Drop Paragon Series Showgun Keyboard
Drop Paragon Series Showgun Keyboard Review
A $500 keyboard should be a work of art. And that is exactly what the Paragon Series Showgun Keyboard proves to be—a piece of functional art.
I usually review mobile keyboards, keyboards made to be light and portable, foldable yet functional. But as people increasingly worked from home during the pandemic, including me, I became interested in keyboards that were great keyboards. For years, I used the Matias Laptop Pro, but I started having issues with it—the case separating connectivity issues—and while they make very good keyboards, they have not been updated in several years.
I also decided to expand my horizons, looking at gaming keyboards that would work as well for content creation as they did for gaming. While I have looked at others, and they perform well, nothing compares to the Drop Paragon Series Showgun Keyboard. It’s not perfect, but its the best keyboard I have ever used.
Drop Paragon Series Showgun Keyboard Specifications
- 67 keys
- Layout: 65%
- Anodized CNC-machined aluminum frame (ALT High-Profile)
- 6° case angle
- Switches: Drop + Invyr Holy Panda switches (hand-lubricated)
- Keycaps: Drop + RedSuns GMK Red Samurai Custom Keycap Set
- Stabilizers: Custom Gateron stabilizers
- Hand-placed dampening material between case and PCBA
- Hot-swappable switch sockets
- RGB backlighting
- Programmable with QMK firmware
- Connectivity: USB-C
- Hand-assembled in the USA
The Drop Paragon Series Showgun Keyboard also ships with a carrying case, a keycap puller, a switch puller and a USB-A to USB-C cable. Drop offers a 3-year warranty on the keyboard.
What we like
Drop’s design for the Shogun may create a great gaming experience, but it also delivers one of the best typing experiences I have ever had. The hand-lubricated Drop + Invyr Holy Panda switches with custom Gateron stabilizers and hand-placed dampening material between the case, plus the circuit board assembly, make for a quiet clickiness.
I will be honest; I am not a switch guru. I look at keyboards as a content creation experience. In a typical week, Grammarly checks over 100,000 words that emanate from my fingers. The 67 keys on the Drop Shogun with a symbiosis I have not shared with any of the other dozens, maybe hundreds, of keyboards I have employed over the course of my career.
There is a weight to the Drop Shogun’s keys. They almost feel like pushing a key pulls my fingertip through the stroke, similar to following through on a baseball pitch or a golf swing. The well-sculpted custom Drop + RedSuns GMK Red Samurai Custom Keycaps feel burnished and inviting, all the edges turned down to allow friction-free movement across the surface.
I did not, however, find the Shogun key caps ideally suited to content creation because of their overloaded symbols and lack of backlight support (see more in the “What could be improved section” below for more).
To experience the keycap customization that Drop makes central to their value proposition, they also sent me a second set of keys, the Skylight Series R2 ($45). Keycap swapping harkens back to my old Lear Siegler ADM-3A terminal—well, back when all switches were mechanical switches and devices were expensive, so you maintained them yourself.
I like that some subcultures within tech are returning to an understanding of how things are assembled, which makes for a less disposal experience. A $500 keyboard is like a classic car that requires some care. You need to learn what makes it tick to get the most out of ownership.
I swapped the keys that were bugging me—the top row number keys. They now gently glow through the numbers and special characters for fast recognition, though they are not as lovingly sculpted as the original keycaps.
The Drop Shogun’ defines a beautiful, well-crafted keyboard. I have found nothing that compares to Drop’s attention on this series. The wired-only experience may bother some, but the Drop Shogun’s responsiveness demonstrates that sometimes, for gaming and thousands of words of content, a direct connection may well remain the right choice.
What could be improved
I am not a fan of the 6° case angle. My Shogun now sports half-inch rubber feet to adjust the angle a bit. It still isn’t ideal, but the extra angle makes typing much more comfortable.
The other disappointment with Drop + RedSuns GMK Red Samurai Custom Keycaps was their lack of support for backlighting. I often work in a room that is rather dim around the keyboard. I find it difficult to find little-used special characters without some visual assistance. With the Drop Shogun, I sometimes found myself squinting to see the characters on the keys as I tried to quickly recognize which special character I was looking for among the Japanese characters also occupying the keys.
While there may be gamers for whom the Shogun’s custom keys enhance play, for content creation, they prove a distraction. I will likely swap out the entire keyset eventually.
Fortunately, as noted above, Drop also provided an alternative set of keycaps that did support backlighting.
It’s not just the keys that feel heavy; the entire Drop keyboard with its anodized CNC-machined aluminum frame (the Drop ALT-High-Profile) brings weight to the keyboard experience.
The Drop software, however, feels very hobbyist, and perhaps that’s the intention. It wasn’t hard to configure my “meta” key for the Mac, placing the Command key next to the space bar, but it also wasn’t intuitive or easy, as there is no Mac software for Drop. I worked with the PR team to find the Keyboard Configurator from which I compiled a Binary file. I then had to visit the keyboard configurator web utility for the Mac to flash the keyboard. An app would have been much better.
That said, I’m probably not Drop’s primary audience, as I don’t need layers of keyboard complexity to type. I just need great keys, hopefully in the right place. I’m guessing, though, even people with those needs would appreciate a great app.
Note that this is a wired-only keyboard. If you want Bluetooth®, you will need to look elsewhere.
I would also like to see Drop include a manual in the box, as the configuration of the default keys is non-obvious, requiring a stop by the “How to Configure your ALT Keyboard” page, not just for how to flash a new configuration, but how to use the default one.
Paragon Series Showgun Keyboard: The Bottom Line
If you are looking for the best keyboard experience you can get, then perhaps spending $500 on a Drop keyboard is a good investment. Drop offers a range of keyboards, not all of them as expensive as the Paragon series—some run under $100. For the most part, you get what you pay for, but better software would make me feel even better about the recommendation.
If you spend all day on a keyboard, you owe your fingers a good keyboard. What’s hiding inside the Paragon Series Shogun—the hand-lubricated Holy Panda Switches and custom Gateron stabilizers—seem to make all the difference, even if I don’t precisely know what those things are. I don’t understand my Chevy Equinox’s 9-speed transmission, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying the smooth shifting as I accelerate.
Drop provided the Paragon Series Showgun Keyboard for review. Images courtesy of Drop.
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