Photos and Features
Like I mentioned in the opening, the Excalibur Spectrum goes a different direction than other Tesoro keyboards. They kept this model a lot cleaner, going with a traditional keyboard look. This means there aren’t any flashy parts to the keyboards case, just a flat black keyboard with a boxy look. The bezel along the bottom edge and the sides is much thinner than the top for some reason. All in all not everyone is going to like the styling of the Excalibur, but that is why Tesoro has different options. This option is for people who don’t want a very “gamer” look but still want some of the features found on the gaming keyboards.
Adding to the retro look on the Excalibur is the LED panel up above the number pad like on all of the older keyboards. This one has the Tesoro logo on it and is black to match the rest of the keyboard. Down along the bottom edge are all three of the status LEDs to show when you have the CAPS Lock on as well as the number lock and scroll lock.
For the most part the Excalibur Spectrum has a very standard layout. It is a full sized keyboard with a number pad, standard placement for the direction pad and the F keys. Really the only thing that isn’t what I would consider standard is the bottom row. Like previous Tesoro boards they went with two 1.5u keys and a single 1u key rather than all 1.25u keys like a standard keyset would come with. This makes the ctrl and alt keys a little easier to get at and the window key a little harder to get at. It also changes the length of the spacebar slightly as well. It doesn’t change performance at all but it does make it harder to get a keyset to fit your keyboard should you want to change things up in the future.
So the only thing different on the direction pad on the Excalibur Spectrum are the backlight controls that are also controlled by the direction pad. To make things easier they did label the keys. Here you can flip through the different lighting modes and also adjust the backlight brightness with the function key and the direction buttons. Tesoro also slipped in a “Break the Rules” motto just above the direction pad in a glossy black to contrast with the flat black finish.
The number pad has a standard layout and that includes the arrow keys on the 8, 4, 6, and 2. To go with that there are the home and page down keys nearby as well.
Beyond the lighting controls on the direction pad. The Excalibur has additional functions available all through the F keys. The first five F keys give you quick profiles. Using the software you can setup different lighting modes as well as macros and flip between then with just two key presses (function and the F key). F6’s secondary function locks the windows key for gamers worried about bumping into it in the middle of game. Then from there F7-F9 control volume controls. F10-F12 give you media controls as well to start and stop your music or video and flip between files as well. Also in that same photo we can see down on the insert and delete buttons they also have secondary functions as well. Those two buttons let us turn on N Key Rollover. When it isn’t running you still get a 6 key rollover. Most people would just go with NKRO out of default but the reason they give the option is because in order to do NKRO over USB they treat the keyboard as multiple devices and this freaks out some BIOS.
Digging in a little farther we can see that the Excalibur Spectrum has the same Kailh switches that all of the Tesoro keyboards have. This is a knockoff design of the Cherry branded switches. Most people can’t tell the difference but some people worry about the feel and lifespan of the knockoff switches. Personally I have always felt that they seem a little loose but I haven’t had any fail, given that I have had a couple of my Cherry branded switches fail in the past the Kailh’s seem to be holding up well for me. We can see that the switches are plate mounted on a white backplate. The white is good for the RGB backlighting to help reflect the light back. Speaking of the backlighting the LEDs that Tesoro went with are a little strange looking but are the same as on the Lobera Spectrum that I reviewed previously. Really the only difference here is this sample having blue switches over the browns that I prefer. For stabilizers they went with Costar style stabilizers with the metal bar. A lot of people prefer these as they make a little less noise, but they do make swapping out caps can be difficult.
The keycaps on the Excalibur are exactly the same as on previous Tesoro keyboards. They are a transparent white ABS keycap with a black finish over top. The legends are then etched out. The legends are etched in a gamer type font, something I wouldn’t have expected given the clean styling of the Excalibur. The caps are standard OEM profile from the side and they have a cylindrical profile from the top just like other standard caps.
The back of the Excalibur is as simple and to the point as the rest of the keyboard. Unlike with previous Tesoro keyboards the Excalibur doesn’t have a built in USB hub or anything like that so on the back all we have is the USB cable coming out over on the right side of the keyboard.
Speaking of the USB cable, the cord is about five feet long and has a sleeving over the entire length of the cord. The end has a unique Tesoro shaped connector with a gold coating over the plug as well.
On the flip side of things, literally, the bottom of the Excalibur again keeps things simple. In the middle we have a small sticker with all of the required certification logos as well as a serial number on the off chance you need to RMA the board. To keep things from moving around they put four one-inch wide rubber feet, one in each corner. The feet are a little smaller than I would like but should still be enough to get the job done. On the back just behind the rubber feet are two flip out feet to help you angle the keyboard. The feet have rubber on the ends as well to make sure that when you use them you aren’t losing to much traction.