Matias Secure Pro wireless keyboard review: A power tool for the paranoid

Does anyone really need to protect their keystrokes with 128-bit AES encryption?

The wireless Matias Secure Pro keyboard's number-one claim to fame is its 128-bit AES encryption. I'll get into that later. My favorite feature is that it's quiet. You'd hardly know this was a mechanical keyboard from the sound it makes. It's close to the volume level of a typical membrane keyboard, if a little sharper or clickier at times. You could use this board in any office or in a bedroom without disturbing a soul.

Be that as it may, I'm not a huge fan of typing on it.

Far from the ergonomic relief I expect from a mechanical keyboard, the Matias switches inside the Secure Pro made my fingers exhausted. And that's saying something, considering I type on Cherry Blues on a daily basis. Those switches are known for their abnormally high resistance.

Activating a key on the Secure Pro reminds me of a rubber-dome keyboard. Significant resistance at the top begins to yield as you push past that initial hurdle--almost exactly like a membrane keyboard.

As a result, the Secure Pro scuttles most of the benefits of a mechanical keyboard. It's too easy to bottom-out its keys, which is bad for your fingers and wrists. This keyboard isn't pleasant to type on unless you prefer extremely high resistance. Even then, you'd probably be better served by a buckling-spring switch, which spreads resistance out over the path of the entire keystroke.

I appreciated the muted click of the Secure Pro's keys, as that provided a bit of tactile feedback, but this isn't the sort of keyboard I'd pick up for my own day-to-day use. Keyboard preferences are a matter of highly individual taste, of course, so your perception could be very different.

More troubling is that I found myself constantly making typos with the Secure Pro. I don't know whether it's because the activation point is so high or because there's so much resistance, but I dropped letters from my words semi-constantly. The space bar was particularly temperamental.

I also encountered a few issues with the keyboard's 200MHz polling rate. While 200MHz is fine for most low-intensity uses, I did notice a slight lag while gaming. That's to be expected from a wireless keyboard, and it explains why most gaming keyboards are wired.

Ultimate portability

It's hard to convey how small the Secure Pro is, even for a keyboard without a dedicated numeric keypad. The keys aren't as cramped as those on the typical laptop, but they're definitely closer together than a standard desktop model's. Even after a few days' acclimation, I had difficulty getting my fingers properly aligned without looking down.

The flip side is that the Secure Pro is highly portable. While a bit heavy for its size, I could easily see myself taking this keyboard on the road when I wanted the comforts of a mechanical keyboard without hauling my larger desktop models around.

Despite its small design, I was disappointed with the awkward spacing of the media-control keys. You must hold down the Fn key to operate them, and the Play/Pause key is all the way across the board on the Esc key. The spacing makes it easier to remember which media tools are where without looking, but it's almost impossible to operate them one-handed.

The Secure Pro also has USB hubs on its casing, but they're strictly for charging--there's no mouse or data transfer here. Matias claims the battery inside the Secure Pro will last six months to a year on a single charge, though I obviously haven't had a chance to test that claim. Charging a second USB device requires supplemental power (negating its wireless feature). There's a handy battery indicator LED on the Caps Lock key, but there's  strangely no indicator LED for Caps Lock status.

Peace of mind for the paranoid

Getting back to the keyboard's 128-bit AES encryption: When was the last time you worried about someone intercepting the data traveling from your wireless keyboard to your computer?

For me, the answer is "never." And I'm sure even a few of our more security-minded readers find the question similarly perplexing. The signals wireless keyboards use are so weak that a hacker (or cracker, if you prefer that label for cybercriminals) would need to be in the same room--or at most, the next one over--to intercept its transmissions. What's more, Logitech, Microsoft, and other modern manufacturers build wireless keyboards with signal encryption without boasting about it.

It's highly unlikely that your keyboard will be the failure point in your data-security plan, but I'm not going to make fun of people who genuinely worry over such things. If you're in that camp, the Secure Pro certainly holds up its end of the bargain. Matias claims the keyboard's 128-bit AES encryption is the highest available on a wireless keyboard and would take "a billion-billion years to crack."

Worthy investment?

The Matias Secure Pro is a well-built, quiet, portable mechanical keyboard with a robust--if perhaps over-the-top--security feature. I didn't find that it provided the best typing experience, but your preferences might differ. No one would argue, however, that its $170 asking price is inexpensive.

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