Hands-On: Steelseries’ New, Deliciously-Priced Apex Keyboards & Flux Earbuds
The Steelseries Apex keyboard above. $99.99.
Known for kick-ass mousepads (I use one!), keyboards and mice, Steelseries has four wholly new products for CES 2013. And the best part, which seems to be bucking the trend this week? None of them are ridiculously expensive!
There are two new keyboards, the Apex and Apex RAW. Priced at $99.99 and $69.99, respecitvely, this Apex duo will use membrane keys in lieu of mechanical switches. “We’re not going after the programming crowd,” said Steelseries CMO Kim Rom. While mechanical keyboards are great, they aren’t going to give you an edge in gaming, which is what Steelseries is all about. Instead, that edge comes from the deep customization found in the Apex, including four programmable key layers (which makes for over 500 total programmable keys), four different lighting zones, and sharable keyboard config files. The Apex RAW has many of the same features found in the Apex, although there are two programmable layers instead of four, five fewer macro keys (17 versus 22), and a colorless lighting scheme.
The Steelseries Apex Raw keyboard above. $69.99.
the Apex and Apex RAW are sturdy, although they lack the indestructible feel found in the older 6G and 7G keyboards. The keys are perfectly laid out, too, as the macro buttons line up perfectly with the number row — an important feature if you want to keep that APM figure high. The color zones on the Apex are more than just for show, as different zones come in handy when you’re mapping out keys for your RPG of choice. If you’re a fan of the Steelseries keyboard on the MSI laptops, you’ll love the higher-end Apex.
Steelseries Apex keyboard opened up above.
Steelseries also brought two new in-ear headphone systems to CES. The Flux Pro, priced at $129.99, is the higher end solution, while the standard Flux comes in at $49. Steelseries isn’t pulling any punches, as Mr. Rom says the Flux Pro “…will be the best sounding headset priced under $200.” I wasn’t able to test the Flux Pro, but a review will be up as soon as they launch next month. Both the Pro and regular Flux models come with flat, tangle-free ribbon-style cables and built-in microphones, and the Pro has a connector that takes phone- and PC-friendly end pieces. ”
Steelseries Flux Earbuds above, $49.99.
So what spurred the in-ear audio craze for Steelseries? Trends and functionality, it seems. “We bought 102 different sets of in-ear headphones, and we found nothing that we liked,” said Kim. He also noted that in-ear audio is popular amongst the various Steelseries-sponsored gaming teams, so they wanted to start supplying these gamers with branded equipment. “Gaming tournaments are so loud now, so a lot of players are wearing earbuds under their over-ear headphones.”
Steelseries Flux Pro Earbuds above, $129.99.
These latest Steelseries products look impressive so far, and I can’t wait to test them. What really has me excited, however, are the price points. Two brand new gaming keyboards, each priced under $100? You aren’t seeing this strategy from many other gaming peripheral makers, who tend to be trending north of $150. If the quality is up to the usual standards, the Apex and Apex RAW will be two of the best deals in gaming in 2013.
Game Front was on-site at CES 2013 (January 8-11), covering all the latest gaming gadgets. Check out all of our CES 2013 news, previews and features.