AZIO isn’t shy about taking their keyboard designs in ways that appeal to both gamers and non-gamers alike, primarily because AZIO is a company that understands function, simplicity, and style. Does the AZIO MGK ARMATO Classic Edition, a typewriter styled mechanical keyboard, hit the mark in each of those categories? This is our review.
- MGK-ARMATO-02 Classic Edition Mechanical Keyboard
- MSRP: $129.99
- Mechanical Switch: Cherry MX Blue
- Backlight: White
- 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)
AZIO’s catalog of peripherals ranges from the flashy to the classy, and the Armato CE is obviously on the latter of that spectrum. Dubbed as the “Typewriter Inspired Mechanical Keyboard” AZIO certainly nailed the look in both a visually and audibly please way thanks to the clicky blue switches. While the clicks are similar to other keyboards on the market, each circular key is a stark departure that harkens back to another time.
It is specifically in the neo-retro design that the Armato can be both a blessing or a curse depending on what your average usage is, so you’ll want to know what it’s like before buying in. Each of the round typewriter keys are slightly concave in the center which complements the tactile feel of the blue switches. Each keystroke not only feels natural but provides exceptional feedback physically and audibly. Most of the people reading this review likely haven’t used a keyboard that uses the round key structure, a style mostly abolished in the late 60s. That being said, you wouldn’t imagine how big of an impact the round shape of the keys would have on typing, yet it does, and it still is an adjustment I find myself struggling to get the hang of in the first week of ownership.
This is also my first foray into mechanical blue switches. Blue switches are known as tactile “clicky” switches, due to the audible click you hear upon when pressing each key. I have never felt more productive listening to the typerwriter-esque click. Unfortunately, others around me found the constant sound of keyboard clicking to be grating. It didn’t bother me because I wore a headset, but a just in case, here’s a Public Service Announcement: Think about how clicky keys will affect your loved ones. That said, it’s likely that anyone in the market for a typewriter-style keyboard is probably looking for these clicks and in that way, the Armato CE definitely delivers.
Another important factor that plays into the style of the keys is that, in most mechanical gaming keyboards, the backlighting shines through the key as well as around it. For the Armato CE, the white backlighting doesn’t actually shine through the letters in the keys, but rises like white hot illumination seeping from the sleek aluminum frame. It doesn’t really change much of the function of seeing the keys in the dark, but in comparison to other keyboards, the illumination is much more noticeable as the light leaks through the spaces left by the circular keys. AZIO does aid in finding your home row keys with little bumps on the F and J keys which did end up helping me as I learned to use a new style of key.
Luckily, the functionality of the Armato CE doesn’t rely on any additional software or complicated instructions to make use of its features. You can program exactly where you’d like the backlighting through programmable zones, you can utilize the record button to setup your gaming macros with no additional software, and the media bar with an audio scroll wheel over the numeric keypad allows you to control your audio and media swiftly with as little fuss as imaginably possible. All of this is wrapped up in a keyboard that has no unnecessary space and yet, remains hefty and solid weighing in at 3lbs with the magnetic wrist rest.
With a little time given to the adjustment to its circular keys, my typing and productivity flourished through the confirmation of the tactile switches and sensitive concave keys. In terms of blue switches, you have to take into consideration that, blue switches are loud! While I love this keyboard for typing and productivity far more than I have for gaming, I was always aware that everyone around me could hear me typing, even if they are in another room. Still, form and function on the Armato CE are top notch.
- Beautiful, neo-retro typewriter styling
- Function keys, media bar and Macros without requiring any software
- Solid aluminum body – this keyboard does NOT feel cheap in the slightest
- Once adjusted, typing and productivity is a pleasure
- Backlighting doesn’t shine through the letters in the keys
- For the uninitiated to circular keys, this could take an adjustment period
- Blue Switches are LOUD. Won’t somebody think of the children?
The product discussed in this article was provided by the manufacturer for the purposes of review.