Tesoro GRAM XS Keyboard Review 1

Tesoro GRAM XS Keyboard Review

Disassembly »

Closer Examination

The Tesoro GRAM XS keyboard comes in a plastic wrap to keep it pristine and free of dust out of the box, and removing it, we get our first good look at it. It comes in black or white color options, and I have the black version featuring a black metal top plate and black plastic case and keycaps to match. This is indeed, as Tesoro says, an ultra-slim mechanical keyboard, and at all of 800 grams in mass and 23.5 mm in height, it will look and feel the part. There are bezels all around the other two dimensions, but not by enough to take away from the petite nature of the keyboard. The Tesoro logo is present prominently in the top-right corner as seen from the front, and it is the only branding visible while in use. Despite the slim profile, a substantial aluminum metal cover adds structural integrity to where there is no flex when you use the keyboard, and it feels quite solid.

The indicator LEDs are present alongside the Tesoro logo in the top-right corner, and the layout on this sample is a modified US ANSI with 104-keys. The bottom row will help with quickly figuring out the difference to the standard layout; however, I would now argue that a majority of keyboards sold in this market do not follow the standard layout either. Single legend placement is in the top center for all keycaps, with dual legends having the primary or secondary legend at the top and the other placed below—except in the alphanumeric section where the number row has secondary legends located alongside the primary ones. LEDs are presumably at the top as with most keyboards, so there might be some discrepancy in the uniformity of backlighting with dual legend keycaps. The font size could have been larger for some keycaps, but there are no general complaints here, or for the typeface used.

Flipping the keyboard around, we see the usual certification sticker in the middle. There are six rubber pads at the edges for some friction against a desk's surface, which prevents the keyboard from sliding around. Tesoro has chosen not to provide case feet here and instead relies on a fixed and built-in elevation in the case itself, as seen above. On top of this, the rubber pads also are sloped inward, adding to the inclination. Note that this angled placement of the rubber pads serves another purpose we will get to on the next page.

The keyboard has a detachable cable we saw on the previous page, and there is an inset female micro-USB port in the middle of the side facing towards the monitor. I would have rather seen Tesoro use USB Type-C here, and they did get back to me saying they are looking into this. This will not affect the GRAM XS, however, which will continue to use micro-USB. The cable itself is a snug fit and braided well, and the keyboard requires a single USB Type-A port on your computer. Note that USB 2.0 (5V/500 mA) is sufficient here even with the RGB LEDs.

In order to get the keyboard to be just 23.5 mm high, Tesoro had to do a few things. Noting that the GRAM XS will interest those who prefer low profile, chiclet switch keyboards, the keyboard got a similar treatment. The keycap profile is flat thus, and the design is also different than what you might expect of one suited to a standard-height mechanical keyboard. There are two extending points that meet holes in the switch stem, and this also reduces the total travel of the keys, which further helps keep the keyboard short. This is where the differences end, however, as the keycaps share the use of thin ABS plastic and laser etched legends with other mainstream keyboards. Indeed, the plastic is fairly thin (wall thickness 0.88 mm on average) to where I was seeing some finger oils and fingerprint marks after only a week of use. They were easy to wipe off, but this will not remain the case as time goes on. Backlighting works just fine, although if the LED is present at the top, legends located below on the keycap will not be as well backlit. We will check for this in due time.

There are two options as far as the switches go, and my sample had the Tesoro ultra-slim Blue mechanical switch (the other option is a Red linear switch). Tesoro partnered with TTC "to shape and develop the switch", in their own words, and we see a design similar to the low profile switches from Kailh and Cherry in that a short housing with a rectangular stem is adopted with two incisions where the keycap fits in place. A clear housing helps diffuse light from the LEDs used to light up the GRAM XS, and we can even see the click bar through the plastic from the top. Larger switches use modifiers that are similarly designed, but this design was not very good in stabilizing the largest of the keycaps—shift and space bar in particular. I do concede that Tesoro had to work with the limited room available, but it makes for an imperfect typing experience unless you hit the keycap right in the center each time.
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