By: Jonathan Kwan
December 27, 2013
I do not claim to be a hardcore photographer (Mainly because I do not have the skills nor the cash), but being an enthusiast at heart, I still have some pretty decent equipment kicking around the house. A few years ago, one girl saw me shooting with my Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM telephoto lens. "That looks like a crappy camera," she remarked, as she continued on with her Panasonic point and shoot. For at least a minute, with about $3000 of equipment strapped around my neck, I stood there silent, simply because I was not entirely sure how to respond. For those who have no idea what I am talking about, any Canon lens with an "L" in its name means it is the real deal. In particular, the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L lens is famous for its performance and versatility; whether you are interested in taking pictures of birds, snapping off close up shots at sports events, or stalking your neighbors when they are not aware, this lens delivers every time. On the other hand, as funny as that sounds, it happens to the best of us. When the Tt eSPORTS Meka G1 arrived here at APH Networks back in 2011, my first thought was, "This looks like another generic keyboard", as I casually handed them over to my colleague Preston for review, unaware of the fact it was a high end mechanical keyboard. Fast forward to today, after reviewing dozens of mechanical and non-mechanical keyboards over the years, sometimes, the best items are not always immediately recognized. Let's take a look at the Func KB-460, for example. At first glance, it looks like another generic $20 keyboard. In reality, it is way more than that. Equipped with some slick Cherry MX Red mechanical switches underneath each key, full NKRO capability, and awesome full backlighting, is this a formula of win or what? Read on to find out more!
Our review unit of the Func KB-460 came in a moderately sized, brown corrugated cardboard box from the company's American headquarters in Dallas, Texas via FedEx Ground. APH Networks is one of the select media outlets to receive the first batch of Func's brand new keyboard. Unfortunately, upon landing here in Calgary, we were hit with a serious blizzard. It was not until a few days later that the guys at FedEx were finally back on the roads -- but by that time, it was only a few hours before December 5th, the KB-460's launch day. This is too bad. Upon receiving the product, we excitedly cracked open the package, and went on with our standard review procedure.
While the shipping box was keyboard-sized and all, the retail packaging was surprisingly compact. In fact, it was so unusually compact, I got worried for a moment I misread the Func KB-460's product page, and the keyboard did not actually come with arrow and function keys or something. Fortunately, my fears were relieved when I took a look inside the package; the KB-460 is certainly not a CM Storm QuickFire TK Blue clone. Func's branding has also changed significantly since we have first reviewed the Func sUrface 1030 Archetype nearly eight years ago -- and rightly so. After all, APH Networks' design has changed quite a bit too, haha. The retail box is very simple and unusually clean for a gaming company. All you will see in front is Func's logo, slogan, and keyboard name in the upper left quadrant, "Cherry MX Red Mechanical Switches" subtly written at the bottom left corner, and a portion of the keyboard on the right half. At the back, you will some feature highlights of the KB-460. Overall, I am a big fan of Func's latest retail packaging design.
Before we move on, let's take a look at the specifications of the Func KB-460, as obtained from the manufacturer's website:
Switch type: Cherry MX Red linear switch
Key design: Cylindrical
Actuation force: 45 g
Responsiveness: 2 mm
Anti-ghost: Full N-key roll over USB
Backlit: Individual LED's on each key
Memory: Onboard 128 KB
Connect-through ports: 2 x USB 2.0
Cord length: 1.8m (braided)
Connector: USB 2.0 (gold plated)
Dimensions: 448x198x33 mm
Net weight: 1245g
With "Functionality. Perfected." as the company slogan, you would expect their products to focus a lot on its... well, functionality. The way I see it, this functionality statement is clearly portrayed even before I opened the package, but was further reinforced when I took a look inside. Out of the box, you will receive everything you will need, and nothing more. Securely clipped between two Styrofoam brackets is the Func KB-460 keyboard itself contained in a clear plastic bag, while its detachable wrist rest is wrapped inside a separate piece of white foam. Two plastic clips used to attach the wrist rest to the keyboard are located inside a resealable plastic bag; more on this later. On the product literature side, a color manual is included, along with a separate sheet of paper telling you where to download the software. A driver CD is nowhere to be found, but this is okay. If you don't have internet, please send me an email, and let me know how you came across this review.
At first glance, the Func KB-460 is as down to earth as it gets. If you are looking for what the definition of a traditional keyboard is, look no further than this. With straight edges, no macro keys, and a practically reference layout, you will have to look pretty closely to see what sets the KB-460 apart. Indeed, the devil is in the details. Its platform beneath the keys is colored red to give it a little more style, while the entire surface of the keyboard -- sans the keys, of course -- is finished with a smooth rubber coating. I have certainly seen rubber coated surfaces in mice before, but on a keyboard? This is certainly a first for me. The rubber coating is soft to touch, fingerprint and mark resistant (Unless you have super sweaty hands), and provides a good sense of grip. The detachable wrist rest is covered with the same rubber coating as well. The best part about this is it is very comfortable in every day usage.
Speaking of the Func KB-460's wrist rest, it is fully detachable from the main unit. As I have mentioned earlier on in this review, it is designed to be connected to the keyboard via two plastic clips. While it is reasonably intuitive to use, I am not a big fan of this design. For one thing, the friction grip on the wrist rest from the plastic clips is not secure at all. This means the wrist rest will fall off easily if you were to move the keyboard around. Secondly, due to the way the plastic clips are designed, there is a lot of off-axis play. Thirdly, when the keyboard is flat, there is a sizable gap between the wrist rest and the keyboard itself. If there is one thing that Func has not done right with the KB-460, this will have to be it.
The Func KB-460 measures in at 448mm width, 198mm depth, and 33mm height. This is as compact as a standard QWERTY keyboard will go. To go along with its medium footprint and medium profile, the keyboard weighs about 1245g according to the manufacturer. This is pretty heavy, but this is expected from a mechanical keyboard. If you don't know what a mechanical keyboard is, there are three main types of keyboards in the market today. The cheapest is the membrane keyboard, which is the easiest to make, but also has poor typing feel and response due to squishy keys. A scissor switch keyboard has its own independent keyswitch mechanism for each key, which delivers improved tactile response and typing experience. Modern scissor switch keyboards can be very good for everyday office use. Mechanical keyboards such as the Func KB-460 costs the most, because each keyswitch is an independent part. Like all mechanical keyboards, the KB-460 with Cherry MX Red mechanical switches is pretty loud to type on. Cherry MX Red switches are relatively new -- introduced in 2008 -- and are basically lighter versions of the Cherry MX Black. Cherry MX Red, like the MX Black, is marketed as a gaming type switch. The maximum key travel distance is 4mm, with actuation at 2mm. With an actuation force of 45g in a completely linear fashion, it is about 15g lighter than the MX Black; generally speaking, the Func KB-460 will feel very different than other keyboards. This keyswitch is desirable for gaming, because you will be bottoming out all the keys anyway, but the lack of the "bump" of the Cherry MX Red may not appeal to everyone. Personally, I think this keyboard is an absolute pleasure to type on, regardless of what other people like to say. After all, I am writing this review with the Func KB-460 right now, and I better like it in order to do this!
The Func KB-460 is a full NKRO keyboard. NKRO stands for N-key rollover. If you have used keyboards with limited NKRO capabilities, you may have experienced ghosting issues in the past -- where when too many keys are pressed at the same time, your system unable to register any more strokes. A full NKRO keyboard like the Func KB-460 overcomes this by independently polling each key, making all inputs detectable by the hardware, regardless of how many other keys are activated at the same time. This mean in the event you have every other key on your keyboard depressed, it will still register the last stroke. While this is a highly unlikely scenario, since you have only ten fingers, but this is as good as it will get. As expected, the base is rock solid, so you won't get any keyboard flex, which is excellent. The switches are rated for fifty million keystrokes each.
Once you turn off the lights and activate the Func KB-460's backlit keys, the keyboard really shines -- no pun intended. The KB-460 features full key backlighting, but in only one color, and that is red. Backlight intensity can be adjusted on the fly by hitting the Function key along with the labeled '8' and '2' buttons on the number pad to increase or decrease the level, respectively. The backlight can be turned off completely, or activated in three different brightness levels. If you increase the brightness to maximum, and increment it up once more, the Func KB-460 will enter into a special backlight mode, where the backlight will fade in and fade out continuously. I am a big fan of fully backlit keyboards, and I am happy Func designed the KB-460 with this feature. On the other hand, while I do not expect SteelSeries Apex kind of light show, a few more user configurable color options would be nice. My primary concern is red light is the most attention grabbing color, so some users may find the KB-460 particularly distracting at night. Obviously, you can turn off the backlight at night, but what's the point?
The Func KB-460's key illumination distribution is reasonably even for the most part. The area between the keys are also backlit, which is pretty rare, and I like it. One thing to point out, for keys with more than one line of text label, you will notice the top half is significantly brighter than the bottom half. This is probably due to physical design limitations, as you can see in our photo above.
The F keys at the top converts into specialized feature keys when the Function key is depressed at the same time. Starting from F1 and ending in F12, in that order, we have Mute, Volume Up, Volume Down, Play/Pause, Skip Back, Skip Forward, Profile 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and Func Mode. All keys are designed to work out of the box, and do not require any software -- software is required only to modify settings. All settings are stored on the keyboard's onboard 128KB memory. The profile selection keys allow you to switch between macro layers, while hitting the Func Mode key when a profile is active will take you out of it, and return the keyboard back to normal. Hitting the Func Mode key with no profile active will return the keyboard to the last active layer. We will talk about this more in detail later. Basically, the gist of it is the KB-460 has no dedicated macro keys, but any key other than Windows, Fn, and F7 through F12 can be customized to function as the user wishes. For example, if my "W" key is set to do something in Profile 1, deactivating Func mode will return my "W" key to its default function.
Almost everything here is pretty standard in terms of layout, with a few additions. There are multiple versions available; the one I have is the US QWERTY layout. That said, the arrangement of production keys is in classical formation -- users who are used to the Logitech arrangement will need to switch back. I am a big fan of the single row Enter key layout, as present on our US QWERTY Func KB-460. Keyboards with a double row Enter key usually means the "\" button is moved to the left side of the right "Shift" key; reducing the size of the latter. I am more used to having a full width Shift on the right, and a half height Enter. Obviously, this is more or less personal preference, but having a half height Enter key makes a lot more sense to me.
Two standard plus one custom indicator LED corresponding to Num Lock, Caps Lock, and Func Mode, respectively, can be found at the upper right hand corner. They glow red when activated, just like its backlight color. When Func Mode is on, the Windows key is disabled. This is an important feature in any gaming keyboard, because let's face it: How many times have you tried to duck in your favorite FPS while engaging an enemy, only to be killed instantly, because you missed the "Ctrl" key and your game was minimized? My only complaint is there is no way to tell which macro layer is active just by looking at your KB-460. All it tells you is Func Mode is engaged or not. Some keyboards show the current active profile by having customizable backlight colors, while others use dedicated LEDs. For a keyboard that costs $130 at press time, having neither definitely is a crucial shortcoming.
At the back of the Func KB-460 is the USB cable lead out. It comes out biased to the right, and is not detachable. This nicely braided cable features a Func-orange texture to it, and extends 1.8m in length to connect to your computer via a gold plated USB connector. Two USB 2.0 ports are present at the back. When we bring about the question of whether gold plated connectors are actually useful or not, let's just say if it was the actual pins, then possibly -- since gold offers better conductivity than other metals. This theoretically establishes a better connection with your computer, but on a digital signal level, we must understand it is a discrete one or zero; so if anyone tells you they can tell the difference, you can definitely defeat their theory with a double blinded test. Additionally, if you are referring to the gold part of the connector you see on the plug, I would like to point out it actually does not make any physical contact electrically with your computer. In other words, it is nice to have, and it is pretty to look at, but it is not anything significant on a practical level.
At the bottom are two rubber strips at the back and two hard plastic strips in front to help the KB-460 stay in place during intense gaming sessions. The front hard rubber strips on the riser edges provide very little traction, but it is not a deal breaker, since you will be concentrating most of your forces at the back anyway. This is not to mention this Func keyboard is pretty darn heavy by itself. Two flip-out risers at the back tilts the keyboard up for those who prefer it. Once flipped out, the same hard rubber is still making contact with your desk. No keyboard drain holes are available, so be sure to keep your Mountain Dew far away.
Func's software can be downloaded from their website directly. It is a rather small download at 5.82MB. As I have mentioned earlier on in this review, the program is required only to customize functions. Otherwise, the KB-460 can function independent of any software, as any user programmed functions is saved on the keyboard's onboard 128KB memory.
While the Func KB-460 has no dedicated macro keys, up to any ten keys across five layers -- with the exception of Windows, Fn, and F7 through F12 -- can be customized to function to do almost anything you want. To start, select a profile at the top, then hit one of the M keys on the left side of the screen. Next, select one of the non-grayed out keys on the keyboard layout you wish to change, and select a function from the drop down menu. You can either select a preset function (Such as copy, paste, or save), launch a program, or record a macro. Personally, I found the macro recording function to be quite primitive, as it cannot record delays. Furthermore, if you select "Launch", you cannot run a command line function like you can on other keyboards I have used in the past. For example, I can make it run shutdown.exe, but I cannot do it with arguments like "shutdown.exe -s -t 00". In the future, it will be great if Func can make some improvements in this regard.
When I received the Func KB-460, Eminem's hit song "Without Me" from 2002 comes to mind. "Guess who's back, back again / Shady's back, tell a friend / Guess who's back [...]" Guess who's back? Nearly eight years after we have first reviewed the sUrface 1030 Archetype, the company is back with their latest and greatest gaming hardware. When Func got in touch with me back in September, and told me they have a slick new mechanical keyboard in the works with Cherry MX Red switches, full NKRO capability, and full backlighting, I wasted no time to reply. It did not matter to me I was on vacation when I received that email, nor was it relevant I did not even have my laptop on me at that time. Three months later, when the KB-460 landed on my doorstep, my excitement has not subsided. I am always a big fan of no-nonsense keyboards, and this is one of them. Simply put, the Func KB-460 is a real joy to type on. Its smooth rubber coating is really the icing on the cake. For a beautiful backlit mechanical keyboard with full NKRO capability, what is not to like about it? Before it landed on my doorstep, I have always wondered. But after going through this review, the answer is obvious. Firstly, the wrist rest's plastic clip design is poor. In fact, it is so poor, you might as well not even attach the wrist rest to your keyboard. Secondly, there is no way you can tell which macro layer is active just by looking at it. This is somewhat related to my third point, the lack of backlight color customization. Normally, this is not a big deal, but red LEDs can be distracting at night; this is not to mention the KB-460 commands a price of a whopping $130 at press time. It is somewhat disappointing it costs more than comparable mechanical keyboard from competitors like CM Storm and Tt eSPORTS, yet you can't even change the LED color like a $50 Gigabyte Force K7. Lastly, the key customization software features can be refined a bit. Don't get me wrong, I love the Func KB-460. But in this hyper-competitive market, this keyboard will require some refinement to take it to the top. Personally, I don't mind paying more for the best, if the product really is the best.
And here we are today, last review of 2013 here at APH Networks -- happy new year, my fellow readers.
Func provided this product to APH Networks for the purpose of evaluation.
APH Review Focus Summary:
7/10 means Great product with many advantages and certain insignificant drawbacks; but should be considered before purchasing.
6/10 means A product with its advantages, but drawbacks should not be ignored before purchasing.
-- Final APH Numeric Rating is 6.4/10
Please note that the APH Numeric Rating system is based off our proprietary guidelines in the Review Focus, and should not be compared to other sites.
The Func KB-460 is a no-nonsense mechanical keyboard with full NKRO capability that is a real joy to type on. Refinement, on the other hand, could use some work in both hardware and software.
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