Anti-ghosting seems to be all the rage at the moment. No sooner did Microsoft alert us to its new ghost-busting SideWinder X4 gaming keyboard than we were sent this model from KeySonic. Like its more expensive rival, the KSK-6001 UELX eXtreme claims to eliminate ghosting, the frustrating problem where multiple keystrokes fail to register.

Unlike the SideWinder, however, the KeySonic doesn't offer anti-ghosting across the entire deck; only 20 of the keys most commonly used in gaming - W, S, A, D, Space and others nearby - have this feature. Our (subjective and informal) tests bear this out - the keyboard would happily register fistfuls of these keys, something that will no doubt be appreciated by keen gamers.

Another pleasing gimmick is the backlighting, and this time the entire setup is covered, lit up in a dazzling electric blue (unless you switch it off). Indeed, this is one of the few areas in which the KeySonic holds a genuine advantage over the Microsoft SideWinder X4. The KeySonic's backlighting is sufficiently bright to make it an ideal portable partner for LAN parties in other people's gloomy basements.

Go beyond these two talking points, however, and the KeySonic starts to look a bit weaker. It's clearly been designed for compactness - and it's a nicely portable unit, as we mentioned above - but this has been achieved at some cost: everything is cramped in together, so your instincts of where to hit the arrow keys, for example, are likely to let you down. We found typing slow and error-prone.

Furthermore, such things as ergonomics and modern design don't seem to have been involved too heavily in the product's creation. Looks-wise, the keyboard is pretty basic and, if it weren't for the snazzy lights, you might think it was a far older product. There's no wrist guard, and no gaps anywhere to guide your fingers to the correct keys. And, while the keys themselves seem quite nice at first glance - full size, despite the board's petite dimensions, and matt-finished - their action is sluggish.

As a final and very minor side issue, the KeySonic utterly baffled a test Mac system when connected up. The Mac went through the usual attempts to identify an alien keyboard and seemed to think it had sorted the problem, but subsequent attempts to type produced total gibberish (generally the worst you can expect when using a PC keyboard with a Mac is a couple of transposed keys). For a games-leaning PC peripheral, however, this is hardly a major handicap.

Next: Our expert verdict >>

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KeySonic KSK-6001 UELX eXtreme: Specs

  • USB keyboard
  • 20-key anti-ghosting
  • on/off backlighting
  • 393x158x24mm
  • 629g
  • USB keyboard
  • 20-key anti-ghosting
  • on/off backlighting
  • 393x158x24mm
  • 629g

OUR VERDICT

Comparing this keyboard with the (admittedly more expensive) Microsoft SideWinder X4 is a chastening experience for the KeySonic – it has inferior design and features (including less ambitious anti-ghosting) and is much harder to type on accurately. As a portable, backlit device, the KeySonic is an appealing buy for LAN party regulars. But the rest of us will look elsewhere.

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