The KinesisGaming SmartSet App

The Smartset App is very different than the majority of similar software packages, largely due to the fact that it does not run in the background to monitor or intercept the keyboard’s commands. Instead, it is an interface used to hard-program the keyboard itself. As an added perk of this design, the Smartset software is a portable application, and does not require installation.

Overall, the TKO Tournament is a fully programmable keyboard and can store up to nine different profiles, but the innovation here is that everything is stored inside the keyboard. Every change that is saved while using the SmartSet app is permanent, meaning that the keyboard will retain all of its programmed profiles, commands, lighting effects, macros, and everything else, regardless of the device is it plugged in. Once it is programmed, the keyboard requires no software to perform any of the programmed functions, and even the device’s OS is mostly irrelevant, save for any programmed OS-specific commands (if present).

This element underscores the portability aspect of the TKO Tournament Gaming keyboard. Gamers can take it with them and use the keyboard with any machine, all without any configuration or support required by the host system.

This portability does somewhat limit the advanced programming capabilities of the software, though. While multimedia functions, special characters, and even mouse clicks can be tethered to any key, advanced commands such as the launching of third-party applications are not supported. That is because no external device can actually “tell” the OS what to launch. An installed application can do so, which is why most of the competition supports this function, but that is not something one can implement on a device that requires no software at all.

In the few years that we've been covering Kinesis keyboards, the company has continued to considerably develop their SmartSet application. It now has a two-fold configuration screen, split between layout and lighting programming. A third tab controls the edge lighting as well. The interface is cleaner and there clearly are more configuration options than just a few versions ago. There are also buttons that can initiate a tutorial, updates, profile import and export commands, and global configuration changes.

The second page of the software allows for lighting programming. It is relatively simple to program the lighting effects per profile, with several pre-programmed visual effects already present. If a pre-programmed effect is selected, the user can adjust its direction and speed. Per-key manual programming is also possible.

Users can reprogram any key. The keyboard supports nine profiles and, with two layers each, that is quite a lot of possible layout variations. Aside from simple layout changes, users can also tether advanced functions, keystrokes, or even complete macros to every single key. Advanced functions may be limited by what the keyboard can actually do without having to use any installed software but Kinesis does offer a hoard of options, ranging from multimedia controls to multimodifiers. Mouse clicks also are available, but mouse movements commands are not.

The Macro recorder is relatively basic. The initial version of the recorder was limited to simple keystroke combinations but Kinesis evolved it a bit and it now supports delay programming. There is also a repeat option but is limited to nine iterations. The playback speed of the macros can be either individually adjusted or set to follow the “global” setting.

One of the unique aspects of the macro programmer is that the user can select a “trigger” key per particular macro. The trigger key is one of the Shift, Alt, or Ctrl keys. Launching the macro requires the trigger key to be pressed prior to pressing the key that the macro is tethered to. This way, it is possible to store several different macros into any single key, as long as they use a different trigger.

At this point, we must emphasize that one must not forget to click on the “save” button after making any changes. Everything, from layout changes to lighting effects, is stored in the keyboard’s internal vDrive memory. If the software is closed without saving the changes or if the keyboard is disconnected from the system, any and all changes will be discarded.

Introduction, Packaging, and the Keyboard Testing & Final Thoughts


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  • yetanotherhuman - Friday, April 23, 2021 - link

    I want Cherry. No point rewarding clones when Cherry is the original. Reply
  • Spunjji - Friday, April 23, 2021 - link

    Doesn't make much sense to me. If the "clones" are providing equivalent or better products at a lower cost, why throw money to Cherry just because they were first? Reply
  • Topweasel - Friday, April 23, 2021 - link

    I don't mind cherry as much some do and typically will still get off the shelf boards with them in use. But its not like this board used Outemu or TTC. They used one of the top switch manufacturers. They used Kaihl because they wanted to make sure enthusiasts would still purchase it and anyone who didn't recognize Kaihl wouldn't know enough about switches to care. You are the exception that proves the rule thinking so basic on knowledge that you know Cherry but still think for any reason that you should only get that over alternatives. Reply
  • althaz - Tuesday, April 27, 2021 - link

    Depending on what you want, the clones might be as good or even substantially better.

    Personally, I think the Cherry MX Browns are hands-down the best switches that exist. But if you're not after a switch in that style, I think non-Cherry switches are probably going to be better - or at least offer more options.
  • althaz - Tuesday, April 27, 2021 - link

    Especially the linear switches, which Cherry honestly just isn't good at. Reply
  • ballsystemlord - Saturday, April 24, 2021 - link

    So what performs better?
    Also, I only know of 5-6 other brands. Where is this, "hundreds" coming from? An exageration?

    (I'm talking ordinary switches like cherry makes, not topre. Unless you know of something exotic and awesome, in which case it would be nice if you could also mention it.)
  • althaz - Tuesday, April 27, 2021 - link

    IMO I'd still take Cherry switches over everything else that exists.

    But only the browns. Everybody else's brown-equivalents kinda suck, IMO. They are way too linear, too light to give you any feedback or they are conversely heavier than blues.

    But of course I *only* like browns and blues and I don't like blues when I'm doing anything that's not typing, so I only want browns. So for me Cherry is still a *long* way ahead.

    But for sure if you want a linear switch you shouldn't really consider them and if you want a clicky switch there's a lot of switches fighting for your money.
  • abufrejoval - Thursday, April 22, 2021 - link

    I still have two original IBM PS/2 keyboard, primary and backup, built in 1990 and about as pricey back then as a used compact car. I fished those out of a recycling container from a bank that had evidently gone for something more quiet.

    In the home office that's never been an issue and the pleasure of typing on them is most likely the reason I tend towards verbosity.

    Hardly any good for gaming, but you can't have everything.

    A keyboard with way more processing power than your PS/2 machine seems very likely a security nightmare. So in a bank, those wold not do.
  • nucc1 - Friday, April 23, 2021 - link

    My policy has always been that if I have to endure the constant talking on the phone of my colleagues on the same floor, then the musical notes my keyboard emits as I go about my business are fair game. Reply
  • Hxx - Thursday, April 22, 2021 - link

    yeah get yourself a Drop Carina if you want a fully featured 60% Reply

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