The one thing that really stands out upon first glance of this keyboard is the macro keys below the spacebar, which at first seem to be positioned really badly.
The design has found a way to make this positioning work however, with the main keys at such an elevation that the macros are out of the way when it comes to regular typing, but right where you need them when your left hand’s on the WASD keys.
Another nice touch that’s worth mentioning is the location of the macro keys on the right side of the keyboard, positioned perfectly for any lefties or arrow-key enthusiasts that might be out there.
To the touch, the Hermes feels nice and substantial, with a decent quality finish and a substantial, solid feeling build.
We’re reminded of Stallone’s bike in the original Judge Dredd film.
The finish on the underside is a nice touch, but the runes slapped underneath the numlock and capslock lights seem a bit unnecessary and only add to the overtly ‘serious gamer’ feel the keyboard exudes.
The backlighting is excellent, and the passthrough USB and audio ports are incredibly handy to anyone frequently LAN-ing or using their headphones away from the computer regularly.
There’s also a switch for disabling the Windows button, if you’re the type of hardcore gamer who’s hamfisted enough for that to be needed.
Typing on the board can take some getting used to, beyond adjusting for the row of macro keys on the left, (G5 and Ctrl are pretty good at pulling a switcheroo if you’re not used to these layouts).
But once you get going each keypress has the distinct, tactile click feeling you’d expect from cherry blue switches, but barely any of the cacophony you might expect. To top it off, each key has a cushioned effect, with a pretty long action distance. It’s certainly something to get used to, but it’s not an unpleasant device for typing on.
We can’t pass through the software/usage section without mentioning that this product suffers from the same ‘false positive’ with virus scanners when you install the device. To be honest, in 2014, this is unacceptable and something that Gamdias need to address quickly if they really want to achieve any market share at all.
The Gamdias Hermes includes some ‘intelligent’ augmentation, but they did cause this review a tangential voyage of opinion.
Gaming peripherals are always sold with one clear message; ‘BUY THIS AND YOU’LL BE BETTER AT GAMES.’ Bit like putting on David Beckham’s football boots will suddenly enable you to ‘Bend it like a pro’. Not always true, but we all buy into it at some stage.
Nobody selling really wants to accept that familiarity is more a factor in getting the most out of a gaming device than shaving a few milliseconds off input latency – or making a keypress louder.
Some brands are looking into other ways to improve your gaming prowess however, companies like Logitech with the G15 keyboards LCD screen that displays extra info and carries mod support to track other important bit of in-game information.
The Hermes drivers break new ground by offering programmable audio and visual alert timers, so you can be playing Quake and hit an easily-reachable macro when you grab the quad damage – set to ding when it’s 10 seconds off respawning etc. It has the same deal for jungle camps in any MOBA, Larvae injects in Starcraft 2 or any other gameplay element that asks the player to keep an internal clock.
Providing an easily accessible aid like this is definitely something that’s going to improve a beginner’s performance in a game, but then so is an aimbot or map hacks. To say that this kind of feature is a ‘grey area’ is an understatement. Given that they’re virtually impossible for anti-cheat software to detect, your advantage is likely to go unnoticed. It’s not like having a timer is a game-breaking advantage, but it IS an advantage – which all of the Gamdias peripheral marketing claims you will receive.
We encourage you to disagree but, in this reviewer’s opinion, this group of macros and timers are a crutch (at best) and a cheat (at worst). It is less offensive, but still comparable to, any other mode of cheating in games.
To get back on track, the implementation of the macro keys, and their ease of use and versatility is really something that sets it apart from the competition, and they’re implemented very well.
Once all set up, we ran the Hermes through a few test scenarios.
The keys felt smooth and quiet enough on the action to feel comfortable over a few maps of TF2, without the immersion-breaking clatter of keys that can come from mechanical switches.
Through games of Dota 2 and Starcraft they feel solid and tactile enough to handle frantic input in a reliable and satisfying fashion.