What do professional programmers, typists and Windows gamers all have in common? Naturally enough, it’s an appreciation for a high-quality computer keyboard. Joining the ranks of respected brands like Filco, Cherry, SteelSeries and Topre is the specialist DuckyChannel International Co.
See: more keyboard reviews.
The Taiwan company has a cult following in other parts of the world, but its products are only now becoming readily available in the UK through new distributor Bosse Computers.
Like many such serious keyboards, Ducky keyboards are based on high-grade mechanical switches, but they include many touches to endear the products to Windows gamers in particular. The stand-out feature here on the Ducky DK9008 Shine 2 must be the backlit keys, with a useful range of options available in the way these keys can light up.
Ducky DK9008 Shine 2: Features
The keys are gently scalloped for the fingertip pads, with all letter and character shapes embedded into the key in semi-opaque white plastic, allowing light from individual LEDs below to glow through when one of the keyboard’s several backlit modes is activated.
Below the keycaps lie real mechanical switches, Cherry MX types, our sample fitted with Cherry MX Red switches. The Red types give non-clicky keys, relatively quiet, with a smooth linear action. The ‘bite point’ is set high, so only a small press will print your letters, and in extended testing this writer didn’t find it the fastest keyboard for regular typing. Mis-hits were quite frequent from barely tapping adjacent keys.
The Ducky keyboard is also available with Cherry Black, Blue or Brown switches to suit personal taste; the selection of any of the above would obviate any such criticism.
The frame of the keyboard is very robust feeling matt black plastic. As a full-width design, there’s a 10-digit number keypad to the right, and the Function keys running across the top. These include additional controls for volume and media play/pause/stop/skip, all reached after first holding an extra Fn key, located between left-hand Windows and Control keys.
There’s no USB hub built into the keyboard frame, nor extra break-out connections for audio as you’d find on SteelSeries. Instead, there’s a Micro-USB 2.0 port on the underside, with a 1.5m black PVC cable supplied. That’s a neat touch which means you don’t have lump over-long cables if you don’t need them littering your desk.
Ducky DK9008 Shine 2: Backlighting
The real fun starts when you play with Fn and F10. First press lights up just the Qwerty, punctuation and number line. Press that key combo again, and every single key lights up.
Third press puts the keys into pulse mode, the bright underlights building and ebbing in intensity over a five second cycle.
The fourth mode is Reactive Mode. This is rather cool but works best in darkened rooms – all lights are off, until you hit a key, when it momentarily lights up below your finger. It’s subtle, not least because your finger pad is covering the light source at the point it lights, but fast typing can give you a dancing patterns beneath your fingers.
And for the Knight Rider fans, the sixth and final mode sets the Function keys into a side-to-side chaser light sequence. Pointless yet strangely cool.
In static-lit modes, you can adjust the brightness of the backlighting using Fn plus F11 (lights down) or F12 (lights up). Five levels are available, from reasonably dim to eye-searing bright.
There’s more. You can customise the keyboard to light only a selection of lights. For gamers, the obvious choice are W, A, S and D. In fact, already below the F8 (CM1) and F9 (CM2) keys are presets for the latter, and for the cursor keys, to be the only lit keys.
Also supplied with the Ducky Shine 2 are replacement W, A, S and D keys in red, along with a key lifter to help install them
There’s a decent selection backlight colours from which to choose. We tested a blue-light model, which veared between indigo and cobalt depending on intensity. Also available in the UK are green, white and pink colour options.
Ducky DK9008 Shine 2: More features
Four DIP switches on the underside serve some highly useful customisation functions. UNIX typists, for example, can exchange the Ctrl and Caps Lock keys.
For multiple key presses, the keyboard can be set to either 6-key rollover or n-key, even with a USB connection.
The Windows key can be set to lock, while Mac users will be heartened to hear that you can exchange the positions of the Windows and Alt keys on both sides of the Spacebar to more closely approximate the layout of OS X.
We have but a few minor comments against the Ducky Shine 2. The UK keyboard layout is thanksfully available, giving the full double-height Return key; but the only PC platform layout is for Windows, so you’re stuck with the Windows flag on the Super key.
And number and punctuation keys inexplicably have their standard and Shifted characters printed on the wrong levels. For example, the exclamation mark appears below the number 1, rather than above. It's a small detail that often confused us anyway.