Once upon a time all keyboards were mechanical. They were also expensive to produce, of course so it wasnt long before something cheaper came along. But those membrane keyboards werent perfect and many people still prefer the tactile sensations and improved accuracy even if it does come at a price.
But for some, that price is still too high with some keyboards reaching astronomical prices. There are, though, some cheaper options available if you dont want a lot of bells and whistles. At 69.99 on Amazon the Perixx 5200 hits a good spot.
Coming out of the box, the 5200 feels like a hefty machine. Its plastic but has a decent weight and sturdiness to it; this thing could probably stop a bullet, though that wasnt tested as part of this review. The only other things in the box are a usb-ps2 converter and a braided mini USB cable. The latter of which plugs into a nice little alcove under the machine that prevents any accidental tugs from damaging the port. A detachable cable also means that it can be easily replaced should you want to have a longer reach or have cats.
Setting it up with your machine is as simple as plug and play gets with no extra software dragging it down. Some might see the lack of options limiting but others will enjoy the negligible footprint this keyboard has on their machine. Of course this does mean that configurations are limited. Each key is nicely backlit with white LEDs but there's no option to change the colour or brightness. What you can do, though, is use MT+TAB to scroll through a couple of settings which illuminate the full board, the WASD keys or the arrow keys in sequence. The last option turns off the lighting entirely. One particularly nice feature, though, is the Game mode that can be turned on with a G key in the top right corner. This disabled the windows key so you don't accidentally press it during a gaming session.
The final bell and/or whistle is a macro option. There are eight M keys on the top row which can be used to record and play a sequence of key presses. Its nice, and very easy to set up, but because you don't have any software its also very limited. You can only record keystrokes and it doesn't take pauses into account so you wont be using them to go through your spell rotation in WoW at least not with a lot of ease. There's nothing stopping you from being clever and using them to set off the keyboard short-cuts from other macros for example.
But what about actually using it? Its an actual and genuine pleasure.
Every keystroke on those Cherry Blue switches registers with a physical and audible click. The first words of this review came about because it brings back romantic memories of writing on an actual typewriter. In a world where many people are using the keyboards that shipped with their PCs this keyboard is a revelation. You can actually feel your accuracy improve on some instinctive level; typos are fewer, touch typing is instinctive and there's less doubt where your finger is going to fall as you hammer away at whatever you're writing.
The benefits in gaming are less pronounced, but definitely there. There's no second guessing when, or whether a key is activated, and there's no issue with missed keystrokes but really, that's only a huge advantage if you game by mashing your fists against the keyboard.
One factor that doesn't fall into an easy pro or con, though, is that signature clackity clack of the Cherry Blue switches. For most this is a huge selling point, but for others it could well be a deal-breaker; they aren't quiet. Using it in a quiet office seemed to exaggerate the sound to distracting proportions, but not to the point where anyone complained. It was noticed over a couple of skype calls but only because it made typing sound a little on the aggressive side.
Since the Perixx 5200 is an entry level Mechanical keyboard some corners have been cut in the name of saving cost, but they've been done by losing extra features without a single compromise in quality. If you're mechanical-keyboard curious and don't mind a basic keyboard then this is the one for you. If you absolutely need intelligent macros and a million customisable keys then be prepared to spend a lot more. It gets an enthusiastic five stars.