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COUGAR KBC700-4IS 700K Gaming Keyboard with Brown Cherry MX Switches
  • Verified Owner
  • Owned For: 1 week to 1 month

1 out of 5 eggs Almost perfect; critical failure 03/20/2015

This review is from: COUGAR KBC700-4IS 700K Gaming Keyboard with Brown Cherry MX Switches

Pros: Starting with the great:

The construction on the 700K is excellent. Certainly one of the most well-built, rigid, beautiful mechanical keyboards ever made. I've been a fan of Cougar's Hydrodynamic fans for some time, but never would have expected them to branch out into producing some of the top end input devices as they have.

As another reviewer points out, initial impressions begin with opening the box, where even packaging is well-considered and of notable quality. The aesthetics of the design are always going to be, as with anything, a subjective matter and difficult to quantify. I do, however, honestly feel this is the best-looking keyboard -- mechanical or membrane -- that I've had the privilege of seeing in person.

The wrist-rest is very comfortable, but the split space is a serious typing discomfort after years of center-hitting the spacebar.

Features like illumination and extra effects on the keyboard are pretty unimpressive compared to what other mechanical gaming keyboard manufacturers (Corsair, Roccat, Alienware, et al) have been offering lately. But to me that seemed like it might be a good thing: solid design; perfect performance. Focus on what matters most. That turned out to be foolish optimism.

Before going onto the bad, lemme say this: There are a lot of reasons to love this keyboard. It really breaks my heart to RMA it.

Cons: The ugly begins with my attempt to use the keyboard.

Initially I plugged the keyboard into its new home: A freshly built casemod gaming rig running Mint 17. My screen was locked, and after a dozen failed attempts at entering my password, I was still unable to unlock my session.

I then plugged it into my Win7x64 dev system; same thing: password not accepted. I had to plug the old keyboard (Roccat RYOS Mk Pro) back in to unlock the session, then switch back to the 700K.

Once in, I discovered that neither of the shift keys worked., the right side of the spacebar did nothing. The Window/Super key did nothing. CTRL/ALT: nothing. Macro keys, media keys, profile keys, backlight key: nothing. I was unable to access symbols due to the lack of a functional shift key, although I was able to access upper-case characters through the capslock key.

Similar to the above: no shift, symbols, ctrl, alt, etc. Pressing any macro key, function key, windows/super, media key, etc., causes the keyboard to brick itself completely and must be unplugged from the usb to reset.

At this point its already pretty bad. A keyboard that can't even perform its job out of the box.

I download a firmware update (Windows only, of course). Tried to run it under Wine, but the USB detection method is absurd and cannot find the device. It's not apparently looking for USB MID/PID/VID fingerprints which can be seen with lsusb. They're even transparent under Wine, but no dice -- back to Win7 for the firmware update.

Firmware is not a seperate package as it should be, but part of the UIX installer, which is a bloated egomaniacal marketing mess for something as core as a keyboard. Not half as bad as Roccat's hideous driver mess, but not nearly as well implemented as Das Keyboard's.

Once updated, the keyboard's shift/ctrl/alt keys finally started working, indicating a massive firmware error that shipped with the units.

Under Windows with the UIX driver, the keyboard was able to finally perform its basic duties. Macros work, but the driver is pretty limited in its ability to bind functions that have been useful to me and available in packages by the rest of the competition. I discovered that I'd have to rely on third-party software packages to make similar bindings with the 700K. Rebound the space bar to actually do it's bloody job.

Back in Linux:
Ctrl/shift/alt all now finally work, but they keyboard is still a minefield of things that cause the hardware to brick up. Unassigned macro keys, fn keys, media keys, profile, etc. You ALMOST get basic functionality.

This is really bad for a gaming keyboard. One miskey and BAM, lockup. GG.

On OSX the keyboard sends the wrong keycodes, but doesn't seem to lock up.

Let's be clear about this. The real problem is Cougar's sloppy firmware. Other minor gripes like the lack of a left-hand Win/Super key, and the annoying unnecessary split-spacebar are things I can get past

Other Thoughts: I've been programming for over 25 years and building casemods for over 20 of that. I've designed my own usb devices and written drivers for them as well as reverse engineering hardware in order to write my own drivers.

I had ordered this keyboard as part of a $4k+ casemod system that I've been working lately. Sadly I will not be featuring this keyboard in my upcoming competition, or probably ever.

I had also intended to further mod the keyboard, replacing some surfaces with black carbon fiber as well to match the rig and custom built headset, speakers, etc.

Cougar claims to only support Windows becuase 'that's all gamers care about'. This is a lie on more than a few levels. Aside from the thriving community of linux games/gamers (no to mention OSX gamers), the real problem lies with the fact that Cougar doesn't know how to write fimware USB HID.

There are clearly defined standards that prevent compatibility issues like these to enable USB keyboards to function across all platforms that properly implement HID protocol standards. Most keyboards, no matter how junky the construction, will handle this perfectly. I can probably purchase every sub $20 keyboard on Newegg and have every single one of them work on Win98, WinXP, Win7/8/10, OSX, Linux, FeeeBSD, Solaris, whatever.

Cougar can't even manage to code the most basic keyboard protocol standard there is. This is a hardware/firmware issue. Keyboards should NEVER need a driver for basic stability. The hardware isn't doing its job. This is EXTREMELY poor firmware design, even worse than Roccat.

If Cougar wants to hang mac/linux users out to dry on on extra feature like illumination control, fine. We'll fix it eventually ourselves. This keyboard, however, is currently unusable as an input in its current firmware state.

I've taken a little time over the last week to analyze USB packets from this device. Due to space constraints, I wont go into specifics here, but the the traffic is not as it should be. The conventions are incorrect per USB HID standards and the controller effectively requires communication from the software when is use. This should never, ever happen.

Cougar has claimed they don't support Linux. I'm sure they'll spout that line again, but its a lie. They use the Windows driver to compensate for the extreme lack of understanding of USB device programming.

I toyed around with writing a Linux driver for it to do the same, but that's not the right solution here. Cougar owes everyone an apology and needs to fire some people then fix this mess.

Bottom line is the keyboard doesn't function properly as a HID device. That is the single most important part of a keyboard there is. It's not even actually a Linux support issue. It's terrible programming from people who, at a fundamental level, do not know what they're doing.

It's going to take a lot for Cougar to earn my trust back, till then I'm not using any cougar products aside

PCI-e 16X Slot Riser Card Extender Extension Cable Flexible Cable
  • Owned For: 1 day to 1 week

Pros: Good price point. Much cheaper than the 3M riser cables.

Some reviewers have apparently had them work, but might just be miners.
If it works, great. If not, you're out only a few bucks.

Cons: Two non-functional units in a row.

Other Thoughts: Picked up one of these from Performance PCs for a casemod project.

Tested with Asus Gryphon z87 + Geforce GTX980.
System booted, Fans on GPU spin up for a few seconds and turn off, lights are on in the GPU cooler, but no video signal over DP/HDMI/DVI.

BIOS seems to post OK, OS loads, EFI handoff happens, etc. Looking at logs on next boot, GPU did not appear to be present in the system.

Tried creating an EMI shield for the cable. Still no love. Guess there is too much crosstalk at 16x.

Got a replacement, and same deal. Mobo can't seem to find the card.
These state they are PCIe 16x, but I have my doubts. Tons of other companies seem to sell these exact units under different brands, I'm guessing Flyconn is the real OEM.

TETON Sports Scout 3400 Internal Frame Backpack (Hunter Green)
  • Verified Owner
  • Owned For: 1 week to 1 month

4 out of 5 eggs Excellent Value 09/08/2014

This review is from: TETON Sports Scout 3400 Internal Frame Backpack (Hunter Green)

Pros: - Good, durable construction
- Built-in rainfly
- Camelpack pocket/support (probably up to 3 litres)
- Plenty of adjustable straps
- Torso height adjustement
- Seals up well
- Reasonably comfortable
- Fits different sizes/builds well
- Holds up well to rain
- Excellent value

Cons: - Side pocket zippers pull apart easily (though are easily fixed)
- shoulder straps are a little close together at the top and can rub against your neck if the torso height setting us adjusted high enough.
- sleeping bag compartment/door is a bit small for anything other than an ultralight bag
- a little heavy at ~5lbs empty

Other Thoughts: Picked up two of these on sale ($60USD) and have taken them on a couple 2+ day hikes so far. Very pleased with how well they've worked so far. Carried ~45lbs in one pack for 12 miles on the first hike, which is a pretty heavy load for me, but the bag took no wear, no ripping, not a single broken thread. Nada.

Had a little trouble with the side pocket zippers popping open with a full pouch. Easy to get them back on track, so they're resilient to damage/stress, which is good. Would be nice if they could hold together a little better though.

Packs are a little heavy, but I'm not a hardcore ultralight hiker, either. Did some looking around before buying these, seem to be the best for the price/quality.


Anonymous's Profile

Display Name: Anonymous

Date Joined: 07/11/03

  • Reviews: 2
  • Helpfulness: 2
  • First Review: 03/10/15
  • Last Review: 03/20/15
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