For the past few years, Roccat has been dabbling with mobile functionality on their products. Evolving their ideas on how smartphones, etc can enhance a traditional peripheral. The item we have on our desk today takes that concept further than ever for a gaming keyboard, welcome to our Roccat Skeltr Review.
Roccat Skeltr Review – Packaging and Bundle
The Skeltr arrives in a box which gives us a decent view of the product and its key functionality. Inside the box, as well as the keyboard, Roccat provide some stickers, product documentation, wrist rest, USB cable (standard to micro) and 3.5mm audio cable (4pole).
Roccat Skeltr Review – The Keyboard
The Skeltr is available with two top colours, white and the grey shown above. The main body of the board is plastic and our keys, which are all backlit (16.8m colours), are membrane models. Roccat provides us with various macro buttons as well as extra thumb buttons and as with most of their products, Easyshift is supported, increasing the amount of key commands we can assign to the board. Flipping the board over we find a number of rubber feet which keep the board steady on our desk and two fold out legs which add some tilt if needed. Inside the board is a 32bit ARM IC with 512kB of memory and the board supports 1000Hz poling.
Key to the design of this board is the slot we can see running along the top edge. This is designed to be compatible with just about every recent phone and tablet on the market and allows us to slot them in and view the screen at an appropriate angle.
The sides of the Skeltr have cut away areas with LEDs inside that match the effect we choose on the key LEDs. Then on each corner, we find some extra buttons. On the top left, call and audio toggle (pc/mobile device) with the right having Bluetooth 3.0 sync and a launch button for Roccat Swarm (their control panel).
Round at the back of the board we find a USB port which can be used to charge our phone/tablet and an audio connector, also for the mobile device. The back left corner also has some connectivity, this time 3.5mm for a headset. As far as the main 1.8m cable goes, we get audio passthrough (3.5mm) and two USB. One for the keyboard and the other for the USB port passthrough.
Roccat Skeltr Review – Software
When launching the Roccat Swarm app on our PC we are first shown a set of the most useful functionality. Clicking over to the next tab allows us to get a little more in depth, configuring aspects such as sound feedback, LEDs, repeat rate and Bluetooth. Key assignments get their own screen as does more in depth lighting commands.
Profiles can be saved and loaded, macros too and there is the ability to update our driver, panel, and firmware if needed. Roccat also allows some basic control of the mobile app from the desktop version.
Speaking of the mobile app, it is shown above. It allows us to quickly glance some key information on our system such as network activity, CPU speed/load and temperature. Configuration of the keyboard is also possible, giving us the main functionality from the desktop app and we can monitor our APM as we play. Interestingly Roccat also have a section to give feedback on what features should be added to the app and we end with a settings screen with options for power saving, auto connect, etc.
Roccat Skeltr Review – Conclusion
Starting with the build quality and design of the Skeltr we have a keyboard which certainly stands out in a very crowded market. Its overall shape and look are part of this with some cool LED strips down the side which spill light out across our desk but it is the phone/tablet functionality which really sets it apart. From compact smartphones up to large tablets, most can be slotted into the back of the keyboard and held in place without any need for moving parts. The angle they sit at is decent and the fit on the devices we tested was good. Very minimal chance of the device falling out.
Where users may run into issues is when their device is non-standard. Maybe a case, extra battery attachment, etc. Anything that adds a decent amount of bulk to the device will stop it from fitting. There is also one other quirk. Roccat provide a USB to micro USB charging cable and while that is the most used connector, there are so many other devices that use USB 3 (multiple port types) and of course Apple… so including only one cable seems odd. A cable with switchable attachments, that would be useful.
As far as the typing experience goes. No complaints. This is a membrane board and so those who like mechanical models will be disappointed but the ability to quickly switch between typing on our PC and switching to typing on the phone is fairly cool. It is also quiet and responsive so another couple of positives there. Setup of the device was easy, both normal functionality and the enhanced apps. Roccat Power Grid (and Roccat Talk) is supported, as with their other devices, however we spent most of our time in Swarm. That too is responsive as well as being intuitive to use.
Summary: The Skeltr achieves what it sets out to do. Offering some unique functionality for gamers using a smartphone app. Well built and stylish our only real concern is the slightly high retail price… and that iPhone 7 users will have a 3.5mm port they can’t use… 😉