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Acer Predator Aethon 500 review: Seriously, who designed this keyboard?

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The longer you stare at Acer’s Predator Aethon 500, the weirder it seems. It’s not that it’s an ugly keyboard per se, but you might call it “challenging.” Where most companies might settle on one or two flashy design elements to stand out, the Aethon 500 is all flash, a mess of design elements that often contradict each other.

Acer’s definitely making a statement as it enters the mechanical keyboard market, but I’m not quite sure what statement.

Note: This review is part of our best gaming keyboards roundup. Go there for details about competing products and how we tested them.

Questionable calls

The Aethon 500 is a battle station. Let’s start there, with its heft. This is a monster of a keyboard, so heavy I actually handed the box off to my colleague Adam Patrick Murray to see his look of surprise. You might think 3.9 pounds doesn’t sound like much, but it’s almost a full pound heavier than other flagship keyboards like Razer’s BlackWidow. It’s large, yes, with thick bezels and a row of macro keys—but more to the point, it’s dense. There’s a lot of plastic here, but also a thick metal backplate and sides. If you need a keyboard to potentially bludgeon zombies with, the Aethon 500’s set to be your best friend.

Acer Predator Aethon 500 IDG / Hayden Dingman

It’s an interesting contrast to the lightweight Futura typeface emblazoned on (most) keycaps. And if those two elements, sans-serif typeface and a thick slab of keyboard, were sufficient to describe the Aethon 500 then I might say Acer had a winner of a design.

There are so many odd choices though. For one, you’ll notice I said Futura’s used for most of the keyboard. Weird, right? Don’t ask me why, but Acer’s chosen to use a completely different, more aggressive typeface on the five macro keys. It’s not a terrible juxtaposition, but it’s not endearing either.

The branding’s also a bit overdone for my tastes. The keyboard itself isn’t too bad, but having the word “Predator” written across the bottom edge isn’t a choice I’d make. The (thin plastic) wrist rest is the real offender though, with the Acer Predator logo engraved in silver on the right edge. Every time I look at it, all I can think is “Someone stamped Optimus Prime onto this keyboard.”

Acer Predator Aethon 500 IDG / Hayden Dingman

Aesthetics are subjective of course, but in the case of the Aethon 500 there doesn’t seem to be a unified aesthetic. The logo and the macro keys scream “gaming keyboard” while the rest of it says “office-ready workstation.” Combining the two isn’t doing the Aethon 500 many favors.

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