Keypads aren’t really talked about that much. Playing lots of games with a mouse and keyboard is generally fine, but the lack of analog support can be a pain. After doing some errant web browsing, I learned about keypads, which allow people to use a mouse with their dominant hand, while using their thumb on an analog stick without having to awkwardly hold a controller. But the problem with most keypads is the other buttons. They don’t seem all that comfortable, and having to stretch to hit the keys must feel like a worse version of using a keyboard — until the Azeron Cyborg, at least.
The Azeron Cyborg doesn’t have keys like other keypads. The device looks like a trophy one might have after the robot from the future that was chasing them got crushed in some sort of press. It resembles a hand and lets you rest your palm on something similar to a palm. But instead of rows of awkward keys, there are rows of clicky keys that are all quite literally right at your fingertips. It’s these that truly set this keypad apart from the others and, honestly, the design is quite ingenious.
I expected to have some trouble getting the thing set up. I’d never used anything of the sort before, but most things in life are needlessly difficult. I opened the box up, put the Azeron Cyborg on my desk, plugged in a USB cable, and downloaded the software. I figured more would be necessary, but nope. The software is extremely simple to use. You merely click on one of the Cyborg’s keys and set it to any button on your keyboard ,or drag and drop any keys already designated. I truly can’t imagine an easier set-up.
Each row of keys corresponds to your four fingers. These keys are set in towers, each of which can be posed and angled after loosening screws with the included screwdriver. The placement of the Azeron Cyborg’s towers was actually quite comfortable for me right out of the box, but I did end up adjusting them some. You’re meant to rest your fingers on the four front-most keys, but there are rows behind those at multiple angles. The topmost keys are upside down. It takes some serious getting used to, but it’d have to, considering that the solutions it provides are pretty brand new, as far as I know.
It’s weird to move my fingers upward to hit keys, but it actually works well. Finally, there are a couple of keys on the side. No matter what kind of game you’re playing, you’ll have enough buttons without using a keyboard. Then there’s one of the main focuses of any keypad — the joystick. Via the software, you can set the joystick to emulate an Xbox one, register it as a computer joystick, or set it to emulate WASD. Just like setting your keys, this is easy to do even if you switch back and forth.
The Azeron Cyborg’s joystick is, naturally, on the right side of the pad. Much like the keys themselves, using this also takes some practice, as you’re unlikely to be used to moving a joystick with your palm facing downward. The stick is responsive and even has a click, so all the usual comforts are included. Since the angle is strange, you can freely adjust the angle of the stick so that all the directions are where you want them. Like with the towers, you can angle the section the stick sits on for comfort.
The world isn’t ready
One of my few issues with the general design of the Azeron Cyborg is that I did want the joystick closer to me, as I sort of have to hold it in a way that feels just a hair less than normal. Granted, it’s not a big deal. But the lone key above the stick that you’re meant to hit with your thumb is more of a problem because it’s so far away that it’s hard to use. Thankfully, there are many other keys available to mitigate this. If your hands are larger, you may even appreciate this.
It’s also worth mentioning that there’s a smaller Cyborg called the Cyborg Compact that might have been a better fit for me, but I’m definitely happy with the regular-sized Cyborg. Another thing of note is that Azeron’s site has a wide range of customization options that allow you to personalize your device. You can pick whatever colors you want on whichever part of the Cyborg. Doing this on the site didn’t work well enough for me to really get the most out of it, though. You can also customize a nameplate. The Azeron Cyborg is pricey, but this is a seriously high-quality peripheral.
You may be wondering whatthe catch is. And, unfortunately, there is one. But it has absolutely nothing to do with Azeron or the Cyborg. Simply put, a lot of games aren’t designed for a joystick to be used with a mouse and keyboard. A lot of games do allow it, though. I tested about 15 different games and found that half of them supported it, and the other half didn’t. It comes down to what the programmers decided, which is kind of irritating since the Cyborg would work perfectly if not for this.
It’s out of my hands
Too many games have their input functions programmed in such a way that when you switch from a joystick on what the game thinks is a gamepad to keys or a mouse, there’s a short delay where inputs can’t be registered properly, which is more than enough to make a game unplayable. It’s kind of weird to think about since the keys on the Cyborg register as an entirely different device than the joystick despite them being on the same thing.
The aforementioned WASD function exists to mitigate this, but using an analog stick that only has four directions feels kind of bad. It’s usable, but it’d be much nicer if the unnecessary input delay didn’t exist in so many games to begin with. On the other hand, a couple of my games didn’t even accept the Xbox emulation of the joypad whatsoever.
Worth it for some
Overall, I’m very fond of the Azeron Cyborg. It’s a fairly ingenious device with high build quality and an innovative approach to keys. If you’re in the market for a keypad or just want to use just one digit to control movement instead of four, this is a great choice that, depending on the game, will open up your movement potential and make it easier to access functions. It can be tough to get used to and a little awkward depending on your hand size and preferences, but this could certainly be a game changer for some.