Razer Blackwidow Ultimate Mechanical Gaming Keyboard – Review (@Razer)

It is fairly safe to say that Razer are best known for their wide range of gaming peripherals.  Today, I have the Blackwidow Ultimate Mechanical Gaming Keyboard (2014) for review, and I can’t wait to get started!

The keyboard arrived in a well designed box, as always.  On the front there is a small window that gives you the opportunity to give a few keys a press to see how they feel and to test the switches.  Also on the front of the box is a nice view of the Blackwidow Ultimate itself, as well as some information relating to the keyboard and the new Razer mechanical switches.  The back of the box gives a more in-depth description of the switches, including the differences between the previous blue switches and the new green ones, as well as the features of the keyboard.

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Upon removing the keyboard from the box, things are kept pretty minimal.  You have the keyboard, and some documentation for the keyboard – the quick start guide, warranty information, product registration details, and lastly, the Razer stickers that are included with each purchase.  The keyboard itself has a nice matt back finish and the keys seem to be decently sized.  Along the top row of keys, they double up as media keys, backlighting control keys, and gaming mode On & Off keys – these aren’t dedicated though, so the use of the Function button is required.  Along the bottom of the keyboard is a nicely placed Razer logo that illuminates once plugged in, along with the backlighting that lights up the rest of the keyboard.  Down the left side of the keyboard there are five programmable macro keys, and lastly, there is a decent sized braided cable that has two USB plugs at the end, as well as two 3.5mm jacks that you can plug into your PC.  One of these USB plugs powers the keyboard, while the other powers the built-in USB port on the right side of the keyboard.  More about this later though.

Above the number pad is where you will find the notification lights.  These let you know if Gaming Mode is enabled, if Caps Lock is on, Number Lock, as well as letting you know when Macro Recording is active.  I quite like this area of the keyboard because if you have all of the above options turned off, the top corner section of the keyboard just looks like the rest of the keyboard.

In order to program the macro keys, you need to download the Synapse 2.0 software from the Razer website.  This seems to be something that needs doing with each Razer product, so if you have more than one device, luckily only the one download is required.  Once you have it up and running, you can make changes to the Blackwidow layout, lighting intensity, profiles, etc.  There are three tabs under the Keyboard header – Customize, Lighting, and Gaming Mode.  Within the customize tab is where you make changes to the profiles, enabling you to assign keys to different functions, from keyboard keys to mouse button clicks.  The lighting tab is self explanatory – you can adjust the lighting intensity and choose between the Pulsate mode, and the static brightness – levels include Bright, Normal, Dim, or Off.  Lastly, the previously mentioned Gaming Mode tab is where you can disable troublesome keys such as the Windows key and the Alt + Tab key, giving you the option to use the keys freely whilst gaming.  The final second and final header is the Macro header – as the name suggests, this is where you can create and program all of the macros that you require.  Alternatively, you can use the dedicated macro switch on the keyboard to record macros when you want, rather than having to load up Synapse to do so.  As always, any changes you make are saved to the cloud, allowing you to use the same settings from any computer with Synapse 2.0 installed.

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The new switches in the 2014 Blackwidow Ultimate are green, rather than the previous blue Cherry switches.  Razer appear to be very proud of these switches as they are made specifically for gaming, and they are NOT made by Cherry, like others are.  The reset time after clicking the keys now is actually shorter than it is with the Cherry MX switches, enabling you to get more key presses in a shorter time.  I’m sure there are gamers out there that would actually benefit from this, but, I am not one of them as I still press the keys just as hard as I did before.  Old habits are hard to break.

The USB and 3.5mm ports on the right side of the keyboard allow you to plug your headset and mouse directly into the keyboard.  I gave this a try and didn’t encounter any annoying buzzing or static noise with the headphones, and the mouse worked as it should also.  All in all, this feature works really well.  It could also be handy if you are someone who does not like wires sprawled out across the desk too much.  With it being on the right side of the keyboard, it was conveniently placed for me to use, being right-handed.  I’m not sure what left-handed people will think of it though as it would mean having wires going from right to left on the desk.

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Overall, I am impressed with the Razer Blackwidow Ultimate Mechanical Gaming Keyboard.  It is durable and definitely helps Razer live up to the reputation it has in place for being one of the best for gaming peripherals.  I really like the green backlighting, and having the option to change the light intensity is something is very welcomed.  The ease of creating macros and setting up the keyboard to suit you using the Synapse software should be very inviting, even to gaming keyboard novices.  While I’m sure the new green switches will be appreciated by hardcore gamers, I couldn’t really benefit from them as I’m not into PC gaming as much as others – they did work really well though from what I could tell.  I think the Blackwidow will be a favourite for gamers of all ages, regardless of their PC gaming preferences!

Orbweaver Elite Mechanical Gaming Keypad – Review (@Razer)

The Orbweaver Elite Mechanical Gaming Keypad from Razer is a mechanical gaming keypad that gives you the functionality of using the left side of yourr keyboard for gaming, in a standalone device.

It’s standard now that the Razer packaging is something that is always high quality.  With its green and black colour scheme, the images and text just pops and works really well.  The front of the box shows a pretty full image of the Orbweaver keypad, and also contains a few key points, including the fact that the keypad has 20 fully programmable buttons.  Both sides of the box also contains a wealth of information, ranging from the mechanical key infrastructure, to the backlit keypad.  The back of the box gives a breakdown of the keypad itself and lets us know what each part is for.  Also included in the box is the standard user guide.

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The Orbweaver Keypad is a beauty, really.  As well as the 20 programmable keys, you also have a left handed, 8 way directional thumbpad, a nicely gripped palm rest, an equally nicely gripped wrist rest, and two buttons that sit nicely either side of the thumbpad (one being the same as the spacebar) and lastly, the USB cable.

Using Razer’s Synapse 2.0, you can set up the buttons on the keypad as you wish.  You can store unlimited game profiles, program the keys, and set the backlight on the device to suit your preference.  The Orbweaver features 8 keymaps that can all be programmed with a different key layout using the 20 programmable keys and the two side buttons.  Although there is no present switch available to quickly swap between the keymaps, using Synapse, you can set one of the keys to do this if you would like to.  Once you have set the keypad up to your liking, all of your settings are saved on the cloud using Synapse so that you can access them from whichever location you take your keypad to.  Please note that while Synapse 2.0 is not required to use the keypad, it is needed if you would like to program the keys rather than using the standard layout.

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The Orbweaver, although a little weird looking, is actually really comfortable to use.  The padded wrist and palm rests and much needed support, while the buttons are placed within a reasonable length for your hand so there is no over stretching to reach them.  Saying this though, I have pretty small hands and had issues reaching the top row of keys – even with the unit sized to the smallest available size, so I think people with medium to large sized hands may have a better time using this.  The thumbpad and two side buttons are also in a decent position and are easily within reach for ease of use.  Having the option to reposition the wrist rest, the side unit that houses the thumbpad/buttons, and also the option to slightly rotate the palm rest is very welcomed.  Being able to resize and reposition those key parts all add to the comfort factor, and also helps to cater for people with larger hands.

Being able to fully customise the key layout using the Orbweaver is also something that I think gamers will love.  Rather than having to reach for certain keys on the keyboard, you can set the keypad up to do the same thing by simply programming the keys to suit you.  Being able to save several game profiles is also handy as you may use different key layouts for different games meaning that all you have to do is switch from one to another.

The keys on the keypad are all backlit (the main keys are, any way) and are full mechanical keys with 50g actuation force, meaning that is doesn’t take a large amount of pressure to  press the keys.  The keys also make a nice ‘clicking’ sound when pressed so you aren’t left thinking “have I actually pressed that key properly”.  Also, just above the thumbpad and two buttons, there are three light bars – these tell you which keymap you currently have equipped.

The Orbweaver Elite Mechanical Gaming Keypad is a great bit of kit.  While it is probably better suited to people with medium to large hands, it is a pleasure to use and provides comfort in all of the right areas.  It would have been nice to see a braided USB cable rather than a rubber coated cable, but it isn’t a game changer of an issue.  It is not a ridiculous size and definitely would not look out of place in any gaming setup, especially if you are someone who enjoys your PC games.  Now all we need is something for us small hand gamers!

[NEWS] Razer Launches the World’s First Mechanical Switches Specifically for Gaming

Today, Razer, a leader in entertainment software and devices , announced the launch of the first ever mechanical switch specifically designed for gaming – the Razer Mechanical Switch.

Traditional mechanical switches were primarily designed to be used for typing, the newly announced Razer Mechanical Switches have been completely designed for gaming.

After doing extensive research, the award winning engineers from Razer have identified the actual distance for a gaming switch to within a fraction of a millimeter and have reduced the distance between the actuation and reset point by almost half, allowing for better precision as well as faster gaming commands.  This is noticeable when compared to standard mechanical switches. Also, the newly announced Razer Mechanical Switches are produced using an ultra precise manufacturing technique that when coupled with gold plated contact points, will provide users with a lifespan of up to 60 million key strokes.

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Although the Razer Mechanical Switches were designed from the ground up by Razer scientists and engineers, mass production was carried out by a third party manufacturer.  To ensure that each switch was made to meet the demanding specifications and also to make sure that the switches was up to the standard of the blueprints and specifications, Razer placed its own quality assurance experts on the production floor.

The Razer Mechanical Switches have been thoroughly tested by the world’s most demanding eSports competitors who have validated the switches in some of the most intense professional gaming tournaments.

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“The new switches on the Razer BlackWidow have a lighter and smoother feel, allowing me to play at a faster pace than before,” says Jens “Snute” Aasgaard, Team Liquid StarCraft player. “It’s comfortable and solid – perfect for long practice sessions and tournaments.”

“Instead of focusing solely on typing comfort, as traditional mechanical switches have done, we had to completely rethink the conventional approach behind the actuation and reset points of mechanical switches in order to fine-tune them for gaming,” says Min-Liang Tan, Razer co-founder, CEO and creative director. “Our engineers’ focus for the specification was on speed, accuracy and durability to bring the unfair advantage to gamers worldwide. The new switch makes the most popular gaming keyboard in the world even better.

The Razer Mechanical switch is available on the new Razer BlackWidow family of mechanical gaming keyboards, and is open to other gaming peripheral makers who wish to manufacture the highest quality gaming-grade mechanical keyboards.

The all new Razer Mechanical Switch comes in two types: The Razer Green switch that is tactile and clicky, requiring a force of 50 g to actuate; and the Razer Orange switch that is tactile yet silent, requiring a force of 45 g to actuate.

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For more information regarding the Razer Mechanical Switches, as well as the Razer BlackWidow range of gaming keyboards, please head to http://www.razerzone.com/razer-mechanical-switches

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