Game review: gaming keyboards
OK so you have decided to step up from console gaming to the world of PC gaming, you`ve splashed out on a fancy new graphics card, even bought a gadgety gaming mouse, yet your still using the old ten pound keyboard you have owned for the past few years.
Well not any longer, I have had a good look around and have found three of the best and most innovative gaming keyboards on the market at the moment, each one has its own unique spec and with a wide price range there’s something for everyone.
Now I know we are all short of money, yet if you want to fully appreciate some of the amazing PC games available there’s no point in scrimping when it comes to keyboards, you will be surprised what difference it makes.
First off we have the Mad Catz S.T.R.I.K.E. 5 pro gaming keyboard and as usual it doesn`t resemble anything else on the market.
It comes in five pieces and assembles into a monster of technology that dares you to play with it.
If you know of the cyborg range then this fits in nicely, and with the separate pieces you can set it up to suit your needs.
The most striking piece of this set up is the E.Y.E module that sits proudly at the top of the keyboard with its nine programmable macro and three mode buttons.
With the circular eye staring out at you it certainly looks cool. This is your command module where you can access volume controls for audio and mic, clock, three different timers, keyboard brightness levels and even three different key board light colours.
And to top it all the E.Y.E can be programed to show up to 12 icons of your choice for quick launching.
Now let’s talk about the keyboard itself. Now the first thing you notice is the lack of mechanical keys and this is the one thing that lets this board down.
Mad Catz have already said that they consulted the gaming community and they prefer the non-mechanical key format, yet for an item of this price it would have been nice to have them, although it still functions really well as a keyboard so it’s not all doom and gloom.
Another feature you notice on plugging it in is the lack of a driver CD. These are all downloadable from the Mad Catz site along with the programming software, a bit of a pain I know but handy if you no longer use a CD-rom.
With 21 programmable macro keys there is no shortage of customisation available and with three different modes as well that’s 63 programmable keys in all, enough for even the most professional gamer.
The extendable wrist and palm rests are a nice touch and compliment the look of the keyboard.
The Mad Catz S.T.R.I.K.E. 5 pro gaming keyboard is a nice piece of kit and you do get a lot for your money. It works really well, with plenty of sensitivity and heaps of gadgets with its unusual looks and beautiful lighting it’s well worth looking into if you’re thinking of getting serious about your PC gaming.
Mad Catz S.T.R.I.K.E 5 Gaming Keyboard
Control module with E.Y.E. OLED Display
21 Programmable Macro buttons
3 Part active Palm and wrist rests
Next on my list is something a little cheaper, but still one of the best out there. The Razer Black Widow ultimate mechanical keyboard is a beautiful thing to behold, finished in piano black with blue light up keys it certainly looks classy, you don’t get any fancy gadgets on this one, but to be honest it looks and feels awesome.
With a nice solid construction weighing in at 1.4 kg therefore portability is not really an option with its thick braided twin usb cable and gold plated connectors - it really means business.
Each key is individually lit and the brightness can be adjusted or turned off altogether, because it is a mechanical keyboard you get a satisfying clunk when you press the keys, and it doesn`t take much pressure to activate them either, which is handy when you’re in a tight spot and need quick key reactions.
The Razer Black Widow ultimate mechanical keyboard also has synapse 2.0 software allowing the user to program every key individually, and with the ability to save up to ten profiles you can see why this is a popular choice for PC gamers, with five additional dedicated macro keys as well.
It has a handy usb slot and sockets for headphones and mic situated on the side of the keyboard handy for charging a mobile phone or a similar device.
As a normal keyboard this works really well. OK it’s noisier than your average keyboard yet very tactile and looks and feels very solid.
The Razer Black Widow ultimate mechanical keyboard is for the price a great keyboard, solid and well-constructed; perfect for gaming or just as a keyboard, a good choice for any gamer and well known amongst the gaming community so plenty of street cred.
Razer Black Widow ultimate mechanical keyboard
Fully programmable mechanical keys
5 additional macro keys
Razer synapse 2.0 enabled
Audio-out/mic in jacks
Price: £109.94 (depending on retailer)
Finally, we have the KBTalking Pro Mechanical keyboard which is the most diverse of the three.
To look at it the KBTalking pro looks like any other keyboard, yet it is the future of keyboards in my opinion. Not only can it be used for gaming and general use it has a unique feature, you can connect up to 10 Bluetooth devices to the KBTalking and switch between each device easily, a must in this world of multiple devices.
The connection is flawless and the KBTalking can be used via USB or as a wireless keyboard for use with Bluetooth devices (except windows phones and Xbox consoles), yet it does work with smart TVs and fully supports Android and Apple devices.
The KBTalking Pro supports the most popular operating systems windows xp, Vista, windows 7 and 8 plus MAC OS X (ten and higher).
The one thing that lets this down for me is the lack of backlit keys, yet I have been advised that there will be a new version out later this year that will have this feature.
It’s a tough well-built keyboard with swappable key sets, special function keys like a cooking timer and an exercise timer, and a very useful hotkey disable function for security and accidental interruption during gaming, and you can also switch between four different operating systems.
The KBTalking Pro has plenty of shortcut keys easily laid out and very accessible with a nice neat usb cable for connecting to a pc. The wireless works flawlessly and has a good range allowing me to use it on my TV whilst sitting on the sofa. Summary
The KBTalking Pro is the shape of things to come, gone are the days of breaking off from your pc when a text arrives on your phone. With this you simply hit the appropriate Bluetooth key and you can type a reply via the keyboard. The KBTalking pro is available via their site in the US and they do plan to sell these in the UK soon for around £100, it’s great value if you have a number of devices and you want to use more than one without stopping and starting, as a gaming keyboard it works well and is very responsive.
KBTalking Pro mechanical Keyboard
Connect up to 10 devices via Bluetooth 3.0
Detachable USB cable
Assignable OS modes for each device slot
Can be 100% wireless ( if all devices are Bluetooth enabled)
Utilises cherry MXred mechanical switches
UV coated keycaps for ease of cleaning
Price: $169.00 (UK price to be confirmed)
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