Using a laptop for DJing is all well and good, but as someone once said (and I wish it had been me): "You look like you're picking up your email for 2 hours". It's true - much time is spent looking hard at your laptop keyboard, making sure that you press the correct key instead of grinding your perfect set to a crashing halt.
Now it's fair to say that there is a huge Mac user base in the DJ scene and this by very nature implies a strong degree of standardisation - something sadly lacking in the PC laptop world. This has enabled KB Covers to produce a huge range of Mac compatible keyboard covers for a huge range of applications, the one being reviewed here is the Serato Scratch Live cover for MacBook Pros and Powerbooks - distributed exclusively in Europe by Magma.
When I review gear now, I write down my first impressions the very moment I the box and relay them back to you. From this point I can see if first impressions are realistic or not. Here's the first word that came to mind:
Not at all relevant to the product, but being made from thin black shiny rubber, the comparisons were obvious. Being a keyboard cover, it has to be thin or else the whole issue of tactility goes out the window. Laying it over my Powerbook keyboard was a perfect fit. The back of the cover is slightly grippy - not with glue but simply the nature of the Silicone rubber, meaning that when you put it on, it doesn't move at all. Even some heavy handed button thumping saw the cover stay in place.
And the keys do remain very responsive. I wouldn't recommend trying to use this cover for typing in an essay as it gets confusing with the white and yellow squares. But if you wanted a clear one simply to protect it and stop key wear (N, L, S and A are disappearing on mine), I'd recommend these covers without reservation. You can even get large print versions as well. It also makes your expensive laptop more saleable on eBay when the next model comes out. For the record, this entire review was typed in with the KB cover without a problem.
The other word that did come to more than one mind was "Spectrum". For older than old school computer nerds, the humble Sinclair ZX Spectrum really was were it was at. Sporting multi coloured MPC-like rubber keys, these KB covers do bear more than a passing resemblance (although for me it's more like the ZX81), making your über expensive Mac look like a 25 year old computer. That said, the colour coding is important as it isolates specific functions into handy groups. I'm no hardcore Scratch Live user, but I did find that the keyboard did help me locate functions quicker - once I'd stopped looking for the letter instead of the function on the keyboard that is. It's hard to break that habit.
The handy side effect of the KB Cover is the protective nature of it. I'm sure we've all been in the situation where some pissed up mutant leans across your expensive gear, only to spill some sticky noxious liquid onto your gear. And with a laptop, this could be set and potentially career ending as well. So thankfully the cover does give you a barrier between said liquid and the inner workings of your laptop. It's not exactly a hermetic seal, but at least the drink will bounce off rather than soak into your motherboard unhindered.
As you might expect, being rubber and suffering a regular hammering from your grubby fingers, the cover can soon get gunked up with "handruff" - the awful grey/brown crap that normally sits in your record grooves and now your keyboard too. Thankfully, you can wash the KB cover, either by hand of in the normal spin cycle. Being Silicone rubber means they're keeping their shape and remaining spick and span.
Using a KB cover is quite an adjustment, especially if you're used to quick key strokes without even looking. But for those looking to make their Scratch Live experience a little smoother as keeping their MacBook Pro or Powerbook safer for a little longer, the KB Cover is perfect.
Build Quality - 10/10
You certainly won't break it. And the inks seem to be near permanent.
Value for Money - 10/10
It's hard to put a price on protecting your Mac in the middle of a gig, but with the added benefit of making Serato easier to use, seems like a small price to pay.
Serato made easier and your keyboard protected. Result.