Drevo have impressed so far with their unique layouts at budget prices. But now they've hit a bit higher, and they've done well with the Excalibur.
LAYOUT & SIZE
And here we are with another 75% keyboard. So it’s approximately 75% of a standard full sized keyboard. So we get a quite compact keyboard with 84 keys, that is only 3 keys less than an 87 key tenkeyless keyboard. So it really really is close to a tenkeyless keyboard in terms of keys. But we save a bit more lateral space, and we get a unique looking layout.
Keyboard Size: 320mm x 134mm x 37mm
Key quanitity : 84
DESIGN & BUILD
The Gramr didn’t have a bad build by any means, but the Excalibur now has a completely metal build. So this includes the switch mounting plate, as well as the bottom casing. This is made from aluminium, and is a low profile slab style design, with floating keys, so there’s no top shell, exposing the keyswitches from the side.
The metal looks and feels great, and is just a simple rounded rectangle, with the edges chamfered just a bit to take that edge off. There’s of course no flex or anything, and has some good heft to it, at about 720grams. So it’s solid in the hands, and solid on the desk.
This comes in this black version, but also a silver version which may come across as more metal looking, and looks quite nice actually. The finish is a slightly textured satin look, which doesn’t pick up fingerprints, and is easy to clean. It’s kept up well so far, but there are some tiny knicks on the edges, especially the corners.
And this is crazy, because it is a CNC milled aluminium case, which usually goes for a bit more money.
The keycaps are an interesting one. First of all, it’s using the same gamery looking font or typeface which you may or may not like. Personally not my thing, but it is a labelled as gaming keyboard, which is a shame.
When I first saw the keyboard I thought these were some nice matte keycaps, but they actually have this rubbery coating over them.
I think whether you like how it feels when typing, is dependent on the way you like to type. I don’t have the best typing technique, so I pretty much use 3 fingers on my left hand, and 2 on my right. And then my left thumb for the space bar. So I like to slide across the keys, especially with my right hand. And because of the rubbery texture, it’s a bit more grippy than usual, so sliding feels a bit awkward for me. The difference isn’t huge, but it’s still noticeable.
However on the other hand, it may be better for some people, and I guess the softer feel also feels nice.
There are a few defects where the coating didn’t adhere properly, or there was a cut, which is annoying, but you might get lucky. On the silver version with white keycaps, it probably wouldn’t be noticeable.
Taking off the keycaps and we have thin 1mm double shot ABS keycaps. Meaning that the legends are a different mold of plastic, so it will never fade away. The rubber coating just sits on top of that, and would probably eventually fade away.
The lighting is consistent with the Gramr, using just simple white LEDs, but this is something that I absolutely don’t mind, and is something I actually appreciate, as it gives it a more subdued aesthetic, that matches anything. There’s no rainbows or anything going on here.
There are a few simple effects and modes, that I personally never use on pretty much any backlit keyboard. And there’s also some custom lighting profiles you can make, which can make sense for various programs.
We have Cherry MX Blue keyswitches. This is another feature that they’ve stepped up, where they previously used only Outemu keyswitches. We all know what Cherry MX Blue’s are like, so they’re clicky and tactile with a medium weight.
Although this also comes with their Drevo branded keyswitches, which does make the cheaper quite a bit cheaper.
So overall, I’m really happy with what Drevo have done. Even though they already have a 75% keyboard in which has been very successful, I’m happy that they’ve given us more choice in this unique form factor, with a more premium option this time round.
The only real negative I have is the cheap thin keycaps. I personally don’t like the font on them, especially with this really simplistic and clean design. The rubbery coating is questionable, but it does look nice. So I’d definitely recommend perhaps looking at some aftermarket keycaps later down the line, turning it into a pretty premium keyboard.
Moving on though, the positives are great. We have the option for Cherry MX keyswitches this time round, as well as Outemu switches making it much cheaper. We now have the detachable micro USB cable.
Again, the unique 75% layout giving us more options that don’t cost a fortune. And finally the full CNC milled aluminium build, paired with the simplistic and sleek slab design is just really great to see. The silver version looks very appealing, and comes across as more metal looking, so that may be the one for you.
Of course, if this is too expensive, even with the cheaper switches, there is still the Gramr. But if you can, it’s probably worth upgrading to Drevo Excalibur, because it’s packing some great value.