Keyboard And Trackpad
The GT70's keyboard and trackpad layout is typical of most laptops. The keyboard includes a full number pad, and since the touchpad is centered to the standard portion of the keyboard, it ends up sitting slightly to the left on the palm rest.
The palm rest itself is clad in the same brushed red metal as the exterior cover, giving it a solid feel.
The GT70 Dragon Edition’s trackpad is a Synaptics model. The left- and right-click buttons have a textured finish that feels sturdy. The tracking surface works well, and is also textured, facilitating good control over the cursor. Compared to trackpads on other notebooks, the GT70's is slightly compact, especially next to the giant clickpads found on Ultrabooks. Nevertheless, it gets the job done.
One thing we noticed during the course of our testing was that the default setting for Synaptics' PalmCheck feature was too high. At this level, the touchpad is effectively disabled any time the keyboard was in use.
Setting the sensitivity of PalmCheck to Minimum fixed the issue, allowing us to use the trackpad and keyboard at the same time (sort of important for gaming, right?).
There is also a dedicated button above and slightly to the left of the trackpad that allows you to disable it quickly. This becomes useful when you're typing for an extended period. With PalmCheck set to Minimum for gaming, it’s much easier to accidentally move the cursor with your palm or thumb when typing.
Below the trackpad are indicator lights for (from left to right) Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, battery charge status, sleep mode, and hard drive activity.
The island-style SteelSeries keyboard is a full-sized 103-key model featuring a numpad.
Keys have a textured finish that contrasts well with the slick surfaces surrounding the keyboard. The keyboard itself responds well if you type with medium or light force. However, if you tend to press hard into keys, the keyboard flexes a bit. Like most notebooks, the GT70's chiclet-style keys don’t have much in the way of travel depth, but they do have a good tactile feel.
The keyboard's backlighting is particularly unique, featuring three independent zones that can be assigned one of 24 colors.
You also have five operational modes: normal, gaming, breathing, wave, and dual-color. The gaming setting shuts down all of the backlighting except for the WASD area. Meanwhile, the breathing, wave, and dual-color modes are essentially cool little light shows.
Let’s move on to the row of custom buttons and indicators above the keyboard.
To the left of the power switch are controls for Media Player, fan speed, and keyboard backlighting. Media Player is supposed to enhance the playback quality from the display and sound system. Fan speed switches between 100% duty cycle and the quietest mode available for the current system temperature (this was among our most-used control). The keyboard backlighting button simply turns the feature on and off.
To the right of the power switch are controls for Wi-Fi, built-in display, and a G-Panel button, along with caps and num lock indicators. Having the Wi-Fi switch top-and-center, without the need for any combo keys, is certainly nice. Likewise, the display control switch is also convenient to have. The G-Panel button brings up the Windows 8 Mobility Center.