It would appear that my VicTsing I-500 review was well received, because people at VicTsing took notice and offered to send me a sample of the “bigger brother” to that keyboard. I’m talking about the I-600, a 104-keys model that currently retails for 37.99 £ on Amazon UK. Oddly enough, it’s not available on other national Amazon websites and retailers don’t send it to my country, so it’s a bit of a mystery why they sent me this particular model instead of something that’s actually more readily available to continental European customers, like the I-900.
But at any rate, this article is about the I-600, so let’s review it.
Packaging and content
The packaging for the I-600 resembles closely that of the I-500, with the notable difference of being longer to accommodate for a keyboard with a numeric keypad. Yes! Finally a keyboard in a form factor that I would actually use as my daily driver! By “resembles closely”, I mean it’s plain cardboard. Oddly enough, this one doesn’t feature any VicTsing logo on the top. The reason why this is is unfathomable to me and I can’t help it but think that VicTsing should really improve on the presentation of their packaging.
Opening the box reveals a similar spectacle to what we’ve seen with the I-500: the keyboard is inside a foam bag between two pieces of black foam. The cord is kept tidy by a Velcro strap and also includes a plastic keycap puller. Inside the foam bag is the manual, almost identical to that of the I-500 except for a few minor (and obvious) differences.
The connector that I liked so much in the other keyboard is still here, in all its glory.
The appearance of the I-600 is still pretty much the same: the bottom is plastic with 4 holes that purportedly should prevent damage from water spills and features the usual rubberised feet. The top is almost completely metallic, save for the keycaps themselves, made from rather cheap plastic and with legends printed on them.
The print quality leaves a lot to be desired and some letters are already starting to fade, which is unacceptable on a 10 € keyboard, let alone for one that costs almost five times as much. To add insult to injury, replacement keycaps aren’t exactly a common sight in Europe and a replacement set will cost you more than the keyboard itself.
This keyboard uses the same blue-ish switches of all other VicTsing keyboards. They’re decent enough, although I’m not exactly a fan of loud switches. I said it once, but I’ll reiterate: VicTsing should offer more switch variety for their keyboards, if they want to leave a dent in this niche market.
Like other VicTsing keyboards, the I-600 is only available in the ANSI layout. If you’re in the US, you’ll be fine with this, but if you’re based in the EU, you’re out of luck. In case you don’t know, the ANSI layout differs from the ISO layout in that it has one key less (the one between the left Shift and Z) and has a linear Enter key, as opposed to the reverse-L one.
Some people, especially in the sysadmin field, swear by this layout. I personally don’t like it, because I’m missing out on the less than and greater than keys, that are sometimes required to properly use the command line interface. It just feels weird.
I believe this is one thing that VicTsing should prioritize: offer more keyboard layouts, or at least one layout that’s suitable for European users.
Typing speed and comfort
Oddly enough, I was actually slower on the I-600 than on the I-500. I can’t be sure why this is. Sure enough, the typing speed testing I do isn’t the most scientific one ever devised and one may argue that there actually is no real “scientific” way of determining how a keyboard compares to another in terms of speed, because there are just way too many subjective variables at play.
But I would’ve never expected two otherwise identical keyboards to be this different in terms of typing speed. I really cannot figure out why this is. Probably I was just tired when I performed the test. Nevertheless, that speed is still decent, considering that I had to type on a layout I’m not very comfortable with. And this is also mirrored by the very high error rates, among the highest of any keyboard I’ve reviewed thus far. Maybe if I had a couple months to get accustomed to the I-600’s quirks, things would get better.
Again, if VicTsing offered an ISO version, my speed and error rates would’ve been much better.
The VicTsing I-600 isn’t that bad of a mechanical keyboard. For the asking price, you could do a lot worse. Sure, it’s still more expensive than a good rubber-dome keyboard, it’s noticeably louder and there are some cut corners here and there. And yet, it feels robust enough to be a good purchase if you’re looking for a keyboard that combines an affordable price with somewhat better durability than cheap rubber-domes.
If you can find one, this is actually a better product than the I-500 that I reviewed previously: the addition of a numeric keypad, while making it larger, is very welcome, for really speed numeric input up by a lot.
It may not be as accurate or fast as the Das Keyboard, but that’s a product that costs almost four times as much, so comparing them wouldn’t really be fair or make any sense whatsoever.
If you’re looking for an entry-level mechanical keyboard because you’re curious to try out a mechanical keyboard for the first time and don’t want or can’t afford to pay 100+ €, the I-600 is a valid choice, provided that you can actually find a seller that ships to your country.