Amongst the slew of peripheral and hardware brands on display at PAX AUS this year, a new brand was to be found offering some bold new choices for the Australian gaming market. Roccat is a relatively new company out of Germany, and while Australian gamers may be less familiar with their products, those with an interest in eSports may be familiar with the name as sponsors of League of Legends and Starcraft II teams for some time now.
While in the states, Roccat’s gaming mice and headphones are already proving popular, while at PAX AUS we had a chance to catch up with Greg from Roccat, who showed us some of the developments they were making in the keyboard space, a seemingly popular item this year. Although only brief, we did get a chance to get hands-on with some genuinely unique designs.
We first sat down with the Roccat Sova gaming lapboard, which looks to squarely shift the focus of PC gaming from the desk, to the couch. Resembling a full size stable table, the Sova is essentially a streamlined keyboard inset into a combination wrist-rest and mousepad, providing stability and freedom of movement for the most frantic of gameplay.
Wired via a two a quick release dual-USB design, although comfortable the sheer size of this unit makes it clear that it is designed for long session gaming. Luckily with that in mind, the careful details of cord bungies and docking rail means you have less reason to get up again once you’ve settled in. As one of the more premium keyboards on the market, the Sova isn’t for the fainthearted or occasional couch-surfer, but with the popularity of low-profile gaming PCs like the Alienware Alpha and a number of Steam Machine builds coming onto the market, the occasional annoyance of trying to balance a keyboard on your lap as you attempt to get mouse traction without a pad quickly becomes a major disruption to your gaming experience. While we had a chance to try out the Sova which hosts membrane switches, the newly developed Sova MK provides a mechanical switch option. More information can be found on the Roccat website and is available from select gaming retailers.
And where the Sova is built for gaming, with the Roccat Skeltr, it’s all about communication. With so many of us routinely having to jump between PC and mobile as a matter of daily life, The Skeltr is doing something that we’re surprised no one else has done yet; integrating your smart devices with your PC and keyboard.
By docking your device in the provided recess and either connecting via USB and audio jack (sorry iPhone 7) or, although we weren’t able to test this ourselves, via Bluetooth, users can reply to messages on their phone via the keyboard, and take calls through their headset, as well control a number of functions across the Roccat range by way of the Roccat Swarm app. While not mechanical, Roccat are boasting their own hybrid technology of rubber dome switches, aiming to find a middle ground between the precision of mechanical and the quiet comfort of membrane. The days of RGB keyboards being a novelty have mostly passed, however having collaborated to be compatible with AlienFX when paired with Alienware hardware, as well as a select range of titles utilising their own TalkFX lighting system, the Skeltr certainly keeps up to pace with modern standards. While again no minimalist design, the sleek, ‘space-age’ design is certainly eye-catching and incredibly sturdy given it’s weight and materials. Be sure to check out their site for more details.
And for those of you looking for a more slim-profile keyboard, be sure to check out their newly released Suora FX.
While this may be the first some of us are seeing of Roccat, it is undoubtedly the last. With a full scope of premium peripherals that says they taking PC gaming incredibly seriously, it would be premature to call them the underdog in this heated competition.