Xeno Review – When Reputation Doesn't Translate to Results
. One of these is the runners track record. So when I chose to join in on the Xeno run by Zealpc, I thought I was in good hands.. You can learn more about the saga that unfolded in Manofinterests review linked below.. I dont think the robot voices were as bad as people made it out to be.. Anyway, all Ive got to say on the matter is that even though the boards were or is, is this still incomplete delivered? My confidence in Zeal is lowered to oblivion., As always, I never have, or ever will have a financial relationship with Zeal. To the best of my knowledge, Zeal had no way to link my order to the channel.. The packaging is arguably the most impressive part of the Xeno., The exterior box is attractive and the unboxing experience is quite something.. The only downside is that if you didnt get any Zeal switches, bundled in with the board youll get these empty boxes.. This feels like blank buttons on a car.. The Xeno uses a plain jane box on a wedge design.. Some people call this classic. I call it boring. Ive, never really liked the absolute cliff of a rear that these have. Im a big fan of the layout though.. This 65 plus separated function row approach to 75 is my absolute favorite beating out anything with exploded, arrow keys.. There are three holes on the upper right that share an LED. Because the window is not frosted at all.
You could clearly see the source of the light, which ends up looking a bit unrefined.. A better approach is the one on the KBD19X which uses one LED per hole.. All plate options for the Xeno were brass and shiny, so under certain lighting youll see some reflection. Come through.: This was more popular back in the day, but I think its held up.. The side profile is about what youd expect from a design like this.. The lips are pretty deep, so picking this up is no problem.. The rear, as mentioned before, is a cliff, interrupted only by a USB Type C port.. This is correctly recessed so that the cable shielding doesnt peek through. On the bottom. You can see the prominent brass weight with Pwners logo, as well as these extra long rubber feet.. I really like these screws here, which are a warm silver that youd expect from either nickel or silver, as opposed to the cool silver on steel.. I think the design is inoffensive and, if youre into plain stuff, this will work well for you.. But then again you could find a bunch of other boards with the same design.. I think the most standout thing is the layout that makes 75 the best it could be.. It looks visually balanced and I think every 75 should adopt it. When it comes to customs. A marketing feature is good finish quality.. It seems that nowadays, cheap boards have pretty good finishes, but KBDFans used to be much worse back when the Xeno was running.
. So from a 460 custom, youd expect perfection but thats, not what you get. From what Ive seen. I have one of the better ones, but its still got some issues.. The biggest is the color or texture mismatch between the top and the bottom.. If you look head on, the shades of silver are pretty close, but at any other angle you can see that one is lighter than the other.. This is just a guess, but it seems like the bottom has a thicker grain than the top. Before you say this is just an angles thing that happens with every keyboard. Here are some examples that look fine.. The PVD on the brass seems okay.. I dont know if Id call it rose gold, but its definitely got a little something on top of the usual brass finish.. The interior of the case seems mostly fine, with just a couple screw holes having some residue that resembles rust. More on that later.. Another strange thing is this: smudge that appeared on the weight on the interior.. I dont remember seeing this when I first got it, but I noticed it when I brought it back out for a shot in a video a couple months. Later., I cant seem to wipe it off with a microfiber towel., Its on the interior, so no harm done, but Im slightly worried about it appearing on the exterior., Starting with the bottom. We see the brass weight as well as the daughterboard.
. I dont remember a ton of boards with daughterboards around this time, so this is great to see.. Another thing is this channel to route the cable to the main PCB., Certain other customs, like ones from Rama, dont, do this. So this is an appreciated attention to detail. Undoing the daughterboard reveals something really odd a whole heap of what looks like rust., But this is an aluminum keyboard and neither the screws nor the daughterboard seem like they were damaged at all. So what could possibly cause this? This stuff does wipe or scrape off so at the price point I would have liked to see this get cleaned up. A little., A sidepoint is that the screws have a really hard time going into the threads. So maybe these werent treated properly., Taking a look at the weight slot, theres a large gap on one side that I can actually see through. With a weight design like this. This issue might be unavoidable, but the gaps were never big enough for me to notice.. The small gap on the bottom side is what Id expect, while the top seems like a mistake. With the weight off, we can see a bit of damage to unseen parts of the case dents on the both sides, as well as a couple dings near a screw. Hole. Again interior, so not such a big issue, but there is one exterior facing ding on the rear., Its right on the mating edge and its tiny.
But for such an expensive board this should have been caught.. The weight itself looks mostly alright from afar, but some machining lines can be seen in the engraving through the coating, which gives it an unfinished look.. This is even more evident on the interior engraving.. I think at some point it was mentioned that this is a technical limitation.. If thats true, nothing much, we can do about that, but still a bummer.. One last point on the bottom is something Manofinterests mentioned. The bottom edge that you pick the board up by has no fillet, unlike all other edges., Not too worried about discomfort, but sharp edges like these are more prone to damage. When we bring the top into the Picture we can see that there are alignment guides that secure the top relative to the bottom., Not the tightest fit, but it works. Inside you can see the little window for the LED.. I guess, if you wanted, you could buff this out to make it more frosted.. Im just going to keep the light off though. Under close inspection. The top has similar flaws as the bottom. Rusty screw holes, a shiny spot next to a thread and a couple light scratches.. But this piece has a flaw that really takes it up to the next level of badness for me., When I screw together the top and bottom taking care to align them. As best as I can. There is an unmistakable bow in the center of the rear for a length of about 3 inches.
, The aluminum in the area isnt particularly thin, and nothing else is bent out of shape. So I think this must have been a machining mistake.. It is small and it barely captures on camera, but its really a major downer to have pieces, not mating correctly., The plate, doesnt seem to have any problems, and the PCB looks good to me.. One issue here was that when I shock the case, the board would turn off until unplugged and replugged.. It seems like I could potentially mod the daughterboard to ground the case to resolve this issue.. I might take a look at that down the line. When it comes to evaluating keyboards like this. There are two sides, design and execution.. I think Pwners design is just fine by todays standards and maybe ahead of its time.. I have full confidence that if the Xeno had a 2021 redesign, it would address case grounding weight, gaps, indicator LEDs and all that.. On the other side, the execution here, especially for the money, is poor.. Yes, this looks mostly fine from an everyday use point of view, but at such a price premium youre looking for the small stuff., I think by most peoples standards mine would be B Stock for the price and some of the other ones, Ive seen wouldnt even qualify For C Stock. Id pay, maybe up to 300, for what I have here.. My plate is brass half, which is implemented by letting all of the alphas and the numbers sit independent of the plate.
. The bottom out feel on the alphas is about what youd expect from a half plate without PCB cuts. A bit of bounce with a fair bit of dense vibration. Transfer.. I think I want a little bit more from it, but its alright. On the alphas. You can expect the familiar plasticy sound of plateless builds and the brass portions expectedly sounds hard.. As always, I put sound tests in as a matter of convention. Dont come to purchasing decisions based on this alone, as there are many factors that make sound tests, not representative of real life.. My Xeno is a poorly executed, okay design with a rocky history.. I think I would have been really happy with it if it didnt take so long, but while I waited, I got to try a ton of other stuff that I liked better. While minor. The board has many flaws that are inappropriate. Coming from such a well known figure in the community., The communication during the buy has been shockingly terrible and well.