Input Devices Guide
First Looks: Prolink PKB-3811U Illuminated Keyboard
Light My Way
It's only a matter of time before all keyboards are issued with illuminated backlights. That's our belief. In reality, many of us engage our personal computers after sundown by the time we are done with school or work. Being so, it would indeed be practical to wield an input device equipped with backlit keys, since using the room or table lights to illuminate the keyboard isn't very cost effective in the long run. For those of us who enjoy PC games, you probably would have realized that gaming in the dark is more conducive than in a well-lit room. A backlit keyboard would come in extremely handy for these uses and more.
For this particular keyboard genre, Razer and Logitech are probably some of the brand names which comes to mind, like their Lycosa and K800 offerings respectively. However, Prolink is another player who has been competing in the same sector for a few years now with deliciously affordable entries as well. Their latest, and competitively priced PKB-3811U, is one such instance.
Design & Features
Being an entry-level model, don't expect the 3811U to come with bells and whistles such as wireless connectivity, self-charging features, or cluster lighting. Instead, the 3811U is essentially a USB keyboard with blanket illumination across its 104 keys. You're in luck if you desire a keyboard with a slim profile, for the unit packs a diminutive depth of only 16.5mm. Interestingly, the 3811U comes with varied backlight colors - green, blue and light blue, and you may toggle them via the Scroll Lock key. Unlike older Prolink keyboards, only the translucent fonts are illuminated as opposed to the entire panel. The soft glow works very well in the dark, since excessive lighting can be a major distraction. The only caveat here is the minor light leakage emanating from below the keys. However, they are hardly visible if you view the keys directly from the top.
One of the main highlights of the 3811U, in our opinion, is the keys' rubbery resin construction which also makes them very quiet during operational use. Best of all, they are fairly resistant to fingerprint smudges too. The keys have a standard 19mm pitch, and are separated by a chamfered groove from key to key. Prolink's keyboard is fitted with a generous L-shaped Enter key, although the backspace button is sized like the rest of smaller alphanumeric ones. Ergonomically speaking, we had a reasonably comfortable ride after two straight hours on the 3811U to compile this initial impressions article. The riser prop behind the unit might require some effort to pry them open, but once you get them out, you're basically home free. In addition, the keyboard's decent heft and rubber stoppers below should ensure it doesn't go skating around as you type.
All things considered, the Prolink PKB-3811U is well suited for typists who prefer a keyboard with a soft tactile feedback, but minus the frills such as hotkeys for multimedia applications and so forth. It is true you won't get a wireless configuration or spill-resistivity with this Prolink offering. But given its stealthy performance and illuminated perks at only S$39, we figure it is quite a steal for home and office users looking for an all-purpose data-entry hardware. Although Bluetooth or wireless keyboards may reduce desktop clutter, we tend to favor wired ones mainly for their hassle-free attributes. The 3811U comes with a 1-year warranty, and is available at all authorized Prolink dealers.