AZIO MGK-ARMATO-01: The Original – Better for Gaming?
Last week, we published a review on the MGK-ARMATO-02 Classic Edition that touted a gorgeous typewriter design combined with blue switches for an old school, neo-retro style. This week, we’re diving into the more traditional gaming keyboard in the Armato line with the AZIO ARMATO-01.
While there aren’t too many differences in form or function, the few differences between the two models are stark and change the entire look and feel of the keyboard. Before we get into the specifics of how that takes place, it’s customary to start with the particulars of the hardware.
- MSRP: 129.99
- Mechanical Switch: Cherry MX Brown
- Backlight: Red
- Cord Length: 6 ft.
- Key Functions: NKRO via USB
- Package Contents: User Guide, Keycap Puller Tool
- Full media integration with Fast Access Volume Wheel
- Anodized Aluminum faceplate
- Magnetic Detachable Palm Rest
- Keyboard Size: 6.5 x 19.0 x 1.2 inches (16.51 x 48.26 x 3.05 cm)
- Weight: 3.0 lbs (1361 g)
From first glance, the differences are apparent and characterizing them explicitly would seem almost foolish, but I’m going to do it anyway because some of you may not have had the chance to read the previous review. In terms of styling, the ARMATO-01 does away with the circular keys of the Classic Edition in favor of the more traditional square keys. At the top and on the sides of the keyboard AZIO included a red metal mesh design that I happen to like, accompanied by the red volume scroll wheel on the top right hand side of the keyboard.
This version uses genuine Cherry MX Brown switches, which, as one could imagine, changes a lot in terms of typing feel and audible sensibilities. This isn’t my first brown switch keyboard, but the soft textured keys and the slight but discernible clack heard when bottoming out is nothing in comparison to the cacophony of the twenty sweaty, unkempt newsman from the 60s that are my fingers, feverishly typing away before the deadline. Or at least, that’s the sound of the Blue switches create when you’re typing pretty much anything on them. In that way, the ARMATO-01, while not being silent, is still much preferred by those around me than the ARMATO-02-CE ever was.
Another stark contrast is the difference in backlight color. Keeping with the aesthetic of the red coloring, the ARMATO-01 expels a subtle glow of red through the keys as well as throughout the slats between the keys, not overpoweringly so, but pleasingly understated. If the AZIO ARMATO-02 CE was the white hot word of God burning itself into your fingertips with every key pressed, the ARMATO-01 is the seedy fella down below tempting your supple touch. The colors of the keyboards are bright white (02) and doleful red (01); I can’t be too far off base with that analogy.
Without sounding too much like a broken record, the rest of the features are pretty much the same to a tee. You still can program all of your macros by utilizing the record button, and is pretty much as simple as you can make it. You still have features like full N-key rollover, which means all keys pressed will be registered with absolutely no ghosting, You still have the ability to modify your backlight zones, albeit only in red. You also still have the features of a fully functional hardware media interface including the volume scroll wheel. Basically, AZIO didn’t remove any features, and shame on you for thinking that they did.
It is somewhat sad to say that for me personally, the choice between the two keyboards, the AZIO ARMATO-01 and the ARMATO-02 CE wasn’t one I spent an exorbitantly long time contemplating. My honest to goodness feelings on the ARMATO-02 CE is that it’s probably one of the all-time, most gorgeous keyboards I’ve ever had the pleasure of using. But in terms of daily functionality, it was too loud. The feel and sound of the ARMATO-01 is has been much more up my alley in terms of every day usage, without any of the sacrifices that limited my enjoyment of the Classic Edition. I think that both keyboards will find their respective fans, and for me it is definitely the ARMATO-01.
- Function keys, media bar and Macros without requiring any software
- Solid aluminum body with red metal accoutrements, very stylish and sturdy
- Cherry MX Brown switches that aren’t silent, but give tactile pleasing feedback
- The only color for backlighting is red; more colors would have been more fun
- On some of the larger keys like capslock the backlighting kind of dims on the outskirts
- MX Brown switches could still be a little loud for some people, they are still tactile switches.