Genius impressed me when I reviewed the Maurus X mouse last month, putting the company on my radar for down the road. As such, when they offered me the chance to check out another one of their products, I jumped at the opportunity.
I’ve been looking into replacing my keyboard for quite some time, and based on the spec sheet, the Genius Manticore keyboard seemed to be almost ideal for my needs. Now, after spending a few days with it, I can say that although it’s not exactly what I was looking for, it’s still a fantastic product that deserves your attention.
One of the selling points that most interested me in the Manticore was the fact that it had “mechanical like” keys. I’m a huge fan of mechanical keyboards in general, but they aren’t always the most cost efficient for the average gamer. Now, make no mistake about this, the Manticore does not have mechanical switches, and possesses a series of individual membranes instead. There’s a good bit of travel distance to be found on each key, and they’re incredibly quiet. The accutation force on them is fairly light, although it seems to be just a bit inconsistent. A few tests showed that most of the keys trigger between 40-45 grams, so it’s safe to assume that this will feel similar to a cherry mx brown switch. It doesn’t have the snap back you’d expect out of a full mechanical keyboard, but overall it’s pretty nice to type with.
Genius has once again impressed me with their build quality, as the Manticore promises to have a lifespan of 10 million keystrokes. This is lower than a true mechanical keyboard, but is about the best you can expect out of a membrane keyboard. The 6 foot (1.8 meter) cable is fully braided, and can be routed three different ways beneath the keyboard to help maximize your working desktop space. The cable features two gold tipped USB ends, one to manage the keyboard and one to manage the two-piece USB hub on the keyboard itself. I’m being greedy here, in wishing that the hub was USB 3.0, but that would have been prohibitively expensive at this point.
Genius has also given the Manticore a 1000 hrtz polling rate, which leads to about a 1 millisecond response time. The main keys feature 20 anti-ghosting keys, but only managed to poll six keys simultaneously in my tests. Very rarely would this be an issue for the average user, but it’s something that’s a bit disappointing to see all the same.
For those of you who love backlit keyboards, the Manticore demands your attention with a 16 million color palette. The keyboard is broken into three sections as far as the backlighting goes: the main layout, the arrow keys and insert-page command buttons, and the full number pad. Each of these can be set to their own color, intensity, and pulsation modes. It’s a nice little touch that adds a bit of aesthetics, and with all of these options it’s pretty much impossible to not find something you’ll like.
Above the standard layout, you’ll find six extra keys. Four of these are your standard multimedia keys that can play/pause music, raise and lower the volume or completely mute your system. I would have liked to have seen a bit more control with the audio keys as they only move in 10% intervals and were a bit unresponsive at times. In order to rapidly adjust the volume, you have to hold the button as opposed to tapping it, something that felt needlessly complex. If I’m positive I want the volume to be lowered 30%, three taps should be sufficient.
The other two keys focus on the Manticore’s features. One will manage the intensity of the backlight between off, low, medium and high, while the other is a master record button to create macros on the fly. My only complaint is that there is no onscreen prompt stating that the master record function has been triggered. The button is fairly removed from anything you’d be normally hitting, so an accidental press is unlikely, but it isn’t unthinkable. This would be a fantastic little hotfix, but shouldn’t be a deciding factor in anyone’s buying process.
On the left side of the keyboard, you’re greeted with 8 macro buttons. These can be set with just about any macro you can come up with, or a few other functions including some basic media and office controls. I’m not a huge fan of macros outside of testing programs, however, the other functions quickly became essential to me. I have music running pretty much constantly, and being able to change songs without switching tabs was a nice little touch. Having a few keys set to launch programs I’m constantly using was a nice little time saver as well.
For those of you who find 8 macro keys to be too few, the Manticore has three built-in profiles with their own macros and lighting options. These can be accessed by three small buttons beneath the space key. I found myself dedicating one profile to gaming with macros for phrases I type often, such as “Thanks for the heal” or what have you, one for coding complete with macros to test code, and one for office work. These aren’t going to blow anyone away, but I did find myself being a bit more efficient with my new toys.
The Manticore’s layout does leave a bit to be desired. The oversized enter key is a nice touch for gaming, but in order to fit it in they did have to offset the forward slash key, which, in turn, reduces the size of the backspace key. It just doesn’t feel natural having to stretch out that far to handle a very basic keyboard function, and even after spending a good deal of time with it, I occasionally found myself hitting the wrong key while trying to make correction.
This can be offset with the brilliant software Genius has included. Every key on the Manticore can be reassigned to about anything you’d like, so on office profile I simply reassigned “\” to another delete key. It’s not an ideal solution, but it’s one that worked really well for me.
The software’s main macro record button is fairly advanced, allowing you to enter some commands ranging from cut/copy all the way to opening Explorer or locking the desktop. It leaves a lot of options available to the user, so those of you who are more adept than I am with macros should have an absolute field day.
As far as non-mechanical keyboards go, this is really fantastic product. With a myriad of options available and a really sturdy build to boot, the Manticore is a standout that is definitely worthy of your attention. However, there’s always room for improvement, and a few questionable decisions keep this from being an automatic buy. Still, if you’re in the market for a non-mechanical keyboard with some great backlight options as well as a plethora of macro keys, I think you’d be hard pressed to go wrong here.
This review is based on a product given to us for review purposes.