peripherals

All posts tagged peripherals

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!

Everybody knows that when it comes to gaming, there is nothing more important than having equipment that does what is required.  Whether it be a headset that picks up footsteps and noises that would otherwise go unnoticed, or keyboards that give you the edge as far as macros go.  Just as important is the mouse.  You want something comfortable to use, something that works seamlessly, and something that delivers in pretty much all aspects of the game.  Does the newly released Logitech G502 Proteus Core Tunable Gaming Mouse live up to expectations?  Let’s find out!  Check out the unboxing video below.

Packaging is always something that catches my eye, and probably the eye of others, too.  The G502 packaging does not disappoint.  With its blue and black colour scheme, and a nice image of the mouse on the front of the box, it’s easy enough to see what you are getting.  The sides and back of the box provides information not only relating to the mouse itself, but also specifications.  Opening the flap on the front of the box, you are greeted with a nice view of the mouse through the clear plastic window.  Removing the mouse from the box is where the real magic starts.

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The G502 itself is actually really easy on the eye.  It is a black mouse all over, apart from the Logitech Gaming logo which illuminates a nice blue colour, and a slight light blue strip on the left side and also on the base.  This blue strip is where you can remove the enclosure on the base of the mouse and access the space where you can add up to five 3.6g weights (included), to add a bit of weight to the mouse if it is too light for you.  Altogether there are 11 programmable mouse buttons, perfect for macro customisation within the downloadable software, and the solid metal scroll wheel has something different about it.  It has two modes – a Free Roll mode and a Restricted mode.  The Free Roll mode is perfect for web browsing as it provides endless, fast scrolling, while the Restricted mode presents the standard scrolling that we are all used to, and what I think gamers would be more inclined to use.  It is also easy to swap between to the two modes – just click the button directly behind the scroll wheel.

After downloading the software and getting the G502 set up and ready to go, it was time to put it to the test.  The software gives you the ability to change the button layout, set macros for in-game use if you wish, and also allows you to fine tune the mouse for use on the surface of your choice.  This is achieved by going into the Surface Tuning section of the software and calibrating the mouse.  There are defaults already present, but you can add your own.  Simple click the Add New Surface button, name the profile with the surface you are using and you are taken through a setup wizard which requires you to move the mouse in a figure 8 pattern while pressing on the Left mouse button until the wizard is complete.  Upon completion, the difference is instantly noticeable when using the mouse on your surface of choice.  You can also make changes to the DPI (Dots Per Inch) within the software.  The range is from 200 to 12,000 (wow!).  Having the ability to customise the DPI this much means that there most definitely should be a setting to suit everyone, and any game of choice.  Lastly, there is an option to enable G-Shift.  This means that when you press the designated G-Shift button the mouse, you can use the assigned mouse buttons to perform tasks such as switching between browser tabs and changing the Zoom on the page.

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g50203Comfort wise, I am yet to suffer any discomfort while using the G502.  My hands are reasonably small and it’s almost as if the mouse was made to fit.  The buttons are all placed within reach so there is no need to reach for them and the slightly grooved space for the thumb provides somewhere for the thumb to sit, rather than balancing it on the edge of the mouse or on the desk.  The rubber grip that is placed on both sides of the mouse adds extra grip for both the thumb, and the outer fingers, something else that I like very much.

Overall, the G502 mouse is actually a really nice bit of kit.  The design and responsiveness is something that I think every gamer will love and the little added extras like the option to add weights, and the ability to change from Free Roll to Resctricted modes on the scroll wheel is a nice touch.  With a price tag of £69.99, I think that the Logitech G502 Proteus Core is a mouse that gamers should definitely pay attention to.

 

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!

Today I have the next product in the latest gaming range from TeckNet, the T21 Gaming Keyboard, to review.  I have been impressed with TeckNet’s gaming range so far, but can the T21 keyboard live up to expectations?

The packaging for the T21 keyboard is what you would expect for a keyboard.  It is very informative, providing information about the macro keys, as well as the anti-ghosting keys.  The box features a nice front view of the keyboard itself, so you pretty much know what you are getting before you even take it out of the box.  The back of the box contains even more information in regards to the keyboard and some of its features.

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When I removed the keyboard from the box I was instantly impressed with the build quality of the keyboard itself.  It is very weighty (1.5kg), very sturdy, and the actual style is something that will not look out of place on your desk.  The keyboard boasts a 1.8m braided cable with two gold-plated USB adapters on the end (one to power the keyboard and one to power the USB port on the rear of the keyboard), 20 anti-ghosting keys, a volume control dial, and a USB port on the rear of the keyboard.  The black and red colour scheme goes very well with the rest of the TeckNet gaming range also, so everything fits together nicely, as it should.  Also included in the box is the driver/software CD and a macro expansion module.

Setting the keyboard up was as straightforward as it could be.  Plug in the keyboard to your PC, install the bundled software, and away you go.  Using the PC software, you can then program any key you like to do whatever you want it to – perfect for assigning keys to make your gaming session that little bit easier.  The included macro expansion module clips quite nicely on to the top of the keyboard over the top of the function keys.  You connect this up via the USB 2.0 port on the rear of the keyboard itself and can then program these keys as you wish.

The T21 keyboard features silica gel material under the keys which provides premium elasticity, making the keyboard a dream to use when both gaming and typing.  The volume control lights up a very nice blue colour, so it is easy to find during gaming sessions.  The right hand side of the keyboard has a foldaway arm that you can expand to attach another expansion, if required.  Also included on the keyboard are 20 anti-ghosting keys which gives you the ability to use more than one key at a time – something that is very popular with PC gamers.  The palm rest provides added support and comfort during PC sessions, again, whether it be for gaming or regular use.

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After using the keyboard for a prolonged amount of time, it is very comfortable to use.  I have not suffered any hand fatigue whilst playing games, and using the keyboard to type is also a nice experience.  The features seem to cover everything that a gamer would want it to, and everything works as it should.  The quality of the keyboard does not disappoint, and with the price-tag being a lot lower than other gaming keyboards (around £40 GBP), I can see it fast becoming a favourite in the PC gaming community.

When it comes to PC peripherals, there are plenty out there to choose from.  Being a night owl though, I am always on the lookout for something that will benefit myself as well as my partner.  I received the Anker Ultrathin Backlit Wired Keyboard just over a week ago now – here are my thoughts on it.

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When I first received the keyboard I was glad to see that it was as described in the name – Ultrathin.  My previous keyboard is quite bulky so the Anker one measuring in at 45 x 21 x 1 cm and weighing only 975g, definitely makes a welcomed change.  The keyboard itself has an impressive finish to it with its aluminium palm rest, and the overall black and silver theme goes really well together.  Build quality is very good – everything feels well made and works as it should.

Getting the keyboard set-up to use was as simple as it could have been.  You plug-in the USB plug to your PC and you’re up and running.  Like I said, simple!  The keyboard itself has 15 independent multimedia and hot keys which make performing tasks easy and straightforward.  The top right corner of the keyboard sports a dimmer switch which is used to control the amount of illumination the keys and buttons put out on the keyboard when in use – having the illumination turned on makes nighttime use so much easier, especially if you prefer to use the PC in the dark (like I do).  The palm rest helps to alleviate hand fatigue which can be caused by prolonged periods of typing and computer use.  Another feature of the keyboard that makes nighttime use easier is the whisper quiet keys.  Not only are they quiet, they are also very responsive and feel cushioned when you press them.

I have used this Anker keyboard for several different tasks over the few days that I have used it.  These tasks range from playing games to typing out emails and long text documents, as well as your basic daily use.  I have yet to encounter an issue with keyboard and everything works as it should do.  Personally, I think that people who use the keyboard for basic every day activities, as well as those who play games in a casual manner would more than likely benefit the most from this keyboard as there are more advanced and gaming focused keyboards available for the hardcore gaming types.

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Overall, I am very impressed with the Anker Ultrathin Backlit Wired Keyboard.  It does exactly what you would expect it to and is a breeze to set-up.  The illuminated keys makes nighttime use so much easier, and the whisper quiet keys means that you are less likely to disturb others in the room when you are busy typing away.  For the price that you can pick this keyboard up for (around £26.00 GBP), I doubt you will be disappointed with anything at all.  The keyboard does what you would expect of it, and how you would expect it to.

I will mention that I was a bit surprised that when I powered down the PC, the lights on the keyboard stayed illuminated.  This was the case right up until I turned the dimmer switch all the way down.  I am not sure if this is supposed to happen or if it is a driver issue.