I review a mechanical typewriter made for gaming.
I’ve been eyeing the Razer BlackWidow for a short while now, and yesterday I took the plunge and got one. I’m writing this on the BlackWidow. I’ve decided to review how it is for typing and gaming.
The purpose of the getting a mechanical keyboard for me is to hopefully allow for better long-term typing, with hopefully an improvement in speed. The expected longer life of a mechanical keyboard as opposed to a membrane keyboard is an added bonus. I also wanted it to be acceptable for gaming — mechanical keyboards are known for having a tougher down-force requirement than membrane keyboards. The BW has cherry blue keys, which are good for both gaming and typing, as well as having a lighter 50G of downforce. I liked these features on paper because I was a little afraid of having a tough to press keyboard as I’m not used to a mechanical keyboard. Far from being old-skool, I think I’ve only used one or two mechanical keyboards in my life, and I don’t think I liked them.
I should also talk about ergonomics, and ergonomic keyboards. I’ve found that the table you’re on pretty much defines what kind of keyboard you’re going to like using. A corner table means your arms may be a little further out, and for me that means I prefer “ergonomic” keyboards like the Microsoft Natural keyboard. That’s the keyboard I used at work for a long time, and I “acquired” it for home use. Unfortunately, I found that using it on a straight table is difficult. My arms on a straight table are naturally flat and I have to keep remembering to move them out while typing. Using it for gaming is also a massive pain, as the mouse is now quite far to my right, and the WSAD keys are angled away from me. However the click on the MS Natural keyboard is quite satisfying, and it’s about the “hardness” that I wanted.
Which is why the first thing I noticed about the razer keyboard was how light the keys were. The keys are actually quite easy to press; easier than the MS Natural keyboard (a membrane keyboard). While on the one hand I was relived that I wouldn’t have to develop enormous finger muscles to type on the thing, I was a little disappointed at how overly light it felt for typing. However I expect it will be better for games (I haven’t played any yet). The other thing is that certain keys like backspace and enter feel a bit harder to press with my pinky, and the space bar feels a bit easier than I’m used to. I’m sure this is partially to do with the angle at which I’m trying to press them. I’m slowly getting used to it.
The keys themselves appear to be a little bit rough, which stops your fingers from moving off them as easily. I don’t think this is a bad thing, just takes some getting used to from other keyboards where they positively want you to get off them. It might also have to do with the fact that there’s a bit of give after the keys are deactivated. They also feel a bit... I don’t know... smaller? I’ve got a “normal” (cheap HP) keyboard at work and I always hit the key I want on it, but here I may go a little too far. I don’t really know why this is the case, but I’m already getting used to it. Additionally, the font on the keyboard is a little funky. I don’t look at the keys, but if you need to look at the keyboard you will take a quarter of a second to register which key is which. Although, if you’re looking at a keyboard at all it’s probably not so bad. However, I find that when switching from the mouse to the keyboard or taking a rest, I’ll take a glance down to see where to put my hands, and I do a double take every time with this keyboard.
The feel of the keys is definitely different. The bright side of course is, being mechanical, each keypress result in a single button being pressed. That is, there’s no chance of accidentally typing a key twice, or any such issue like that. There’s also a reassuring click for every key pressed. The actuation point is also higher in the travel. Something you notice and it’s pretty nice. The strange thing is how there’s a little bit of travel before the key-press itself. Something that you can get used to but still a bit strange. Alongside the clicks and registration, it makes the keyboard feel simultaneously more precise as well as more “squishy”. The other strangeness is the clicky sound mimics a mouse click and not a keyboard click. This is a bit strange. I like a keyboard to go “Clack” not “Click”. Apparently that’s intentional by Razer, but it’s not my cup of tea.
The feel of the keyboard is distinctive, and you immediately feel the old-skool vibe when using it, even though the keyboard looks all shiny and futuristic, and even has a douchey blue light at the bottom. I’ll have to try games on it and see how that goes. Overall it’s pretty nice but definitely use a mechanical keyboard before deciding you want one. If I’d used it before buying it I’d definitely have given it more consideration.