Flight Sim enthusiasts are no strangers to downloading add-ons or purchasing peripherals in an effort to enhance their flight experiences. One more scenery pack, one more aircraft, it all makes a difference to us. It’s for that reason that this product caught me by surprise; a keyboard specifically designed with users of Microsoft’s Flight Simulator X (FSX) in mind. Of all the things on my desk, my keyboard is one thing that I never thought I could justify upgrading because it always did what it was supposed to do. Widescreen monitors, surround sound speakers, ergonomic computer mice – have all found a way to boot out my old hardware, yet my keyboard stuck fast. Until now, that is.
The Editors Keys Flight Simulator X Keyboard, hereinafter referred to simply as ‘FSX Keyboard’, has caused me to do away with my old keyboard, and I haven’t given it a second thought.
What started as an inspired concept by Editors Keys Head Designer, has become a fully realized device – with a little help from some beta testers and members of the community that had a hand in getting the product to where it is today.
Editors Keys has quickly become one of the most popular companies for shortcut editing keyboards, with keyboards designed for Adobe Photoshop, Avid Pro Tools, Cubase, Final Cut Pro X, and many, many others.
So what makes this keyboard so special? Well, as I said, this keyboard was designed for use with Microsoft’s Flight Simulator X. The FSX keyboard features over 100 shortcuts for FSX, as well as some attractive and eye saving back and side lighting that glows a soft white with a hint of blue.
Most of the keys have their FSX functions printed on them, with many keys serving multiple functions. As we know from FSX, many keyboard shortcuts involve holding either CTRL, SHIFT or sometimes both.
Somehow, Editors Keys have managed to find a way to print all of this information on the keys directly, so you’ll never need to check key bindings in the settings of the simulator, or reference a. PDF to find the shortcut for the function you need.
They’ve done this with a very intelligent color-coded legend system. Both CTRL keys are colored blue, the SHIFT keys are colored green, and the Num Lock key is colored a light orange.
A key's primary function is printed on in white, and in the case of the of the character keys A through Z, as well as the Period key and the Space Bar, there is also a small circular icon depicting said function. Those keys that serve several purposes, have these functions written on the key as well, but they are marked by a small blue or green square, denoting that their function can be accessed by holding the corresponding key, either CTRL or SHIFT, along with the key in question.
Some keys also have a colored square that is green on one side and blue on the other, indicating that both CTRL and SHIFT need to be held down to access the function. As an example, one key that holds four functions is the Backspace key.
On a standard key press, the performed function is ‘Default Zoom’. If the CTRL key is being held, the function is ‘Eyepoint Forward’, if the SHIFT key is being held, the function is ‘Eyepoint Down’ and if both CTRL and SHIFT are being held, then the function is ‘Eyepoint Left’. Just in case you’re wondering, the shortcuts for ‘Eyepoint Back/Up/Right’ all appear on the return key with the same delineation.
You can begin to see then, why this keyboard stands out. Over on the Editors Keys website, they claim that their keyboards can help you to edit up to 40% faster. Which, in this case, translates to you being up to 40% more efficient. It’s a bold claim, but based on my usage, I think those numbers are accurate. It’s not like it makes you faster, more that you spend less time looking, be it at the keyboard itself or at printed documents or control options, and more time actually doing.
The same would be true of with any simulator that had a keyboard companion like this. To that point, although I cannot confirm this, it is feasible that one could use this keyboard with Prepar3D instead of FSX, as by default, they share the same keyboard shortcuts.
I was pleasantly surprised when my keyboard arrived, as even the box it came in suggested a level the quality that I was silently hoping for. A very professional looking box – primarily black, with the Editors Keys logo on the top, made of very rigid cardboard that so far seems immune to any wear and tear.
The box features a strong magnetic clasp and the interior, painted the same orange as that of the logo, contains expertly cut black foam that the FSX Keyboard fits into perfectly. This is not the kind of box you throw away. It’s perfect should you ever need to transport the keyboard anywhere. Granted, most simmers don’t regularly meet up for LAN parties, so it’s unlikely you will ever need to move it, unless you’re moving house. I personally, have the box on my shelf, along with those of other PC components and peripherals that I am proud of.
With regards to the overall visuals, this keyboard is incredibly simple, or perhaps, understated might be a more fitting term. There is no unnecessary bulk; the frame of the keyboard is only as a big as it needs to be to accommodate all of the keys. I’ve measured it to be 457mm across and 153mm deep. It’s also incredibly flat, with a very slight natural elevation from the front to the back. Again, I measured a height of 11mm at the front, or 14mm if you include the height of the keys, and 15mm and 18mm at the back, with and without keys respectively.
Aesthetically, I couldn’t have asked for much more from this keyboard; it’s straightforward and elegant and it needn’t be anything more. The Editors Keys logo is printed on the right hand side of the Spacebar, out of the way where it doesn’t break up the flow and shape of the keyboard proper.
It might seem out of place there, save for the fact that there is so much printed on the keys anyway, I almost didn’t notice it, but I think it was the right choice to put it there.
On the opposite side of the Spacebar is the FSX logo, which is the same size. To me this demonstrates a degree of understanding that their product exists because of FSX, as much as it is does because of their hard work and commitment; it’s a modest statement – practicality over prominence.
They may have been playing it safe by going for the minimalist glossy black look, but I’m glad they did, as it goes perfectly on my desk and I imagine it would fit in just about anywhere, both visually and literally. However, the fact that it is glossy means that it acts like a magnet for dust and fingerprints, as you may be able to tell from some of the pictures. But due to the low profile keys, it’s very easy to wipe down the whole keyboard without having to remove key caps, as you may find necessary with a mechanical or rubber dome keyboard.
The surface of the keyboard is also slightly reflective, but there isn’t a great deal of unpopulated space here as everything is so compact, so the reflective areas just look good and shouldn’t be considered any sort of a hindrance or distraction.
The colored CTRL, SHIFT and Num Lock keys, create a pleasant contrast against the black backdrop; the details on the keys make it seem like more of an art piece, particularly if people aren’t aware of its intended purpose. It’s certainly something to flaunt, in that case. The keys also being black make the small legends and all of the printed text and logos much easier to read, and considering how small they are, that’s a bonus.
I do really like the overall form of the keyboard; it doesn’t need to be anything more. Simple, glossy black, default QWERTY layout. There is no need for additional sections with strange media buttons or macro keys when all the keys are already pre-programmed with Microsoft Flight Simulator X compatible functions.
One thing that does still bother me a little bit, something I find a bit jarring, is that they chose to stick with the traditional yellow/green LED for the Caps/Scroll/Num Lock indicator lights, rather than sharing the same white/blue color as the backlight.
I understand that they are not keys, and they are not lit the same way, but tailoring the LED’s to match the backlight color would have really brought the visuals together well. Instead, I keep seeing out of the corner of my eye, these green lights that are no different from my old rubber dome keyboard that was about ten years old.
While they did go so far as to have uniquely shaped indicator lights that subtly emulate the design of the Editors Keys logo, that color stops it from feeling completely original, and instead keeps it feeling a little stuck in the past.
The keyboard itself feels well built, despite its plastic construction. It has the benefit of being incredibly light, which I understand would be a perk if this were something you needed to take with you from place to place, but most of our home setups are pretty stationary.
There is quite a bit of flex when force is applied at both ends, which is to be expected from a plastic keyboard, more so I think because of the minimalist form factor; the low profile is more of a contributing factor when compared to say, a mechanical keyboard, which has to support full sized keys. In that instance, a lot of flex is more of a concern. I wasn’t expecting an aluminum frame; plastic is to be expected for a keyboard at this price point and I personally don’t think it would be worth it anyway.
A non-glossy edge rounds off the corners, making it more comfortable to move around and to handle in general. Tracing the edge round you find that the cable protrudes straight out of the back, making it easy to position on your desk without having to adhere to a cable that comes out an angle, forcing you to route the cable in such a way that doesn’t work with the positioning of your setup.
You won’t find any USB pass through, so you can’t plug any other devices into the keyboard, but I think it offers more than enough function by itself that such a feature is really not needed. And such a feature definitely would affect the price point.
The cable is not braided, which I would have liked to see. How expensive can it really be? Braided cables add another level of longevity to a product, and this is not a product I would expect to have to buy again somewhere down the line if this one wears out.
The USB header is as standard as they come. Again, slightly disappointing. I wasn’t expecting a gold plated connector, but something more than what is here. Most of my peripherals and drivers, at the very least, have a logo on the header somewhere, usually embossed. Sometimes the header even has a unique shape, helping you to differentiate it from other USB devices that might be plugged into your system.
Granted, this is a small benefit, but being able to tell what USB leads to what device just from looking at, or blindly feeling around the back of your computer, is a quality of life addition that has to be worth the small manufacturing cost. So it’s unfortunate that they either weren’t considered or deliberately left out in order to maintain their price point.
Mounted on the bottom are four anti-slip rubber pads about 2cm wide, two at the front and two at the back, which do a good job of stopping the keyboard from sliding around all over your desk. However, if you’re using the two plastic risers (which raise the height of the rear of the keyboard to about 27mm) you no longer have access to the rear anti-slip pads, but the two front pads still perform admirably.
I personally use a 930mm x 300mm cloth mouse mat, and experienced absolutely no slipping when limited to two anti-slip pads. The risers themselves are plastic but feel very rigid. They can be quite awkward to fold out, but generally, you’re either going to use them or you’re not, so you’ll likely only ever do it once.
Installation of the keyboard is effortless. There is no additional software required, no need to download any drivers, you simply plug it in and forget about it. Once you begin using it, you’ll see that the FSX Keyboard is very comfortable for use as a primary driver, offering a great typing experience; with the risers folded out I found everything to be at the perfect angle and I have been able to spend hours typing with no discomfort.
Editors Keys do also sell a wrist rest, which some may like to make the setup more ergonomic, but my oversized mouse mat gives me enough padding that the absence of an included wrist wasn’t a problem. I get why it’s not an included feature, as a lot of people simply wouldn’t use it and it would just be a waste of money for them.
Although this keyboard uses a QWERTY layout, there are some differences between it and what you may be used to. For one, Editors Keys have done away with the Scroll Lock key; since it hasn’t been used for its intended purpose in a very long time, not since the days of the IBM PC, they have instead used the space to place the toggle for the backlight.
It still is tied to one of the indicator LEDs, which might seem redundant, since the backlight itself tells you whether it’s on or not. But it could prove to be very useful for diagnostic purposes, such as determining if your backlight is broken or not. Don’t worry if you are used to using Scroll Lock to bring up the ATC Menu, as the same function can be found can be found on the (@) symbol.
Another difference that some people may have already gotten used to, is a smaller return key and repositioning of the hashtag key. My old keyboard, for instance, had a large return key, shaped like a straightened seven (7), with a small hashtag/tilde key (#/~) to the left, underneath the overhang of the return key. When I say small, I mean the same size as all the other alphanumeric keys. But on this small form factor keyboard, the hashtag key has moved up and to the right of the square bracket key, and has been made larger, while the return key is now occupying that new space and is much wider and narrower than it was before.
In truth, I have already acclimated to this new shape, but it took a little bit of time. I, like many others who touch type, am used to hitting the return key with my little finger. But for a long time I found myself hitting # at the same time, because it takes up some of the space where the old return key used to be. Not a big issue at all, and to be honest, in today’s Twitter culture, it makes a lot of sense to have a larger # key. I have already acclimated to this new layout.
As we know, FSX has a lot of different controls, and in order to map them all to keyboard, you have to incorporate other keys as variables. So for a very long time, we’ve gotten used to holding either CTRL or SHIFT, or both, in order to access the needed function from the keyboard shortcut. Occasionally, while attempting to blindly hit said keys, I will accidentally hit the Windows key and get thrown onto my desktop mid-flight. It’s not difficult to get back to FSX, of course, but it is flow breaking. And since there could have been an easy solution to this, it can still be annoying.
Many keyboards now incorporate a ‘gaming mode’, activated by a single key or switch, that disables the Windows key so that you cannot accidentally land on your desktop. It works much the same as Caps Lock, in that it can be toggled on and off. While it’s not a big deal, and if you’re really determined, the same results can be achieved by tweaking some registry files, it is a nice quality of life feature that would have made a great addition to this keyboard. It’s worth noting, since we’re on the subject, that even though this keyboard features a Windows key, it is still compatible with Mac operating systems.
This is a chiclet keyboard, which features small square keys with rounded corners separated by a perforated bezel, and it’s generally understood that the term refers to a low-profile build with keys designed for short travel time. Over the years I have used a lot of different keyboards, and each one offers a truly unique feel; between the spacing of the keys, the angle, the texture – it all adds up and each keyboard will often do something better than others. I’ve tried mechanical keyboards with Cherry MX switches, I’ve tried membrane, other chiclets, you name it. But something about the FSX Keyboard, makes it the nicest keyboard I’ve ever typed on.
It’s not as flat as some chiclet or laptop keyboards, or your typical Mac keyboard, but the keys are elevated and have enough spacing to accommodate touch typing, and not so high as to decrease response time. There is just the right amount of travel in the keys, it’s actually relatively short, allowing for a fast rebound and quick actuations. In other words, it doesn’t take a lot of effort to depress the key to the point where the stroke is registered, nor does it take a long time for the key to travel back up to the point where it can be pressed again.
I was very pleased to learn that the FSX Keyboard can casually perform double duty as a primary driver; no one wants to use two keyboards, one for typing and one for FSX. I was even more pleased to find that this keyboard is the most comfortable keyboard I’ve ever used for standard use.
In general, the keys are much quieter than I am used to. My old rubber dome keyboard is not noisy per say, but due to the distance the key has to travel, combined with their hollow design, they can be quite ‘clacky’. And while I get the appeal of high end mechanical keyboards, for the real tactile feedback you can get from them, they are far too loud for my liking. I’ve always preferred keyboards with a lower profile, like this one, as they tend to be quieter and in this case, there is a perfect balance.
The keys are quiet enough as to be barely noticeable, but there is some sound there, and that auditory feedback is a big help when touch typing, whether you realize it or not.
The keys themselves, have an odd feel to them. While a lot of manufacturers have rubber coated or textured keys spanning your typical WASD section, numbers 1 through 5 etc. targeted at gamers that want perfect control while playing, relying somewhat on tactile feedback to improve their performance. As this keyboard has a very specific target audience in mind, such features are not necessary.
That being said, there is an odd texture all of the keys, not just one section. My best guess is that is down to whatever remarkable printing method they used to fit so much information onto each key. This slight tackiness, is really no big issue. In fact, I’m sure that with extended use the top veneer of the keys might even wear down a bit, and hopefully the key markings stay intact.
One of the big achievements of many of Editors Keys keyboards, including this one, is the incredible backlight that is far superior to any other backlit keyboard I’ve encountered. In your typical backlit keyboard, there is an LED placed under each key, slightly offset to the top of the key so as not to interfere with its function. The markings on the keys are translucent, allowing some of the light to pass through, making the keys easier to read. However, due to the offset of the LED, the key suffers from a gradient that is bias towards the top of the key. In other words, the key is not lit evenly.
Editors Keys are the only company that use a special diffusion method that allow the keys to be backlit evenly, and to avoid too much light shining through the keyboard and onto your screen, although the light is still bright enough to illuminate the keys while in a well-lit room. I made a point of spending long sessions testing it out in complete darkness, relying only on the light emitted from my monitor and the backlight of the keyboard.
Actually reading the text on the keys in the dark can be tricky, even with the backlight on, but that’s primarily because the text is so small. I think the printed shortcuts are better thought of as a learning tool; after a while, you learn where various functions are, and you don’t actually need to read the keys anyway. That being said, the backlight does make a huge difference, and it’s almost impossible to read the keys in the dark without the backlight.
According to Editors Keys, 50-90% of regular computer users suffer from eyestrain, which probably includes you. Sitting in a dark room and looking back-and-forth between a lit monitor and an unlit keyboard strains your eyes and can potentially lead to dry eyes, headaches, fatigue, blurred vision and even severe neck pain. Working with UK based opticians, Optical Express, Editors Keys developed this remarkable backlight with a clear goal of trying to alleviate these problems.
I spend all day, most days, sitting at one desk or another, and am prone to at least two of the aforementioned conditions. I’m delighted to report, that the backlight does in fact help. It’s strange, but you can almost feel the difference, by not feeling anything. Normally, I can feel my eyes straining in the dim light, I can feel them get dry and I can feel the distant groaning of an oncoming headache. While using this keyboard, I haven’t felt any of those things.
I had previously thought to myself; why couldn’t you just get a macro keyboard? Why get this keyboard over another one? Until I realized that I had completely overlooked the point. It’s all well and good comparing the FSX Keyboard to something in a similar price range like the Logitech G510, which has numerous features including the ability to record up to 54 separate macros, but how are you supposed to remember which macro key does what?
The whole point here, is that all the information is printed on the keys, with shortcuts that you are already familiar with. Whichever way you look at it, having the functions printed on the keys is worth the trade-off of not being able to assign custom functions to particular keys.
The FSX Keyboard features a simple yet very deliberate design, incorporating a new perspective on backlighting that focuses on the health of the user, as well as creating smooth and consistent illumination across all of the custom FSX keys, while offering perhaps the most comfortable typing experience you could ask for. It can easily be used as a primary driver, and not just as a keyboard that you use exclusively for FSX.
It is not often that a product is so carefully tailored to a particular group of end users, usually manufacturers want to cast a wide net. But Editors Keys have proven that they know how to make an exceptional product for a niche market. With a lot of hard work, and some input from the community that helped fund the project, they created the FSX Keyboard. Which is without a doubt, a perfect FSX companion.
Official Preview Video
Below is the official promo/preview video released by Editors Keys.
For more information and to purchase this keyboard, visit the Editors Keys website here.
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