GCN Lab Review: Saitek Eclipse II illuminated keyboard

You can use this keyboard even in total darkness

Pros: Cool backlit keyboard makes your work space feel like a spaceship
Cons: Co-workers might think you’re a bit “out there,” but who cares?

Performance: A
Features: A-
Ease of use: B+
Value: A+
Price: $58

Legend has it that during a presentation at the Defense Department, the speaker couldn’t see his keyboard. He pulled out a flashlight to look at the keys and thought, “Why doesn’t somebody create a glowing backlit keyboard that works in the dark?”

The result is Mad Catz’s Saitek Eclipse line of illuminated keyboards. Out of the box, the Eclipse II doesn’t look much different from a regular keyboard. But plug the USB end into your computer, and it lights up the spaces between the keys with an extraterrestrial blue glow.

Like the Goldtouch ErgoSecure keyboard we reviewed, the Eclipse II required only the lightest tap of the keys to function. A knob at the top right lets you dial the level of brightness up or down. A button next to it with a half-circle symbol lets you scroll through the various backlighting color choices: a somewhat diabolical red, a subtle purple, the aforementioned alien blue or no backlighting at all. The keyboard also comes with a wrist rest.

In addition to the typical 104-key layout, the Eclipse has keys for printing and adjusting volume and media settings. All the keys are illuminated, including the spacebar. Because the lettering on the keys is transparent, the backlight shines through them so they can be used in total darkness. In addition, openings on both sides of the keyboard allow light to shine through and illuminate your mouse pad as well.

The Eclipse II was the least expensive input device we tested, but it offered the biggest wow factor for the price. For less than $60, you can trick out your boring, bureaucratic cubicle with a touch of sci-fi cool.

Although it was by far the coolest device, it is perhaps the least useful, unless you work where the lights are out or dim. Maybe it could find a home at the military’s Combat Information Centers. Then again, you might want to splurge just for the fun of it.

Mad Catz, 619-683-9830, www.madcatz.com

About the Author

Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.

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