center.
Then simply follow the on-screen instructions to set up a specific action, such as: B. Switching your bedroom light on and off. If you get stuck, That posted a helpful tutorial video, but the process is pretty simple – you just know you become need an IFTTT account to use these functions.
As already mentioned, the options for lighting control are currently quite limited. The only actions that were available to me were various on / off switches for my lights. Despite experiments lasting several hours, I found no way to change the color of my Hue lamps or adjust their brightness with my 4Q. The restrictive nature of the 4Q's IoT functions does not end here. If you want to change something on an action after configuration (not that much needs to be changed), you have to delete it completely on the Q-Software page and create it again, since there is no button for editing. In addition, it doesn't seem possible to change the key combination for an action. The default value is 0 and is increased by 1 for each additional action you add.
With the Das Keyboard 4Q, the company has completed a new series of luxurious keyboards. Starting at $ 250 with the 5Q and $ 200 for the game-oriented X50Q or Das 4Q. In the meantime, the predecessor models continue to be sold at the same prices that, to be honest, were already considered quite high quality: the 4 Professional / Ultimate, Model S and Prime 13.
Apart from questions about build quality – no problems, since I came from Das 5Q, I missed the wrist-rest and found that the ergonomics of the 4Q are not so good, so that's something to consider. Together with my already established indifference to the signal system, I have the feeling that the 4Q simply does not offer enough unique functions to be worthy of being taken up by competing products.
If you see signals differently and think they work well, the & # 39; X50Q is probably a better alternative. It has the same price of $ 200, but comes with some missing features of this keyboard, such as: B. a palm rest and accent lighting. Both the Das 5Q and the X50Q come with Gamma Zulu switches, while the 4Q and the rest of the Das keyboards use Cherry MX switches, Brown or Blue, depending on the model. To make the differences clear, the Das 5Q and X50Q do not have a USB hub, while the 4Q has a USB 2.0 hub with two ports and the older Das 4 Professional for USD 150 has a USB 3.0 hub has two connections. Downgrading is not desirable in this case.
The idea of adding notification functions to your keyboard is still new and it will take some time before this determines the feasibility of further functions.
At the end of the day, it's up to you. Maybe the idea of turning the lights on and off or adjusting the temperature of your home without having to deal with an app or a clumsy voice assistant is an important selling point for you – or maybe you're just in the market for a solid keyboard. and don't really care about the extra features. In the latter case, That delivers as always, although it remains an expensive affair for most.