Das Keyboard 5Q and X50Q Evaluation

If you are a PC player, you are probably familiar with Razer, Corsair and Logitech, which offer gaming keyboards and other related solutions. But if you're a true computer enthusiast, let alone a mechanical keyboard lover, you're entering another area of ​​high-quality niche players. The keyboard is probably the best known brand in this group.

We checked the first revision of the keyboard in 2008 and still have the same device that works perfectly on one of our office computers. With that kind of reputation, Das built a following and many other players noticed it. However, as competition has intensified and the competitive conditions are balanced with reputable manufacturers who rely on trustworthy switches like Cherry MX, the industry is stagnating somewhat.

In this case, we checked the last iteration of Das Keyboard (4 Professional) in 2014. This remains the company's primary offering for most enthusiastic users. Over the years, That has brought us some other offerings, like the Prime 13 or the gaming-oriented X40, although we've been waiting for their "next big thing" for a while. They announced it in mid-2016 with a Kickstarter to build the first "cloud-connected" keyboard. They also said they would work with Omron from Japan to build the best possible and most durable switches that would further differentiate them. Finally, it was claimed that these keyboards would be ready for shipment by January 2017, but apparently this didn't happen.

You may remember a few months earlier when I tested the Wooting keyboard, the first of its kind with an analog mechanical keyboard. Despite some shortcomings, I was enthusiastic about the device and fascinated by the technology behind it. I'm talking about this because in a sea of ​​good, bad, and great keyboard offerings, it is almost impossible to say that yours is unique. We see this "cloud-connected" functionality as Das's attempt to offer something unique that appeals to PC power users.

The new Das Keyboard 5Q and the X50Q promise a similar level of innovation as the "world's first intelligent keyboards". The company claims the keyboards are designed to increase productivity and transfer information from the Internet directly to a user's fingertips. But what does that mean exactly? These are certainly some ambitions, but do the keyboards deliver? We'll cover that shortly.

Design and feel

Before I look at the actual meat of this piece, I should discuss the build quality of the keyboards. If you've ever bought Das Keyboard equipment in the past, you probably already know what to expect with the 5Q and X50Q. Both keyboards feel very well built, thanks to a presumably made of aluminum top plate, a solid plastic base and a heavy-duty braided cable.

When I tried to bend and turn the keyboards, both were surprisingly resistant to my manipulations. While I don't recommend testing this out for yourself (people at Das probably shake their heads as I write this), it seems that both the 5Q and the X50Q can withstand a fair amount of abuse before theirs Functionality doing this would be diminished. Of course, it's best to avoid your keyboards from falling or otherwise being damaged, but accidents do occur.

How do the keyboards feel with general build quality? In a word, excellent.

Both the 5Q and X50Q feature Omron's Das Keyboard Gamma Zulu key switches. According to Das, these switches have a runtime of 1.5 mm, faster springback and a lifespan of 100 million operations (twice as much as Cherry's). They are also transparent to work best with RGB lighting. Although the switches between the 5Q and the X50Q are largely identical, Das claims that the 5Q has a Real Time One (RTO) ms response time, which the company says is faster than that of the X50Q. However, I cannot comment on this myself because the difference between the two was not noticeable when playing or writing.

Trying to find an industry equivalent – for example one of Cherry's MX switches – for the Gamma Zulus certainly feels good. When I have a choice, I choose a fixed, loud, and clicking key switch like Kirsch's MX Blue, but the Gamma Zulus are softer and much closer to the MX Browns. If you want to find out about switches, actuations, and other such details, this comparison chart should give you a complete answer to where the Gamma Zulus are.

The 5Q and X50Q switches are remarkably quiet, which I am not used to from clickier switches. Even when I took off my headphones, the sound they made quickly faded into the background, and keystrokes were almost inaudible with them.

Despite my complaints, my typing accuracy increased significantly compared to what I could do with the Wooting, which was my daily driver for many months. I cannot say whether this is due to the departure from analog switch technology.

From a design perspective, the 5Q and X50Q are pretty similar. The 5Q is the more serious of the two, while the X50Q is more player-focused and includes an additional set of structured WASD keycaps (silver with red highlights). Otherwise, the most notable differences between the two are the palm rests and the volume wheels – these also serve as hotkeys in the "Signal" menu, more on that later.

The 5Q has an extremely comfortable, rubberized magnetic palm rest, but a bulky, difficult-to-use volume control. In contrast, the X50Q has a smaller, more grippy volume wheel that I found much easier to use, but it also has an overwhelming plastic palm rest. There is one last design element that I should mention: The X50Q has several strange plastic rivets sticking out of the keyboard. I don't see any other purpose for them than to look more "gamers", but it's a bit uncomfortable to look at and disrupt the aesthetics of an otherwise pretty attractive technology.

Cloud connectivity: innovative or tricky?

If I think about the design, durability, and switches of the keyboards, we can achieve the key selling point of these keyboards – the internet streaming features that it boasts of. These functions work similarly on both keyboards. Users can attach custom alerts to the various keys on their device by integrating their keyboard into IFTTT and Zapier using the Das Keyboard Q customization software.

I'm not going to go into details about IFTTT or Zapier in this test, but the important thing is that you can use it to create "If this, do this" custom commands that trigger an action – in this case, a keyboard warning. based on a predetermined criteria.

For example, the keyboard can notify you if you've left the garage door open (I haven't tested it myself), if your favorite streamer goes live on Twitch, or if one of your colleagues mentions you in a Slack message. You can even set your keyboard to tell you when a package was delivered or when the president sent a tweet. Think operating system notifications meet the RGB keycaps.

With the power of IFTTT and Zapier, users can easily create their own custom "signals" that can be integrated with a variety of services, including various email clients, Discord, websites like YouTube, and more.

To create a signal, visit Zapier or IFTTT to choose a trigger, attach it to a specific button, and then choose a color and light effect. This provides helpful video tutorials that explain the entire process in the "Getting Started" section of their website. As an example, however, you could have a blinking blue signal on your "W" key when someone mentions you on Twitter.

If you miss a warning or if several are active at the same time and do not want to check each one individually, the volume wheels of the X50Q and 5Q also serve as notification buttons. Simply press the down button to open the Signal Center and view all active and past warnings. All of these features have been neat for a while and the possibilities are extensive, but I'm not sure how much benefit the average user would get out of them.

Does your keyboard really need to tell you when you received a new email, when it might take two minutes to open Gmail and check it yourself?

It's not just limited use cases that pull down the cloud capabilities of the Q-series keyboards – implementing them could also take some work. The issues start with the third-party integrations that Das Keyboard Q software suite needs to work for its unique features.

To set anything but the simplest warnings, you need to visit the dedicated websites for IFTTT and Zapier, create separate accounts (in addition to a Das Keyboard Q Cloud account) for each of them, and then create custom signal integrations within those accounts. This doesn't seem like a big deal at first (the websites are fairly easy to use), but the more you use the features, the more it feels like a juggling act. Call me old-fashioned, but I usually don't want to create more than one account for a newly purchased product.

When my Slack message notification signal behaved somewhat erratically and triggered even when none of my colleagues had entered anything, I had to dig through Das' somewhat confusing software interface and Zapier's website to find out what was going on. After about 20 minutes of frustration, I found that the signal was triggered by old messages that I had been notified of hours earlier.

To fix the problem, I had to visit Zapier's website, delete the integration and then re-create it. I haven't had any problems since then, but it was still an annoying situation. Since Zapier and IFTTT are clearly essential for users to take full advantage of their 5Q or X50Q experience, how can this improve the situation?

Ideally, I would like to see a menu for signal generation in the Das Keyboard Q app itself. If users need to sign up for Zapier and IFTTT (with which many are likely to have no problem), they should at least not be forced to visit the Tool websites every time they want to generate a new signal. However, I'm not sure if this is technically or legally feasible for that, so I'm not going to hold my breath.

Fitting software

Aside from the cloud connectivity features, we want to be more general about the Das Keyboard Q software interface. Both the 5Q and X50Q offer full RGB backlighting, and it's much easier to customize in Das Keyboard Q than creating signals with IFTTT and Zapier.

All you have to do is create a new RGB profile and adjust the lighting of the individual buttons to your heart's content. It is even possible to change the colors of the two light bars on both sides of the keyboard. They are difficult to see during the day, but they look pretty neat at night.

The color matching of the 5Q and X50Q is roughly as robust as you would expect from high-end keyboards, but is slowed down by the small selection of "Active Effects". Currently, users only have access to breathing, ripple, laser, color cycle, and inner ripple effects. However, this can be expanded later when more users give feedback.

From an aesthetic point of view, the backlight is above average for both the X50Q and the 5Q. The lights are alive and you can switch between 10 brightness levels with a special hardware key. Honestly, there isn't much feedback I can give about his software, maybe about adjusting macros across the board, as well as an RGB paint feature like Wooting's wootility software.

Close thoughts

We have done a lot now, so it's a good time to summarize my thoughts on The 5Q and X50Q.

If you're wondering why I didn't make a lot of differences between the two keyboards in this review, it is because there aren't that many differences at first.

It was fun to experiment with one of the main selling points of the devices, the cloud functions, but in their current state, I think they will only appeal to hardcore users, which is due in no small part to the headache when setting up Signals. Power users and hardcore gamers may find the features intriguing enough to look beyond their mistakes, while a casual user would probably not use them at all. Ultimately, I feel like the 5Q and X50Q are trying to solve a problem that doesn't currently exist. However, it is up to the users to find out what potential uses you can use for this type of notification.

Beyond this function, the build quality of the keyboards is almost sufficient to justify their price alone. If you're interested in the technology that this offers, one of the keyboards may be worth buying. To repeat it again, I found the difference between the two keyboards almost indistinguishable. If you can handle a downgraded palm rest and a slightly different design, you can't go wrong with the X50Q.

Are the keyboards worth the money in the end? It's hard to say, since its value largely depends on how much you think you could get from the cloud features. In addition, you have the latest and best hardware from Das, new exclusive switches that are not only good but should also have a long lifespan, and full RGB lighting (with optional blank and translucent keycaps) for one The product is unique. On the other hand, no USB hub, a downgrade from the two USB 3.0 ports of the Das Professional 4.

The Das Keyboard 5Q currently costs $ 250 and the X50Q $ 200. You can now pre-order the keyboards.

Advantages: Typing experience and build quality are top notch. Key switches feel great and solid and are unique in this Das series. The RGB backlight is very good.

Disadvantage: Not a big fan of the cloud connectivity features, so the price is a bit high. No USB hub.

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