With all this time that they’ve been in the mechanical keyboard game, Vortex have been the guys that have brought out the non-typical layouts to the masses, especially in recent times. But today, this is probably one of their more functional ones in their line up. The Tab90.
- TAB 90 Mechanical Keyboard
- USB type C cable
THE NEW TAB LINEUP
So first of all, there’s the Tab 90M, which is the metal version of this, and comes with different keycaps. It’s just like the Core, Race 3, and Vibe, in regards to its enclosure design. BUT, it is not wireless.
And then we have this, the Tab 90, and also the Tab 75, and the Tab 60. And those are more or less the same as this, but different sizes.
DESIGN & BUILD
Anyway it feels pretty good in the hands, but I did get quite a plasticky vibe to it. I don’t really know why, like most boards are like this with a complete plastic enclosure, but I just felt it didn’t feel that premium. But there’s minimal flex to it, and it’s packing some decent weight, at just under a kilogram.
Perhaps it’s because of its simplicity, in that there’s a healthy amount of plastic. So we have just a rounded rectangular design, with flat sides. There’s no chamfering or tapering to make it appear to be slimmer. And even the bezels are decently thick, with a chunkier chin as well.
On the rear there’s a USB type C port, so yet another board with that which is cool.
And looking at the side profile, it does have a natural inclination, which is a bit more than usual. Because if we look at the bottom, there are no flip up feet. Personally, it’s no issue at all for me as I find it comfortable, and you don’t want to angle it too much anyway because the strain it causes on your wrists, but some people do like a bit more of an incline.
But I do love how it looks. It’s super clean as you can see, and what makes it even moreso, are these DSA profile keycaps. The DSA profile refers to the shape of the keycap, so these are uniform caps, and are all the same height, and there’s no sculpting. And they’ve done this with their Core, and the Race 3. But this time, they’ve gone with the super simple monochromatic scheme. The legends are clean and simple as well, and from looking at it, they seem pretty straight now. Like with the Race 3 and Vibe, the legends were a bit up and down and misaligned, but here they’re pretty good.
LAYOUT & FORM FACTOR
What also contributes to its clean, yet unique look is of course this layout. So, this is the first of its kind for Vortex. For the most part, they’ve stuck to smaller layouts, and the Vibe was a real unique one. But this is I think one that will be more accessible to use for a lot of people, in that it’s essentially a full sized keyboard, and you won’t be relying as much on layers, combos, and secondary functions.
The interesting thing, is that this actually has 105 keys, which is 1 more than a typical full sized at 104. And I really do like this layout, because the usual approach is the 96 key layout, like the XD96. So we have our dedicated arrow keys, and numpad that people love. But they’ve kept the numpad standard, but slip in the nav keys here. And it makes sense, that’s how it would look like, if you squeezed a full sized board.
And I’ve thoroughly loved using it. It’s about 2 columns shorter than a full sized, and 2 wider than a tenkeyless. It may not seem like much, but that bit more space makes a difference in not taking up so much room on your desk. And as said before, there’s no real compromise, since nothing is missing. Often you’ll see the numpad cut out a bit, but it’s all standard there, so for all the heavy numpad users, it’ll be absolutely fine.
However, being a Vortex keyboard, we get the usual onboard programming. Since there wasn’t any manual in the box, we have to go to the Vortex website, and there’s one for the Tab 90M, but it works out for this as well.
See onboard programming demonstration in video.
On the bottom we have our on and off switch, because this is amazingly, wireless, which I think is a first for Vortex. So if we open this door, we reveal a spot for 2 triple A batteries. So this isn’t rechargeable like the majority of other wireless boards.
I always have this problem when reviewing wireless keyboards, in that I can’t really test them properly, because I don’t have bluetooth on my desktop, and my laptop’s bluetooth is stuffed as well, so I just find it really difficult to actually use it in wireless mode for long periods.
I tested it on my phone with just simple typing on Google Docs, and it felt absolutely fine. I wasn’t feeling any noticeable lag or latency, which I have felt on some boards before. For gaming, I really don’t know, especially since I’m not much of a gamer. But from what I’ve tested, it only has 6 key rollover. I didn’t see anything in the manual about it, but yeh, that may be a problem for some.
It’s using Bluetooth 3.0, instead of 4.0, so that mainly affects its power efficiency. It works from a long distance, I think this is about 20 metres away, and it was still working. But yeh, sorry, I just didn’t use it in wireless mode enough to know its battery life, and I guess it depends on your batteries.
This is available in the Cherry MX variety of keyswitches. And this also includes the Cherry MX Speed Silvers for gamers. AND also the Cherry MX Silent Red's and Black's which are perfect for the workplace or anywhere that you want to be quiet.
The stabs are pretty good. There’s no rattle to them, as they do come lubed. But the overall typing experience, I personally feel is slightly hollow and empty feeling in a way. Like it doesn’t feel particularly solid or dense, and in turn, is quite loud for a Cherry MX Brown keyboard.
Overall, I feel that this keyboard ticks a lot of boxes. It isn’t for everyone, and we can kind of see that it isn’t really for gamers, but that’s fine. Mechanical keyboards aren’t just gaming keyboards like all the marketing makes them seem to be.
I feel that this is a great home keyboard, or a work keyboard, potentially for the office. Everyone’s situations are different, but often for work, people do prefer a full sized board, especially with the numpad. And this is perfect for that, and I think a lot of the value is in this awesome layout. And the wireless aspect just gives it more accessibility for different environments and use cases. You’ll actually have a bit of a hard time trying to find a full sized wireless keyboard. They do exist but there’s not many of them, and I was actually surprised to find out that this was wireless. And it does work well.
The keyboard looks great, it has a simple and clean design that I think will fit anywhere, well, I painted mine now, and I absolutely love it.
Vortex do have the 75% and 60% in their TAB lineup, and the Tab 90M, looks to have more features and a different look, but doesn’t have the wireless capabilities. So yeh, it’s another great addition to the ever growing Vortex lineup, which continues to reach different segments of the market.