Over and over again we get the same old keyboard with a numpad on the right hand side, and that’s what we’ve been used to. But now, we have a lot of smaller boards that cut it off, since it takes up space. And, the same question comes up, why not just have it on the other side?
So today we have the debut board from Aeboards. The Aegis.
So first of all, this is a custom keyboard designed in Australia, and I happen to be friends with them, but, as always I will be honest in what I say, even though I’m never really scathing. And this is a build for someone, so I wasn’t just given this to review.
As this is a custom mechanical keyboard, it comes with the core parts, and you supply the rest yourself.
- Aluminium enclosure
- Brass plate
- RAMA x AE aluminium keycap
This thing is an absolute beauty of a board. This is the navy blue version, and again, the ano is smooth as, blemish and streak free. However, at some angles you can see that colour difference between the top and bottom halves, with the bottom being slightly darker.
And the brass plate is exposed from the sides a bit, and all along the back, adding a streak of colour. And I think it works wonderfully with the navy blue, as it is a classic colour combo. And it’s discrete enough that it doesn’t interfere with the whole colour scheme that you choose to go with.
We have sizeable bezels at about 13mm, so we get to show off that metal with all that surface area. And it’s softened by a chamfered edge all the way round.
The side profile is much more showy, again with that brass, but also that curved line which gives it a bit of character.
And on the bottom, we have the sweet branding engraved. So there is no extra brass weight that we see on many customs, although this is basically a full sized, and it does have a brass plate. And it’s already bulging at over 3kg.
RAMA x AE Keycap
We also saw before that we get this super sweet RAMA cap, with the AE infilled logo. A great extra touch to the package as a whole.
Really it’s all about this layout. And it’s basically like an 1800 layout, or like the Leopold FC980, which takes out that middle cluster of nav keys, and squeezes in the arrow keys in between, creating this compact form factor which is similar to the size of a tenkeyless board. But of course, we have the numpad switched to the left hand side. The numpad is also reversed, so we have the plus and enter keys on the left edge. However, being QMK configurable, we can also change the orientation of the numpad, but then these arrows will look weird. And this is really great to see, because from what we’ve seen from left hand numpad boards, they’ve kept it the normal way round.
And this makes sense in so many different ways, to have the numpad on the left. Firstly, in an ergonomic sense, it allows us to bring our mouse closer to the centre, for better arm and shoulder positioning, and gives us more space for our mouse. And in this sense, it’s like a 60% keyboard.
Additionally, if you do punch a heap of numbers, you’d be able to do number input while also using your mouse. Typically, we would constantly switch between the mouse and the numpad with our right hand, as our left hand is too far away. By shifting the numpad to the other side, we're able to use our left hand much more efficiently and comfortably to handle the numbers.
Of course it’ll take time to get used to, but I think it would be quite beneficial.
For gaming, it’s a bit much for me. If I do game, and it isn’t Rocket League, then it’s mainly first person shooter games. So yeh, the bottom left corner of the main area was a bit tough as expected, like the HHKB.
First of foremost, we don’t have the standard control key, which you’d use for crouching. By default it’s on the caps lock key, and personally I just couldn’t get used to that.
A recommended solution is to remap the CTRL key to the right arrow key. This allows it to be in the same approximate position as the standard CTRL key, and doesn't take much adjusting. However if those arrow keys are important for you while gaming, then that of course wouldn't be ideal.
As it is fully programmable, we can bypass many of the layout issues, and get creative with its functionality. Do remember that we are able to have layers and profiles. So you can have a profile for work, and a profile for gaming.
So overall, I’m super impressed by the Aegis, especially since it is their first board that they’ve produced. And bar the one tiny issue with the 6.25u spacebar, I’d say that it was a super smooth group buy.
I love the build, the quality and finish, and the whole package and presentation. But it’s the layout that’s the true hero here, and this may be the sort of layout that will work for many number people out there. And just having some variation in layouts is great to see.
AEboards have only just started out, and they've come out with a bang. They have new and exciting projects coming up, so keep your eyes peeled so that you don't miss out!