If you're aiming to set up a state-of-the-art gaming station that you'll need a dedicated mechanical keyboard for, then the market is packed with products that virtually anyone can use and appreciate that gets the job done. As time has passed, however, more people have begun to plug small computers into their televisions to get some gaming time in on the big screen, use it as a console or as a media centre. These things demand more of the keyboard you decide to use. "Surely, the market for this kind of keyboard is equally crowded", you might think, but it's really not. The only gadget you can get to fulfil all of those needs is the Razer Turret set (or some relatively cheap Logitech plastic junk).
The K83 is an attempt by Corsair to enter this relatively unexplored market, offering a keyboard that serves as a media centre control system without sacrificing the sense of quality that the more demanding consumers expect.
Let's start off with the conventional part of the K83. This peripheral has a traditional keyboard layout without a number pad and the WASD keys are adorned with a light grey colour. It's chiclet keys we're talking here, so adjust your expectations accordingly. The activation point is high and there's not much resistance. For example, if you've ever tried a Logitech Craft, this peripheral will somewhat remind you of just that, but it feels pretty good. Although the keys don't appeal to most game enthusiasts out there, it is functional.
These keys are placed on the K83's incredibly robust chassis. While we didn't try it out, you could probably drop this keyboard many times before even leaving a scratch. The feeling of quality is most definitely there and in addition, the keyboard has full backlighting, even on the function keys.
So far so good, but it's when you move towards the side of the K83 that its identity is truly revealed.
You see, the keyboard is created specifically to plug directly into your Smart TV and we tried it out on both an LG E8 and a Samsung Q9. This fact is the reason for the round trackpad on the right of the keyboard. In addition, there are mouse buttons underneath as well as a joystick above, should the very specific situation arise where you'd need one. Apart from this, there is a wheel for volume control and even trigger buttons on the back.
So what's the K83's purpose? To be used for multimedia use, such as navigating the WebOS interface on your LG TV and for controlling a PC to browse the web or playing multimedia files. For this use, this is the best keyboard on the market, as plain and simple multimedia controllers are hard to come by.
In addition, the K83 offers a variety of simultaneous connectivity options. You can connect it directly via a micro USB, use a 2.4GHz dongle and use Bluetooth and then actively switch between these through a simple command. And when you use a dongle you'll experience a polling rate of 1000Hz and a 1ms delay.
The trackpad itself isn't as big as you might have imagined, but the rubber surface makes it responsive and satisfying to use. The joystick is certainly not for everyone but will undoubtedly appeal to those who want to play games using the K83, including using the trigger buttons. However, we found that while the K83 was great for operating our TV and PC, a Steelseries Stratus Duo or just an Xbox One controller was the better option for gaming. Unfortunately as well, the usability depends on what TV you're using. Using it directly with the Samsung Q9 wasn't a great experience, but this was mainly because of the Tizen interface.
This kind of versatile functionality is not cheap. In fact, it will set you back about £110 and you can get a Logitech K400 Plus for about £40, which can perform roughly the same task. Sure, the keys are soft, the trackpad feels dull, but the functionality is essentially the same and it's a third of the price.
The K83 is, however, almost in a category of its own in regards to the design, Corsair's iCUE software, the trackpad and the robust chassis. These features put the K83 in a class of its own, especially compared to the K400 Plus. Oh, and the K83 boasts a whopping 40 hours of use.