The Hcman Gaming Keyboard: An Inexpensively Reliable Mechanical Keyboard!

Hey everyone, welcome to another edition of “Games with Coffee!” Continuing where I left off with the G502 Proteus Spectrum Mouse, I’d like to talk about my next acquisition: a mechanical gaming keyboard! This thing ain’t no Razer, or a Logitech Gaming Keyboard by any means, but it lights up, has that special, clicky mechanical feel, has various configuration options and all for a fraction of the price of the more high end keyboards available! This is the Hcman (HOW do you pronounce that?!) Mechanical Gaming Keyboard!

20171028_170554


Backstory

I have an ASUS Transformer laptop. It was the perfect unit to type stories and blog posts on due to it being compact, lightweight and easy to use. Well, it used to be perfect because only a few months ago, my keyboard dock started to fritz out on me and I lost the ability to type the ‘C’ and ‘S’ keys! I looked up solutions, applied BIOS updates and generally mashed the keys to force it to work once more, but it was no use: the keys were toast and are currently not working at all. So I had to find a new solution.

I first tried a wireless keyboard with a USB input. Things were going good for the first month until it ultimately crapped out on me. Anything I connected the USB reciever into – laptop, Raspberry Pi, etc. – the device couldn’t recognize the keyboard, so it became a useless paperweight that I bought for about $20…

Learning from my mistake, I decided to get a gaming keyboard with mechanical switches. They’re durable, the back light makes it easy to work in the dark and the clicking sounds they make were oddly satisfying to me. I didn’t have the scratch to plonk down for a high end keyboard, but I also didn’t want to cheap out either. After doing my research on Amazon, I settled on the Hcman keyboard, which (and I may be biased here) was an amazing purchase!


The Keyboard

For a roughly $40 keyboard, the quality is not that bad. The top has a sandblasted aluminum finish, with the company’s logo milled onto the surface between the arrow and page up/down key areas. It gives it a nice, upscale look. The bottom is plastic with rubber pads on the corners to keep it from moving when on a surface. r Each row has its own coloured back light; from top to bottom, orange, white, green, violet, blue and red.

20171216_104415_HDR

Look at those colours!

The keyboard actually quite compact: measuring in at about 14″ long by 5″ wide (355 mm x 127 mm for the metric folks). There’s no number pad on this board, hence why it’s smaller in size compared to other keyboards. There are a total of 87 keys on the board.

They keyboard has an anti-ghosting or NKRO (N-key rollover) feature, which allows a user to press multiple keys at once; perfect for gamers who need to press multiple keys to accomplish various actions.

The keys have a nice, clicky feel to them and look extremely durable. They’re a bit noisy, but I feel in a state of zen whenever I type on it. The noise, however, may annoy others around you; My wife hates whenever I use it and she complains that it’s always too loud.

The keycaps can be replaced, thanks to the included key removal tool, so it’s easy to customize the keyboard to however you like.

20171028_170806

I think the coolest part about this keyboard is the multiple lighting effects! There are nine in total, including pulsating, wave, scrolling and ripple, among others. Another neat feature included on the board is the capability to customize your key back lights for various games! There’s a built in RTS (real time strategy) and FPS (first person shooter) configuration, which lights up only the keys that you would use for those games, but there are three additional profiles that can be reprogrammed to suit your specific game. For instance, I have one specifically tailored to Path of Exile and another for emulation. Customizing the board is extremely simple; select the empty profile by hitting FN + 1, 2 or 3, hit FN +Esc to start recording, type the keys that you use for the game you’re playing and then hit FN + Esc to end the recording and save it to the board!

Performance-wise, I’m very pleased with it. The keys are very responsive and connecting it to my laptop was incredibly easy; just plug in the braided USB cable and you’re set!   I’ve put it through its paces by writing posts and my fanfic and I’ve had no problems doing either. If you’re a writer or enjoy writing, I recommend that you pick up a mechanical keyboard over all others. There’s even a back light setting specifically tailored for the office. It doesn’t do anything for the noise however…

I think the only complaint I have about this keyboard is how people complain how noisy it is. I love the sounds myself, but again, the noise may drive others crazy… Others may not like the fact that the number pad is not included with the unit, but I personally don’t miss it.


Right now, you can pick it up on Amazon for $39.99 CAD with free shipping, which I think is a great price for a mechanical gaming keyboard. If you’re looking for a great gift this Christmas, either for your favourite mature, distinguished gamer, or for yourself (because you gotta treat yourself at times!), I highly recommend this.

Stay tuned for the next edition coming very soon: Christmas is next week and if you’re looking for some last minute gaming gift ideas for your favourite person, then I have a few ideas for you!

Once again, this has been Ryan from “Games with Coffee,” reminding you to Keep Gaming and Keep Brewing. See you next time!

 

A Reminder to Take Good Care of Your Games!

Good morning and welcome to another edition of “Games with Coffee.” How’s everyone doing?

Today’s post is more of a PSA than anything else. Let me set the scene here:


Last month, I went on a cruise up the West Coast, starting from Los Angeles CA and ending in Vancouver BC. As part of my trip preparations, I decided to take my GCW-ZERO system with me, mainly to play a Super Mario Bros. 3 hack.

Now, I’ve had this particular system for a couple years and while it’s a great and versatile unit, it also has its flaws that I didn’t address, or attempt to address at the time. The D-pad didn’t sit well on the unit, and made it register an up-left input instead of a direct up input whenever I pressed the up button. Also, the A button, had a tendency to stick, which made run-and-gun games like “Super Metroid” difficult or nearly impossible to play. Even though there are ways to address those issues, like using silicone grease or taking apart the unit and replacing the buttons with new ones that improved playing performance, I decided not to address them and carry on.

Big mistake.

Long story short, as soon as I got on the plane to LA, the D-pad stopped responding. I tried playing using the stick only to find that control was awkward and uncomfortable after a period of time; it just wasn’t the same. Thus, I was without my preferred system almost the entire trip, which, while only mildly inconvenient, was still annoying nevertheless.

If I was more proactive, I would have addressed these issues much sooner. Thankfully, the guys who manufactured the GCW-ZERO have partnered with a 3-D printing company called Shapeways that provide improved replacement buttons for the system. I’ve ordered and received a full set and I’ll be undergoing the painstaking task of taking apart the system, installing the components and putting it back together again. (Apparently, the process is quite hard. Wish me luck!)

20170602_143650

My next personal project.

This leads me to today’s PSA: Please, please, PLEASE, take care of your systems and games! As mature, distinguished gamers, we pay a lot of money to indulge in one of our favourite hobbies, so it’s important that you make sure your systems and your games are in perfect working order. Proper maintenance will allow you to enjoy gaming to your heart’s content, without worrying that your system will break down or that your games will crash. And if you suspect that something may be wrong, whether it’s major or minor, get it looked at ASAP. It could mean the difference between either getting it repaired without cost or spending hundreds of dollars on getting your stuff replaced.


Do you guys have any stories about maintaining your systems and games? Share them in the comments below! And stay tuned to for the next edition, because I’ll be talking about a video game music site that’s dear to my heart: OverClocked ReMix!

This is Ryan from “Games with Coffee,” telling you to Keep Gaming and Keep Brewing. See ya next time!

 

Travelling Essentials for the Mature, Distinguished Gamer

Good morning and welcome to another edition of “Games with Coffee.” Summertime’s almost here and with it, comes the desire to travel. As mature, distinguished gamers such as ourselves, whether it’s within the country (Canada’s turning 150 this year, so now’s as good a time as any to explore this great land), across the border or overseas, we know that boredom while travelling is an inevitability. You can only watch the same scenery, read that same travel magazine, watch that same movie or socialize with your co-travelers so much. Even when you’re at your destination, after all the sightseeing, visiting friends and relatives, eating exotic and delicious food and shopping the local deals, sometimes, along with proper rest, you just need some downtime for yourself. After all, you’re on vacation! Downtime’s important!

Fortunately, I have a list of essential items I always bring with me during my travels, both to keep me occupied during the journey and to keep me relaxed while I’m at my destination. And no, it’s not just video games either!

20170527_081730

As you can see before you

Here’s the list:

Video Games (Obviously)

What better way to start this list than the types of games to bring? For me, portables are my go-to for travelling; they’re easy to store, easy to charge and there are lot of great titles available. I usually take my GCW-ZERO: an excellent little system that plays a huge variety of games, either emulated or homebrew. Other times, when I get the urge to play some classic Playstation games like Final Fantasy VII, Crash Bandicoot or Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, I turn to my PSP or PS Vita. For my Nintendo fix, I have a Nintendo DS Lite – another great choice due to the compact size of the unit.

A couple of honorable mentions:

The Nintendo 2DS/3DS – I never owned this upgrade to the DS, but it has an impressive library of games, including remakes of all-time classics like “Starfox 3D,” “Ocarina of Time,” and “Majora’s Mask.”

The Nintendo Switch – The latest console from Nintendo, it’s a hybrid between a traditional console and portable handheld system. By looks alone, it’s impressive. My cousin has one and he’s convinced me that it’s a worthy system for travelling. I’m hoping to get one of my own soon, so I’ll update this post once I get and test it out on a trip.

Chargers and Power Banks

No self-respecting gamer would bring a portable system with them without a way to recharge the batteries! It’s a bit of extra wires to bring with, but the convenience they bring outweigh the space it takes up in your bag. However, if you’re planning on taking multiple systems, expect to bring a charger for each one…

Thankfully, companies nowadays have made the realization that gamers don’t want to lug around a bunch of proprietary chargers: take for example the PS Vita, it charges using the ever-popular USB Micro-B plug, ubiquitous with practically every smartphone in existence. So instead of carrying two chargers (one for the phone and the other for the system), I’d only need one, which helps in the space and weight saving department.

For those times when you’re on the go and have no access to an outlet, power banks are a godsend. I have a slim, 10400 mAh capacity power bank that’s perfect for juicing up all my systems along with my phone. I also try to keep it at or near full capacity at all times, in case an emergency happens and my phone battery is dead.

Laptop

I own an ASUS Transformer: a hybrid between a tablet and a laptop. It’s the perfect laptop to bring on a trip – it’s small and it’s powerful enough for me to play emulated games and ROM hacks. I don’t just bring it to play games though, because my laptop serves two other purposes – to maintain the vacation budget and for me to write. Whether it’s in my hotel room, a cruise stateroom or at a relative’s house, I try to take every opportunity I can to do some writing. Speaking of writing…

 Notebooks and Pens

Along with video games, writing is a big passion of mine. I’m currently writing (re-writing actually) a fanfic (don’t judge!) that’s been rattling in my head for the better part of a decade. So, to help me actually finish this thing, I’ve taken to writing down rough notes about character dialogues, setting descriptions, action sequences and the like for each and every chapter of the fic, in a notebook which I carry around with me everywhere, even on vacation. The fact that I’m in a foreign location, away from the daily grind of home life, helps me to focus and churn out some high quality rough notes. That’s why I never travel without my notebook and several pens – you never know when inspiration will hit!

Headphones

Headphones are an absolute necessity for me when I’m travelling. I usually take a wired set of earbuds mainly for my gaming systems when I play during my downtime or at nights when I don’t want to disturb my wife’s slumber. When I want to listen to music, I go to my set of Skullcandy Uproar Bluetooth headphones. They don’t take up a lot of real estate in my bag, they have amazing battery life and the sound’s top notch. Playing video game music while you’re traveling to or staying at your destination makes me feel like I’m on an adventure of my own, and it also helps to get my creative juices flowing for my writing when I’m on vacation.

Books

Ah, the staple travel item for many people; a really good book. Books make excellent travelling companions, plus, they give your eyes a break from staring at a screen for long periods of time. On my last trip, I took with me a book called “Mistborn,” the first book in the “Mistborn” series written by Brandon Sanderson. It’s a great-high fantasy book, taking place in a post-apocalyptic, medieval world full of witty, memorable characters, a brilliant magic system and a well-thought out heist that hinges on overthrowing an immortal emperor-god. Bottom line, it’s really good​.

Change of Clothes, a Toothbrush and Spare Change

Why do I have these items as part of my essentials? Simple; because years of playing RPG’s have taught me to be prepared for the unexpected. For example, if I’m at the airport and I’m either booted off of an overbooked flight (Thanks, United) or if my flight’s cancelled and I end up having to stay at a hotel until the next flight or even when I arrive at my destination, but my luggage is halfway to the other side of the world, I know I have a set of spare clothes and a toothbrush with me so I can maintain some form of cleanliness. I also bring spare change, just in case my debit/credit cards don’t work or if my wallet gets misplaced or stolen. Remember, you can never be too prepared!


So, those are my essentials for when I’m travelling. What do you think? Got anything to add to that list? Put it in the comments below! And stay tuned for the next edition, where I talk about the need for taking care of your precious consoles and handhelds.

So, once again, this is Ryan from “Games with Coffee,” telling you to Keep Gaming and Keep Brewing. Happy travelling!