Overall Design - 8.5/10
Keycap Quality - 9/10
Ease of Use - 8/10
Switch Performance - 9.5/10
The Epomaker Shadow-X is a breath of fresh air in the world of mechanical keyboards. Its design, features, and tactile feedback make it a promising contender for both newbies and mechanical keyboard enthusiasts. While it brims with modern and unique features like the customizable screen, there are some minor usability issues that might put off certain users. Still, the value proposition, given its affordable price point, is undeniably high.
- Factory-lubed Flamingo switches
- Customizable built-in display
- Sturdy design and build
- Generous in-box accessories
- No direct volume control
- Complex RGB effect navigation
When it comes to mechanical keyboards, we’ve had our fair share of clacks and clicks. Over the past couple of months, we’ve tested various keyboards that promise to elevate the typing experience.
But enough about the past; today is all about the here and now. We recently got our hands on Epomaker’s Shadow-X, a promising addition to the famed company’s lineup that looks to steal the spotlight from other contenders. How’d it do? Let’s take a look.
Our spotlight is on a relative newcomer: the Epomaker Shadow-X. This isn’t just any mechanical keyboard; it’s a 70% silicon gasket-mounted, poron-foamed wonder with a built-in display.
Intrigued? We sure were. What makes it even more appealing is its budget-friendly price point.
In this comprehensive review, we’ll walk you through what you’ll find inside the box, the design and build quality, key features, and our own hands-on experience with it.
By the end, we hope to answer the burning question: Does this keyboard have what it takes to be a daily driver for both casual users and enthusiasts?
Unboxing and Initial Impressions
Alright, let’s get straight to it – what do you get when you tear off that packaging tape and crack open the box?
Well, prepare for a detailed run-down. In an era where some companies consider charging cables “optional,” it’s refreshing to see that Epomaker packs in more than just the basics.
What’s Included in the Box?
Upon opening the box, the keyboard immediately catches your eye, sitting there, ready for action. But it’s not alone; it’s surrounded by a set of sidekicks to enhance your experience. Here’s what you’ll find:
- The Keyboard Itself: The star of the show is the keyboard, securely wrapped and eagerly awaiting your first keystroke. You can tell right away that it’s a 70% layout, perfect for those who appreciate more desk space without sacrificing too many keys.
- A Braided USB Cable: When it comes to connectivity, Epomaker has got you covered with a braided USB cable. A subtle yet elegant touch, the braided material promises both durability and style, ensuring that connectivity issues won’t dampen your typing vibes.
- Extra Yellow Keycaps: In the customization department, Epomaker throws in a set of yellow keycaps. This adds a pop of color, letting you transform the keyboard into a more personalized accessory.
- Keycap/Switch Tool: Now, if you’re itching to swap out those keycaps or switches, the included keycap/switch tool is a lifesaver. No need to improvise with household items when you have the real deal right at your fingertips.
- User Manual: We can’t forget the trusty user manual, a comprehensive guide to navigating your new keyboard. It contains all the how-tos, FAQs, and troubleshooting advice to ensure a smooth experience from start to finish.
It’s a full roster of what awaits you in the box of the Epomaker Shadow-X.
Whether you’re a seasoned keyboard enthusiast or a first-timer, this package gives you not just a keyboard but a whole suite of supporting accessories.
It sets the stage for what appears to be a promising experience as we move further into its features and performance. Stay tuned for that!
First Impressions of the Keyboard Design and Build
Fresh out of the box, the unit exudes a modern, techie vibe. It dons a gray case that could easily be mistaken for aluminum, but upon closer inspection, it’s made of plastic. Not to discredit it, the keyboard still feels sturdy to the touch.
The keycaps are a blend of black and gray, fitting in perfectly with the case and complementing the overall aesthetic. The lack of a dedicated row of function keys and the unique layout of the arrow and additional keys make for a compact design.
That’s our initial two cents on the Epomaker Shadow-X. Stick around as we go deeper into its key features, performance, and whether it lives up to its initial promise.
In the realm of mechanical keyboards, there’s a lot here to talk about. It offers a collection of features designed to meet varied user needs.
From keycaps and switches to built-in displays and adjustable feet, let’s scrutinize each feature in depth.
Keycaps and Switches
First off, the unit sports double-shot PBT keycaps. For the uninitiated, PBT (Polybutylene Terephthalate) keycaps are durable, less prone to shine, and offer a slightly textured feel that’s often preferred by mechanical keyboard enthusiasts.
These keycaps aren’t just durable; they’re also aesthetic, with a contrasting black and gray color scheme that complements the frame.
Switch Options and Personal Experience with Flamingo Switches
When it comes to switch options, you’ve definitely got them in the form of the Epomaker Flamingo, Budgerigar, Bluebird, or Gateron Pro Yellow switches.
During our time with the keyboard, we tested it with the Epomaker Flamingo switches. These are factory-lubed linear switches that provide a smooth keystroke experience.
Personally, we found the Flamingo switches to be surprisingly enjoyable, even though we generally prefer tactile switches. They offer a good balance of actuation force and sound.
One standout feature is the built-in color display located on the keyboard.
It’s not just for show; this little screen serves up useful information like the date and time, caps lock status, computer type, battery charge status, and connection type. And thanks to Epomaker’s driver software, customization is a breeze.
The screen can be programmed to show the graphic of your choice, making it not just functional but also a personal statement.
While it’s easy to dismiss this display as a gimmick, we found that it has its merits. It keeps vital info within eyeshot, especially useful when you’re in the zone and don’t want to shift your attention away from the keyboard.
Flip-Out Feet and Stability
Ergonomics is also a strong point for this device, courtesy of its flip-out feet with two levels of height adjustment. This allows for a typing angle that’s comfortable for you, thereby reducing wrist strain during long typing sessions.
But what good is an adjustable keyboard if it’s slipping all over the desk? Thankfully, the feet are equipped with rubber pads, making sure that the keyboard stays put even during heated typing races.
Whether you’re all about that tactile feel, need to see crucial system info at a glance, or want a rock-solid, ergonomically sound device, this keyboard checks off multiple boxes. Next up, we’ll put its performance under the microscope.
Now for our hands-on testing. Here are our thoughts on how this keyboard performs, down to the very sounds it makes.
Typing Feel and Sound
The very essence of a keyboard lies in its tactile feedback and the audio it emits with each keystroke.
The Shadow-X, in its offering, is equipped with EPOMAKER Flamingo switches, a unique type of factory-lubed linear switches.
While the tactile world has its divide between linear and tactile switches, the Flamingo switches in this device have made a noteworthy mark, especially for someone who typically leans towards the tactile end.
Typing was smooth and comfortable, without the worry of accidental presses, even without a hard press.
The keycaps are substantial, presenting a dual color scheme of inner white and outer gray or black. The labeling stands out with its pristine white, making it easily discernible.
As for the sound, the keyboard resonates with a muffled thock, not as loud as some might prefer but satisfying enough for most. It finds its sweet spot between being excessively noisy and eerily quiet.
Overall Typing Experience and Keycap Profile
The device offers a touch typist a seamless experience. With its well-designed keycap profile, touch typing was effortless and did not present any challenges, contributing to the overall comfort.
The layout, although mostly convenient, does lack a dedicated row of function keys, which some users might miss.
Sound of the Switches and their Tactile Response
With the Flamingo switches on board, the unit produces a sound that’s neither too loud nor too soft. It leans more on the thockie side, striking a chord with those who prefer substantial audible feedback but without causing a ruckus.
The tactile response from the switches is linear, and it is pleasing to note that even without exerting much pressure, the switches register the presses accurately.
Customization and Software
One of the device’s unique selling points is the customizable screen, albeit its usefulness can be a subject of debate.
This screen showcases the date, time (in 24-hour format), capslock status, type of computer (Windows or Mac), battery charge level, and the kind of connection (whether it’s Bluetooth, 2.4 GHz, or wired).
With the EPOMAKER’s driver software, you also have the freedom to reprogram the keys and customize the display with a graphic of your preference.
However, while intriguing, the screen didn’t capture continuous attention, and some might argue that dedicated volume controls would be a more practical addition.
A touch of modern aesthetics, the RGB effects, can be seen but not in a typical manner. They don’t emanate through the keycaps but are visible due to the LED’s south-facing orientation.
Switching between these RGB effects isn’t the most straightforward process. Instead of a simple combination, a 4-key press is needed.
Furthermore, users are required to navigate through a built-in menu system using the small display. While it’s achievable, it isn’t the most convenient method.
Ease of Use and Limitations
The unit is compatible with both PC and Mac, adding to its versatility. The lack of Mac-specific keycaps might be a minor inconvenience for some, but it isn’t a deal-breaker.
However, a significant hiccup is the absence of direct volume control. Many might find the necessity to use a combination of the FN key and + or – keys a tad tedious, especially with a tempting, non-functional knob in the vicinity.
The Shadow-X offers an engaging user experience, especially for touch typists. Its unique features and customization options make it stand out, but it’s essential to weigh the fun features against some practical misses before deciding.
The Epomaker Shadow-X is a breath of fresh air in the world of mechanical keyboards. Its design, features, and tactile feedback make it a promising contender for both newbies and mechanical keyboard enthusiasts.
While it brims with modern and unique features like the customizable screen, there are some minor usability issues that might put off certain users. Still, the value proposition, given its affordable price point, is undeniably high.
Meet Derek, “TechGuru,” a 34-year-old technology enthusiast with a deep passion for tech innovations. With extensive experience, he specializes in gaming hardware and software, and has expertise in gadgets, custom PCs, and audio.
Besides writing about tech and reviewing new products, Derek enjoys traveling, hiking, and photography. Committed to keeping up with the latest industry trends, he aims to guide readers in making informed tech decisions.