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Old 13-10-14, 07:37 PM
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Ducky Channel Shine 3 Farewell Review

Disclaimer: In the interest of full disclosure, it must be noted that the sample on review today was personally purchased and not provided by Ducky Channel.


Introduction:
Ducky Channel is a relatively young Taiwanese company that likes to focus its efforts on high-end mechanical keyboards. Over the years they have compiled an extensive portfolio of offerings and have built up a reputation for their high quality products. Today I'll be taking a farewell look at the Shine 3, as its replacement, the Shine 4, was showcased at Computex this year and will probably make it to market soon.

The Shine 3 is an evolution of the Shine 2 that OC3D reviewed back in 2012. It was released in early 2013 and was themed after the "Year of the Snake" in the Chinese Zodiac. Like its predecessor, the party piece of the Shine 3 is the wide variety of LED colors, lighting modes, and switch choices available to the customer. Unfortunately, the Shine 3 offers no additional Macro keys or dedicated media keys, preferring a minimalistic keyboard layout.


Technical Specifications:

Model Number: DK9008S3, DK9087S3 (tenkeyless)

Available Switch Types: Cherry MX Red, Blue, Brown, Black

Backlight: 7 Brightness Levels (not including off)
7 Lighting Modes (all keys not including off)
2 User Presets ( with 4 Brightness Levels)
2 RGB LEDs under spacebar (fully adjustable)

Available Backlight Colors: Blue, Red, Green, White, Magenta, Orange

Key Rollover: N-Key Rollover (Windows Only)

Keycaps: ABS Plastic, Laser Etched, UV Coated

Polling Rate: 1000 Hz/ms

Windows Key Lock: Yes

Interface: Micro USB 2.0

Included Cable: 1.5m removable with velcro tie

Dimensions: 44.2(L) * 14.0(W) * 4.15(H) cm.
17.4(L) * 5.5(W) * 1.63(H) inches

Weight: 1.4 kg, 3.08 lbs

Looking at these numbers, it can be seen that when form factor, backlight color, and switch type are taken into account, Ducky produce a staggering 48 variants of the Shine 3. Today's sample is a full sized model with blue backlighting and Cherry MX Blue switches. The Blue switches have a low actuation force and produce both an audible click and a tactile bump when depressed. As the typing feel of the Cherry Blue switches is well-documented, I won't delve too much into the typing feel of this keyboard beyond the fact that it is fantastic.


Up Close:

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The Shine 3's packaging is simplistic in a good way. The front and edges of the box are a matte black color, and are decorated simply with the rather cool Shine 3 logo. Along the top of the box is a sticker letting you know which backlight/switch combo you have (blue/blue in this particular example), and on the back is a quick rundown of the keyboards features.

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Inside the box is found a wire keycap puller, a set of red WASD keycaps, a small manual and warranty card, as well as the USB cable. The cable is 1.5m long, gold plated, and comes with a built in velcro tie to make sure it's kept tidy. It's a little odd for such a high-end product to not have a cloth braided cable, so you'll have to spend extra on a second cable if you want one that's longer or cloth braided.

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Here we see the matte finish on the keys, the quality of the laser etching and the lovely backlit Cherry MX Blues that hide underneath those keycaps. The entire case is made of aluminum and gives the board a feel of solidity. Inside, a dual layer PCB ensures that there is little to no flex in the keyboard. The bezel; is almost flush to the keys and the aluminum is painted in a matte black, to match the keycaps.

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The Shine 3 is a fairly standard form factor. There are no additional media keys or volume rollers to add height, and there are no macro keys to make the keyboard wider than usual. The snake on the spacebar keeps with the "Year of the Snake" theme. (More on that later) Along the top right are the only function keys on the board. From left to right they activate the calculator, open My Computer, open Outlook or other email software, and take you to your browser's homepage. The presence of these keys in the place of media keys is a little baffling. In fact, the only media controls we have are volume related, and tied to the Del, End, and Page Down keys.

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Along the back is found the connector for the USB cable, as well as some cable routing channels. The feet for the Shine 3 are plastic, but very study. They take a little more force to fold out than on some other models and feel solid. Towards the bottom of the keyboard, we find the 4 dip switches that adjust functionality. The first one switches the left control and caps lock, the second switches the alt and windows key, the third is the windows key lock, and the fourth puts the keyboard in demo mode. The first three switches are useful in certain games to avoid "fat finger" mistakes and I could see them being quite useful. The 4th allows the board to function from any powered USB port without actually registering any inputs. This feature is probably most useful at a LAN or convention when you're away from your keyboard, but want to show it off to random passersby.

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Here is the Shine 3 fully lit up. (Because of the myriad of lighting options, I'm going to dedicate a section of this review to talking you through them.) Here it can also be noted that the backlighting on some keys isn't exactly consistent across the entire keycap. This is particularly evident on the number and function keys. Due to the design of the backlit Cherry MX switch, the LED is physically above the actuation post on the switch, and doesn't provide even lighting. While the Shine 3 isn't the only keyboard to suffer from this minor issue, I have seen other companies use creative keycap etching to make the keys more easily readable.


Backlighting Showcase:

Disclaimer: The Lighting modes on the ducky channel rely on manipulating the refresh rate of the individual LEDs. This makes the modes almost impossible to photograph with my equipment. I will describe them to the best of my ability in this section. A video of all the lighting modes is posted on YouTube, please note that I am not affiliated with this video in any way.


The lighting modes are the party piece of the Shine 3. By pressing the function key and F10, you can cycle between 7 lighting modes and off. The first 2 modes are off and on respectively. The LED intensity can be adjusted by using the Fn key and the up and down arrow keys.

The third mode is a "Breathing" mode which pulsates the LEDs. The speed and intensity can be user defined by using the Fn key and the arrow keys. The fourth mode is the wave marquee, which scrolls the LEDs across the board and can also be adjusted to your desired speed.

Keeping with the "Year of the Snake" theme, the fifth mode is the snake marquee. The LEDs will cycle on in a snake pattern, and work their way down the keyboard. The speed of the snake is also adjustable, so you can go from Anaconda to Sidewinder on the fly. The 6th mode is the reactive lighting mode, which either takes a lit keyboard and fades the keys as you press them, or takes a darkened keyboard and lights the keys up as you press them. The speed and style of this mode are also fully adjustable.

The 7th mode is what Ducky refers to as the "Ripple". Press a key on the darkened keyboard, and watch as the LEDs ripple outward at a user-defined speed and brightness. The 8th mode is "Aurora". This mode lights up the entire row of a pressed key one by one. Ex. Pressing the H key will see the G and J keys light up, followed by the K and F keys and so on. Like all the other modes, this one can be tweaked to your own settings.

In addition to these, there are 2 user defined modes. The Default settings illuminate the WASD and Arrow keys respectively. However, with the record mode, you can manually choose which keys to activate. These are arguably the most useful modes as they allow you to have dedicated settings for your most played games. For example, I have a preset for MOBA games, and another for general gaming. You could also use these modes to do a checkerboard pattern, stair steps, crosses, or whatever you want. These modes have 3 separate brightness settings and remain lit while any of the other lighting modes are selected. They also have a "Breathing" mode of their own.

Lastly we have the Spacebar (Snakebar?). The key itself features its own LED in the center, but flanking it on either side are a pair of RGB LEDs. By using the Insert, Home, and Page Up keys with the Function Key, you can control the intensity of the Red, Green, and Blue values of the LEDs. Function Key plus Escape resets the LEDs so you can play to your hearts content. When you find a color you like, you can store it using the 1-9 number keys and the function key-thus enabling you to switch between colors on the fly. Can't pick a color? Hit function and 0 to cycle the RGB LEDs through their various values for a nice rainbow of color. The Spacebar LEDs can be turned off altogether by hitting the function key and the spacebar itself.


Conclusion:
When reviewing a keyboard in this price bracket, I spend a couple of seconds playing with the light options, and then several minutes learning the ins and outs of the macro keys. The Shine 3 flips that trend on its head. I spent more time playing with the lighting features on the Shine 3 than on any prior keyboard before it. The interesting thing is that Ducky accomplishes all this lighting voodoo through the use of onboard hardware within the keyboard itself. This frees the keyboard from having to install add-on software to perform its advanced functions. On an interesting note, Ducky Channel has released firmware updates for the Shine 3 and some of their other products. In theory, an enterprising hacker/modder with the right skill set could write a utility that lets users program their own custom lighting modes. This is pure speculation, but would be pretty cool if it came to fruition.
The Shine 3 is a great product. Like the packaging, the keyboard itself is minimalistic and simple. There are no multi-color bezel accents, no screens, and no extraneous lights. The build quality is stellar. It's a very weighty and solid board, that doesn't feel like it will come apart easily. The typing experience, like on all other Cherry MX Blue-based keyboards is crisp and satisfying. And to top it all off, Ducky Channel products aren't the easiest to procure, so having one carries a bit of exclusivity.
The Shine 3's biggest problem is that times have changed, and with them, the competition has stepped up. At the beginning of 2013, I would have recommended this keyboard in a heartbeat. Now however, at the tail end of 2014, it has some very fierce competition. Basically, I can't find a user base for this keyboard at this point in time. At $150 US (mechanicalkeyboards.com) it's too expensive for an entry level buyer looking for their first mechanical keyboard. Typists don't care about the lighting modes, and are better off with a cheaper DasKeyboard Model S with their choice of switches. Hardcore gamers are spoiled for choice. The Logitech G710+ for example, is cheaper, has dual-zone lighting, dedicated media keys, a USB hub, macro keys, and has styling that would make it look at home on a Nimitz-Class Aircraft Carrier. Gamers who want something understated and basic can save upwards of $50 with the CMStorm Quickfire Ultimate, which is basically a Shine 3 minus the fancy lighting modes. And for the people who want a light show, they can spend $30 more on the chromatically customizable Corsair Gaming K70, which provides hours of RGB and programming fun without having to hack into the keyboards firmware.
Overall, the Ducky Shine 3 is hard to recommend. The build quality is excellent, the lighting is superb, the typing feel is crisp, and it has interesting functionality. However at the end of the day it's overshadowed by offerings from the likes of Cooler Master, Corsair and Logitech that offer similar or greater functionality at a lower price.
However, if you're the kind of user who rates build quality and subtlety above all, but still wants fairy-light functionality and doesn't care for media or macro keys, then the Shine 3 is pretty much the perfect board for you. As an added bonus, you'll find very few people at LANs who show up in the same dress.

Performance- 8/10
Price -4/10
Presentation 9/10



About:
Howdy! my name is Omar Gonzalez-Torres, and I'm a 24 year old Electrical Engineering Student from Texas, United States. I have been into PC hardware since I upgraded the old family desktop to play Star Trek: Legacy back in the days of the mighty 8800GTX. Since then, a lot of my free time has been spent reading articles, reviews, and white papers over various PC related topics. I went to University and majored in Chemistry, figuring that electronics would be my hobby. I soon realized that I would rather spend my time figuring what makes integrated circuits tick rather than continue my focus on Chem. I read a lot of articles on industry websites, and because of my major, I am fairly well versed in logic gates, process technology, photolithography, and integrated circuit design. To make pocket change, I have built 10 PCs for friends and family over the past 3 years mostly with an emphasis on low-power components and gaming on a very tight budget. I would have liked to have written a review on my 4770K, but most of my friends are out of town, and I didn't want to include benchmarking and temperature data in my results if I couldn't control the conditions of the test. I am comfortable writing about CPUs, GPUs, RAM, SSDs, and peripherals. I am not versed on properly testing image quality for screens, nor do I think I'm qualified to test home audio properly. I have a few networking certifications from CISCO that could come in handy for any networking pieces that need writing. When it comes to news, I have a student subscription to Charlie Demerjian's website "Semi Accurate". The site mostly talks about industry rumors and future technology, but as the name states, their information must be taken with a grain of salt. I feel comfortable writing news so long as my sources can be verified. I'm ok posting rumors, as I make it quite clear that everything I'm writing is based on rumors and could be wildly inaccurate. When it comes to my writing style, I'm very adaptive, I have edited a paper for a colleague that has been printed in the "Texas A&M Journal of Undergraduate Research" and am open to criticism and am willing to change my writing style to match the desired tone. When it comes to OC3D, I have been watching TTL's videos since a friend sent me a link to the epic 6-hour Shinobi Mod Challenge (I still crack up when he "Phones up for Dinner"). I subscribed to the channel, and joined the forums after a while. On the forums, I'm a lurker, I read pages, and I don't think I've ever posted anything before. Partially this is because my Rig isn't really worth showing off, but also because I mostly read case mod threads, and I like respecting the intentions of the modder. This has probably gone on far too long. Hope you enjoy my review as much as I enjoy reading everybody else's build logs. Cheers!

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My Current Rig:Shana (Anime Namesake)
Case: Apevia xQpack 2 (modded) CPU:Intel Core i7 4770K Haswell @ 4.2 Ghz (42x100 @1.15v) RAM: G.Skill Ripjaws X 2133 CAS 9 (9-11-11-31) MoBo: Asus Maximus VI Gene GPU: Gigabyte Windforce R9 290 @1100 Mhz PSU: Antec Quattro 850 Storage: 2x Western Digital Caviar Green 2TB.
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Old 14-10-14, 07:32 AM
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Bobjonez98 Bobjonez98 is offline
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I completely spaced and forgot to post my PC specs. They are as follows:
Case: Apevia XQpack 2 (Heavily cut up)
MoBo: Asus Maximus VI Gene
CPU: Intel Core i7 4770K @ 4.2 Ghz. (42x100 @ 1.15V)
RAM: G.Skill Ripjaws 2133 2x4GB CAS 9 (9-11-11-31)
GPU: Gigabyte Windforce AMD Radeon R9 290 @1100 Mhz
PSU: Antec Quattro 850 (Old School Racing Stripes!)
Storage: 2x Western Digital Caviar Green 2TB

Sorry for the double post!
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My Current Rig:Shana (Anime Namesake)
Case: Apevia xQpack 2 (modded) CPU:Intel Core i7 4770K Haswell @ 4.2 Ghz (42x100 @1.15v) RAM: G.Skill Ripjaws X 2133 CAS 9 (9-11-11-31) MoBo: Asus Maximus VI Gene GPU: Gigabyte Windforce R9 290 @1100 Mhz PSU: Antec Quattro 850 Storage: 2x Western Digital Caviar Green 2TB.
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Old 14-10-14, 10:56 AM
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Just skimmed through it but can't work out why you gave a 6/10 for performance?
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Old 14-10-14, 02:08 PM
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Bobjonez98 Bobjonez98 is offline
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I worked the lack of macro keys, media keys, and backlighting consistency into the 6/10. Perhaps it was a bit low. Marked it down because of the competition. These are issues that other mechanical keyboards I've used have. I should have explained that better in the conclusion.
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My Current Rig:Shana (Anime Namesake)
Case: Apevia xQpack 2 (modded) CPU:Intel Core i7 4770K Haswell @ 4.2 Ghz (42x100 @1.15v) RAM: G.Skill Ripjaws X 2133 CAS 9 (9-11-11-31) MoBo: Asus Maximus VI Gene GPU: Gigabyte Windforce R9 290 @1100 Mhz PSU: Antec Quattro 850 Storage: 2x Western Digital Caviar Green 2TB.
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Old 14-10-14, 06:20 PM
SPS SPS is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bobjonez98 View Post
I worked the lack of macro keys, media keys, and backlighting consistency into the 6/10. Perhaps it was a bit low. Marked it down because of the competition. These are issues that other mechanical keyboards I've used have. I should have explained that better in the conclusion.
You say the build quality is stellar and mark it down because it doesn't come with pointless macro that no one literally uses. This isn't a novelty gaming board.

Also on my Ducky Shine 3, the F1-F6 keys control key repeat speed and latency which are a god send for coders/typers. They don't open apps like you say yours does?
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Old 14-10-14, 06:53 PM
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Bobjonez98 Bobjonez98 is offline
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You have the TKL model, on the model with the Ten Key, there are 4 keys above the numpad that are used to open apps. I suppose when I was coming up with my numerical scores, I was more focused on people who would use this for gaming. I bought one because I loved the lighting and really like the brand. On reflection, perhaps I was being a bit too negative. I really do love the keyboard, and I based the performance score by comparing it with the boards my friends and family have recently bought. Most my friends swear by their Macro Keys. Thanks for the input, it's one of my first reviews, and I don't like giving out numerical scores because I don't think a complex opinion can be expressed in a single number. I'll adjust the score accordingly.
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My Current Rig:Shana (Anime Namesake)
Case: Apevia xQpack 2 (modded) CPU:Intel Core i7 4770K Haswell @ 4.2 Ghz (42x100 @1.15v) RAM: G.Skill Ripjaws X 2133 CAS 9 (9-11-11-31) MoBo: Asus Maximus VI Gene GPU: Gigabyte Windforce R9 290 @1100 Mhz PSU: Antec Quattro 850 Storage: 2x Western Digital Caviar Green 2TB.
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Old 14-10-14, 07:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bobjonez98 View Post
You have the TKL model, on the model with the Ten Key, there are 4 keys above the numpad that are used to open apps. I suppose when I was coming up with my numerical scores, I was more focused on people who would use this for gaming. I bought one because I loved the lighting and really like the brand. On reflection, perhaps I was being a bit too negative. I really do love the keyboard, and I based the performance score by comparing it with the boards my friends and family have recently bought. Most my friends swear by their Macro Keys. Thanks for the input, it's one of my first reviews, and I don't like giving out numerical scores because I don't think a complex opinion can be expressed in a single number. I'll adjust the score accordingly.
Ah yes, my bad I can't tell my left from my right apparently
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Old 14-10-14, 07:17 PM
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Bobjonez98 Bobjonez98 is offline
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And thanks again for the input. I spend a lot of my time writing reports and papers for school. I've had the Shine 3 for a month now and I absolutely love it. It's getting a whole lot of use.
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Case: Apevia xQpack 2 (modded) CPU:Intel Core i7 4770K Haswell @ 4.2 Ghz (42x100 @1.15v) RAM: G.Skill Ripjaws X 2133 CAS 9 (9-11-11-31) MoBo: Asus Maximus VI Gene GPU: Gigabyte Windforce R9 290 @1100 Mhz PSU: Antec Quattro 850 Storage: 2x Western Digital Caviar Green 2TB.
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