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[nextpage title=”Introduction”]In 2008, designer Artemy Lebedev presented the Optimus Maximus keyboard that features a tiny OLED screen on each key. The device can customize every single one of the 113 keys with colored images representing applications and functions. It costs a steep price of USD 1,500; therefore it is beyond the reach of us mere mortals. Inspired by the Optimus Maximus, OCZ is releasing a cheaper option with the Sabre gaming keyboard that features nine monochromatic (amber) customizable OLED keys. It costs about USD 125 which means you won’t leave the store wearing a barrel for clothing.

Sabre keyboardFigure 1: The Sabre keyboard.

The OLED technology bears explaining: it’s an acronym for organic light-emitting diode; unlike LCD, whose pixels require a backlight layer, OLED pixels provide their own light. The technology is behind the nine (rather large) keys on the left side of the keyboard which can be configured to display application icons, digital images or text. This allows for immediate recognition; instead of having to memorize that the “G5”key, for instance, launches Photoshop, the user just need a quick glance to the key bearing the icon. We usually use a Logitech G15 (reviewed here) and always end up hitting the wrong function key due to forgetfulness.

Sabre keyboardFigure 2: The customizable OLED keys.

[nextpage title=”Sabre Configuration and Description”]The Sabre is a big keyboard – a tad bigger than the Logitech G15 – and features a dark-blue body with integrated rubberized palm rest. As we already mentioned, the OLED pixels are on the left side. The normal keys are excellent for typing, making the Sabre one of the best keyboards we reviewed for this purpose (we finished translating a book with it and the Saber improved our performance just for the sheer typing comfort). Unfortunately the keys are not backlit but you can always rely on the blue LEDs on each side for light source while gaming in the dark. There is no USB hub also.

Sabre keyboardFigure 3: Side blue LEDs.

The application software is very intuitive and easy to use. It opens up a grid of the nine keys so the user can program them like a puzzle, offering the most common options (Word, Photoshop, Messenger) and commands like copy, paste and save as. For the command the use needs to easily record some macros. The Sabre has a 128MB flash memory to save the configurations. Once plugged to the PC, it functions as a external drive where the software and PDF manual are stored. A neat solution.

Sabre keyboardFigure 4: Configuring the OLED keys.

The program goes beyond the initial nine options by allowing the creation of layers associated with each key, so additional commands and functions can be configured. You can set the keys for tactical commands in complex action games like Call of Duty by recording macros. The user can attach any digital image (size 64 x 64 pixels) to a key if it’s in the following formats: bmp, gif, jpg, jpeg, png, mng, jng, ico, cur, tif, tiff, tga, pcx, wbmp, wmf, emf, j2k, jp2, j2c, jpc, pgx, ras, pnm, pgm, ppm, ska, nef, crw, cr2, mrw, raf, erf, 3fr, dcr, raw, dng, pef, x3f, arw, sr2, mef, orf.[nextpage title=”Playing and Working with the Sabre”]Our only gripe with the Sabre is the rather large size of the OLED keys that ends up increasing the final size of the keyboard. But it’s a tremendous help for quick function recognition. You can’t forget that a certain key launches World of Warcraft when you can see the icon with a quick glance. The Sabre is also one of the best keyboards we tested for endless hours of work and switching applications due to the excellent typing experience and the programming of commands like save as, copy and paste.We would prefer to have backlit keys while gaming instead of the side illumination provided by the blue LEDs (at least the WASD cluster could be backlit anyway). But the Sabre excels with the OLED keys multi-function capability. And the rubberized palm rest helps the user to have a comfortable gaming – and working – experience.[nextpage title=”Main Specifications”]

The OCZ Sabre keyboard main specifications are:

  • 103-Keys
  • Nine dynamic user programmable OLED displays
  • Tilt design 5 to 10 degrees
  • Integrated rubberized palm rest
  • On-board Storage: 128 MB flash memory
  • Connection: USB 2.0
  • Blue LED sidelighting effect
  • Amber OLED key lighting
  • Dimensions: 20 1/2" x 7 11/64" x 1 7/32" (52.2 x 18.2 x 3.1 cm) (L x W x H)
  • Weight: 2.7 lbs (1.2 Kg)
  • More information: https://www.ocztechnology.com
  • Average price in the US*: USD 125.00

* Researched at https://www.shopping.com on the day we published this review.

[nextpage title=”Conclusions”]Strong Points:

  • Affordable OLED technology at a reasonable price
  • Limitless command and macro configurations
  • Nice typing experience
  • Friendly configuration software
  • Good for gaming and excellent for working

Weak Points:

  • OLED keys a little too big
  • No backlit (normal) keys
  • Lack of a USB hub