Epomaker Keyboard: NT68 Review
With the development and upcoming release of the NT68 keyboard, Epomaker has, once again, brought together creative minds and talented engineers to create a product that delivers quality and performance for the end user. From the unboxing experience, to cycling through and customizing the RGB lighting, and, of course, typing and gaming, the NT68 exudes quality. Let's take a look at this unique keyboard together and see what it has to offer!
Inside the box, you'll find the NT68 itself, as well as a collection of accessories, including spare switches, USB cables, keycaps, and so on. The stand out here is, of course, the extra spacebar with an adorable panda on it. It just wouldn't be the same without it, would it?
The NT68 lies in the box with one of its greatest features already equipped: the magnetic case.
The Magnetic Case, Cover, Stand, and Dock
Again, the magnetic case that comes with the NT68 is one of its greatest strengths. When taking it out of the box, the most obvious use of the case is already at play: as protection for the board itself. When closed around the board, the case holds itself together with a thick magnetic strip that fastens on the rear of the board. It takes a decent amount of movement to get the case to begin unfolding. This ensures that the case will not accidentally come loose from around the board while it's being carried in a bag or backpack.
When it's time to use the keyboard, segments of the case unfold while a portion remains attached to the bottom of the board. While you can choose the remove the case entirely for use with a conventional setup, keeping the case on the bottom of the board, in my experience, improved the board's acoustics and provided a more muted sound.
Soft, rubberized pieces on the inside of the case allow you to prop up a phone or tablet in front of the keyboard with the case unfolded. While testing the NT68 with my Android tablet, these grippy pieces prevented my tablet from moving from side to side, even while typing at upwards of 100 words per minute.
This case can even be used to prop up the keyboard itself at an angle. During my testing, even though this mode was unconventional, it was not so different that it impacted my typing experience. Having the keys elevated at an angle forces the user to raise their wrists, which could be seen as a plus in the ergonomics department.
Of course, a magnetic cover can only be as good as the board it protects... and Epomaker have outdone themselves with the design and build quality of the NT68. There are a few components that come together beautifully to provide a unique typing experience.
The NT68 features a hotswap PCB compatible with both 3 pin and 5 pin switches. I had the pleasure of testing out Skyloong's 5 pin chocolate switches, with my board being equipped with chocolate reds. These switches feel solid stock, with low levels of stem wobble. (Gateron switches will also be available during the Kickstarter for those who prefer them.)
The NT68's keycaps are PBT with a red, white, and black colorway that catches the eye while complimenting the aluminum body. The thickness of the keycaps contribute to the satisfying, muted tone of the board.
The NT68's stabilizers come lubed straight from the factory. Space, backspace, and enter (among other stabilized keys) all feel smooth and consistent with no modification required to the board.
The top and the sides of the NT68's body are made of aluminum, with the bottom being plastic. The bottom of the body also features rubber feet for added stability. In the hand, the NT68 strikes a balance between heft and portability. While it gives off an impression of quality, the aluminum case is not so heavy that it would be burdensome in a bag or backpack.
In addition to providing a premium build quality, Epomaker and Skyloong have packed the NT68 with features that provide extended usability and flair.
The NT68 features modes for Windows and Mac. These modes are tied to programmable layers that are saved onto the board. These layers are editable via software available for both Windows and MacOS. With this software, users can get creative and unlock the potential of the NT68 for productivity. Not only can most keys be remapped to other keys, media functions, and even combination keypresses, but macros can be created with the software and saved to the board. For keyboard users who find themselves performing repetitive actions, this is a deeply valuable feature.
Not only does the NT68 feature RGB, but 5 of the lighting presets saved to the board are editable with the same software. Users can choose from a library of effects provided by Epomaker, and they can even make their own and share them with others. And should a user wish to forgo RGB altogether, a simple Function key combo disables lighting.
For users that want to connect the NT68 to multiple devices on the fly, Bluetooth connections with the board are handled via Function key combos. Switching between any of the 3 saved Bluetooth connections is snappy and incredibly simple. As a side note, the NT68 features Bluetooth 5.1, providing a more stable experience.
Epomaker has also provided a litany of media functions and shortcuts available via the top row of keys, including brightness and volume control. This places more control over their devices right at the user's fingertips.
All in all, Epomaker has produced an outstanding keyboard for anyone seeking out a portable typing experience that cuts no corners. Packed with features and an intelligent design that incorporates the magnetic case in unique ways, the NT68 occupies its own niche without feeling like a gimmick. No other board makes for a better travel companion!