The Azeron Keypad is a one of a kind handcrafted peripheral that changed the way I play PC games forever.
- Manufacturer: Azeron
- Model: Compact gaming keyboard
- Price upon review: £ 149
- Supplied by: Azeron
“This is my keyboard. There are many of them, but this one is mine. My keyboard is my best friend. I have to know how to control my mouse. My keyboard is useless without me. I am useless without my keyboard. I will learn its weaknesses, its strengths, its parts and its accessories. I will always protect it from the effects of weather and damage, just as I will ever protect the legs, arms, eyes and heart of my game character from damage. I'll keep my Azeron keyboard clean and ready. We will become part of each other. We will…"
Make the switch
I've always preferred to play on PC over consoles, but after decades of using a controller, I found it difficult to adjust to using a keyboard for movement. Mouse control has never been an issue, and you can't deny the accuracy and fluidity it offers. When it came to the keyboard, the finger gymnastics it took to press all of the keys presented a hurdle that never felt better as arthritis had fused the bones in my wrist together. Not only was it awkward, it was downright painful.
I tried different solutions and even held a controller in my left hand and a mouse in my right hand, which worked for some games but was never comfortable. What I needed was the familiarity of an analog stick under my thumb and easy-to-reach buttons that didn't require awkward finger extensions.
When I saw the Azeron keyboard, a light went on in my head. Could this be the peripheral I needed to finally be able to play PC games without having to plug in an Xbox controller?
Unboxing and accessories
A highly polished box holds the well-designed packaging that folds out to reveal the epic looking keyboard. The cardboard packaging makes recycling easier. However, I'm the guy who likes to keep the box and it is now proudly displayed with the rest of my collection.
As we see from more and more manufacturers these days, most of the packaging for the Azeron keyboard is made of cardboard, with some foam protecting the base, a small pouch with the adjustment tools, and for me an extra flat palm rest.
The delivery was very quick. After specifying my color and accessories, the keyboard arrived just three days later. Azeron stocks some of the most popular keyboards. However, if you do provide something a little more unique, turnaround time can be up to a couple of weeks, which is still good for a handcrafted product.
At first glance, the Azeron keyboard is an intimidating looking device. The wide range of switches on the key towers looks daunting at first, but once you have them in hand it feels natural. Personally, I like the look, although I've heard some people say they don't like the look (jealous of course).
All cables are braided, and Azeron even color-coded the cables that connect the key towers to the circuit board. Extensive customization of the devices allows you to choose the colors that match your preferred battle station design. My keypad is black with red switches and wires, and I think it looks amazing.
Regardless of your opinion on the look, the quality of the ergonomics is out of the question as the carefully thought-out adjustability of the keyboard allows it to be positioned to fit virtually any hand. It's also not as big as it looks and, despite the size of the device, is mostly hidden under your wrist and hand when you use it. Functionally, the Azeron keyboard is almost perfect.
Left-handed people are often overlooked when it comes to peripherals, but Azeron makes keyboards for both hands. So if you prefer the mouse in your left hand and the controller in your right hand, you've come to the right place.
Azeron 3D print their keyboards and assemble them by hand. The finish is excellent, although there are some, very small, rough edges and marks. These don't affect performance in any way, and I like to think of them as the fingerprint of my keyboard.
People often wonder why Azeron isn't making the move to mass-produce with molds, and their reasoning makes a lot of sense. 3D printing makes the Azeron keyboard a dynamic design. The more keyboards that get into people's hands, the easier it is for them to respond to feedback and make adjustments and revisions to components than if they had to recreate molds and adapt an entire manufacturing process.
As mentioned earlier, the Azeron keyboard is hand assembled and soldered by a team that loves their job. This can be seen in the quality of the keyboard. This constant cycle of production and improvement has resulted in an incredibly mature product. The keyboard is mounted on a steel base and feels solid and durable. The soft rubber feet hold it firmly on the desk.
There are 24The Azeron Keypad is a one of a kind handcrafted peripheral that changed the way I play PC games forever. Activation points with Omron switch on the keyboard as well as an analog stick that allows 360 degree movement if supported by the game, or can replace WASD for movement. All but four of these switches can be accessed by dragging, pushing, or moving your fingers or thumb, with the last four requiring a little finger lift to reach.
I saw a video review of a previous iteration, and the reviewer noticed that the switches on his device were quite loose. This is not the case with my Azeron Compact. All switches are easy to click, responsive and close-fitting, with almost no noticeable wobbling.
Every hand is different. The fingers are of different lengths, the distance between them varies, and even the angle at which they naturally rest varies from person to person. Using the Azeron keyboard, you can individually adjust the length and angle of each key tower, thumb rest and thumb switch. If you loosen a couple of screws on the underside of the keyboard using the included hex driver, you can adjust everything to fit your hand exactly. Think of this as the game equivalent of buying a bespoke suit rather than an off-the-shelf garment.
Also includes a selection of different length thumb pins with concave or convex tips. These are easily interchangeable, and some clever people have even swapped them for the Xbox Elite controller's sticks. In fact, Azeron recommends that you modify your controller to your liking, and the Discord server is full of unique human-made customizations, from custom skins and adhesive tapes to tactile pads on the switches.
However, the customization doesn't depend on you doing it yourself. When you configure your controller on the Azeron website, there are tons of options to choose from. You can choose from a variety of colors, including plastics that glow in the dark. If you want something that's not listed, they can contact them and they will be happy to do it for you. Many options are free, though there are some styling options that cost a small but reasonable additional cost.
Switching from a keyboard or controller to the Azeron keyboard takes a little, and I had to change the key mapping a few times before I received it so I could instinctively activate it in response to the on-screen prompts. After deciding on the button layout, I had to decide which movements and skills should be assigned to each switch.
This is possibly the most important controller customization you will make. Since I mainly use the keyboard for first person shooters, I have set up my main profile for these games. There are two quick switch profiles with a push button on the base that allows you to quickly switch between them, but you can assign more in the Azeron software. For me it was easier to customize the keyboard shortcuts in the game than to create new profiles every time. Whatever you choose, it's a simple process.
The first two profiles are stored in the built-in memory, so you can connect your keyboard to another PC and get started in seconds. All of your calibration and key assignments are retrieved. However, any macros you assign must have the Azeron software open.
When you start the software for the first time, you can calibrate the analog stick. This sets the outer dead zones, and you can also change the activation angle of the stick to match what feels natural to you like X and Y motion.
Not every game supports the simultaneous input required to use analog input in conjunction with mouse and keyboard controls. (Complete list of supported titles)
For games that don't support this, the analog stick works fine even in WASD mode, and using it to play Destiny 2 didn't affect my gameplay in any way. It's much smoother and a superior way to play without having to tie three fingers to move.
The responsiveness is excellent. The Azeron Keypad has a polling rate of 1000 Hz and all of your inputs are activated with no noticeable delay. Movements are instantaneous, and with all of your controls literally at hand, you have a significant advantage in fast-paced games that require numerous complex actions.
How is it to be used?
I've tested the Azeron Keypad on a variety of different games, and experimented with key bindings and controller layouts. I eventually settled on Destiny 2 (I was very late for the Destiny party) and within an hour I was running, sprinting, jetpacking, and navigating the map with ease. I no longer had to look away from the display to see which key to press, and I didn't accidentally press the wrong key.
The analog stick feels so natural for movement. In all the years I've used a controller, I didn't even have to think about what I was doing. It's literally the best of both worlds. You get the ease of movement and accessibility of a game controller coupled with the superior accuracy and responsiveness of a mouse. It's transformative.
For me, the biggest difference was that my arthritis-affected wrist felt great even after hours of play. For all players with limited mobility in their joints, the Azeron Keypad offers a fully functional gaming experience at your fingertips.
Gaming should be for everyone, and the Azeron Keyboard opens up the world of PC gaming to more people than ever before. I'm sure I'm not the only one struggling with the learning curve of switching from controllers to a mouse and keyboard, and there are certainly plenty of people who have physical difficulty playing with a keyboard too. This keyboard bridges that gap incredibly.
At £ 149, the Azeron keyboards are on the premium end of the scale, but no more than game controllers like the Xbox Elite or Razer competitive fields. In my opinion, they are absolutely worth every penny. Each keyboard has hundreds of parts and screws that are used in its construction. The assembly and testing by hand takes several hours.
In the weeks that I had the keyboard, I used it every day and changed my gameplay. Since I can't play for a long time due to discomfort, not only can I play as long as I want, but I'm better than ever. That is invaluable to me.
The Azeron Gaming Keypad is an incredible controller. I love the design and the build quality feels top notch. The analog stick and easily accessible switches took my game to the next level, but it's the way I've made PC gaming possible with a mouse and controller that makes this game my favorite gaming peripheral. I've never given a perfect score for anything, but the Azeron keyboard is absolutely flawless.
The Azeron keyboard is available directly from Azeron https://www.azeron.eu/and now big retailers like Amazon and Etsy.