KnewKey's Rocksete is a stunning retro-inspired mechanical keyboard with JBL sound [Review]

Most people who buy a keyboard for their tablet will opt for something slim and portable that can be used wherever they go. KnewKey’s Rocksete is the total opposite of that. It’s big, solid and heavy, and designed to pretty much stay in the one place.

It’s also an amazing piece of kit, blending a quality mechanical keyboard (with LED dynamic backlighting), and JBL speakers. You can use it with a tablet, phone, and even a laptop thanks to the add-on holder. While you can take it out in public should you choose to, I wouldn't advise it if you want to get any work done. As an experiment, I set it up in my local coffee shop and it quickly drew an inquisitive crowd, and that was without any music playing.

I've always loved mechanical keyboards, and I fell in love with the design of the Rocksete the moment I saw it. The device looks good and has a real quality feel to it too.

The main thing you need to know about the Rocksete is the keyboard and speakers are completely independent of one another. They have separate batteries (the keyboard’s is 2200 mAh and the speaker’s is 4400 mAh), charge separately (using different cable types), and are turned on/off independently too. They also have separate Bluetooth IDs, so you need to connect to the keyboard to type with it, and connect to the speaker if you want to play music. The main benefit of this is you can play music from a different device to the one you’re typing on.

Fully charged, the speakers can deliver around 6 hours of use, while the keyboard will give you 14 days of typing, or a month on standby.

If you’re the sort of person who likes to just start using a product without bothering with the manual (like I am), then you’ll have to rethink that approach for the Rocksete. It looks simple enough -- with just four knobs on the overhang above the keyboard -- but you’ll likely need to refer to the user manual a fair few times.

Turning the speakers on or off is done by pressing knob D on the right, and this is also used to control the sound sensor which drives the lightbar on the keyboard, flashing along in time to the music. The brightness adjusts to match the volume.

Knob A on left controls pause, play and Bluetooth pairing. Knob B skips to the next track, while Knob C controls volume.

There’s an AUX input on the side of the speaker if you prefer to connect an audio device that way.

The sound quality is very good, as you’d expect from a JBL system, and when you power the speakers on it starts up like a throaty muscle car. There are 2x5W speakers and four bass radiators which deliver high quality 360° immersive cinematic audio.

The keyboard is switched on using the power key at the top right (press and hold it for three seconds), and there are keyboard combos for entering Bluetooth channel 1/2/3, activating pairing mode, and switching between different paired devices.

There are also a number of keyboard combinations for controlling the backlight -- adjusting the brightness, flashing frequency, and mode. Fn+Del lets you switch between the various lighting styles.

If you prefer to use the keyboard in wired mode that’s also possible and it’s easy to switch between wired/wireless.

There are 83 keys in total and the Rocksete uses Blue switches -- which produce a distinct click when typing, and deliver high tactile feedback -- perfect in keeping with the look of the product. A version with quieter Red switches may be introduced as an option later.

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Size-wise the keyboard clocks in at 346 x 233 x 110mm, and weighs 2.386kg. Along with the keyboard itself you get the integrated stand/spoiler which can be positioned at the back allowing you to place a laptop on top, and a USB-A to DC cable for charging/powering the speaker and a Micro to USB-A cable for the keyboard.

Personally I love the Rocksete, but it’s not perfect. The knobs are made of plastic and so look a little cheap compared to the rest of the device, and if you have the model with the grey keycaps it can be a little difficult to see the printing on the keys positioned under the overhanging part of the speaker, especially if you’re in a room that’s not particularly brightly lit. In reality neither is a major problem, and you can always opt for the model with black keycaps which are easier to see.

The Rocksete Speaker with Dual Mode Mechanical Keyboard is available in grey (red is a possibility for the future) with grey or black keycaps. You can buy it from here for $239, but shipping is estimated for January, so bear that in mind if purchasing as a present for the holidays.

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