PRODUCT: Logickeyboard Astra backlit editing keyboard
(PC Avid Version)
- for Media Composer, Premiere, Pro Tools, Da Vinci, Vegas and Edius
- six levels of lighting
- scissor switches offer 10,000,000 pushes per key
- two independent USB hubs
- will increase the cool factor of your edit room
- for PC (Mac version available in the fall)
- carrying bag included with first 1,000 units
Ok, it's just a keyboard, right? Not quite! While Logickeyboard may not be the first out of the gate to offer a backlit keyboard for post production, to my mind the brand-new Astra offers a ton of bang-for-the-buck features, and addresses some deficiencies I've seen in the only competition in this narrow product field. (I reviewed a competitor in Post’s May 2015 issue.)
LogicKeyboard has been a major player in the post production keyboard market since 2002, offering a huge variety of options for industry people. They offer a wide mix of keyboard types and my favorite for years has been their lineup with sculpted keys. (I have never been a big fan of “chicklets” keyboards but I know this is an area of debate). The Astra's sculpted keys and keypress action offers a silky, assertive, tactile feedback experience that I find speeds up my editing.
A lot of thought has been put into the design of this keyboard and it shows.
The Astra offers a slightly different, futuristic, stylized form factor from most other manufacturers that lifts it up without requiring extendable (and breakable) ‘legs.’ It has rubber foot grips, helping it sit solid and firm at a substantial two pounds. Its design angles it to the user comfortably. The main body is made of a matte black, thick plastic (not flimsy) with silver side panels, very unlike other keyboards I've seen.
Unlike the competition, it also offers a two-port USB hub along the back edge. Thoughtfully, the hub is powered by a separate USB connector that is removable (in case the edit facility doesn't allow the use of USB peripherals, like memory sticks or other adapters for security reasons). The USB connector powering the keyboard itself is isolated from the ports.
The 104 keys are color-coded (in my case for Avid Media Composer) and have tactile bumps on the F and J keys, as well as on the 5 key on the numeric keypad.
All in all, it's a very solid, attractive and durable product.
But the real fun starts when the room lights go out and the keyboard lights go on. Cue the Barry White music! This is where things get really cool. The backlighting of the Astra offers five levels of intensity depending on your preference. Very rich and even lighting comes through the bright, translucent keys and make reading the legends very easy. No discernible edge light bleeds through the key holes, (a problem with other keyboards like this). The Logickeyboard logo in the upper right even has it's own backlight — a very nice touch.
The brightness levels will satisfy most any user — controllable by multiple pushes on a dedicated key at the lower right of the main keyboard. It will cycle from the brightest disco-esque intensity through five levels to a definitive ‘off.’ As an added feature, after a few minutes of unattended use, the keyboard will cycle in intensity like a screensaver.
I worked in extremely low-light rooms with no trouble, with the light from monitors and the keyboard itself providing the only practical illumination. I can also see how colorists in real low-light situations would find this keyboard productive.
The key action was fast and responsive. The keys have a nice, solid texture and are very quiet. Sliding over them and landing with accuracy was easy. The high-quality scissors switches offer shorter keystroke travel than other types with less pressure required to push. The rating of 10,000,000 pushes per key should give you years of colorful and creative use.
As an added bonus, Logickeyboard will throw in a nice, soft-fabric, zippered black LogicGo travel case for your keyboard, emblazoned with their logo, and with adjustable strap included — very cool for the freelancer who doesn't want to risk running into a facility supplied with less-capable keyboards. It may be a little nerdy to some, but I think it's really convenient.
If you miss the ordering deadline for the free offer, the cover is an easy-to-swallow $19.90.
If you've held off on buying a backlit editing keyboard for whatever reason, wait no more — this is a winner. Durable, aesthetically pleasing and beautiful to behold, you won't regret it. And be sure to crank up that music in the background!