Flight Simulator X Keyboard
For FSX/Prepar3D Developed by Editors
Reviewed by Joe Lawford
Editors Keys is a Manchester UK based company born out of a very
successful Kick Starter campaign. They were established in 2005 and
comprise of a small, highly talented team of enthusiastic
individuals. They have grown to become the leading developer of
dedicated PC and Mac editing keyboards for all of the major video,
audio and design programs (such as Avid, Pro Tools, Cubase, Final
Cut Pro, Logic, Ableton Live, Reason, Sony Vegas and many more.)
They have an impressive list of clients such as BBC, ITV, NASA, MTV,
Universal, CNN and Fox
Back in November 2013, Giles Bursnell, the Head Designer over at
Editors Keys, contacted me about a product he had in early
development asking advice about the concept. Giles also made a call
for Beta Testers in our forums to help shape the product design.
This product has now run its full development cycle and Editors Keys
has released to the market a new backlit keyboard designed for
Microsoft Flight Simulator X and derivatives.
The timing of the launch couldn’t have been better, although FSX as
a boxed product is no longer sold, its future has been assured by
Dovetail Games who have released an optimised FSX product via Steam.
FSX SE (Steam Edition) has generated renewed interest in flight
simulation and introduced many new users to the flight simulation
community whom I see being the prime market for this product.
Although not advertised (yet), this product can also be used for Prepar3D
(P3D) as both FSX & P3D are based on the Microsoft ESP development
platform. The default keyboard mapping is identical in both
simulators and are defined in the standard.xml file
(%APPDATA%\Lockheed Martin\Prepar3D v2\Controls\Standard.xml).
As a flight simmer of around 30 years, I am quite familiar with the
basic shortcuts: landing gear, flaps, lights etc. but I have found
myself writing down the key strokes for those more obscure
functions, usually on a “Post It” note stuck on my monitor. This
keyboard could be the answer so let’s see how it performs.
Un-pack, admire for a while, and then plug in the USB cable and you’re
done. Windows will recognise the keyboard and make the device ready to use
with no intervention from you.
First Impressions Count
There were no setup notes so until I found the scroll lock was the
power key for the back light, I thought I had a faulty product. Now
it is as easy to use as any normal keyboard.
The keyboard has over 100 Microsoft Flight Simulator short cuts, and
features switchable back-lighting. There were many
shortcuts included which I didn’t know or use before, for example standby
frequency swap (X) or carb heat (H), sometimes it is easier to hit a
key then search around a new cockpit looking for the switch, and I
am using the keys quite a lot now.
So Many Short Cuts!
As we all know, the Ctrl and Shift keys are used in the sim to make
the normal keys multi-functional, the legends on the keys are colour
coded blue for +Ctrl, green for +Shift, cream for a direct press and
orange text to denote the number lock key has to be on. Some of the
keys also have an icon depicting the key function as well, to cut
back on any confusion the icons only refer to a direct press of the
Multi-Use Number Pad
When the light is dimmed the keys
emit a soft glow from the tops
of the keys and a brighter glow around the edges making the ‘target’
easier to hit.
You can see how much thought has gone
into its design from the screenshots included here.
Design, Quality & Performance
When unboxing this product you get an immediate impression of
quality. The product box is made of thick board with fine printing just as
you would expect with the most expensive laptop box, even the lid is
magnetic so it very snugly snaps shut.
Weighing in at a mere 612g (21.5oz)
the keyboard is a real light weight, but
don’t let its weight concern you when thinking about how steady it
would be on your desk top, just so long as you use it flat on your
desk it will not move under normal use. It has five rubber grip pads underneath so stays in position
well. However, with the two rear risers in position to tilt the
keyboard forward, the keyboard loses rear grip as the rear rubber pads
become useless, this results in a slight less steady position. This could have been mitigated by using larger grip
pads at the front like certain leading keyboard manufacturers do.
These risers are a bit fiddly to use compared with other keyboards
I have but luckily it’s not often the height has to be changed.
Rear Riser Can Make Keyboard Slip
The keyboard has a very low profile at only 15mm high at the back
and 10mm at the front. For those who only have a limited space, it
is approximately 457mm wide and 154 deep (another 10 mm should be
allowed to accommodate the lead). At 1.5m, the lead itself is
slightly on the short side for my liking as my PC is underneath and
to the left of my desk. I am sure the lead will reach the PC but it
would be a little taut so I plugged it into an USB extension and had
plenty of slack.
The glossy, piano black finish case makes this keyboard
look very classy
with the clear, precisely printed, keys making it
look high tech. It has a quiet keystroke with responsive keys that
bounce back quickly, reducing the possibility of unintentional
The keyboard layout is based on the UK English QWERTY
design. As a standard keyboard, its core functionality has been
retained with the key overlays being subtle enough not to be too
distracting in everyday use, indeed, I am writing this review on the
keyboard and have made the adjustment in minutes but with one
exception. Most European keyboard designs have a large upside down L
shaped enter key on the main keyboard, with the # ~ key to the left.
This keyboard has a smaller, straight, short bar enter key with the
#~ key above, so I am finding myself entering # by mistake quite
often. After enquiring with a few friends abroad, this design is
actually quite common, with time this niggle will pass as I get more
used to the design. For Windows 8/10 users you will be happy to see
that the keyboard also features the Windows 8/10 start key.
Straight Enter Key
Editors Keys are well aware of potential eye strain problems when
working with keyboards, especially in a dimly lit room. Early in the
design process Editor Keys sought advice from one of the UK’s
leading dispensing opticians, Optical Express, to ensure this
keyboard design reduced the risk of eye strain and helped better eye
health in the long term..
I work all day at my PC and I wear spectacles so eye strain is a
particular concern of mine. I have been using the keyboard for a few
weeks in all conditions, light and dark, flying and writing, and I
can happily report that using this keyboard caused no extra eye
strain than an unlit keyboard.
Value for Money
The Keyboard in Action - Note the Backlit Keys
When looking to the market for bespoke keyboards such as this, or
gaming keyboards, prices can vary enormously. Gaming keyboards by
makers such as Logitech, Corsair, and Mad Catz can set you back as
much as £235, so at an asking price of £99.99 the Editor’s Keys FSX
keyboard represents reasonable value for money. Unlike a software add-on
product, I will be using the keyboard every day, and hopefully for years
The Editor’s Keys FSX keyboard makes a superb addition to your home
cockpit. Let’s face it, we all love cockpit buttons lit up like a
Christmas tree (unless it’s a flight emergency) and this keyboard is
a useful and innovative product which makes the flight simming
experience that bit more enjoyable.
● Ease of Setup:
● Value for Money:
Editors Keys' Flight Simulator X Keyboard is awarded a Mutley’s Hangar score of 9.5/10,
with an "Outstanding" and a Mutley's Hangar Gold Award.