After the 40% form factor CORE and 75% form factor Race 3, Vortex is back again with another smaller-than-TKL layout keyboard. The Race 3 is effectively a length-shrunk keyboard with 83 keys that does not have a dedicated Num Pad, and people said that was cool, but that they would rather have a Num Pad than a function key row. Enter then the ViBE, a wholly new 78% form factor keyboard that is effectively a 60% keyboard with a Num Pad cluster attached to it. Thanks again to Vortex for providing us with a review sample.
The ViBE has 79 keys, which goes with the 78% form factor (100% has 104 keys in the standard ANSI layout, for example). However, with fewer keys than the Race 3, it makes the latter with the so-called 75% form factor seem out of place now. This is a pet peeve of mine since non-standard layouts are really all over the place with companies doing their own thing, which makes assigning a percentage as a means of comparison between these a futile thing to try and keep track of. For the purpose of this review, take a look at the layout and simply consider it a longer, narrower keyboard without the function key row or arrow-key cluster but a Num Pad instead. It is a very interesting layout that, if programmable, can makes this a TKL keyboard sans the function key row, or a Num Pad via layers as Vortex often does. Do not dismiss it immediately thus, and allow me to walk you through it as we begin our review with a look at the specifications below.
|Vortex ViBE Keyboard|
|Layout:||78% form factor (79 keys)|
|Material:||Aluminium case, steel plate and PBT plastic keycaps|
|Weight:||0.91 kg / 2.0 lbs.|
|Anti-Ghosting:||Full N-Key rollover USB|
|Media Keys:||Available as a layered function|
|Dimensions:||99 (L) x 371 (W) x 38 (H) mm|
|Cable Length:||5 ft / 1.5 m|
|Switch Type:||Choice of Cherry MX Red, Brown, Blue, Black, Clear, Speed (Silver), Silent Red, or Silent Black mechanical switches|
|Backlighting:||Limited to some keys (on the base version)|