We love to test hardware and software here at FCP.co. So when a new backlit Astra Final Cut Pro X keyboard from Logickeyboard arrived, it didn't stay in the box for long.
Are all keyboards the same? Does it really matter if you edit with an Apple low profile aluminium model or one of the new range of backlit keyboards that are now available.
I think it does. The new illuminated range of coloured keyboards help a lot.
The Logickeyboard Astra went straight into a bag and travelled to an FCPX job for a thorough test.
Three things I immediately noticed about the 'Astra' backlit FCPX.
First of all is the box, it's a very beefy box and good protection from the dreaded 'key pop off' problem if you have to transport the unit from suite to suite. Having knocked an old keyboard accidentally on the boot of my car in a rainy car park, I can assure you that getting keys back on in the wet and in a hurry isn't fun. The internal packing is slightly flimsy and was already torn when opened.
Second is the weight. I wouldn't describe it as heavy (over 2 lbs), but it has a very sturdy construction and is probably twice the weight of its direct competitor.
Third are the dual USB plugs on the end of the cable. This is because unlike the Editors Keys illuminated keyboard, it has two USB sockets on the back of the keyboard. As the post production industry could not function without thumb USB drives, this makes life a lot easier and removes the need for having a separate USB extension cable and/or hub plugged in. The grey plug is for the keyboard and the black is for the sockets. The cable won't split open enough to plug both USBs in either side of an older model MacBook Pro.
A USB stick is slightly awkward to get in, but you don't have to lift up the keyboard like previous Apple models. As it sticks out the back, you won't leave it there when you leave!
The first time you plug the keyboard in, a panel pops up asking for you to identify the keyboard, a couple of clicks and it's ready to go.
On to the keyboard 'feel' I have to be honest and say I don't like spongy keyboards, I like the clicky variety. The Logickeyboard's actions were slightly soft but positive and after a day I got used to the feel.
The keyboard has 5 brightness levels that you can rotate through by using the Function and the F5 for down and F6 for up key combinations. Turning the backlight off shows how much the illumination helps. I left it on its maximum setting.
The function key caused me slight confusion as it is positioned on the bottom right of the QWERTY block. This means that the CMD key is the fourth key in from the right instead of the third. When I was trying to feel my way across the keyboard to the CMD key, had to factor the new position in.
So the big question, which is better, the LogicKeyboard or Editors Keys?
The Logickeyboard is undoubtably of better construction. Both have good key illumination although I think the Logic has the edge as the key cap colours are not as dark. The Logic also has better key labeling, but there are some oddities like the V key showing +/- and not being labelled up 'Disable'.
The Editors Keys keyboard has a better key action for me, but I think the Logickeyboard will still going strong long after the other one has clicked once too often. However if weight is at a premium then maybe the much lighter Editors Keys version will work out better.
As for price, the Logic Keyboard's price is ex VAT and shipping on their website, so with that added it totals up to just under £112. The Editors Keys version is £100 plus shipping.
If I had to choose between the two? Logickeyboard wins.
Peter Wiggins is a broadcast freelance editor based in the UK although his work takes him around the world. An early adopter of FCP setting up pioneering broadcasts workflows, his weapon of choice is now Final Cut Pro X.