When you think of Cherry, the odds are you think of mechanical keyboards. While this is what the company is most known for, it’s not all it makes. The Cherry Gentix Desktop set is one such example, and it’s a great budget set for anyone shopping for a new wireless keyboard and mouse.
At just $50, I didn’t expect a lot from the Gentix desktop set. Switching from my beloved Logitech MX Keys and MX Master 3 wasn’t something I was really looking forward to, but I was pleasantly surprised once I started using the Gentix set. While a direct comparison to a $200+ setup wouldn’t be fair, the price of this set isn’t indicative of its quality. In fact, it has some excellent features that I prefer over my Logi setup.
The keyboard and mouse are designed to go together, they’re both wireless with a shared receiver (no Bluetooth, sorry) and battery-powered. Cherry says you can expect about three years of use from the included AAA batteries (two per device), which honestly isn’t too bad! I have to charge my MX keys at least once a week, which is 156 times less efficient or something.
But yeah, that’s the gist. Now let’s talk about the specifics.
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If I said I’m a keyboard snob, I’d be lying. The only thing I know about keyboards is what I don’t like: mechanical keyboards. This is contrary to most other writers I know, but I just can’t get into long travel, loud clacking, and all the other crap that people seem to love (??) about mechs. That’s the main reason I was interested in the Gentix set in the first place, and while the keyboard isn’t a low-profile, short-travel keyboard like I’m used to, it still feels pretty good to type on.
It has quite a bit of travel, which is a departure from most of the other non-mechanical keyboards I’ve used in recent years that seem to go for the shortest travel possible. While there’s a bit of an adjustment period if you’re used to a lower profile switch, it’s not bad. Switching to the Gentix from my MX Keys or even my Surface Laptop 3’s keyboard was essentially painless.
The Gentix keyboard uses a standard 104-key layout, complete with a 10-key number pad. It also has an additional 10 keys for Windows lock, browser, email, calculator, and media controls. The latter is actually my favorite feature of the Gentix keyboard—the multimedia keys are at the bottom, below the standard keys. This allows for these keys to carry a different design than you’d find on most keyboards, which leads to more intuitive controls in my opinion. I wish all keyboards used this layout for media controls.
If you’re not a fan of these extra keys, however, Cherry offers a customization tool called Cherry Keys. This allows you to change the default function of not just the extra keys, but also the entire F1-12 row. With Cherry Keys, you can set keys to do things like run a program, open a file, modify a system setting (like lock the screen), use a macro, and more. It’s not endless, but pretty versatile and unexpected at this price point.
On the downside, this keyboard is missing any sort of backlighting, which isn’t uncommon, but still a bummer. I don’t know why backlighting is always such a big deal to me as I touch type, but it is. It’s like my brain can’t function if it knows the keys aren’t lit up. Brains are weird, man. Alas, the text on the keys is pretty bright white, so it stands out. In a well-lit room, that’s just as good as backlight. I think. Maybe. Close enough anyway.
Cherry Keys lets you re-assign certain functions
Lastly, let’s touch on build quality. It’s … fine? I don’t expect $200 keyboard quality from a $50 keyboard set (and neither should you), but it still feels solid for this price point. It doesn’t feel “cheap” by my standards—not to the point where I actively think “wow, this sure does feel cheap” every time I type on it. The mouse, on the other hand …
While I may not be super picky about keyboards, I find that I’m more particular about mice. Mostly because I have De Quervain’s tenosynovitis so my thumb drives me nuts when I use a non-ergonomic mouse. I tried to put that to the side when testing the Gentix mouse, but it’s hard because this mouse isn’t very ergonomic at all.
It’s not uncomfortable, mind you, and it has some neat features. But it also feels pretty cheap, especially compared to the keyboard. There’s a fine line between “wow, this is a light mouse!” and “wow, this mouse feels like it was found in the less-than-a-dollar bin at the local dollar store.” This mouse leans heavily toward the latter statement, though it’s not quite there. But yeah, it feels pretty cheap.
The DPI button allows you to go from 1,000 to 2,000 (and back) instantly. Cameron Summerson
Despite the low-end build, it’s not bad to use. There are six buttons that feel nice and clicky on this little guy: left, right, forward, back, scroll wheel, and a DPI switch. The latter is something I didn’t expect to see on a mouse at this price point (are you spotting the trend here?) and is a very nice touch. You can easily switch between 1000 and 2000 DPI at the click of a button. I like this as it makes it easy to switch between everyday tasks and those that require more precision. (Like editing all the dust out of review images of all black devices that get handled a lot. Cough.)
Like the keyboard, the Gentix mouse also works with the Cherry Keys software to reprogram the click of the scroll wheel and the forward/back thumb buttons. The DPI switch can’t be reprogrammed, which is a shame for those who may not need this feature. It would be useful to have an extra button that could do whatever you wanted without sacrificing the other expected functionality of a mouse.
The mouse has some interesting foam padding on both sides where your thumb and ring finger would normally rest. At first, I thought this looked like a cheap and tacky addition, but after using the mouse for a while I started to like it. It’s a soft but textured area that makes using the mouse more comfortable—or a least more pleasant to touch.
The underside of the mouse is where you’ll find the bay for the pair of AAA batteries, and there’s also a convenient little garage for the 2.4GHz USB dongle that connects the whole thing, making at least the mouse a decent option for travel as well. I don’t see anyone taking the keyboard on trips (though I guess you could?), as it’s just too bulky. The mouse wouldn’t be a bad toss-it-in-your-bad option if you want to live that one mouse life. That would really test its durability, heh.
Look, here’s the thing, if you only have $50 to spend and you need a new mouse and keyboard, you could do a lot worse than the Cherry Gentix Desktop set. It’s definitely worth the asking price (and then some), especially with useful features like well-placed media controls on the keyboard and customizable buttons on both devices. The mouse feels decidedly cheap, but hey, at this price, corners have to get somewhere.
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