HAVIT HV-KB380L LED Backlit USB Wired Keyboard Review

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The HAVIT HV-KB380L LED Backlit USB Wired Keyboard was kindly provided to me by HAVIT-UK free of charge in exchange for a fair and unbiased review on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com. No additional compensation was given in exchange for posting this article on my blog.

The HAVIT HV-KB380L LED Backlit USB Wired Keyboard is available in the UK from HAVIT-UK Shop Fulfilled by Amazon.co.uk at a cost of £26.99 with free P&P. In the US the HV-KB380L available from HavitDirect Fulfilled by Amazon.com at a cost of $34.99 with free P&P. (Prices correct at time of posting).

 

To enlarge an image and view its description, please click on the image.

 

PRO’s

– Quiet in operation.
– Keys are back and edge lit and the keyboard frame edges are also illuminated.
– Far better to use than a traditional membrane style keyboards, especially to type on, it however does not feel like a mechanical keyboard to use.
– Excellent quality lighting that is very soft, subtle and functional.
– Totally uniform light diffusion with no dark spots.
– Good built quality.
– Replaceable key caps (Cherry MX compatible).
– Price

AVERAGE.

– No wrist rest.
– No lighting memory function.
– Limited Anti Ghosting features.
– Sadly supplied with a US layout (at least at the time of writing). Not much of an issue when playing games, but can be for productivity related tasks. I usually put this as a con however the biggest problem I find with a US layout is the Enter key and thankfully the HAVIT HV-KB380L has a UK shape/size Enter key, so it’s bearable.
– Spacebar & Enter key frequently make an unpleasant sound, it’s not that loud and I have heard far, far worse.

 

CON’s

– Non slip pads on underside could use some better adhesive.

 

PACKAGING & CONTENTS.

The HAVIT HV-KB380L LED Backlit USB Wired Keyboard comes supplied in a large rectangular flat black cardboard box, simply bearing the HAVIT motto of “ENJOY WHAT I HAVE”. Attached to the box is a white card sleeve containing product information, pictures and curiously instructions for the keyboard.

I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing products on behalf of HAVIT now for about 5 months and it’s been nice to see the improvement in packaging quality over time as well as the protection offered for the contents within.

 

Inside the black cardboard box you will find the keyboard wrapped within a white thin foam bag with large cellular foam inserts attached at each end to hold the keyboard in place and protect it during transit. Underneath the keyboard, you will find a brief illustrated instruction leaflet entirely in understandable English as well as separate support information leaflets in English and German.

 

There is no software or drivers included in the box, however, such is not required. The manual indicates the keyboard is compatible with Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10, Mac & Linux systems. Sadly additional information regarding Linux and Mac operating systems is sadly not forthcoming.

Having tested on Windows 7 Pro 32-Bit and 8.1 systems the keyboard is plug and play, with the OS installing any necessary software as soon as it is plugged in and is usable within seconds of being plugged into either system with all features working without the need for additional software.

 

MEASUREMENTS.

Measurements taken at their greatest point using a digital calliper accurate to within 0.1% and a Milwaukee measuring tape accurate by eye.

Personal measurements indicate the keyboard measures 45.7cm wide x 15cm long (It should be noted that the cable protrudes from the back edge of the keyboard in the right corner and the cable reinforcement adds a further 1.5cm to the depth at this point). The height of the keyboard at the rear excluding keys is 1.9cm with the feet flat or 2.9cm when they are extended. The product listing states the measurements are 44.4 x 14.6 x 4 cm, I am however, rather confident of the measurements that I have taken.

 

Some random key measurements are as follows (measurements taken of the top surface of the key cap).

Space bar = 95.51mm x 13.55mm
Arrow & Letter Keys = 12.66mm x 14.5mm
Shift keys = 36.37mm x 14.5mm
Backspace = 31.5mm x 14.5mm
The spacing between keys is 6mm

 

The keyboard weighs 1177g (this reading unavoidably includes a small section of the cable).

 

SWITCHES.

The HAVIT HV-KB380L keyboard is a rubber dome with plastic sliders keyboard that provides a similar experience to that of a mechanical keyboard without the cost (the keys offer a degree of resistance but lack the tactile response). This design is similar to that of mechanical micro switches, each key has its own slider (that looks like a mechanical switch) that presses on the dome located underneath, activating a membrane keypad located within the keyboard internal housing.

In the case of the HAVIT HV-KB380L the slider mounts are Cherry MX compatible, meaning the key caps can be replaced with almost any Cherry MX compatible key caps. A very impressive feature for a keyboard of this price, allowing you to replace the caps should they become worn during their 5 million press average lifespan, or if you decide you want to upgrade the caps (not all caps are created equal, search ABS double shot key caps), if you do replace the caps just make sure they have transparent lettering for the backlight.

 

Testing using the keys from my Corsair K70 and from my MAX Blackbird I can confirm that both keys do indeed fit the HAVIT HV-KB380L. In the case of the K70 key caps they do not light up as well as the key caps supplied, if you do replace them care should be taken with your selection.

 

As a point of note, while mechanical keyboards are significantly more expensive, they do have a 50 million press lifespan. When you do the math, the cost of a mechanical keyboard starts to make financial sense if you are a heavy user.

While domed keyboards are quiet in use they are considered to be rather “mushy” in use compared to metal domes and mechanical keyboards as the collapsing dome does not provide much of a positive, tactile response. As the slider mounts were Cherry MX compatible out of curiosity I mounted a few keys with 40 shore, O-Rings to see if it made any notable improvement. After typing about an A4 worth of text I have to confess to not being able to detect any difference in use, at a push I might say they were slightly quieter in operation but they felt the same.

 

BUILD QUALITY.

The facia on all key caps is very finely textured providing highly impressive slip resistance even with sweaty hands during some very intense moments of online gaming. While this is only a very small detail, compared to keyboards costing 2-3 times as much, the top coating of the HAVIT HV-KB380L keys is highly commendable especially when compared to the somewhat slippery keys on my Corsair K70.

The size and spacing of the keys is good, but for those of use with larger hands the keys do still feel a little smaller than we would like. Key wobble is minimal comparable to that of my Corsair K70 although the Enter & Space keys are an exception to this rule. The Enter key is perhaps the worst, while it is obviously secure it you even slightly touch the key it does make a rather audible rattling sound.

The Spacebar has its own problems that are sadly altogether too common for keyboards at the lower end of the mid range market and that’s the springs or metal support. Underneath the spacebar, there is a centralised contact slider and either side there are plastic supports. Attached to these supports is a single metal wire that runs the length of the space bar within the keyboard frame and with the exception of where this wire is mounted to the key cap it is otherwise sits loose.

As a result, when the space bar is pressed it rattles (the louder the press the louder the metal springy noise). However, in fairness, it doesn’t happen each and every time as it would appear to depend entirely on where the key is pressed as well as how hard it is pressed. For myself, it made a noise more often that not. Again in fairness, I’ve heard worse and even the spacebar on my K70 makes a slight tinny sound when pressed.

As for the keyboard itself well, the keys all have transparent lettering, but only for their primary function. Certain keys that have a secondary functions operated by way of the “FN” key are however marked with painted icons.

FN +F1 = Music player shortcut.
FN = F2 = Volume down.
FN + F3 = Volume up.
FN + F4 = Mute.
FN + F5 = Play previous song.
FN + F6 = Play next song.
FN + F7 = Play / pause.
FN + F8 = Stop.
FN + F9 = Email shortcut.
FN + F10 = Home shortcut.
FN + F11 = Key lock.
FN + F12 = Favourites.
FN + Page Up = Increase brightness.
FN + Page down = Decrease brightness.
FN + Menu (key to the left of the right hand side Ctrl key) = Backlight adjustment (described later on).

WASD keys also have white painted arrows on them, the arrow keys have WASD painted on them and the Q key is also painted with 60/s.

Now the transparent lettering is clearly visible even in total darkness thanks to the frankly excellent backlighting, however, in such a scenario the painted secondary function icons / lettering is all but impossible to see. When in a room that is reasonably well lit or well lit if the keyboard lighting is inactive the transparent keys are all but impossible to see but the painted lettering is however easy to see. (In a poorly lit or well lit room with the keyboard lighting active, even at only minimum brightness all key icons / lettering are easy to see).

I suppose here is as good a place as any to note that the Caps, Num and Scroll Lock LED indicators are green and they do not change colour.

 

The frame of the keyboard is actually made from 3 sections, a flat section of black plastic on the top surface with a matching base. The base, however unlike the top also forms half of the edge of the keyboard frame as well. Between the bottom edge sections and the top flat sections of the frame is a white pearlescent plastic trim that lights up.

 

On the underside there are two retractable feet in the back corners which are easy to use without turning the keyboard upside down and are far from easy to accidentally retract. Towards the front edge in the corners are two triangular shaped non slip pads that could use some stronger adhesive, out of the box the edge of the pads have already started to lift. (I fear this is partly due to their shape and not just the quality of adhesive used).

 

The cable measures 4.6mm in diameter including the black nylon braiding and it is very flexible and incredibly easy to route out of the way. The cable is also fitted with a ferrite EMI suppressor albeit a small one located 5.2cm down the cable from the gold plated USB A connector.

 

Overall the build quality of the keyboard is very good, dare I say even pretty impressive for the price with everything fitting together well with no notable panel gaps nor other causes of concern.

 

LIGHTS.

The lighting features of the HAVIT HV-KB380L are perhaps a little basic compared to some keyboards, but what functions are on offer are well applied. The features on offer are…

RGB constant lighting with three different brightness levels and an RGB blending (fading in and out) mode with 10 different speeds (at the peak of each pulse the brightness is equal to the highest constant setting and between each pulse the light is briefly off).

 

By default, when the keyboard is first installed and each subsequent time the PC is switched on the keyboard lights up with the lights on constantly at their highest brightness setting. The keyboard lacks a memory and it will not remember what setting you left it at when switching your PC off.

 

As stated previously by default the keyboard lighting is on constant mode. To switch between a constant lighting, the blending mode and to switch the lights off tap the Menu button (located to the left side of the right hand control button). I’ll confess I’m surprised that you do not need to hold the FN key to operate this function, instead if you actually want to use the Menu button you have the hold the FN key. This could lead to accidental, unintended light changes.

When the lighting mode is set to constant hold the FN key and tap the Page up key to turn the brightness up or the Page down key to turn the brightness down (the manual states the brightness settings are 100%, 66%, 33% and off). When the light is in breathing mode, hold the FN key and tap + to increase the breathing rate or the – key to reduce it. (The + & – keys required to change the speed are those located to the left of the Backspace key and not those on the keypad).

Compared to many similar keyboards the light is not overwhelming and is best described as soft and subtle being entirely fit for purpose, rather than being overwhelming of chintzy. Mid or low brightness settings are suitable for dark or unlit rooms and the highest brightness proves suitable even for the most well it of rooms.

 

COMFORT.

Only one real comments to make here.

No included wrist rest 
When writing or using a keyboard for productivity this is less of an issue, but for gaming one really is required. While one can easily be obtained separately it will never be attached to the keyboard so when moving the keyboard. It does however mean that you can buy a nice comfortable foam pad like the Grifiti Fat Pad which is far more comfortable than any plastic bundled rest.

 

PRODUCTIVITY.

If all you are used to is a traditional membrane keyboard and you have never typed on a mechanical keyboard, you will find that the HAVIT HV-KB380L is a pleasure to type on. While it lacks the tactile response found with most mechanical switches the resistance offered from the domes & sliders will improve your accuracy and speed vs a traditional membrane board, not to mention provide you with a more pleasurable experience.

The lack of wrist rest for experienced typists is unnoticeable and one quite honestly is not required. There is one small problem however that should be noted regarding productivity use with the keyboard and that is the layout which is US and not UK. With the HAVIT HV-KB380L the biggest problem regarding a US layout for touch typists is thankfully absent. That problem is the shape and size of the Enter key which is thankfully UK in size and shape.

On a US keyboard the Enter key is the shape and size of a UK Shift key (single spaced and not double spaced) frankly all the other issues of a US layout are easy to adjust to.

 

Beyond the Enter key the most commonly used keys you will have to adjust to are changed locations of the @ ”  and the lack of a £ key, which shouldn’t take too long to remember. Don’t forget the key caps are replaceable, but a full set is not cheap.

 

GAMING.

The HAVIT HV-KB380L sports two specific gaming specific features…

First up are the Anti Ghosting combinations. The following keys will not cause conflict when any combination of these keys are pressed.

1. Tab + Caps + Shift + Ctrl + Q + W + E + R + T +A + S + D + F + G + Z + X + C +V +B + Space
2. Q + W + E + R + T + Y + U + I + O + P + Space
3. A + S + D + F + G + H + J + K + L + Space
4. Z + X + C + V + B + N + M + + + / + Backspace
5. Tab + Caps + Shift + Ctrl + Alt + Q + W + E + A + S + D + Z + X + C
6. Tab + Caps + Shift + Ctrl + Space + Q + W + E + A + S + D + F + G + Z + X + C + 1 + Up + Left + Down + Right.
7.  Shift L + Shift R + Ctrl L + Ctrl R + Alt L + Alt R + Space + Up + Left + Down + Right
8. A + S + D + F + J + K + l + Spacebreak

The second is that the WASD keys can be swapped with the directional arrows or vise versa. Hold FN and tap Q to switch between the settings. Anyone with any experience of gaming using the WASD keys for movement will well know that using the arrow keys for movement has some serious drawbacks. The reason that WASD is a perfect setup for most games is the ability to use a large number of keys for moving, crouching, going prone, jumping, reloading, use of flashlight and changing weapons with almost no movement of your hand.

If you move the WASD keys to the directional arrow keys on the keyboard, you leave, you will almost no keys within reach to use for any of these abilities. Coupled with the fact that almost all (although granted not all) games allow for keys to be reprogrammed from with the game, to me this function is of limited use.

Being able to move the directional keys without having to remap keys in game is however useful for exactly the opposite reasons noted against moving WASD to the directional keys.

For gaming the keyboard is somewhat like using MX brown switches, just much softer (less resistance) but they are also quieter to the point that the HAVIT HV-KB380L makes very little sound other the Enter and Space keys. The lack of a wrist rest is uncomfortable when gaming, but the US layout has no effect what so ever when gaming.

 

Thank you for taking the time to read this review, I hope it has been helpful to you. If you have any questions or comments regarding this review, please post a comment below and I will do my best to answer them.

HAVIT is a registered trademark of the HAVIT Group Est 1998.

Copyright © 2014-2016 EunoiaReviews. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any part of this site including images and video files is strictly forbidden without prior written consent.

 

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