Using the Enermax Aurora Micro for everyday typing–such as this article–the overall feel was very pleasant. The keys are crisp and responsive, without the mushy feeling that plagues so many low-profile keyboards. The “Everlasting key top printing” certainly lives up to its name, no amount of furious typing could cause the letters to smudge or fade.
One oddity tripped me up almost immediately, though: the back-slash key is positioned immediately to the left of the right shift key. This caused some initial frustration, as I found myself typing backslashes instead of capital letters half the time. Considering the layout of the keyboard, placing it above the enter key–and reducing the height of the enter key to one row–would have been better. Given that this is exactly what they do with the full-sized Aurora Premium keyboard, this positioning is bizarre.
The other oddity is with the arrow keys. This is a compact keyboard, so sacrifices are inevitable, but making the arrow keys half height and overloading them with Fn+arrow chords for home, end, pgup and pgdn makes navigating by keyboard rather difficult at times. As mentioned in my Razer Salmosa review, I have larger than normal hands. Making these keys so tiny and cramming them up against the backslash and right shift keys only makes life more difficult.
The special function keys are a mixed bag. The left-hand group is clearly meant for MS Office tasks, with Open, Save, Print, Cut, Copy and Paste keys. The buttons in this set do not send a special keycode for the OS to interpret, instead simulating the scancodes for Ctrl+O, Ctrl+S, Ctrl+P, and so on. This is a somewhat clever solution, as it eliminates the need for drivers. It falls flat, however, if you’re using a program that has non-standard keyboard shortcuts for these functions, or if you are using a keyboard layout other than US-English QWERTY. The right hand group, meant for browser functions, uses the “multimedia” scancodes that have become an unofficial standard, so they function as intended regardless of layout.
The Enermax Aurora Micro‘s LED status lights glow a bright blue when activated–bright enough to be somewhat painful to look at in a darkened room. The standard num lock, scroll lock and caps lock lights are present, though only caps lock can be accessed normally. Num lock and scroll lock have to be activated with Fn+F11 and Fn+F12 keychords. While scroll lock is not terribly important, the num lock function activates an inbuilt number pad that overlays the right-hand side of the keyboard. Given that this interferes with normal typing, turning it off is recommended in most cases. Actually trying to use it for number entry, as with a calculator, turned out to be more frustrating than not. It is also recommended that if you know how, you should turn off num lock on start up. This can be done by selecting the correct options in the bios during start up. The slant of the keys and oddly-positioned arithmetic operator keys (+ – * /) makes no-look entry difficult-to-impossible without some serious time spent at this thing.
While some design quirks make this keyboard less than ideal for writing and data entry, the compact form factor and rugged design suggest another role: LAN gaming. The crisp, short-travel keys are perfect for heated death-matches. The two high-speed USB 2.0 ports make plugging in a mouse, flash drive or other peripheral simple & quick. The solid aluminum body and ruggedized rubber cable make it sturdy enough to stand up to a substantial amount of abuse.
While issues with awkward key placement and size prevent me from recommending the Enermax as a general purpose keyboard, the compact size, solid design and crisp key response make it an excellent choice for LAN gaming or for any of us who travel with your computer a lot. With an average price of $40 (Google Shopping results), this keyboard may help you up your game without breaking the bank, but you may want to do a little more looking around or opt to throw in the extra money for the premium version. If you can find the keyboard for about $30 I would consider picking it up, because for that, it would be worth the money.