Eclipse Wireless Litetouch Keyboard Review

You might feel that the monitor or CPU are the most critical piece of hardware on your computer, but as someone who does a lot of typing and plays a lot of PC games, I’ll go with the keyboard every time.

Over the years, I’ve gone from someone who buys $10 budget keyboards to $120 keyboards with integrated LCD screens. The importance of keyboard touch, response and durability are not to be ignored. MadCatz has a line of high-end PC peripherals that evolved from its Saitek purchase a few years back called the Eclipse.

The company recently sent us an Eclipse Wireless Litetouch Keyboard and we’ve put it through its paces for gaming and typing. In fact, I imagine I’ll be putting it through those same paces for a long time to come.

The Wireless Litetouch’s first noticeable feature is the included LCD touchpad where the number pad is usually found. This programmable black & white LCD screen displays all the expected buttons, but makes good use of an oft neglected part of the keyboard by letting you program those keys in 3 modes.

When doing accounting or data entry the numberpad is invaluable, but what about for everyday use? Not so much, thanks.

The Litetouch keypad supports the traditional number buttons but it also features two more modes where users can program the keys to execute programs. You set these actions using custom key control software.

Along with customizable macro keys, the media controls that litter the top of most keyboards these days are included in this control scheme. Instead of a large keyboard with a ton of useless buttons on it, the litetouch screen allows you to repurpose media controls or hide those functions easily. The minimal design also means the keyboard is smaller and lighter.

Using the Smart Technology program is simple and mapping keypad functions is a matter of selecting a mode and telling the keyboard what you expect it to do. The settings are saved to a profile that is executed on launch, but also can be recalled on command. This feature means that enterprising gamers can set up custom buttons for their favorite in-game commands or macros.

The one negative of the LCD was the response on the touch screen is a little slow. If you are doing rapid key entry it sometimes takes a few attempts to register a keypress. This is not a keyboard for accounting work.

The Wireless Litetouch communicates using 2.4Ghz radio and requires a small dongle be connected to your system USB ports. During testing, I used the keyboard at a variety of different locations and ranges. I found that the keyboard was highly responsive with almost no perceptible lag up to 4 feet away.

When there was a wooden table in between the receiver and my keyboard, there were a few instances where keys were missed during a quick typing session. With the same setup while playing games, the keyboard worked flawlessly.

Importantly for games, the key repeat rate never faltered while I was testing at any reasonable range. When traveling, the receiver slides into the bottom of the unit and turns the keyboard off.

This keyboard is a good fit for users who are looking for some great flexibility and a small “lapprint”. The integration of a basic trackball and two mouse buttons was enough to make web browsing simple even without using a wireless mouse. The trackball responded well but it was not adequate (at least not for me) when I attempted to use it in place of a mouse for FPS or RTS gameplay.

Night or LAN play is fully supported thanks to the backlit keys, and typing over extended periods of time never became uncomfortable. The size of the keyboard felt right for touch typing and the independent keys were relatively quiet. They do give off a noticable plastic click, though. This is not a “no-sound” keyboard, but it’s not unnecessarily noisy either.

The litetouch has a fair battery lifetime from what I could see. I used the keyboard for a week before I had to recharge it. Charging is handled either by connecting the unit via a USB cable or with the included wall plug.

ThisĀ  is an excellent wireless keyboard with good gamer-centric features. Unlike some gimicky “gamer” keyboards it also offers comfortable typing and reliability for more typical usage. The wireless range was good and also makes the unit a consideration in some home theater PC use.

The Eclipse Wireless Litetouch Keyboard retails for $130 and is available online and at major retailers. The Smart Technology is Windows only and some features may not work properly under Linux or Mac OS.

Pros:

  • Programmable LCD keypad
  • Backlit keys
  • Nice Wireless Range

Cons:

  • Trackball is Not Good for Gaming
  • Does Experience Interference from Some Objects
  • Response time is not Rapid enough for Keypad Entry

The Verdict: Buy it!

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1 Comment on Eclipse Wireless Litetouch Keyboard Review

mat

On November 12, 2011 at 11:27 am

I’m guessing it supports W+Shift+Space, because you reviewed it as a gaming keyboard, but I was just curious