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Azio Retro Classic Mechanical Keyboard

When it comes to product pattern in a tech world, many inclination have a decidedly sleek, complicated peculiarity that, even now, conveys a clarity of a future. Look during a gaming laptop someday if we don’t trust us. But some tech companies have spasmodic introduced gadgets with contrary, sentimental designs that demeanour behind to a past instead of forward. Wireless speakers and digital cameras are dual such markets where we’ve seen this trend. What’s startling is that this retro breakthrough took so prolonged to uncover adult in a automatic keyboard market. 

However, we can now name from several antique-styled, 1940s Remington typewriter-esque keyboards, including a Nanoxia Ncore Retro Aluand the Qwerkywriter S (the latter, with a operative knobs and lapse lever, competence yield a many visually loyal facsimile of a duration typewriter nonetheless notwithstanding a heart-attack cost of $399.) In a view, a many sensuous (and luxuriously labelled during $189.99) riff on this suspicion to date is a Azio Retro Classic automatic keyboard that’s a theme of today’s review.


Azio offers 4 keyboards in a Retro Classic line, comparison in facilities though opposite in appearance. We’ll be displaying photos of all of them, though a one we tested was a Artisan (black leather with copper frame). Here’s a initial peek during it…

Azio Retro Classic (First Look)

The keyboard is designed with white lettering on black, round keys. However, Azio’s take includes a image lonesome with leather, and a support finished of zinc aluminum amalgamate plated for a matte copper finish, for a lush, pleasing feel on any key. It’s even got a hex-bolted manufacturer’s trademark plaque, if that sustains your dainty fancy.

This is a Posh (white leather with copper frame) version…

Azio Retro Classic (Plate)

Overall, a Retro Classic is a vast keyboard, no doubt about that, though a beauty isn’t usually skin deep, with a bit of copper fact skimming a tip edge. The copper fact is indeed partial of a full frame, as we can see here in a Elwood (walnut timber with gunmetal frame) version…

Azio Retro Classic (Elwood Border)

All that steel contributes both to a unit’s sturdiness, and to a weight of 3.8 pounds. It’s not a heaviest we’ve ever tested, though it’s one of a heavier customary QWERTY keyboards though a wrist rest or stretched genuine estate to reason additional keys.

The miss of additional keys, however, means that a Retro Classic’s duty keys work double shifts in tandem with a Fn pivotal on a bottom row. Fn+F1, for example, opens your Web browser, and Fn+ F3 your email client. (Backlighting is also doubled up, something we’ll cover in a subsequent section.) There are no dedicated media keys, that we would have approaching in a automatic keyboard during this price, though during slightest a duty keys for media commands are realistically organised together, from F5 by F11—unlike a Razer Cynosa Chroma, that for some reason utilizes F1 by F3 and F5 by F7…

Azio Retro Classic (Media Keys)

One of a things Azio does right is set a keys above a frame, rather than recess them into it. Check out a Onyx chronicle (black leather with black chromed frame, imitative a Ncore Retro in style) to get a clarity of this…

Azio Retro Classic (Above Frame)

Here’s a viewpoint from a opposite angle of a Artisan keyboard…

Azio Retro Classic (Above Frame Artisan)

The advantage to keys recessed in a support is that light pools easily around them. The far-more-serious waste is that anything tiny that incidentally drops on a keyboard tends to get stranded inside, presumably forever. By contrast, keys that lay above a support have many smaller openings underneath for dust, grime, water, or beef stroganoff to get held in. A can of dense atmosphere can understanding with waste that lands on tip of a frame. In a experience, we can’t do a same for recessed keys.

Another indicate Azio gets right is a chain of unshifted pivotal black next shifted ones (2 next @, for example), that was a normal arrangement on typewriters and mechanism keyboards for some-more than 50 years until backlighting arrived. Then, a tip halves of keys were improved illuminated than a bottom halves, that led some companies to upset pitch placement. As a result, on some keyboards it’s all though unfit to examination shifted black on keycaps. But on a Azio, a backlighting is ideally even, and a black are easy to see.

Instead of a common pinpoint LED indicators for Caps Lock, Num Lock, Scroll Lock, and Win Lock, a Retro Classic has sincerely vast and splendid LEDs, which bear a flitting similarity (deliberate or otherwise) to Art Deco light globes. It’s a teenager point, though we found a LEDs some-more celebrated on a Azio than on many other, identical implementations. Here they are…

Azio Retro Classic (LEDs)

The Retro Classic has 4 large, rubber-padded, pillar-style feet, that supply glorious anti-friction…

Azio Retro Classic (Foot)

The behind span can be incited clockwise until they strech a same 1-inch tallness as a front ones, or incited counter-clockwise to yield a boost of adult to four-tenths of an inch…

Azio Retro Classic (Feet Boost)

While we unequivocally like a “choose your possess height” approach, we wish Azio had granted a incomparable boost for a full inch. The suspicion is to lift a keyboard amply so that a fingers aren’t compulsory to widen to strech a behind rows. Stretching them tenses adult tendons and contributes to repeated aria injury. You can always reinstate a set of automatic keys when they wear out, after all, though conjunction Cherry nor Kailh can supply a new set of finger tendons.

Finally, a Retro Classic comes with a thickly braided, 71-inch cord. Braided cords are really stiffer than rubber-coated ones, generally when it’s a good, industrial strength braid, like this one. Rubber-coated cords are distant easier to condense or break, or simply turn regularly until a wires inside fray. With a Velcro tie, braided cords are a elite process of USB connection.


The Azio Retro Classic has no pattern software. That’s a obstacle given pattern utilities yield a centralized, easy-to-use interface for a horde of choices involving pivotal remapping, macro editing, lighting, and other features. Lacking that, Azio has depressed behind on pivotal combos for backlighting. Key remapping and macro modifying aren’t even on a menu.

It’s loyal that these facilities aren’t as poignant in a capability keyboard as a gaming one. Still, macros are critical to some business people, and being means to remap keys is arguably usually as critical in Visio, Word, and Acrobat as it is in Dota 2 or Crusader Kings II.

Azio does allow pivotal combos for white backlighting. The dual modes, respirating and reactive, are pristine fluff, though a lighting on/off and liughtness composition combos are all useful because, distinct a Ncore Retro, a LEDs gleam by a keys. This means that we can work, game, or roller a Web effectively in a comparatively dim space, and control a grade of lighting if we don’t wish to arise a sleeping associate or roommate.

And as we mentioned in a final section, they gleam uniformly from a center, so that shifted and unshifted black on keycaps share equally in a limelight. According to Azio, this necessitated going with Kailh switches; a LEDs in Cherry MX models are positioned to light a top half some-more brightly. Since Cherry started creation disdainful arrangements with usually name companies over a final few years, Kailh’s repute as a manufacturer and co-developer of glorious automatic switches has usually risen. While a comparatively new Box and Speed lines are removing many of a courtesy these days, a company’s Blue switches in a Retro Classic are usually as effective as Cherry’s MX Blue. There are teenager differences between a two, such as a MX Blue’s sum transport stretch of 4.0mm and a actuation indicate of 2mm, contra a Kailh Blue’s 3.6mm transport stretch and 1.6mm actuation point. But these net out in tangible use to a same thing, and both possess an actuation force of roughly 50g.

The usually disproportion we could find between a dual in day-to-day focus is that a shrill click of a MX Blue is rather dulled on a Kailh model, spacebar aside. Whether that’s a matter of switch or keyboard construction (or both) we can’t say, though we can use a Retro Classic though everybody else within 50 feet being wakeful of that fact.

Like all Blue switches, these have a pleasing hold rather than a linear one—such as that of a gamer’s stream favorite, a Cherry MX Red. Combined with a somewhat heavier activation vigour than MX Reds, they’re generally elite in situations where we need to do a lot of typing.

Azio Retro Classic (overhead view)

According to Azio, a Retro Classic furnishes N-key rollover. This means that however many keys are pulpy concurrently and in tighten vicinity to one another, all will be rightly scanned. We tested this out during a Microsoft Applied Science Group’s site, though could usually get 6-key rollover. This is positively good adequate for many applications and games, exclusive some song programs and moody simulators, though it isn’t what Azio claimed.

The story doesn’t finish there, however: a Retro Classic comes with a pivotal combo to switch between 6-key rollover and N-key for some reason. (If your CPU can’t hoop N-key rollover, reinstate it, not a keyboard.) We’re certain we can envision what happened when we attempted Fn+PrtScn: The keyboard switched to N-key rollover, and we afterwards achieved 20 keys or above consistently. We can’t contend that any other purchased section will arrive with 6-key rollover activated, though it pays to set it rightly first.

Lastly, note that a section in this examination is a USB model. However, there is also a $219.99 Bluetooth chronicle of a Retro Classic available, sporting a 6000 mAh Lithium ion rechargeable battery. It’s rated for one to 6 weeks of use with backlighting on and 6 months with a backlighting off. A USB pier is furnished for recharging.


We tested a Retro Classic in a accumulation of applications and games, with approaching results. As a capability keyboard, a Kailh Blue automatic switches offering glorious opening in Microsoft Word and identical programs. Like this keyboard’s frame, they’re built to last; according to some estimates, adult to 10 years depending on a sourroundings (humidity, dust) and volume of use. We could wish for aloft behind feet, so that there’s reduction tendon stretching to strech a Retro Classic’s behind row. But a keys feel good underneath a fingertips, and a craftsmanship is truly solid.

But honestly it’s not a gamer’s keyboard—if by gamer, we meant a chairman who enjoys real-time action-based titles, as against to resting turn-based and pause-based ones. That’s because linear Red switches have turn a gamers’ favorite over a years. Blue automatic switches are excellent for speed typists, however, given a additional grade of pushback vigour and a pleasing “squeeze” indicate assistance cut down on wandering pivotal presses.

The deficiency of a pattern application doesn’t assistance sell this keyboard to capability users, let alone gamers. All a facilities people have come to rest on from a Corsair Utility Engine, Razer Synapse, Cougar UIX System, SteelSeries Engine, and other, identical program packages—unlimited executable-specific profiles, pivotal remapping, a macro editor, and more—are blank from a Retro Classic. Even Logitech Options, dictated for capability peripherals, offers endless remapping of a comparatively tiny series of keys. It’s not that we couldn’t play games or run applications though these features. It’s usually that doing so is a hassle.

Finally, we could have wished for dedicated media keys, and a volume dial, for that matter. Whether you’re operative adult a news or personification a game, it’s good to have a singular control to immediately change a volume level.


When Nanoxia released a Ncore Retro Alu not prolonged ago, we remarkable that we suspicion a association finished a tiny tactical blunder by emphasizing games (“game mode light settings”). Azio doesn’t make a same mistake with a Retro Classic, though a MSRPs of $189.99 (USB) and $219.99 (Bluetooth) will lift eyebrows. There are positively some-more facilities in a Retro Classic than in a Ncore Retro Alu—most notably, tractable feet tallness and white backlighting that shines by a keys—but is it value what is effectively an additional $100 during a time of this review?

We consider not, unless you’re looking during a Retro Classic as some-more of a oppulance item. Make no mistake, a Retro Classic is a good, plain (in some-more ways than one) capability keyboard, with good Kailh Blue automatic switches. But in a view, it’s some-more of an extravagance—an astonishing present we competence give a chairman who does a lot of typing though who also likes stylish things, and would never dream of purchasing one for him- or herself. Or, of course, a present for yourself, if we feel a small self-indulgent.

Our viewpoint shifts if a Retro Classic is evaluated from a indicate of viewpoint of a oppulance good. Then styling becomes a vital offered point—as it was for a now-discontinued anniversary book of PFU Limited of Japan’s Happy Hacking Keyboard, a $4,200 mini-keyboard whose keycaps were lonesome with 10 layers of Urushi lacquer and and sprinkled with bullion dust. Granted, a Retro Classic has a lot some-more to offer a normal capability user, though a simple suspicion is a same: owning something that stylishly incorporates sentimental elements of a informative past, nonetheless stays useful. Azio achieves this in a grand manner, in all 4 of a Retro Classic incarnations. They could have finished some-more with this keyboard from an ease-of-use standpoint, though there’s no denying that a Retro Classic hits all a basics, and that you’ll have it around to admire and suffer for a prolonged time.

Azio Retro Classic Mechanical Keyboard

Our Verdict:
It’s pricey, though a Azio Retro Classic is a particular and superb take on 1940s Remington typewriters. With Kailh blue switches and a steel frame, it’s a capability keyboard that’s also built to last.


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