I just received something quite special and unique from a small brand called Azeron. It is unlike anything I have used for gaming so far, both in the good and the bad way.
What started out as a unique showcase of DIY talent back in 2017 has now evolved into something much more market-friendly and directed towards the small niche of users who like to macro everything onto their keyboards and also beyond, so gamepads and now gaming keypads. The Azeron product is about that too, but it’s also about experimentation and customization on a whole new level with a few really interesting quirks. Let me tell you about my experience using this thing in game, which is both extremely frustrating and fantastic at the same time.
All right, so let’s start from the beginning, Azeron gets huge props for trying to cater to all gamers, this means you get to choose left or right hand option. Choosing the size of the game pad based on your hand size with a handy printout. Then choosing the right wrist rest, either flat or curved. I get both but prefer the curved one because for my hand size it just gives me much better ergonomics. The flat one is a bit too flat and finally you choose the color combination to fit your setup. That doesn’t cost extra, so there is no bling, no RGB illumination. The colors you choose is what sets it apart in terms of peripherals and design and I don’t mind that per finally have a gaming peripheral without RGB. Nice. The downside here is wait time as it may take up to 25 days for this thing to be produced. However, given this whole thing is 3D printed, I think the €150 EUR/$164 USD price is pretty fair given this thing is the most unique gaining keypad on the market right now.
Let’s take a closer look at this gaming keypad. I don’t know how you all feel about this, but I kinda like the rough texture on the body and on the nail triggers. It doesn’t feel as polished as some mass produced accessories, but it is one of the unique quirks and I prefer it to glossy plastic. The plastic frame feels good, the extensions on the fingers have some density to them, and you can adjust/position/secure the button towers very well with the cute little included screwdriver. It’s well-grounded too thanks to its weight and the rubber pads at the bottom.
Here it is next to my Ducky One 2 Mini mechanical keyboard for size reference, so if you’re looking to save on desk space this keypad should meet that requirement.
Now the first hiccup I encountered with this keypad when plugging it in is that my computer did not actually recognize it. This is because I plugged it into a USB 3.0 port. To fix that I had to plug into USB 2.0 port, install the drivers and update the firmware for it to finally work on the USB 3.0 ports, keep that in mind. Now let’s get to the fun part, the 26 custom buttons, the five-way directional pad, and the full analog joystick. Everything is customizable with two onboard profiles that you can switch on-the-fly with the button on the side or endless profiles through the software, more on that later. The switches are not your traditional keyboard swishes, instead they are using micro switches, the same type used in mice. They are very tactile, have short travel distance, are easy to press, and they are fairly quiet. The few unconventional locations on the button towers give you six buttons for the point finger, five for the middle, and four for the rest. At the bottom you can loosen them up, adjust the actual distance of each finger tower based on your hand size and based on your finger length, which is a actually perfect. You can literally customize this fully to your hand so that none of the controls ever feel weird or out of place, and for that Azeron gets another huge thumbs up!
The button towers for your pointer and middle fingers are slightly larger, giving you extra buttons up top that are a little bit awkward to press and it’s actually easy to forget to use them. Everything else is a bit more in reach and a little bit more comfortable to use then those two top buttons. You definitely have to train yourself to figuring out how to use these in the most efficient way possible for your play style and for the type of games you play. It is precisely because of the switches that I had to completely rethink my gaming grip. The three fingers that are normally around the WASD area on the keyboard now had to activate all other key binds, and my thumb instead of hitting space bar all the time was in charge of movement with the analog stick. This is where the frustration kicked in because my finger memory for FPS was totally messed up. I’m not used to moving with my thumb because I’ve never owned a console, but this keypad would actually would be a great transition piece from a console towards PC gaming. It is kind of like combining the two in terms of ergonomics and customization, and it also gives you a little bit of that old school analog joystick movement. I literally spent hours reassigning key binds for my four fingers that are normally around the WASD area. It always felt a bit unnatural, especially for FPS.
For example, I cannot strafe as fast as I can with a keyboard because going left to right requires so much movement on the joystick. My thumb would also eventually slip, even with the included textural rubber pads. Remapping the movement to my natural WASD area was really unnatural because of the switch type used. Perhaps if you’re coming from a console, the analog joystick will feel totally natural to you, but not having that instant reaction between A and D on the keyboard made it impossible for me to do quick left and right strafing. It is much easier and much faster to do on the keyboard. This also includes going forward and backwards too, so it’s not just strafing left and right, it’s just generally not having that like instantaneous control of my character movement for FPS. I will say that if you want to skip the whole analog joystick navigation, you could also remap WASD to your three fingers and navigate that way. However, for me personally the travel distance and just not having the tactility that I’m used to on a mechanical keyboards made the experience a bit strange.
How about the games where this keypad is fantastic? Well basically any third-person perspective game will take advantage of that analog stick, Witcher 3 is a perfect example. Movement in that game is just much better with the Azeron gamepad, and having spent time on my shortcuts made a huge difference in my enjoyment of this product versus being frustrated by it. Witcher 3 is fantastic with a controller, and now with the gamepad having that analog movement gives you just a little bit more precise navigation with your horse, with your character, and all rewarding in the end. Red Dead redemption 2 is another perfect example where the joystick lets you do more precise movements while utilizing all 26 buttons… after a few hours of reconfiguring my key binds.
Honestly, that has been the most frustrating and time consuming experience of this whole testing, trying to see what works and what doesn’t in terms of all these buttons for your main fingers. The thumb is pretty occupied with movements, but where do you map out spacebar? Where do you map out Shift, Control, and Alt? Having to use my middle finger to press the spacebar is kind of bizarre, so you have to retrain physical memory/finger memory and just spend time training your hand so that your traditional WASD area and spacebar mashing are totally different. This thing did not work for me at all in FPS games, like Call of Duty, I just go back to the keyboard immediately, but for other games I can kind of train myself and force myself to use this gaming keypad and it actually becomes enjoyable. I did have to deactivate some of the keys in the beginning because I would activate them by accident, like the top buttons for your point and mingle middle fingers. They are just so awkward and for me it feels unnatural to be lifting my fingers away from the buttons that are the most used. It is still nice to have them in case you want to program them for something that you don’t use often, and you don’t want to have to reach for the keyboard shortcuts instead.
The way I would customize the switches is that I would go into a game, see what shortcut does what, then I would ALT+Tab into the Azeron software to reconfigure those buttons to the switches before heading back into the game. This way I don’t mess up any of my keyboard shortcuts, because if I go back to the keyboard all those shortcuts would then be different. This keypad lets you do everything that you want to do without any hassle on the software.
And lastly, the software package is still in the early stages, but I love the simplicity approach to this complicated product. You click a button, assign the key bind, and save to a profile. What you can do with the joystick is either have full analog Xbox stick, keyboard WASD, or both of them together. You can even calibrate the joystick for motion sensitivity and direction, so instead of moving forward when you press forward you can inverse the direction if that feels more comfortable for you. I have noticed a few instances in games like Assassin’s Creed Odyssey where enabling the joystick motion disables mouse support, which is strange. I did not experience that with Witcher 3, so that is something to keep in mind. I had to disable the joystick and just keep the WASD activated when I moved the joystick around. Thankfully in all other games the mouse was enabled while also giving me full joystick control.
To conclude, what this product made me realize is how I am never abandoning the keyboard for FPS gaming, but also how I have been kind of missing out. The totally unique approach to button mapping is both brilliant and a drawback since you have to reprogram your physical instincts and all the software keys. The fact that it’s 3D printed and custom made to your specifications makes it well worth the asking price. If you don’t feel quite right with a keyboard and want something that is a bit of a hybrid between mouse switches and a full analog joystick control this keypad would definitely be on my recommendation list. However, you have to accept the challenges that come with this kind of unconventional and almost unnatural way of clicking your binds. You just have to be willing to train and give it your all.
Let me know if you are using a gamepad or if something like this interests you. I suspect that it is catering to a very small niche of users, or gamers really since I wouldn’t necessarily use this for like productivity use. For that purpose I would probably rather get something like the Razer Tartarus V2 that is slightly cheaper and has a more conventional way of binding keys for that was area.
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