The Shadow X is, while plastic, is a very solid-feeling keyboard with an odd screen — the readouts are useful, but tricky to configure. The typing feel is great, and it sounds good to boot. Well worth the sub-$100 asking price.
Excellent typing feel
The knob is confusing at first
Restrictive layout for some
Bad battery life with RGB lights on
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I have been lucky enough to use loads of mechanical keyboards, from the sublime to the… less sublime. One thing I’ve never seen on any of the keyboards that have passed over my desk, however, is one of this keyboard’s strangely most focussed on features — a screen.
But beyond the diminutive display on the Shadow X, what else has Epomaker popped in, and perhaps most importantly, is it worth buying?
Shadow X: Price and availability
The Shadow X costs $85 from the Epomaker website itself, or you can head on over to Amazon and get one for the same price from Bezos’ kingdom. For the price, this is a tasty little number, and well worth the asking price. It undercuts similarly specced competition and even comes with benefits that make it a really good option.
Shadow X: Build and style
The Shadow X, when you pull it out of the box, is immediately impressive. While it lacks the cold-to-the-touch feeling of a metal board, it still feels dense and hefty. The plastic it is made from is thick and confidence-inspiring, and plonking it on the desk is satisfying. The knob at the top is metal to boot, which feels lovely to touch.
The keys are double shot PBT, a kind of key that has the lettering (or legend) molded into the keycaps. PBY is a very solid plastic that will hold up for a long time too, so longevity isn’t going to be a concern with the keyboard.
Once you’ve been pleasantly surprised by the way the keyboard feels and its build, you’ll likely be considerably pleased with the way that it looks too. It’s simple, with a two-tone gray and black color scheme out of the box, and its dark tone suits a Space Gray MacBook to a tee. The indicator lights to tell you whether caps lock is enabled blend in well, and the screen doesn’t distract too much from the overall look of the keyboard. It’s a nice, simple board that doesn’t take up too much space.
Shadow X: Features
There’s not much missing from the board's features. There’s Bluetooth connectivity that can connect to three different devices, switched between with the knob. There’s a 2.5Ghz connector as well, again switched to with the knob, and then the final wired mode if you don’t want to drain the 3000mAh battery.
That battery will deplete very quickly with the RGB on, but turn it off and I’ve found I only need to charge a couple of times a week. The RGB lighting below the keys is fine — it’s well-distributed and flows nicely from color to color.
Thankfully, unlike other keyboards I’ve used with RGB lighting, you can change the lighting modes using the Epomaker app on Mac. It’s a good enough app, although could perhaps use a little work in translation. While there’s something funny about being told ‘it is forbidden to remove the USB cable with the keyboard updates’ while upgrading firmware, it could use some work to become more user-friendly.
The app not only lets you change the lighting but also the functions of the different keys on the board. For Mac users that’s huge, letting you choose option and command keys so you don’t have to go swapping them in the system menu. You can also change what any of the keys on the board do, which is helpful. Equally as helpful is the small screen, which I’ve come to appreciate.
There is a time and date readout which feels a little useless, but then below it are details about what it's plugged into, which connection mode you’re using, battery use, and which layout it’s set to. It’s nice to not have to rely on the backlight telling me what’s going on with a series of flashing lights that correspond to different settings for once, so the screen has become something I look for more on boards. You can also upload a gif to the screen if you’d like, although I prefer having the information live and kicking so I can see what’s happening.
The knob is good, although confusing. At first, I assumed it was a volume control – it’s not. It’s a kind of power switch, that lets you cycle between the different connection modes. Click it up once for wired, up again for Bluetooth, etc, etc. Once I got over the initial confusion, the knob works well — although I’d still like a volume control
Shadow X: Typing feel
So, the most important thing about a keyboard – the typing feel. Yep, it’s good. The one I have is the linear switch option, and they come pre-lubed, There’s tonnes of foam inside as well to make the keyboard sound as good as possible, so you know that Epomaker has put the effort in.
Keypress is light and accurate, with plenty of feedback once you bottom the key out. There is no scratchiness to the keys, so each feels the same as you press. I’m usually not a big fan of linear switches, but I’ve come to like the smoothness here while typing. The keycaps are lightly textured, so I don’t feel my fingers slipping off them in use. I like the feeling of typing on the Shadow X, and the sound just makes it better.
It’s a snappy poppy tone to the Shadow X, and it’s one that I really like. There are no rattly stabilizers to put a dampener on things, and it overall sounds great.
Shadow X: Competition
At this price, there’s not much we’ve looked at that comes close. If you spend a little more you can look at NuPhy's incredible offerings, although again you pay over $100 for the privilege. If you want a metal board then Keychron has your back with the likes of the Q1 Pro, but again, you’ll be paying a whole lot more for those.
Shadow X: Should you buy this?
You should buy this if…
- You don’t want to spend over $100
- You want a screen on your keyboard
- You like linear switches
You shouldn’t buy this if…
- You’re don’t want a screen
- You want something colorful
- You want a metal keyboard
Shadow X: Verdict
The screen doesn’t feel like a gimmick, and the keyboard is good — that should be enough to tell you if you want one.
As iMore's Senior Staff writer, Tammy uses her background in audio and Masters in screenwriting to pen engaging product reviews and informative buying guides. The resident audiophile (or audio weirdo), she's got an eye for detail and a love of top-quality sound. Apple is her bread and butter, with attention on HomeKit and Apple iPhone and Mac hardware. You won't find her far away from a keyboard even outside of working at iMore – in her spare time, she spends her free time writing feature-length and TV screenplays. Also known to enjoy driving digital cars around virtual circuits, to varying degrees of success. Just don't ask her about AirPods Max - you probably won't like her answer.