Azio Izo Wireless Mechanical Keyboard Review: Form Over Function
I cannot stress enough how powerful the response the Azio Izo keyboard was when people saw it sitting on my desk. Few mechanical keyboards have large volume wheels attached to their frames, let alone styling them in a flashy reflective gold to pair them with a golden space bar and an escape key. Go beyond gold, and you’ll notice that the rest of its keys have a kind of rounded shape that almost makes them look like little pieces of candy.
Azio is no stranger to bold keyboard designs like these. Until now, his most notable keyboards have come from his Classic Retro Line. These literally attempt to mimic the look of old school typewriters with flat circular keys and metal frames. The result, as one of my colleagues pointed out, is a keyboard that looks like it can sink a sub and only supports COBOL coding.
I’m all for mainstream tech that is ready to embrace an eye-catching design like this, but when you spend $ 129.99 on a keyboard, it has to do more than just generate big reactions from everyone who sees it. see. After spending a week using the Izo as the main working keyboard, I feel that its functionality does not match its design. It was launched on Kickstarter today alongside a matching mouse and calculator, and the plan is to deliver to donors in August. The keyboard’s MSRP is $ 129.99, but Azio also offers early discounts with its Kickstarter campaign that bring the price down to $ 79.99 and $ 69.99. For this review, I evaluated it at its full retail price.
From the photos at the top of this article and throughout the page, you probably already know if you like the look of the Izo. In addition to blue, the keyboard is also available in pink and white. But whatever look you choose, you get rounded white keys and a blingy gold escape key, space bar, and volume wheel.
I’m a huge fan of volume wheels like this, and Izo’s is no exception. It has a nice tactile feel and it worked perfectly whether I am using the keyboard in wired or wireless mode. Press the trackwheel to turn your computer’s sound on and off, while holding down the Fn key as you turn it to adjust the backlight brightness. However, the functionality of the volume wheel cannot be remapped.
The only problem with a volume wheel like this is that it takes up space, and space is at a premium on compact 75 percent style cards like this, which omit the number pad on keyboards. larger but still include a row of functions. The more compact key selection means you have to be smarter about what you include, and Azio has made some weird decisions when it comes to the Izo.
Most notably, there is no dedicated print screen key. Instead, you get, of all things, an Insert key, which is a key that in my nearly 30 years on this planet, I never accidentally pressed. Its print screen button, meanwhile, is hidden behind a function key. For me, this small omission has ruled out using the Izo keyboard for important work events where I have to take frequent screenshots. Without built-in support for key remapping, it’s not something that can be easily fixed.
The keys themselves are a bit of an acquired taste. Build-wise, they go well: a dual combination of tough PBT plastic and clear lettering to let the keyboard’s white LEDs glow (there’s no RGB support here). But their rounded design takes a bit of getting used to. I found my fingers slipping a bit on the rounded edges of the keys as I typed, as I missed the sharper raised edges you get on more traditional keys. I had no problem installing third-party keycaps, but good luck finding some that match the unique look of this keyboard. There is no angle adjustment on the Izo.
While most keyboards are designed for Windows and Mac after the fact, the Izo is primarily a Mac keyboard. Its bottom row has Option and Command keys, and while Windows and Alt captions are printed next to them, they’re smaller and don’t let the backlight shine through. It would have been nice to see Azio include replacement dedicated Windows keycaps like Keychron does. You can switch between Mac and PC layouts by pressing Fn + Home. Azio currently only produces this keyboard with a US layout (aka ANSI), but says it hopes to release additional layouts in the coming months.
The Izo works as both a wired and wireless keyboard, via USB-C and Bluetooth respectively, and a gold switch around the top of the board toggles between them. If you use it wirelessly, you have the option of pairing it with up to three devices (much like Keychron’s keyboards) and switching between them with a keyboard shortcut. The initial pairing process is a bit tedious and requires you to select one of three profiles before putting the keyboard into pairing mode. The Keychron process is more transparent.
Azio claims that the keyboard’s 5,000mAh battery should last a full year on a single charge if you use it with its backlight off, rising to two weeks of eight hours of daily use with it on (which, believe it). me, you will). It’s hard to compare directly, but Azio’s two-week battery life translates to around 112 hours of use, which is a bit higher than the 68 and 72 hours claimed by the Keychron K2 with its lights on, which is understandable given the larger battery in Azio’s map. . I was unable to get the Izo keyboard battery to run to zero during my review period, but after two days of wireless use, the built-in battery indicator said I had 60% charge left.
Baffles aside, the feeling of typing on the Azio Izo is fine as long as you like your clickable switches. The keyboard is only available with Gateron Blue switches, which means fans of tactile or linear switches will be out of luck. This is great for clicky switch fans like me, but if you’re not, or can’t afford your keyboard to be a little cacophonous, then Azio isn’t interested in taking your money. The Izo is not hot-swappable or, which means that changing its switches will only be possible with a soldering iron.
I’m just going to go out and say it: I think Azio’s Izo keyboard looks great. It has the kind of strong, eye-catching design that I wish more mainstream tech would embrace. It won’t be for everyone, but if you’re in it, you’re in it.
But you’re going to have to put up with a bit of hassle if you want to enjoy the look of this keyboard. The key selection is odd, it comes with a limited range of switches and the keys are an acquired taste. The Izo might sound like the part, but he’s struggling to play it.
Photography by Jon Porter / The Verge