Unboxing and Overview
A4Tech/Bloody do not have a webshop for hardware in the US, and so we begin directly with product packaging:
It seems everyone is going with a decorative outer sleeve and a cardboard inner box style packaging these days. The Bloody B720 product box comes in at 57 x 17 x 4.5 cm, and has the company logo- a bloody hand- all over it. It’s certainly making a statement already, and it is eye catching at the very least. On the outer sleeve we see mention of some of the features of the keyboard and also an illustration of it, thus giving out first look at the keyboard inside. A seal and flap on either side keep the inner box in place, which in turn is mostly black with the logo on top along with 2 further flaps. Good packaging so far!
Open the box and you see two compartments of items inside. The first, on the left, has the accessories. Here is a smaller box, a quick start guide, and a ziplock bag containing two screw. The box contains the removable mini wrist rest, which comes in bubble wrap, and has a textured hard plastic finish on one side and rubber feet on the other which will help keep it in place on your desk. It is screwed in place, presumably, and that should be where the provided screws come in. We will see about this soon.
Also here is another ziplock bag containing some keycaps and a keycap puller. We see these are for keys Q-W-E-R and also A-S-D-F, and these are black + white doubleshot ABS keycaps that have walls which are 0.94 mm thick on average, and look to be compatible with Cherry MX style switches. We can compare these keycaps to keycaps from a couple of more mainstream Cherry customers now, below we have Corsair, Bloody, Cooler Master from left to right:
The Bloody keycaps are the best of these three, although that’s not saying much given Corsair and Cooler Master have gone cheap on keycaps. The legends will not wear out on the B720 then (without the material itself wearing out), which is good to note.
The second compartment has the keyboard itself, and this comes in a white cardboard sleeve inside which is a bubble wrap casing all around. Great packaging here! The keyboard itself is a full size keyboard, and this particular version is in an ANSI layout with two profile keys and a scroll lock key rather than dedicated print screen or pause/break keys. No dedicated media buttons here in case that is a deal breaker for you. But it also happens to be one of the smallest full size keyboard in terms of space occupied coming in at 45 x 13.5 x 4 cm (without the wrist rest). There is a small glossy section on the top right which is likely backlit as well, and here we have some mode indicators as well as the Bloody logo. On the back we see rubber pads on the four corners, and then we also have two rubber feet which are a light red in color and can be raised to angle the keyboard:
Another place where we see the logo is on the back, and here we also note that the keyboard draws 5 V x 300 mA = 1.5 W. Not a whole lot of power, so USB 2.0 will suffice for both connection and power here. Speaking of which, let’s take a look at the cable now:
It is fairly thin and braided in a black and red sleeving, in 1.8 m long and ends in a male USB-A connector. Non-removable, but it is fairly sturdy at the keyboard end.
By default, Q-W-E-R and A-S-D-F come with orange silicone keycaps, which are also doubleshot. These have a textured finish as well and are easier on the fingers when using them often- gaming, for example. Replacement keycaps for Q-W-E-R/W-A-S-D are getting more and more common now for gaming keyboards, and Bloody has at least maintained keycap quality here- although these are not going to allow as much light through them as the standard keycaps. Inclusion of the other keycaps means you can go with all black too if that’s your preference.
Attaching the wrist rest is fairly easy, just place it and screw it down. This provides a resting surface for presumably your left hand as it is used in the WASD area.
We finally get to the switches themselves, after having removed some of the keycaps. Immediately catching my attention here was the raised area around each switch- and this is how Bloody is able to get spill resistance for the switches. If you happen to spill a drink, or perhaps even solid matter, on the keyboard then it would be either on the keycaps or on the top panel but will not get into the switch housing or on to the PCB. Secondly, we see the optical keys here- a light source on each switch (not the LEDs you are seeing in the picture above, the light source is built inside the switch) and a Cherry MX style stem on the switch which in turn goes up and down such that as it goes down it will interrupt the light to register the keystroke:
Note that this has the innards of a linear mechanical switch including a spring for resistance that in turn helps provide an actuation and bottoming out force. As a result of the mechanism, a linear motion is a must to register the keystroke and we have here what look like Greetech Black switches at ~65 cN actuation force with a 4 mm travel distance. No force diagram was provided when requested. The light itself is located at a depth of 1.5 mm meaning that is your actuation distance and this thus is in line with the newer “fast gaming” switches from Cherry, Kailh, Omron and more. This being said, if you are not a fan of linear switches- especially heavier linear switches- then you will be glad to know that Bloody has Lightstrike Blue and Lightstrike Red switches coming up soon (as Lightstrike 2 switches vs the LK Black which was Lightstrike 1). To no surprise, the new LK Red is a lighter linear switch and the new LK Blue is a clicky switch. In order to get the clicky effect, Bloody is using metal stems similar to that used in Alps/Matias switches so time will tell how they work out. It remains unclear how the upstroke does not trigger another keystroke, as it too interrupts the light signal, and Bloody did not answer that question.
The stabilizers on the longer keys are interesting as well- it’s similar to the Cherry stabilizers in that there is no wire and is easier to remove/install but also do not feel very mushy due to stronger “mating” points on either side of the switch. But what about the space bar where this is most noticeable?
Lots of doubleshot cutoff points aside, we see this is indeed a screwed in space bar. There are two light springs and the space bar is screwed from the bottom giving it very uniform and consistent feedback to applied force along the length of the keycap. This does mean installing and removing it is not as easy, however, and you need precise screwdrivers to even do this at all. Still not a perfect solution, this ended up going even more in the direction of costar stabilizers than Cherry stabilizers. It does feel very solid and satisfying to use though, so from that regard Bloody got it right.
The B720 does adopt a “standard” key spacing meaning a lot of aftermarket keycap sets will be available if you so desire. However, note that the raised edges/walls around each switch will be an issue with keycaps that do not slant away from the switch such as this one here:
With such keycaps, the edges/walls hit the keycap’s insides and block motion to the point where a keystroke may not even register. Good thing then that the included keycaps are decent in quality. The font used is slightly aggressive, and has also the doubleshot limitation of loops not being completed. Normally I would excuse the latter, and I will do so for 2016 too, but Ducky have showed it is possible to have doubleshot ABS/PBT keycaps with no such issues in terms of completing character loops.
Overall, this is a pretty solid keyboard despite the plastic everywhere. The switches are definitely unique and feel just like Cherry MX Black switches- very consistent too, and very smooth owing to the lack of mechanical parts in the switch aside from the stem and the spring. As a quick reference, this is what typing on the keyboard (~100 WPM) sounded like from 6″ away, with gain turned up +10 dB:
You will find other sound bytes for the other keyboards reviewed here. I also tested for NKRO using Aqua’s test:
and key chatter using Switch Hitter:
and there were no issues there either. This was not surprising in that the actual processing of the keystroke is done digitally similar to most other keyboards, and the only differentiator here is the Cherry MX 6.0 using their RealKey analog technology. I mentioned then too about how there are multiple steps that cause input lag including keystroke registering and processing on the keyboard side, then the processing on the computer side before the display’s input lag even comes into picture. The claim of 0.2 ms key response time thus is for one of these steps only, so the overall response time before which you see the keystroke will not be vastly different. Or will it? It is near impossible to quantify that 0.2 ms response time claim, however Bloody knew they had to make a demo to show that still helps out a lot- they claim the metal debounce noise is a factor with mechanical switches wherein 25-30 ms is taken on purpose to get around it. So they developed a piece of software to help demonstrate the overall response time for keystrokes for their keyboards with the LK technology relative to other keyboards. This was aptly named Key Response PK, and here is how it looks:
It comes with two tests: Target PK and Knock PK. Both require two keyboards (or mice) to be connected to the same computer. Target PK asks the user to hit two different keys (one per keyboard) when the countdown hits zero, and it then measures which is faster. This has human error built in so I did not like it a lot. Knock PK on the other hand is based on using a solid bar to connect two different keys (one per keyboard) and then press them continuously. Both tests tell which key input was faster, and by how much relative to the other.
Here are the results of the Knock PK test of the Bloody B720 relative to a Corsair Strafe RGB- mechanical switches, digital processor:
I was pressing the space bar on the Bloody B720, and the right Alt key on the Corsair K70 RAPIDFIRE here. In all instances, the space bar registered faster and often by >15 ms. I tried the other way round too, and also with different other key combinations and it was no different. Sometimes the difference would be much smaller, however that could be a result of the connecting piece coming out of place despite being held by tape.
So the LK switches are definitely faster despite the RAPIDFIRE using the Cherry MX Speed (silver) switches with an even shorter actuation distance. What about the Cherry MX 6.0 and its analog Realkey technology?
Things are a lot closer here, and the Cherry MX 6.0 even takes the lead a couple of times. But the Bloody B720 is still faster more often than not. Not bad, Bloody, not bad at all. Being able to quantify helps out in that people can now see if they want to get that ~15-20 ms extra time in games per key stroke. If anything, it did show that simply lowering the actuation distance does not do anything. Hopefully Cherry, Kailh and others take notice. Finally, I did test this with non Bloody keyboards and mice as well as perform a blind test using someone else before concluding there was nothing fishy about the software itself and it was unbiased.
Let’s take a look inside the keyboard on the next page now.