Most competing players probably use one of the best gaming keyboards on the market, but some are always looking to try something drastically different in an attempt to gain the upper hand. This is where the new Azeron Cyborg Compact joins the fight, with more than 20 programmable buttons, a 3D-printed frame and a look that is straight out of old-fashioned Cyberpunk.
The Azeron Cyborg Compact is expensive and different enough that you can expect a serious learning curve. Surprisingly, it actually did not take much time to get used to, but it also feels like you can spend almost an infinite amount of time refining things in the software and replacing the many replaceable parts to get things that suit you. If you give it time, Cyborg Compact can deliver a unique, enjoyable gaming experience. And it will definitely drum up conversations with people who see it sitting on your desk.
Design by Azeron Cyborg Compact
What do you get when you mix a keyboard and a controller together? You get the Azeron Cyborg Compact from Azeron. This is not the company’s first funky controls like this. Azeron sells the usual Cyborg, Classic, Compact and Cyborg Compact, which is what we have today. But here’s a weird bit that really indicates how long the company has been working on these controllers. The Cyborg Compact (and apparently all similar models) connects to your PC via a Mini USB port. Yes you read that right. Cyborg Compact uses a connector that was replaced by Micro-USB in 2007. And Micro USB is almost completely replaced by USB-C at this time. Well, at least the Mini USB cable is 6 feet long and braided.
The original Compact is not drastically different from the Cyborg Compact, but the Cyborg variant has several buttons and is much more adjustable. When I first set up the Cyborg Compact, I was in awe of how many buttons there are on this thing: 23 – or 25 if you count the two thumbsticks. Although it’s nice to have so many buttons, at first there were many occasions where I accidentally activated one by just resting my hand. However, Azeron thought of this by letting you adjust the height of the buttons, or disable any in software that you find uncomfortable to use. The Azeron software is quite intuitive, allowing you to set two profiles. These are not as many as I expected. Most peripherals these days support much more than that. Nevertheless, this will allow you to jump between games without tying keys again.
The build quality of the Cyborg Compact feels good – most of the components are 3D printed (perhaps using one of best 3D printers), and it all feels like it can hold up against the rage. Located under the 3D-printed buttons are mouse switches designed by the premium switch manufacturer Omron.
The attention to detail on the Cyborg Compact is lumpy – the color matching is literally perfect. Azeron sent us a model with Tom’s Hardware colorway, and the sleeved cables matched the shade of red on thumbsticks and trim. And almost all buttons and parts can be ordered in one of 18 different colors. Note, however, that the $ 172 model comes in basic black and white. Choosing several additional colors can push the price up to or above $ 250. Our configuration is priced at $ 274.
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For the high price, however, Azeron includes many goodies in the box, such as a nice iFixit-like screwdriver, a second wrist rest, extra screws, two mini screwdrivers and rubber tape. While I wanted to enjoy the pre-installed palm rest, it felt too high for my hand, so I had to install the low profile one. Although the installation of the low profile wrist rest looks daunting due to the number of screws and small cables scattered across the device, it is easy. The only problem is how small the connection cables are. If you have big hands like me, it is best to use tweezers to connect the wires. Replacing a wrist rest should not require surgery on Cyborg, but it can be worse.
My prayers have been answered. Activision has added round-based to Call of Duty: Vanguard‘s Zombies mode. This felt like the perfect opportunity to try Cyborg in a game, and although it looks extremely complex and different from a keyboard and a mouse or a traditional controller, it did not take long to get used to Azeron’s keyboard.
When I entered the match, I noted which buttons my fingers pressed organically and then mapped them in the software. I did not encounter too many problems in the game, but the ones I encountered were quite serious. The thumb is a little too high and heavy to press, even with my big hands. While Azeron ships smaller sticks with Compact, the installation requires serious disassembly.
I’m a big baseball fan, but because I’m on PC, I can not play any of them MLB: The Show games, so I decided to install Cricket 22. Cyborg was surprisingly more comfortable to use in this game than vanguard, because I only had to rely on four buttons and the joystick. The joystick allowed me to aim where I wanted to hit the ball and aim my paths either in the ground or directly at the wickets.
Cyborg Compact has lots of buttons, and although I’m sure some players (primarily MMO RPG players) will use them all, I kept clicking or accidentally rubbing up against the side button where my pinky finger sits, which caused a slight mental and physical irritation. But again, if something similar happens to you, you can disable that button and still have several others to choose from.
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The Azeron software was easy to navigate, which made mapping the keys reasonably effortless. Of course, we all have to start with some kind of reference if we are to transform a keyboard into a controller. Azeron has made it easy to reshape the keys on Cyborg by listing the actual names of Xbox controllers, instead of ambiguously hiding them behind numbers. In addition to being a controller replacement, the Cyborg Compact can also function as a numeric keypad, macro keyboard and a fully functional keyboard. The level of adaptability with Azeron’s software makes Cyborg more than just a controller replacement – I can see that it is useful for players with limited motor skills or other physical complications.
The bottom line
Azeron Cyborg Compact is a very niche product. And despite the unique look, it was not that difficult to get used to while playing with a mouse. Personally, the Cyborg Compact had too many buttons for me, which led to a significant amount of unintentional inputs and irritation on the left pinky, although it is quite easy to disable buttons in the software. But the chances are high that if you are considering the Cyborg Compact, you may have experience with previous models, or you just want to try something else – and this controller is definitely different.
If you like tampering with software settings and the various replaceable parts to make it truly your own, there is a lot you can do with the Azeron Cyborg Compact, especially outside of the main focus as game controls. And despite the high price tag, its 3D-printed structure and level of customization make it worth considering if you want to mix up your game layout and try something other than a traditional controller or a keyboard and a mouse.