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Any PC gamer should be familiar with the proliferation of the various game pads and accessories that are meant to make gaming a lot easier, but unfortunately most of them have their flaws. Luckily, the Zboard from Ideazon is a customizable keyboard that can be used for hardcore gamers and everyday PC users alike. Its unique keyset system allows different keyboard layouts to be switched in a matter of minutes, easily allowing anybody to have the setup that is perfect for them.

Out of the Box

• Zboard Base (7 Multimedia Controls and 9 Hotkeys on top)
• Standard Keyset (Traditional 108 key layout)
• Gaming Keyset (Designed for Shooter/Action games)
• Detachable wrist rest
• Installation CD
• Instructions Manual

We also received a Battlefield 2 Keyset (sold separately).


Setting up a Zboard isn’t difficult at all, and there is even an instructions manual and on-screen flash tutorial for those who wouldn’t consider themselves tech-savvy. Instead of using the typical keyboard port, the Zboard first needs to be hooked up to a USB port. From here, you simply insert the CD into a CD drive and all of the drivers will install automatically. After a reboot, the flash tutorial will popup and guide you on proper Keyset installation.

For those of you who haven’t seen a Zboard before, you’re probably wondering what exactly a Keyset is. As the name implies, a keyset is a complete keyboard layout that can be placed over the Zboard base. Switching between keysets is simplistic; to install a keyset you simply lay it out over the base until everything snaps in properly. After that, a lock needs to be pushed down to make sure everything stays where it is supposed to. If the drivers are installed properly, the Zboard program will instantly detect a change in keysets and will be ready to go. Easily being able to switch comes in handy when you’ve finished gaming and want to surf the web, or vice versa. Taking a keyset off is just as simple; once you lift up the lock on the side, the keys will lift right off. The best part about the keysets is that they take up hardly any space when you aren’t using them, making them easy to carry around. They have the ability to fold over three times due to hinges, allowing them to easily fit on a desk.

In short, it will be only a matter of minutes before the Zboard is up and running with the ability of adjustable keysets. The detachable wrist rest snaps right on to the bottom effortlessly as well, making the entire setup process a breeze.

Aesthetics / Appearance

Aside from being an outstanding performance keyboard, each keyset carries its own sleek design that is sure to turn some heads. The two keysets included with the Zboard are the gaming and standard layouts. The gaming keyset has an effective first person shooter layout on the left panel. The red keys have smooth inward curves, while the other buttons have a convex build. The silver background contrasts the keys to create a vibrant appearance. The standard keyset may be basic, but it still looks sharp. A silver bar is lain out to demonstrate different key functions, such as the browser or calculator activation keys, so you won’t be stuck pressing random buttons. The only LED lights are for the num lock, caps lock, and scroll lock keys, but anything extra would be too flashy.

While the gaming and standard keysets work well for games in general, keysets made specifically for a game carry a unique design. The Battlefield 2 keyset (pictured below) has a background consisting of various character, airplane, and tank models. Again, the left panel here is designated for the gaming specific keys, and even though it doesn’t vary too much from the gaming keyset’s layout, the buttons are laid out just right to create a comfortable Battlefield 2 atmosphere.

Performance – Zboard Base

Before we jump right into the performance of each keyset, the Zboard base deserves some special attention. As mentioned previously, 7 Multimedia keys and 9 Hotkeys are lain out across the very top. These buttons are built into the Zboard and will be there no matter which keyset is in place. These keys have miniature icons to show their function, so checking your email or opening up a word processor can be done in a flash.

The base is roughly the same size as a standard keyboard, and of course adding the wrist rest makes it slightly bulkier. The rest is certainly comfortable, and if you have enough space on your desk than there really isn’t a reason to not attach it. The Zboard is resilient to sliding, and the gentle slope of the wrist rest can make the latter hours of your gaming experience as fresh as the first.

Performance – Gaming Keyset

Instead of being specifically designed for one game, the gaming keyset has a basic layout configuration that is compatible with most first/third person shooters, and it can even be used with some platformer and racing games. The red keys are used for movement, and the surrounding keys are the most vital gaming functions, including reload, use, and switching weapons. Surely enough, if you aren’t comfortable with the special gaming design, chunks of the keyboard can be found in the middle and right panels. The middle panel has the traditional W,S,A, and D keys, as well as the other nearby keys for crouching, running, and reloading depending on the game. The right panel has the remaining keys and a few other functions, including return and arrow keys. If a game comes along that doesn’t fit this keyset 100% to your liking, you can remap the keys just like a standard keyboard to fit your liking. We tested the gaming keyset with games such as Counter-Strike and Doom 3, and we noticed hardly any problems. Instead of having to jump around the keyboard for the right key, everything is fit closely together. Newcomers to the first person shooter scene will also find this helpful; for instance, the ‘R’ key has reload captioned beneath it, as most games use that same function. If you have enough control of your pinky finger, then you shouldn’t have any trouble reaching the keys in the lower left portion of the gaming panel. Adjusting to the different setup takes a little bit of time, but a 10-15 minute practice round should be enough to get used to the different setup, and in no time you can be fragging away on your favorite server.

Performance – Standard Keyset

The standard keyset, while not designed for gaming in particular, is still impressive as far as keyboards go. The 16 keys at the very top are convenient for everyday use, as are the alternate keyboard functions. Green icons are placed on the keys which can be activated by using CTRL. For example, the ‘C’ key has copy in green over it, so CTRL+C will copy the highlighted objects. These features are available with any keyboard, but the Zboard won’t make you scramble around searching for the right shortcut. The Zboard’s special macros allowing for easy application access put it a step above any regular keyboard, making even the Standard Keyset a permanent solution for everyday users.

Performance – Battlefield 2 Keyset

Overall, the Zboard with the two included keysets are perfect for typical gamers and PC users, but Ideazon also makes keysets specific for today’s hottest titles, allowing you to fully unleash the power of the Zboard. We got our hands on the Battlefield 2, and to be frank, it made everything a hell of a lot easier. Considering the complexity of Battlefield 2’s control system, we found this Zboard to be especially helpful when trying to become familiar with the title.

The four arrows depict the movement keys, and what one would imagine to be the ‘Q’ and ‘E’ keys are the communication rose and enter/exit buttons. The captions make this keyset worth every penny because without it you can expect to spend a lot of time fumbling around for the right button. Each weapon type is displayed correcting over the corresponding number, allowing newcomers to easily switch weapons in a hurry. Air controls are also shown in blue, such as bombs, missiles, and after burners for aerial vehicles. The sprint, prone, and crouch keys can easily be reached with the pinky or ring finger, as can the ‘deploy smoke’ key that is now much more accessible. Various map and camera keys are nearby, and even the console key can be found in a familiar position. Just like with the gaming keyset, a standard keyboard can be found broken across the center and right panels. Above the standard keys are new buttons for actions such as squad and vote commands. Switching from panel to panel can be tricky during a firefight, but once your hands have settled and you’ve become familiarized with the layout, you will come to realize that there is simply no better choice for Battlefield 2 then the Ideazon Keyset for the Zboard.

Click above for high resolution picture



In conclusion, the Ideazon Zboard should be the one stop solution for active gamers today, and even the standard keysets can make this keyboard recommendable for everyday use. While the two standard keysets are certainly enough on their own, Ideazon has a wide variety of keysets available, including Doom 3, Civilization 3, and even a layout for the World of Warcraft fans. When folded up, the keysets take up hardly any space, making them both portable and easy to store on a desk.

If you find yourself playing a lot of first person shooter games, then the Zboard will obviously allow for an unsurpassed feeling of control. Having a game with a specifically designed keyset will make even the most advanced control schemes feel simplistic.

Contacts: Reviewer: Andy "Vesper" Levine
Editor/ Designer: Allan "Zardon" Campbell


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