While the likes of the Mad Catz STRIKE 7 keyboard are a bit of a guilty pleasure for this here reviewer, I am infinitely more pleased by simpler, more effective keyboard design.
In fact, were it not for the fact I constantly mis-typed my passwords, I would still be using the plain black Das keyboard. Yes, the one with no key markings at all.
So when Gigabyte's latest Aivia range landed on my desk I couldn't help but go a little gooey. And when it lit up blue, I was all over the Osmium like a nun in heat.
The Osmium is utterly retro, but with enough modern extras to make it relevant in today's crowded gaming peripherals market. Take away the sturdy wrist rest and the individual LED backlighting, and you'd be forgiven for thinking you were looking at a Dell keyboard from the early 90s.
For a long while, people round here actually sought out the PS/2 mechanical versions for FPS gaming, such were their accuracy and response.
Let's get the gaming specific stuff out of the way first. The Osmium comes with onboard memory for five full gamer profiles, holding up to 70 different macros for the busy player. Flicking between the profiles is a matter of pressing the large rocker switch with the breathing Aivia logo on it.
The five colours indicate the different profiles, and you can access the macro and shortcut functionality via the GHOST macro engine software. You'll have to head to the Gigabyte website to dig out the utility, but it's less than a 12MB download so shouldn't tax your ISP restrictions too much.
As mentioned, you don't have to use the extra five 'G' keys as macros; you can mix and match between macro and shortcut as you see fit.
For me, though, it's all about how good the Osmium is in general PC use. I'm typing this review on the board right now and it's seriously making me consider tagging this in and replacing the Corsair K60 I've been typing on for the last six months. The non-slip coating on each Cherry Red MX key means you won't slip, and the 2mm actuation point on each key means you can be quite delicate with your key-presses and still retain your accuracy.
I'm also really impressed with the LED backlighting, easily accessed by a wheel switch at the top of the board next to the 'G' macro keys. Press the wheel down to toggle the lights on or off, and move it up or down to tune the intensity of the lighting on the fly. I find the top setting a little too bright in normal light - in the dark it would melt your face off like that Nazi officer in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Next to that is another, similarly useful wheel switch to look after the volume. Having both of these features accessible by a seemingly analogue wheel is very satisfying.
My only real issue is the fact that gaming keyboards now have to cost at least $150 before they can be taken seriously. But considering the K60 is still around $120, the awesome Mionix Zibal 60 is knocking around at $150 and the Mad Catz STRIKE 7 will cost you your first-born male child, the Osmium's price isn't that bad.