PerformanceThe keyboard's button design means that it takes a little time in order for your fingers to figure out where the correct keys are. I never look when I type and to begin with I was noticeably slower on the Arctic Cooling keyboard than on my old more ordinary Logitech one. After about a week's intense use and several reviews later my fingers are getting quite accustomed to the short travel buttons and the slightly more compact layout even when typing in Danish where the keyboard of course lacks the special characters. The general feel of the keyboard when typing is alright, but the keys are slightly harder to press than the ones featured on ordinary Logitech or Microsoft keyboards.
The K381 is slightly worse build-quality wise than my recent Logitech keyboards, it is more wobbly and bends more easily. Whether this will influence the longevity of the keyboard is unknown, but I would hesitate to just chuck it into my LAN bag without any form of protection. Another slight durability issue is the way the characters are transferred onto the buttons. It reminds me of the old Logitech slim line keyboards where the characters would wear off relatively fast compared to keyboards with traditional keys.
Another worrying factor is that the keys have a tendency to bind somewhat when pressed slightly sideways. This is probably due to the fact that the keyboard uses chiclet style keys like most modern Apple keyboards. That coupled with the fact that the face of the keys is flat means that you have to be a bit more careful when typing on it.
Value and Conclusion
- The Arctic Cooling K381 sells for $24.95 online.
- Low price
- Looks alright
- Modern styling with chiclet style keys
- Good amount of features for a cheap keyboard
- Very slim line design
- Flimsy build quality
The Arctic Cooling K381 presents a relatively fine mix of features at a lowish price. At $24.95 the K381 is only a little more than your standard run of the mill keyboard. The design is more attractive than the very cheapest stuff on the market, but it comes at a price both monetary and performance wise. The keys are of dubious quality and the quality of the construction is below that of most $20 keyboards. The K381s does have a few things going for it, for one the keyboard is slim line with a big emphasis on slim and it has quite a few extra function keys as well. One of the biggest pros with this keyboard is its size. It packs a full numeric pad and has a lot of extra keys without taking up an excessive amount of desk space. Compared to my Logitech keyboard the Arctic Cooling is 5 cm (~2 inches) shorter and 5 cm narrower.