One of Razers’ latest products is the Razer Lycosa and it is a more slim and compacted version of its big brother – the Razer Tarantula. However the Lycosa also brings some new features to the table such as a touch panel for media keys and the ability to transform any key into a macro button with the software provided.
Razer is one of the largest gaming peripheral manufactures worldwide and certainly one of the most famous. As gamers are its core demographic it needs to constantly bring out new and exciting products to stay ahead of the competition.
Features and Specifications
- Keytop with non-slip rubber finish
- Backlight illumination with WASD cluster lighting option
- Fully-programmable keys with macro capability
- Gaming cluster with anti-ghosting capability
- Slim keycap structure with Hyperesponse™ technology
- TouchPanel™ easy access media keys
- Gaming mode option for deactivation of the Windows key
- 10 customizable software profiles with on-the-fly switching
- 1000Hz Ultrapolling™ / 1ms response time
- Earphone-out and microphone-in jacks
- Detachable wrist rest
- One integrated USB extension port
- Approximate size:
469mm (length) x 168mm (width) x 15mm (height) – without wrist rest
469mm (length) x 221mm (width) x 15mm (height) – with wrist rest
- Windows® XP / x64 / Vista / Vista64
- PC with built-in USB ports
- CD-ROM drive (for drivers)
The Lycosa arrives in a compact cardboard box sporting a large picture of the keyboard on the front. On the back of the box there is a ‘technical comparison’ comparing the Lycosa to a standard keyboard. The features and specifications are listed in 11 different languages.
When you open the box you see a black CD case sized packet with the Razer logo emblazoned on the front. Contained in this packet is a quick start guide, a certificate of authenticity, some promotional materials, two stickers of the Razer logo and most importantly, the ‘master guide’ which also held the driver disc
Underneath the piece of black cardboard that the packet was attached to is the Razer Lycosa – – wrapped in protective material. The Lycosa is firmly held in place so that it does not move around whilst in the box.
The Razer Lycosa
Setting up the gaming keyboard requires the user to plug in two USB cables and two audio inputs (providing you are going to be plugging your headset into the top edge of the keyboard.) Also on the top edge is a USB 2.0 port which makes up for one of the ports you lose when plugging the Lycosa in. Despite this I can’t help but feel that Razer should have included a second USB port to make up for the ports lost in connecting the Lycosa.
The Lycosa is one the most aesthetically pleasing keyboards I have seen. This is due in part to the glossy black around the keys. However the most interesting feature is the completely black keys, which truly look amazing. However both of these features have their downsides. The glossy black is a fingerprint magnet and very quickly becomes coated in them. I would have liked to have seen a cleaning cloth included to help overcome this problem. The black keys also have a major problem. They are almost unusable without the backlight to anyone who isn’t a comfortable touch typist. This is because particular key functions don’t become apparent until the backlight is shone through.
The blue backlight looks amazing when contrasted with the black of the keyboard. There are three stages of the back light: On, WASD cluster and off. Although the WASD cluster option is a good idea it would be better if it was programmable in the software so that you could select other keys to also illuminate, as when the WASD cluster option is selected the backlight to every other key is cut off. As most games require other keys to be used for commands such as reloading it doesn’t really work. Another problem with the backlight is that is relatively dim and can be almost impossible to see when you are not looking directly down on it. It also becomes nearly impossible to see the keys in bright light; this means that you will often find yourself closing curtains just to be able to type.
Another cool feature of the Lycosa is the TouchPanel. It’s certainly looks a lot better than the traditional buttons and is certainly an impressive feature. However it needs some sort of feedback, such as a sound, so that you know that your command has been registered. For example pressing the Razer logo in the middle of the TouchPanel and the Windows key deactivates the Windows key. This is great news as many people often press the windows key in the middle of a game and end up having the game minimized to desktop. Although when you deactivate the key it does nothing to tell you that it has done so. This often means that if you accidentally press the windows key in game it still minimizes to desktop, even though you thought that it had been deactivated.
The software provided with the Lycosa ensures that the process of creating macros is a very simple and painless process. It enables you to create up to 10 profiles for different games. You switch between these profiles simply by pressing the Razer logo on the TouchPanel and F1-F10 depending on which profile you want to select. The software enables you to select which Media Player you wish the media controls to work in. If you press one of the media keys whilst the chosen media player is not open the Lycosa will launch it for you. You can also select which lighting option you want active. However opening the software and selecting the option from a drop down menu takes much longer than simply pressing the required button on the TouchPanel.
Typing is incredibly comfortable and enjoyable on the Lycosa. This is due to the low profile keys which are similar to the keys used on laptops. They are coated in non-slip rubber which certainly increased my typing speed.
To test some of the most celebrated features of the Lycosa, I played a game of Battlefield 2. However I soon realized that the anti-ghosting on the WASD cluster is mainly a tick box feature. As nearly all keyboards can already process 3 simultaneous key presses – for example ctrl – alt – delete to bring up the task manager in Windows XP requires 3 buttons to be pressed at once. So when the WASD keys are mainly used for forward, left, backwards and right why would you need to use more than 2 keys?
The keyboard also performed superbly in Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance as there was a lot of different combinations of keys that need to be pressed and so the non-slip rubber coating helped me to press the correct keys at the right time.
The 1ms response is noticeable in many points in fast paced games, for example jumping at the correct time certainly helped but I was unable to notice any difference with simple commands such as move.
Unlike some cheaper keyboards, the Razer features very grippy feet, so does not slip or move whilst in usage.
The Razer Lycosa is an excellent keyboard and performed just as it was set out to do. It’s solidly built and so, as a result, doesn’t move around the desk while typing or gaming.
The keys are comfortable and responsive but the poor backlighting lets them down, making it impossible to type in certain conditions. Compared to many keyboards available on the market, the Lycosa looks amazing.
However for £60, the Lycosa is certainly lacking. Whilst all the features you would want are present, when examined they are poorly thought through. There are many small niggles, such as the backlighting needs to be made stronger and the anti-ghosting needs to be included on more keys.
Despite all this the Razer Lycosa is a very good addition to the Razer family. The keys are comfortable and responsive – – unlike many ‘gaming’ keyboards currently available. This keyboard does actually help in games and I would certainly recommend it to any gamer who is a comfortable touch typist.