Reviewing of BenQ Zowie Celeritas II. Good bye quality mechanical!

With the release of the Zowie by BenQ Celeritas II keyboard, a new era begins, with a new keyboard brands, a new era of mechanical keyboards. And it’s all about the new optical switches, which are not only the most reliable switches on the market at the moment, but also in the device of the switches themselves, which, in General, by their nature are almost indestructible. But more importantly, these switches completely change the idea of tactile sensations from mechanics. I can only say that I liked it. If, after a while, there are enough different keyboards on such optical switches, then the era of mechanics will slowly but surely come to an end.

I am especially happy that it was Zowie that first offered such a massive unusual product – such technologies and innovations are rarely perceived positively and immediately enter into circulation; much more often they cause more doubts and concerns. Completely in vain, I mean. This keyboard is able to shake up the market with something fundamentally new and previously unseen. And it’s all the more pleasant to realize that Zowie has gone on its own path of development, which personally appeals to me very much: their technological filling is very skillfully combined with an old-school keyboard design that will fit well into any workplace.

The Zowie Celeritas II keyboard comes in a large and extremely minimalistic box made of thick cardboard with glossy embossing. Moreover, not only the contour of the keyboard is embossed, but also a large two-story enter, which immediately clearly points us to this remarkable detail, which is not often found in modern keyboards. The inside of the package is not very presentable: the keyboard is located between the clamped foam blocks, and the delivery package is not very generous. Only the keyboard, a hard plastic cover to protect against dust, operating instructions (and several descriptions of hotkeys and operating modes – via USB and PS/2), and a sticker with the company logo. Well, you expect a little more from such a product than that. However, half an hour later, in one foam block, I found a PS/2 adapter, which you can not immediately find. So by carelessness, you can throw out both the box and the adapter along with it.
The Zowie Celeritas II is a full – size mechanical keyboard built on optical switches. 104 keys, American ANSI layout, two-story enter, long left shift and shortened right shift, next to which the ” / ” key is located; a row of F-keys is located strictly above the “2” key. An excellent and optimal solution for increasing the size of the enter without compromising the Backspace key. In my opinion, this is the best layout with a two-story interior. And you get used to it quickly. And it’s really hard to switch to another one after that, but its still not small mechanical gaming keyboard. Keyboard dimensions (in mm) – 442 x 170 x 38; weight – 1.3 kg.

The keyboard is connected via USB (and via an adapter to the PS/2 connector), and also has a red backlight for all keys. What is noteworthy: the keyboard works with a backlight whenever you connect to a PC. The keyboard also supports simultaneous pressing of all keys (NKRO mode) for any type of connection. All other settings are made directly from the keyboard via the Fn + F* combination, and the keyboard works in Plug-n-Play mode, and it does not have SOFTWARE. And in fact, its much better for gaming even then true mechanical keyboard as razer.
The design of the Zowie Celeritas II keyboard is Reminiscent of the good old retro design. This is straight out of the classics. And the second version of the keyboard is very similar to the first, but with many small and pleasant changes. First of all, I really like the classic design of the keyboard case, which is quite rare in the era of gaming solutions. Secondly, I like even more that the keys seem to be slightly recessed into the keyboard body – this way the height of the keys is partially leveled, and the LEDs from the border keys do not hit the eyes. Third, Zowie follows its signature ascetic execution, which in this keyboard is brought to perfection: not a single, not a single superfluous detail. Black matte body, wire outlet on the back and logo on the front, which does not light up, only giving a light matte Shine… It looks simple and amazing.

You don’t immediately notice that something is missing. Exactly. In the upper right part of the keyboard, there are no keys, no indicators, no logo, or anything else… Something that somehow, in one form or another, is found in absolutely any modern keyboard. And you know, this simplicity carries a restrained chic, which every day causes more and more delight. I will just say that this is the keyboard design that I consider to be the standard: not an extra gram, minimalistic and as functional as possible. Because the functionality and choice of materials here do not take: a nice matte and smooth to the touch painted plastic, more like a velvet soft-touch coating, a small and completely non-interfering stand (non-removable, of course) under the thumbs… All this is somehow just there, and as soon as you sit down at the keyboard, you instantly get used to it.
The Zowie Celeritas II keyboard has a regular Cherry OEM keycap profile, so you won’t notice the difference between traditional mechanics. Moreover, I will say that absolutely all the design of the keyboard dial block completely repeats the traditional mechanical options. And this is a very smart move. First, the keyboard has an absolutely classic layout and proportions of all keys (except for enter and all keys changed because of this, that is, a shortened shift and a separate ” / ” key, which is now moved down), so when switching from any keyboard, you will not notice the difference. Secondly, it makes it possible to install a custom set of keycaps that is compatible with absolutely any keyboard on Cherry switches and the like.

And, of course, big enter! Hell, I never would have thought that after spending the last few years behind an ordinary one-story interior in the American layout, I would suddenly be so happy to return to a large and two-story one… Be careful, this is the moment when the big enter is addictive! This is the most correct and canonical enter that can only be found in any keyboard. In General, after a lot of experience with a huge number of keyboards, I can say one thing – this layout is the most correct and convenient from the point of view of keyboard design. We use” slash ” relatively rarely, the right long shift is almost not needed at all, but the big enter, which you click every day a hundred times – very much. For some reason, I think that this feature will be especially appreciated by programmers. One enter – and how much joy it is!))
The quality of Zowie Celeritas II keycaps is at a decent level. This is an ordinary ABS plastic with painting and subsequent laser engraving. Keycaps also have a smooth coating, and the paint feels tactile like that on the keyboard case. Fingers on these keys do not slip at all, and in General, the keyboard is practically not dirty and there are almost no traces of fingerprints on it. But what let you down and frankly upset – localization. The led in the switches is arranged according to the same principle as the Cherry switches, so it is placed on the upper part, where only the English symbol is located. Russian Russian symbol is located almost at the bottom, and therefore at full brightness it gets about half the light from the brightness of the English symbol, and in the daytime the Russian symbol is almost indistinguishable. On the other hand, if you take this keyboard, you probably either have the skills of blind typing, or are close to it, and therefore you rarely look at the letters on the keys, so this should not cause problems. But what is definitely missing is a tool for removing keycaps. Not only is the keyboard closed and it is quite difficult to pick up a keycap, but they also sit on the switches very tightly. Saved on configuration, not otherwise.

Separately, I want to say a few words about one of the most inconvenient hotkey layouts that are made on the keyboard. The Fn + F4, F5, and F6 key combinations are responsible for playing music and switching tracks. And I’m so used to these combinations on the Corsair K65 RapidFire or HyperX Alloy FPS Pro keyboards that I just can’t give them up – this is a really convenient feature. But if there only one hand is required to switch tracks, and all these actions are performed naturally and naturally, then here all operations require at least two hands. Here is such an unfortunate blunder. But switching the repeat speed to the combination Fn + F9 … F12 is, of course, what you need. I’ve been dreaming about it. In case you don’t know: this function is used to set the speed of character repetition when printing on the screen while holding down the key. Accordingly, the default speed is 1 x and means a long delay and rare appearance of characters on the screen. And 8x is 8 times faster. The funny thing is that this function only works from the PS/2 adapter, and when connected via USB, it is of no use (and the speed of repeating the character can be configured in Windows)… And that’s why it’s necessary?
The backlighting of the Zowie Celeritas II keyboard is not very bright, moderately saturated, and it does not bother your eyes. Neither day nor night, despite the red light. This is also because the keyboard case is closed, and there is no reflective backing under the keys. To be honest, this aggressive red color is shoved into almost every keyboard, so sometimes it’s nice to see some white color. Or green. Or, at least, blue… Much more interesting is that the modifier keys (Num Lock, Caps Lock and Scroll Lock, as well as the Windows lock key) are installed, apparently, RGB LEDs that change their color from red to white. And even if it wasn’t RGB, what prevented the user from being able to choose the keyboard backlight from at least two colors? On the other hand, I would like to note an elegant and simple solution for highlighting modifiers – this is really convenient. When you turn on the game mode, the Windows key also lights up white, and instead of the classic Windows call, the key duplicates the left Ctrl. In total, the keyboard has more than a dozen brightness gradations (it is almost impossible to calculate exactly, because the brightness of the keyboard has a very smooth setting), but the keyboard does not have a single backlight effect. That is, either all the keys are lit, or the backlight is completely turned off. Also another very strange decision.

But with what Zowie did not exactly miscalculate, so it’s with the switches. The keyboard is equipped with completely new and previously unused Flaretech Red mechanical switches that work on the principle of optical circuit closure. If in traditional mechanical keyboards, keystrokes are registered through gold – plated contacts (which are less reliable the more time passes-they are oxidized, despite the gilding, deform and are generally more susceptible to mechanical wear), then in mechanical optical switches, the circuit is closed (or opened) by light. The principle of operation is very simple: when you press a key with a certain element in the switch, the light stream opens (as if a partition was put in the way of the laser pointer), and this causes the key to be triggered.

Now these switches are only just appearing in the mass sphere, but there are already various manufacturers who practice installing them in their keyboards, and Flaretech is a trendsetter here. Why am I telling you all this? Because optical switches are almost indestructible – they are not subject to mechanical stress and wear, and therefore they are much more resistant to any adverse situations, whether it is clogging or even flooding the keyboard with water. This does not mean that now you need to run to the bathroom with joyful screams and try to drown the keyboard you just bought. But the chance that it will survive (and nothing will stick, and there will be no false positives and other unpleasant things that are difficult to eliminate without internal intervention in traditional mechanical keyboards) after such incidents increases dramatically. I would even say that nothing is likely to happen to her. By the way, a similar technology is used in optical wheel encoders, where cut-offs are tracked by interrupting light beams, rather than by physically closing contacts in the wheel. The mechanism that is not subject to mechanical influence is generally much more tenacious and unpretentious in use, so that optical switches in mechanical keyboards can further extend the service life of a single keyboard.
And here are the numbers – the most interesting thing. Flaretech Red switches are linear switches with a pressing force of 45 grams. The total stroke of the key is 4 mm, the stroke before actuation is 2 mm. The resource of pressing each key is 100 million times. This is twice as much as almost any classical mechanics. And taking into account the device switches, this figure is likely to be even higher. Therefore, the keyboard may break only from a merged roller, but not from the expiration of the service life or resource of the switches. And under all the long keys are quite familiar Cherry stabilizers, which slightly rattle when pressed. But only slightly. Therefore, this fact does not cause any discomfort.

And although the Zowie set is frankly, let’s say, a little meager, they more than compensated for this with the lower part – it was distinguished by generously dotted soft rubber pads, of which there are only 4, but they are already what! Like 4 long sausages. And with such a mass, the keyboard becomes simply impossible to move. And this is a huge plus. .. Something’s wrong here, too. That’s right, there are no extendable legs. Therefore, you can’t change the initial tilt angle of the keyboard. But since the keyboard has a small tilt angle by default (which I quite think is optimal), these legs are simply not needed. To be honest, I have never wanted to change the keyboard’s tilt in any way during my entire time on the keyboard. Therefore, to some extent, this is a rejection of popular and somewhat outdated ideas, as well as the merit of well – thought-out ergonomics.

The wire on the Zowie Celeritas II keyboard comes out of the back end of the keyboard exactly in the center, and it doesn’t have any cable management. The wire is fixed and very strong… thin. For such a keyboard, it is really thin, even flimsy, I would say. There is a feeling that they took the cable from some mouse and attached it here. And it is possible that it was – the keyboard wire is very soft, easily pliable, and it is wrapped in a smooth shell. The length of the wire is 1.8 meters.
But this is nothing compared to the feeling of printing. And they are truly magical. And I have never seen such feelings on any keyboard or on any switches. Neither Cherry nor Gateron-Ah or the “blahah” or the “Reda”, neither Topre nor any at all. The first thing you feel when you press it is as if your finger just goes down and literally sinks into the key. These switches are the most linear switches I’ve ever tried. That is, they absolutely do not feel the start, there is no resistance at the beginning of the movement, and… there is almost no resistance along the way. We can say that it practically does not increase, and absolutely all pressing goes linearly, from and to, with the same pressing force as it was at the very beginning of the key. It seems that the fingers seem to fall into the air. It’s like poking a soft, weightless pillow. And there is no typical for traditional mechanical switches grinding and feeling “sand” when pressed, there is no unnecessary friction, there is almost nothing at all. I just felt a barely perceptible resistance, and then my finger would sink all the way through… And it’s an incredibly pleasant feeling. And these are really amazing switches!

Those people who are used to sitting on any switches that have tactile feedback (membrane keyboards, Cherry MX Blue / Brown) will not immediately be able to adapt to such an unusual smoothness and linearity of the switches – it may take from a few days to a couple of weeks. I myself remember switching to linear switches (Cherry MX Red), and it was quite difficult, given the number of printing errors that I had to correct. But after linear switches, I simply did not perceive anything else, and therefore, if you are also a fan of linear “switches” and are looking for their perfect embodiment, then I hasten to please you – here it is! They are somewhat very close in terms of smoothness compared to Topre, but they definitely do not have tactile feedback, and they do not have this “rubber” impact on the substrate at the end of the key stroke. These are really perfect linear switches. And it’s the best I’ve ever seen. Against their background, even my favorite Cherry MX Speed on the Corsair K65 RapidFire keyboard pales (and I typed far more than one hundred pages of text on them), so much did I like them.
I also liked the sound of them hitting the substrate. The sound is very solid, quite dull and quiet, almost imperceptible. However, I was not pleased with the barely noticeable spring echo that occurs when the keys return to their original position. This is sometimes found in mechanical keyboards, but in this case it was particularly noticeable. Some people may be confused at first, but this is quite a typical sound for working mechanics. But it is quite pleasing that in comparison with traditional mechanics (if you take the usual Cherry MX Red), the sound of clicks is much quieter. If you put rubber rings on the inside of the keycaps, the sound of printing will most likely not distract even people who are relaxing in the same room with you.

Thanks to the smoothness and linearity of the switches, texts are printed on them very easily and evenly, and your fingers literally flutter over the keys without much difficulty. So once again, the question “which switches are better for games or work?” is not accepted. These switches, although linear, are great for everyday work and printing, especially if you have to print huge volumes of texts – for such smooth and easy switches, your fingers will only rest. And in games, the situation is even better! The uniform force when pressing and smooth movement allow you to control every stretch and every movement with filigree accuracy, if we are talking about shooters and eSports disciplines in General. What can we say about simpler games that do not require such an accurate response to game situations…
The era of mechanical switches, no matter how reliable they are, is slowly but surely coming to an end. And the advent of optical switches brings a new era of mechanical keyboards. Optical switches have the best (even if in some moments only subjectively) qualities in all parameters: tactile, auditory, and, what is more important for any person who takes mechanics with an eye to the future – reliability. In addition, Zowie Celeritas II brings the best representatives of the new switches in its Arsenal, as well as the best-in-class performance of the device: austerity and minimalism are perfectly combined with the choice of materials, the implementation of ergonomic solutions and the overall thoughtfulness of the keyboard. Nothing superfluous, all the best and only functionally necessary – this is the perfect embodiment of the Zowie philosophy in their new and somewhat unique keyboard.

And it doesn’t matter if you are an avid gamer, programmer, geek or fan of high Laser key technology: reviewing of the keyboard by BenQ Zowie Celeritas II. Bright future and good bye mechanics!– quality peripherals-this keyboard is clearly designed for the widest range of connoisseurs of truly well-designed devices. It is impossible to think of a more canonical option in such a combination. Personally, I want to wish that a shortened version of this keyboard will appear as soon as possible – it will be the best and absolutely unkillable tool on the table of any eSports player. Yes, don’t forget about the large and convenient enter! Well, optics is our future. Our bright future.


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