Gaming Keyboard Final Thoughts
The Sentey Crimson Pro is a handsome piece: black and purposeful-looking, with a fingerprint-proof soft finish, Cherry MX Black keys, a built-in USB 2.0 hub and audio pass-throughs. If you like the relatively stiff (I think Sentey’s 45 grams spec for these keys is probably wrong; they feel heavier) springing and linear, non-clicky feel of MX Black keys, you’ll like typing on this keyboard.
This keyboard’s weak points are its lack of dedicated macro keys and the software’s inability to bind macros to modifier-key pairs. You can’t define a macro invoked by Ctrl-A; you must bind to the “A” key, and that takes that key out of service for typing the letter “A”. If you’re playing a game where you need to communicate with the game AI or other players by typing, the entire alpha portion of the keyboard is off-limits for macro work. Otherwise, frankly, it’s not that big a deal, since you can instantly switch back to normal keyboard function with Fn-F12. The Windows key is disabled if any of the macro profiles is active– i.e. the “G” indicator at the top right of the keyboard is lit– so you won’t blow out of your game if you accidentally hit it.
It’s a tradeoff: dedicated macro keys increase the size and cost of the keyboard (and some gaming keyboards are huge), but are more convenient to use. Either design is usable, but you should be aware of the tradeoffs with each.
Using the Fn keys to switch between defined profiles, and to toggle the keyboard instantly back to “normal”, non-macro use, works well; I only wish Sentey had added indicator lights to show which profile is in use.
The keyboard’s onboard CPU and memory means that the macro definitions are stored in the keyboard, not in the software…so you can unplug the keyboard, put it in its case, and use it on another computer while retaining all your macro definitions. However, this means that you must manually invoke each profile you want to use; the keyboard can’t detect which game you’re using and select the correct profile automatically as software-only macro implementations can. Some keyboards, such as the recently-reviewed Corsair Raptor K40, allow you to select either hardware or software macro playback, and this is a feature that Sentey should consider adding.
Crimson Pro Conclusion
The Crimson Pro is an excellent, high-quality backlit mechanical keyboard whose onboard CPU and memory can store macros independently of your system. The lack of dedicated macro keys may be a turn-off for some gamers, although Sentey makes it easy to toggle between macro profiles and standard keyboard functionality.
There’s not much to say about performance: Cherry MX Black keys mounted to a metal base plate equals typing Nirvana…if you like MX Black keys.
The keyboard has a trim and functional appearance. The casing has very narrow “bezels” making it almost an inch narrower and 1.5″ shorter than a 104-key Cherry MX Black keyboard I have from another vendor. Smaller is good. Still, I’d like my expensive gaming keyboard to have a little more visual “pop”.
With rigid construction and a fingerprint-proof soft touch coating, the construction quality of the Crimson Pro is excellent. The heavy sleeved cable and gold-plated connectors give it a luxury feel.
Functionality as a gaming keyboard is somewhat compromised by the lack of dedicated macro keys. As I explained earlier, this is a price/size tradeoff: you’re getting a small, less expensive keyboard with this design. Still, many gamers strongly prefer dedicated macro keys.
Mechanical gaming keyboard prices and specifications are all over the map right now; you can get keyboards that– on paper at least– have more features than the Crimson Pro for less money; but you can also pay significantly more for 104-key “gaming keyboards” with no macro functionality at all. Available online for $149.99 (Amazon), the Sentey Crimson Pro seems priced in line with most of its competition. And if you travel to LAN parties, you’ll appreciate the very nice included carrying case.
With a good feature set, quality construction, and that nice case, the Crimson Pro is worth your consideration.
+ Backlit Cherry MX Black key switches
+ Soft-touch coating on upper keyboard surface and wrist rest
+ USB 2.0 hub and audio pass-through ports
+ Included carrying case
– No dedicated macro keys
– No indication of selected profile
– Software can’t define modifier-key pairs
– Poor documentation