Zalman ZM-K700M Review 4

Zalman ZM-K700M Review

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Value & Conclusion

  • The Zalman ZM-K700M currently retails for $140 online.
  • Driverless
  • Bright LEDs
  • Good lighting customization
  • Useful default shortcuts
  • Cable-routing channels
  • Macro support
  • Limited macro functionality
  • Only offered with Cherry MX Red switches
  • EQ lighting mode is badly implemented
  • Non-detachable cable
Zalman's ZM-K700M is a driverless jack of all trades. It comes with a slew of pre-assigned shortcuts that allow you to open various programs, web pages, control volume levels, and initiate music playback. Like most high-end keyboards, it is backlit and has eight brightness levels with support for setting two brightness levels at once. One affects keys you pick and the other affects all remaining keys. This means you have the option to, for instance, have all keys glow at one level while the special effects either brighten or dim them down. Combined with what available reactive and static lighting effects there are, this is the most advanced driverless lighting customization suite I've used to date. Zalman also added an APM meter that indicates lighting and volume levels as you adjust them. There is no way to turn it off, though, and it could be distracting in a dark environment.

The five macro keys themselves can work in two different modes. Normal mode will run the recorded sequence once. Z-key mode will run the first three macro keys of the recorded sequence normally, but the fourth key will loop the sequence, including all delays, while the fifth key will loop the sequence without any delays. You can also change how long macros take to run. Without any drivers, though, it is not possible to adjust delays between key presses, or bind non-keyboard-specific functions to these macro keys, which makes launching applications with them impossible.

Construction-wise, Zalman's ZM-K700M follows the norm for high-end keyboards. Key switches are set into a steel plate, which gives the keyboard great rigidity and a weight of 1.23kg. You can adjust the keyboard's angle by two different levels through its feet on the back, which is more than most keyboards offer. Cleaning requires you to pull off all keycaps because the keycaps are sunk into the shell, and the keyboard can only be had with Cherry MX Red switches.

With a $140 price tag, the ZM-K700M faces off against some tough competitors. It competes with such keyboards as Corsair's K95, which has an aluminum body and better macro support. The K95 is just a little worse off with its lighting effects. It's also possible to procure some RGB keyboards at this price point, so if you don't value the ZM-K700M's macro support, those are an option. For around $30 more, you can get the RGB keyboards that will do everything you can think of, like the Razer Blackwidow Chroma or G.skill Ripjaws KM780 RGB.
Now, go down in price and you can either keep the macro or lighting support and save $30-$40, so if you don't value one or the other that much, the Zalman doesn't have much to offer. Zalman's keyboard does have some major advantages for non-Windows users. Being driverless, it will keep all its features, including the macros in such operating systems as OS X or Linux. So if you just need some basic macro functionality that is OS independent, the Zalman is one of the few available options around. I feel as though the ZM-K700M doesn't make much sense for most gamers, though. If it were $20 cheaper, it at least would not compete with the RGB do-it-all keyboards, but at $140, there are just so many options that offer more outside of the niche that is the ZM-K700M's complete driverless functionality.
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