Dream Machines, a well-known manufacturer of gaming laptops, has been producing gaming peripherals for over four years. But during this period, only mice and mats for them appeared from the conveyors of its «factories». And what about keyboards? Probably, the reason for the lack of these devices in the range was that the brand is focused on laptops, not desktop PCs. And they have a keyboard and yes. However, something has clearly changed in the company’s policy. And just recently, it introduced its first gaming keyboard called DreamKey, and at once in a full-size and TKL version. And also on three different types of Kailh Box switches. We received the standard full-size DreamKey with Kailh Box Red liners for review. Let’s see how it is in practice.
|Model||Dream Machines DreamKey|
|Polling frequency, Hz||1000|
|Number of keys||104|
|Key press resource, million||80|
|Type of keys||Mechanical|
|Type of switches||Kailh Box Red RGB|
|Changing the angle of inclination of the case||+|
|Ability to record macros||+|
|Handling simultaneous clicks||NKRO|
|Illumination||+ (RGB, 16.8 million colors)|
|USB cord length, m||1,75|
|Weaving material||Without braiding|
|Dimensions, (L x W x H) mm||438 x 136 x 39|
|OS compatibility||Windows 10 or later|
|Additionally||Keycaps made of PBT plastic. Eight interchangeable buttons included. Detachable USB type C to USB type A cable. Plastic key for removing key caps|
The packaging of the keyboard is decorated with a hint of originality — black with white drawings and inscriptions. The front part shows the keys, the signed brand and product name, as well as the type of switches used. On the reverse side, four short lines describe the main advantages of the device. And, actually, that’s all. Well, except that there’s a tongue-in-cheek reference to the fact that «all you need is love… no… a serial number.» Yes, a lot has changed since The Beatles. If anything, the serial number is in the lower right corner on the back of the box and on the back of the keyboard itself.
Inside, the keyboard is covered with a bag, and soft U-shaped foam corners are inserted on the sides.
The delivery kit, in addition to the keyboard itself, includes a brief instruction manual, a removable USB type C to USB type A cable, a plastic key for disassembling keycaps, and eight additional keycaps of different heights.
The design of the keyboard is classic and conservative. It is made in the old style, with a tall and narrow frame of the top panel. The manufacturer claims to use a composite material for the body using aluminum, which looks and feels like a rough matte plastic. Considering the weight of the keyboard of 1.2 kg and the hard unbreakable case, the metal was clearly not spared here. It is not clear where exactly it is built in — only in the white support plate under the buttons, or somewhere else.
The normal-height key layout follows the ANSI standard with long, single-row Shift and Enter keys. The F1 button is located above the number «2». An interesting and rather rare «feature» for keyboards is that the symbols are sublimated on the front face of the keycaps, and not on the top, as usual. The calculation here is that the user still sees the keyboard at an angle, so he can see the front face as well. The upper part is constantly in the zone of contact and abrasion from the touch of the fingers. In general, on the one hand, the solution is successful, but on the other hand, only the Latin alphabet is printed with alignment in the center, there is no Cyrillic alphabet at all. In the dark, the symbols are almost invisible — there is no through-lighting, the background light is not reflected, and the glow between the keys worsens visibility even more. In short, if the user is not blind typing, this keyboard is not the best choice for him. The profile of the keys has the usual cylindrical recess. The Fn button occupies the position of the right Win button.
The digital block of keys, arrows and navigation buttons is standard. In the upper right corner is a black brushed aluminum plate with a silver DM logo in the middle. Four LED Lock-indicators without signatures are built below it. Looking in order from left to right, it would be Num Lock, Caps Lock, Scroll Lock and Win Lock.
The keycaps are made of thick, uniform PBT plastic that does not let light through. Decent long button stabilizers of the hidden type with separate latches are abundantly lubricated, thanks to which they are pressed quietly and smoothly. On the other hand, they still hang a little, which is especially felt on the white space.
Our example of the keyboard uses Kailh Box Red RGB linear mechanical switches in a transparent housing. The peculiarity of this type of mechanism is that the contact group is hidden inside a separate plastic «box» and is pressed with a pin not directly, but indirectly through another horizontal plastic tab. In theory, this increases the switch’s resistance to wear from dust or moisture. In practice, another wear-prone plastic element is added to the design scheme. However, tactile sensations when pressed become clearer, which is especially noticeable on linear switches. The moment of activation is always fast, felt to the touch, because it is in the same place in height, and the key requires the same and predictable effort. In addition, with a low pressing force, there is no accidental activation of the button under the weight of the finger. According to the technical characteristics: the required activation force is 45 grams, 1.8 mm of travel to trigger, 3.6 mm of full travel. The failure resource is stated to be within 80 million clicks. The backlight LED is soldered directly on the printed circuit board, on the upper side of the switch.
The height of the keyboard in profile along the back row of keys with folded legs is 39 mm. With the legs unfolded, the height of the back row increases to 54 mm. The OEM key profile is used here.
The USB Type C port for connecting the detachable cable is located in the recess in the middle, on the back of the keyboard. Thanks to the wire laying system, it can be brought out not only in the center, but also closer to the left or right side of the device. There are no other external ports.
The unbraided USB Type C to USB Type A cable is 1.75 meters long. It is average in both thickness and flexibility. The good news is that the connectors are completely standard in shape, and you can easily pick up a replacement cord if necessary.
The back of the keyboard is smooth and plastic. Four rubber feet are pasted on the corners, and the serial number is in the center. Closer to the rear face, a channel is laid, which allows you to lead the wire in one of three directions back.
There are rubber stickers on the folding legs. They fold back and lock with a click. Near the right leg on the panel you can see a blank for something like a wireless receiver or a mechanical switch.
And near the left front leg there is also an oval indentation, similar to the socket of the switch, which was also suddenly changed to bring to the release.
Despite the fact that the keycaps are made of opaque PBT plastic, each of them has an integrated RGB LED. As a result, only the spaces between the keys are highlighted. In some ways, the secret meaning of such illumination is unclear. Moreover, it even interferes with considering the symbols on the side faces of the buttons. The white color is also not reproduced correctly. Lock indicators are illuminated by bright white LEDs. Fortunately, their light does not blind the eyes when viewed from an angle.
The Dream Machines DreamKey keyboard has a number of functions that can be performed through the combination of certain Fn keys. Unfortunately, information on exactly how this is done can only be obtained from the complete manual, which exists only in a printed version. And even then, it is made in a graphic, not a text version. It is more economical than a multilingual translation, but it is not always intuitively clear what exactly they wanted to say in this or that picture. In addition, some functions are not described here.
Setting the backlight functions with the keys works only if the software that takes control of the backlight is not running. The table lists the features we were able to reproduce.
|Fn+Esc||Reset keyboard settings to default (hold for 3-4 seconds)|
|Fn+F1||Start the player|
|Fn+F2||Reduce the volume|
|Fn+F3||Increase the volume|
|Fn+F8||The next track|
|Fn+F12||This PC tab|
|Fn+Prt Scn||Toggle light effect options|
|Fn+Scr Lock||Change the color of the current backlight (7 colors)|
|Fn+Pause||Changing the additional background color in the light effect|
|Fn+left Win||Enable and disable game mode. By default, the Win key is disabled. The corresponding indicator lights up|
|Fn+Ins||Switching a set of lighting effects|
|Fn+Del||Switching a set of lighting effects|
|Fn+Home||Changing the direction of the light effect|
|Fn+End||Backlight recording mode. Press Fn+End. The Lock indicators and the Page Up and Page Down keys will start to blink. Click one of them to select a slot to record the backlight. The indicators will continue to blink. Press any keys you want to highlight. Each click changes the color of the button sequentially. A total of seven colors are available and the key backlight can be turned off completely. To finish recording, press Fn+End again|
|Fn+Page Up||Programmable illumination option 1|
|Fn+Page Down||Programmable illumination option 2|
|Fn+↑||Increase brightness (5 levels)|
|Fn+↓||Reduce brightness (5 levels)|
|Fn+←||Reduce effect playback speed (5 levels)|
|Fn+→||Increase effect playback speed (5 levels)|
Dream Machines DreamKey uses its own software (the current version at the time of writing is 1.04.02) to control the backlight and remap the keys. You need to download it from the official website and install it. You can configure automatic startup with the system, or force it manually. It is possible to run the program both collapsed into the tray and in the form of a full program window. There are 13 interface languages to choose from. Product firmware is manually updated.
The first start tab when starting the program is the device selection window.
In the «Device» tab, you can reassign all keys on the keyboard, except for Fn. Macros, buttons other than the default command, mouse commands, multimedia commands, and keyboard shortcuts are available for assignment. When using not the built-in editor, but the capabilities of the program, an option appears with adding text, completely disabling the key, binding links, switching the current profile (a maximum of 10 profiles are available in the application) and launching a specific program. In addition, in this case, in addition to the usual blocking of the Win key in game mode, you can prohibit the Alt+F4, Shift+Tab and Alt+Tab combinations.
In the same tab, there is a separate screen from which you can configure the keyboard backlight. There are 16 light effects with the ability to change the color, brightness, speed and direction of playback. All buttons can be customized individually.
The software has a simple macro editor. You can create an unlimited number of them, but with a limit of no more than 20 actions in one chain. On the left is the Macro Group tab, where you can create, delete, rename, import, or export macros. A little further down, you can set the command entry with a delay time, no delay, or a fixed duration delay. Keyboard commands and mouse clicks are accepted for recording. The central console displays a list of all consecutive events. And on the right there are tabs through which you can insert or modify a line in the commands.
Ergonomics and testing
Dream Machines DreamKey is standard in all parameters and a full-size keyboard, so it takes almost no time to adapt to it and hands immediately find the right keys. A very strong and unshakable case greatly improves the feeling of using this device. In addition, thanks to its heavy weight and grippy rubber feet, it holds onto the surface perfectly and does not shift even with very intensive use. Whether a detachable cable is really necessary is debatable. But, in any case, the possibility of its easy replacement and channels for the output of the cord in different directions is a useful option.
As mentioned earlier, this keyboard is well suited for those who have the ability to type «blind». Here, everything is specifically for them — a standard layout, pleasant-to-the-touch PBT keycaps, richly lubricated long-key stabilizers that are pressed pleasantly and without knocking. The only complaint can be that the long buttons still wobble slightly. This is complemented by excellent tactile sensations from Kailh Box Red linear mechanical switches, which are equally comfortable for both gaming and working with large volumes of text. But for those who need to see the engraving on the keys in order to press the correct buttons, DreamKey is not suitable. There is no Cyrillic alphabet, and probably never will be. The symbols of the Latin alphabet are visible only in very bright external lighting, and in the slightest shadow they can no longer be seen. The backlight on this keyboard does not help in determining the purpose of the buttons. It will be possible to correct the situation after installing transparent caps. The software also requires some refinement towards improved interface and functionality.
Dream Machines DreamKey supports full NKRO anti-hosting, which allows you to activate all buttons simultaneously and in any combination.
If we consider the DreamKey mechanical keyboard as the first attempt for Dream Machines in a new direction of peripherals, then it is worth noting that it turned out very well. It can be seen that a lot of effort was put into creating this product. And, in some places, they even overdid it. After all, the keyboard turned out to be very conservative (in the good sense of the word). But let’s consider everything in terms of advantages and disadvantages.
Among the advantages, it is worth emphasizing the extreme rigidity of the case, pleasant-to-the-touch caps made of PBT plastic, excellent tactile sensations from the Kailh Box Red switches, lubricated long-key stabilizers and a standard button layout. Plus support for NKRO anti-hosting.
Regarding the shortcomings, we have also accumulated a lot of comments. First of all, this is the lack of illumination of characters on the keys, the lack of Cyrillic engraving, and the rather high cost of the device as a whole. In addition, I would like a more detailed instruction on the additional functions of the keyboard.
Dream Machines DreamKey in full-size and shortened versions, and with any of the three available types of switches, is suitable for games and work best for those who have the technology of blind typing. And, literally, he remembers the location of all the keys with his fingers. It is with him that this keyboard can give full satisfaction from use.