В There you are, sitting on your office chair. Feeling comfortable and good about yourself. Let me tell you something. You are lost. You are a nobody. Why? Because you dont have aВ mechanical keyboardВ in your life! Like some evangelical preacher, I have an idea I need to sell you. That is the glory of the mechanical keyboard. If you accept the mechanical keyboard into your life, you could be experiencing increased comfort, improved productivity, and glory! It will change the way you type forever! Dont just ask me, there are plenty of fanatics that have forever converted from using cheap, rubber-dome keyboards to high-quality mechanicals. I have made a short list of five reasons why you should switch to a mechanical keyboard. I have faith that you will see the light. Continue reading 5 Reasons Why You Should Buy A Mechanical Keyboard
Razer have produced many high quality gaming hardwares. Their target audience are gamer so when Razer decided to release their first mechanical keyboard, many keyboard geeks, like myself, wondered why they choose to use Cherry MX blue switches. A better choice wouldve been Cherry MX blacks or reds. Nevertheless, we decided to buy the Black Widow Ultimate and give you a review. Although the choice of mechanical key switch isВ a glaring issue, the keyboard itself is very solid. Selling at Best Buy for about $130, this keyboard is reasonably priced considering all the features you get. As far as I know, this is also the first mechanical keyboard available at a major retailer. Most mechanical keyboards are only available for purchase online. My other mechanical keyboard (Leopold Tenkeyless), which I will often refer to in this review, was purchased online. Currently, the Black Widow Ultimate is the first mechanical gaming keyboard to offerВ back-lightingВ which is great for Razer. Im glad they are setting the bar instead of riding the mechanical keyboard marketing wave. Lets get started.
Like my Leopold Tenkeyless Brown mechanical keyboard, the Razer Black Widow Ultimate is heavy. Much heavier than normal, cheaper keyboards. This gives the Black Widow a nice quality feel to it. It definitely feels like its going to last a while. Unlike my Leopold, the Razer Black Widow does have a numpad which helps Razer sell it to a wider audience. Personally, I prefer my Tenkeyless keyboard. I find the comfort of having my mouse closer to my hands more useful than a numpad. This is just personal preference. If I do lots of spreadsheets or data entry, I can see where a standard size keyboard with a numpad would be more beneficial.
When I unboxed the Black Widow, i was impressed by the glossy finish. Although it looks really nice, this gloss finish on the edges makes this keyboard very susceptible to smudges and fingerprints. Another thing I really liked was the braided USB/mic/headphone cord. This cord is seems very durable and of a high build quality. There is an extra USB plug that actsВ as a convenient extension on the side of the keyboard. The side of the keyboard also makes it easy to plug-in a mic and headphone without hunting for these inputs on your computer tower. This is very convenient for gamers.
The Razer Black Widow Ultimate features 5 macro keys on the left edge of the keyboard. With the included drivers and software, you can program these keys to do key combinations in Windows. This keyboard has media keys which isВ activated by the Function key (FN). You can use this media keys to seek tracks, play, pause, and control you mixer volume. One of the features gamers will love is the backlight keyboard. You can toggle between five levels of backlight brightness with FN + F12. You can also quickly put your computer to sleep by hitting FN + Pause/Break. There is also a Gaming Mode which is activated by pressing FN + F11. This will disable the Windows key. Many games will break when the Windows key is accidentally pressed. This can ruin a gaming experience. Probably the best feature of this keyboard is the mechanical key switches. This keyboard features Cherry MX blue key switches. These key switches are better than your average rubber dome switches that you find on most laptops and keyboards.
Razer sells a similar keyboard called the Anansi. This keyboard is marketedВ toward MMO games but Razer decided to use rubber dome switches on them. Considering the Anansi retails at $99 and the Black Widow Ultimate retails at $129, get the Black Widow. The standard Black Widow cost about $90 and its still a better deal than the Anansi. The mechanical Cherry MX blue switches are far superior. They have a tactile feeling when you press the keys which makes for a very enjoyable typing experience. The key switch also make a distinct click. This can be satisfying or annoyingly loudВ depending on personal preference. In myВ opinion, its very enjoyable. The only difference from the standard Black Widow and the Black Widow Ultimate is the backlighting.
Typing on this keyboard is a joy. It took me a while to get used to the force required to actuate the keys but after a few minutes, I was typing like a geek. The keys feel a bit heavier than my Leopold Tenkeyless Browns which some people like and others dont. Personally, I prefer my Cherry MX Browns for typing long distance but maybe Im a bit bias because the Tenkeyless was my first mechanical keyboard. The stands on the Black Widow Ultimate are solid. I dont normally use stands unless Im leaning back but trying them out, I had no issues with them. Like I mentioned earlier, I had some issues hitting the left Control and Escape keys. Usually, I reach the farthest corners to hit these keys so this was a bit annoying. I can imagine getting use to the macro keys very quickly though. Those who have never experienced typing on a mechanical keyboard must try it. Compared to a standard membrane keyboard, mechanical keyboards blow them out of the water. It is literally like night and day.
After using it for a few days, I can safely say that this keyboard attracts smudges and fingerprints like no other. It is seriously a fingerprint magnet. Im not exaggerating either. My fingers are no less greasy than the next guy. Thats just the nature of these glossy finishes. The key caps seem pretty good. I was curious to see how Razer made their key caps to allow the LED backlight to pass through. It seems as if the key caps are actually a light, translucent plastic thats painted black and the letteringВ stenciled during the painting process. Its subtle but I can detect a hint of the orange-peel effect on the surface of the key caps. This isnt a big issue for me. I just hope the clear-coat is thick enough to last a few years. This keyboard is sharp. The design is very modern with a beautiful, aggressive taper on the palm rest. The font choice on the lettering has a blocky digital feel to it. Its definitely not your traditional Times New Roman font. The only key that seems misplacedВ is the R which is in lower-case while the other keys are all in upper-case. Maybe this is not a coincidence. R for Razer? Razer clearly pays their design department well. Even their manual had embossed lettering on their logo and a unique cut-out shape. Very nice.
This is a good keyboard but its not perfect. There are some things about this keyboard that annoy me. The very first thing that annoys me is the choice of key switches. Razer is a gaming company that caters towards gamers. They choose to use Cherry MX blue switches instead of Cherry MX blacks or reds. Why did they choose blues? Mass appeal. They figured that they could appeal to a wider audience if they went with a more popular, more versatile key switch. For those who are lost, basically, blue switches are good for typing and enjoyment. They have a nice tactile feedback with a loud audible click. Black and red switches are widely consideredВ better for gaming because they do not have a tactile feedback. These switches are more linear. In a sense, you can bottom out blacks and reds easier which is far more useful in a gaming situation.
The second thing that annoys me about this keyboard is Razers choice of backlight color. Blue is a universal color that everyone loves but it is completely useless at night. Green is a far better choice and it wouldve made Razer look far more professional if В The reason green is a superior color for backlighting is because green preserves night vision in your pupils. Blue does not. This is the same reason most car instrument dashes use green and not blue. Preserving night vision means less stress on the eyes. Gamers will probably be playing games in front of a monitorВ so this negates the effects but every bit helps. If it didnt you would be happy with a $15 membrane keyboard and you wouldnt be looking up reviews on this one.
Comparing this keyboard to other rubber dome membrane keyboards was a joke. This keyboard is far superior. Comparing this keyboard to my Leopold Tenkeyless was more fair. Personally, I prefer my Tenkeyless over the Black Widow Ultimate. The Tenkeyless is more compact and better for long distance typing. The Tenkeyless allows me to keep my mouse closer to my keyboard. It also feels easier on my fingers. Honestly, I think the Cherry MX brown switches on my Tenkeyless would do better for gaming compared to the Cherry blues on the Black Widow Ultimate. I feel like I could bottom out the keys faster on the brown switches. The only disadvantage my Tenkeyless has over the Black Widow Ultimate is a lack of backlighting and macro keys. I have no doubt that the Black Widow and Black Widow Ultimate will sell like crazy. Razer has a big following and for good reasons. Overall, they make good quality products at competitive prices. While this keyboard is marketed towards gamers, I feel that the choice of key switch and inclusion of a numpad helps to sell this product to a wider audience. Not really selling out their target audience but they could haveВ done better. If I were to build a gaming keyboard, I would keep the same formula as the Black Widow Ultimate, except no numpad, green backlighting, and Cherry MX black switches. Nevertheless, this is a great keyboard and the clicky sound of the Cherry MX blue switches gives this keyboard a unique charm. As a regular keyboard, the Razer Black Widow Ultimate is a great choice. As a gaming keyboard, there is room for improvement. As for the price. I think it is fair. If you are buying the Ultimate, you are paying $40 more for backlighting. If you dont care for backlighting, the standard Black Widow is a solid mechanical keyboard at a good price. If you must have the backlighting, then the $130 price tag maybe steep. Overall, I think the Razer Black Widow Ultimate is a great keyboard. Im not a big gamer so my quirks are not a big deal but they might be to people who are really serious about gaming. The Razer Black Widow is a great keyboard that brings the joy of using a mechanical keyboard to the masses. It is very stylish, feature-packed keyboard that is reasonably priced. You can purchase it online or at your local Best Buy.
Pros: Good looks, easily available, build quality, reasonably priced, first mechanical gaming keyboard with backlighting, macro keys.
Cons: Key switch choice, glossy finish attracts fingerprints/smudges, inclusion of a numpad (personal preference), price a bit steep for average consumers.
Razer Black Widow Ultimate
The Black Widow combines all the benefits of a mechanical keyboard with all the features of a gaming keyboard. This keyboard has programmable macro keys, backlighting, and a special gaming mode which disables the windows key. One fault I found was the strange choice of Cherry MX blue key switches. These switches are good for typing but not so great for gaming. Other than this, Razer offers the Black Widow Ultimate for under $100 which is pretty cheap for a mechanical keyboard.
When I did my unboxing and first impression- of my new Leopold Tenkeyless Brown keyboard, I mentioned that the keys seemed kind of loud. Turns out, I was right. Well, the Cherry MX В brown switches may be quieter than the Cherry MX blues, but they are still loud enough to bother my girlfriend while shes sleeping. The first night, I couldnt avoid annoying her. I just got my new keyboard and I was banging away. It took me about a day to get use to the engagement points and that made the second night of my typing moreВ bearable. I could type lightly and quietly fine but it was a chore and I didnt enjoy the feeling. It was too much work. instead of typing away, I was too busy worrying about how loud my keyboard was. I looked on Elite Keyboards and they sell soft-landing pads that you can put under the key caps which reduces the noise of the keys bottoming out. I read reviews on both the soft and the firm pads and the consensus seems to favor the firm pads. they were only $12 for a set and I made the mistake of not picking them up with my order. I wasnt going to wait for shipping so I decided to try the O-Ring Mod.
The O-Ring Mod seems to be a popular modification on the Geek Hack forums. Basically, you get a bunch of o-rings at the hardware store and put it under your key caps. The idea is that the rubber o-rings muffles the *Clacking* sound when you bottom out the keys. The plastic caps hitting the plastic base creates a harsh and loud clacking sound. Personally, I like the sound but for the sake of a good sleep, I decided to go through with this mod.
I went to my local hardware store and headed down to the plumbing section. The forum saidВ to look for size -008 standard o-rings but I could not find them anywhere. The o-rings I found used OD(Outer Diameter) and ID(Inner Diameter) measurements. I settle for 4 little boxed of #36 O-Rings which were 5/16 OD, 3/16 ID, and 1/16 in thickness. These o-rings were rather expensive at $2 per box and it only came with 10 o-rings each. If you can get it cheaper online, I would suggest you do that if you dont mind the wait.
Installing The Silencers
Installation was easy. First, remove your key caps. Either use a special tool or improvise. I used the wire from a pair of cheap headphones and a nail clipper. I pushed the wire under the key cap with the help of the nail clipper. Then I spaced the wires evenly and carefully pulled upwards until the key caps popped out. Pay special care when doing wide keys like the spacebar, shift, enter, and backspace. I then placed one o-ring for each Cherry MX switch. Wider keys haveВ stabilizersВ which needВ moreВ o-rings for even distribution. For example, the spacebar has the Cherry MX switch in the center and two stabilizer pylons so I used 3 o-rings. Same goes for the backspace and shift keys. Refer to the picture for an idea of how I do this. Then, repeat. I only had 40 o-rings so I wasnt able to do my complete keyboard. I will probably finish that up in the weekend. For now, I have o-rings under my most used keys omitting the numbers, F-keys, arrow keys, and right-side keys.
At first, the results were underwhelming. They only appeared to muffle the sound slightly. Almost as if it was still the same volume, just at another pitch. It was a lower sound. After a few day, I did notice it was noticeably quieter. I suppose, during the daytime, there was a lot white noise in the background which distracted from the performance. At night, the slightest sounds are amplified. At first, I wasnt too sure if the mod was worth the effort and cost. Now, I can say for sure that theyre worth it. The keys bottom out sooner. About 1/16th of an inch sooner but it is barely noticeable. This mod does not change the switch activation point, just the bottoming point. The keys do feel slightly different. The unmodded keys feel lighter while the silenced keys feels a bit mushy. Its not bad. I think the audible *clack* had aВ psychologicalВ impact on the feeling. Overall, I think this was a good mod. If you dont want to wake up a collegeВ roommateВ or want to be moreВ discreetВ while typing, then this mod is worth the time and effort. If you can, order or buy in bulk. It should save you more money. I also noticed that I typed a bit faster. Maybe I was getting used to the keyboard but when taking a typing test, I scored higher than average. This mod is fairly easy to do. If you want to make your mechanical keyboard quieter, give this mod a chance. You will like the results.
It has been a few days since the unboxing of this mechanical keyboard and Ive had time to put it through good use. Before I made my purchase, I spent a few days looking through YouTube and lurking at GeekHack to educate myself on mechanical keyboards. Before I pulled the trigger, I was seriously tempted to try the TypeMatrix. I was either going to get that of a mechanical. Needless to say, I went with the latter. The Leopold Tenkeyless didnt win my money at first. For my price range, the Razer Black Widow (non-Ultimate) had me taking a second look but in the end, I decided I didnt want to wake-up my other half with the loud Cherry MX blue switches. The Razer Black Widow only came in Cherry Blues which seems a bit strange since blacks/reds are considered better for gaming. Razer, being widely renowned for making gaming products decided to use a typing switch over a gaming switch. I also decided that I didnt want a traditional keyboard. The more compact Tenkeyless was just the right size. Before I got into keyboards, I would normally look for one with the most features. After going through 2 Microsoft Ergos, I realized I only used 2 of the extra buttons which were the volume controls. A sleek design means more free space on my desk.
Overview and Design
When I first unboxed the keyboard, I immediately started typing on the keys and it was louder than I expected. The keys felt really good. Ive read posts where people described the feeling and they were right. It isВ hard to explain. Let me try anyways. When you depress the keys, it feels like there in no resistance(at first). It almost feels like your fingers are falling and the *Clack* is the sound of the keys bottoming out. The keys registerВ before they bottom out. If you press the keys slowly, you canВ literallyВ feel when the switch activates. With practice, you can double tap without bottoming out the keys. Personally, I like the clack. It gave me an audible feedback telling me the key is depressed. The Leopold Tenkeyless is a fine-looking keyboard. At first, I thought it looked plain and boring but I soon learned to appreciate the simple look. The design maybe common, but its timeless. I think it looks better than the over-the-top designs of some gaming keyboards with tacky LED lights. I also prefer the traditional look over the monstrous looking Maltrons. I mean, Im sure theyreВ ergonomic, but I dont want forget typing if I ever have to jump on another computer. I also dont want to feel like a handicap either. No offense. Out of all the mechanical keyboards Ive looked into, I think the Happy Hacking Keyboard Pro 2(HHKB2) looks the best. I just couldnt justify spending $300+ for a keyboard Yet.
Features and Ergonomics
Lets be honest here. This keyboard doesnt have any. This is a keyboard that is design to do 1 thing and 1 thing well: Type. The real feature in this keyboard is not media keys,В back-lighting, or macro buttons. The real feature is the switches. This thing is a joy to type on. This is my first mechanical keyboard so I cannot compare them to the Blues but the Browns are easy and fast to type on. Once you get a feel for the actuation, you can really let your fingers go. I found this out during my first night of use.
There are no special designs when it comes this keyboard. No split keys, no matrix layout. You would expect it to rank average when it comes toВ ergonomicsВ but this Tenkeyless is more comfortable than my Microsoft Naturals. Again, I have to go back to the switches. Typing on the Microsoft Natural Keyboard was fine but after a while, my fingers would get tired. I would feel pain and need a rest. With the Tenkeyless Browns, I can type longer without a rest. Remember when I said it first feels like your fingers are falling on the keys. TheВ resistanceВ feels light but only at first. Its because I was so used to typing on dome membrane switches. Typing on these browns feels light compared to the sudden jolts of using a membrane key switch. Before, I thought keyboards needed to change hand positions toВ prevent hand-twisting. Now, I believe the switches are the main issue.
This is a solid keyboard that has some weight to it. It feels very substantial when you lift it up. This adds to the quality feeling but its not perfect. After my unboxing video, I went ahead and tested out each key. To myВ disappointment, the Backspace key was noisy. It sounded like it was scrapping on something as I depressed it. I did a search and found others with the same problem. Apparently, this was cause by a stabilizer issue. For a keyboard that costs over $100, I expected perfection. I eventually fixed the issue by carefully removing it with my headphone wires and putting it back on lightly. Then I seated the key but barely. This fixed the squeaking. Everything else was fine. The keyboard is heavy enough so that it wont move when typing and the pads are sticky. The kickstands that lift up the back snaps solidly in place. The keys are laser etched and filled with a white paint which sounds nice. Other (cheaper) keyboards use printed lettering and stickers them into place. Ive had no other quality issues besides the squeaky Backspace key.
I purchased this keyboard as my first mechanical keyboard that I can have fun typing with. I also purchased this keyboard because I wanted a quiet keyboard. It is not. It may be quieter than the Cherry MX blue switches but these still wake up my girlfriend. I have read that mechanical keyboards are louder than regular membrane, laptop-style keyboards and I knew this before I made the purchase. It wasnt a surprise. I did practice typing as so I dont bottom out the keys but this drastically reduced my speed. Maybe Ill get better. Do I recommend this keyboard? Yes. I think they are a great buy. They are probably the cheapest mechanical keyboard you can get, only rivaled by the standard Razer Black Widow. The Leopold Tenkeyless has a timeless design and is very compact. Although Ive only had the Leopold Tenkeyless for about a week, I can say withoutВ hesitationВ that this is the best keyboard Ive ever owned so far. HHKB2, youre next!
Leopold Tenkeyless Tactile Touch Keyboard Brown
This mechanical keyboard uses the Cherry MX brown switches which are great for extended typing sessions. The keyboard is heavy(sturdy) and the classic look wont make it stand out in a professional environment. The keycaps are made of ABS which are good, but not great. They do tend to suffer from shiny key syndrome after a while. Some keys may feel rough and will have to be reseated.
About a week ago, I had an accident that involved coffee and my Microsoft NaturalВ ErgonomicВ Keyboard 4000. Lets just say, the keyboard didnt survive. I decided to try something different. This was my second Natural Ergonomic keyboard in 3 years. The first one died from beer. Pretty much the same story. Ive learned my lesson. Dont get your keyboards wet. After this keyboard died, I was on the web and YouTube looking for some keyboard reviews. I found a niche of keyboards that easily sell for over $100. At first, I thought that was crazy. Who pays that much money for a regular keyboard? They keyboards dont really do anything special. They dont have tons of feature. Why should I pay that much money for a keyboard that does less? Before I dismissed the claims, I was curious to see why these mechanical keyboards were so popular. People seem to swear by them. After doing some research, IВ pulled the trigger and purchaseed my first mechanical switch keyboard. The Leopold TenkeylessВ FC200RT/AB. AKA, the Leopold Tenkeyless Browns.
During my research, I learned a few thing about keyboards. Apparently all the cool kids rate keyboards by their switches. By cool kids I mean geeks. Basically, there are many types of mechanical switches. The de-facto standard when it comes to mechanical keyboards are Cherry MX switches. These switches come in different colors. Blue, brown, clear, and red. Each color switch have their own unique characteristics. For example, Blues are the clicky switches which have very good tactile feedback. Blacks, however, are not clicky nor do they have good feedback. These areВ good for gaming. Brown switches are considered a goodВ middle-ground. They are not clicky but they do have good tactile feedback. I was struggle between this Leopold and the TypeMatrix keyboard but in the end, myВ curiosityВ of the mechanical feel won my money. I purchased mine for $109 before shipping and handling at Elite Keyboards.
The packaging was pretty bare. It was a box in another box. This was fine. There was no sign of damage and it came in one piece. The box was simple and clean. It came with the keyboard, a USB to mini-USB plug, and a USB to PS/2В adapter. When I plugged it the keyboard, it didnt work. The scroll lock and caps lock LEDs would turn on briefly but then nothing. At first, I thought this was a Linux problem. Searching the web didnt give me any answers. This keyboard is fairly new. I tried it on my girlfriends Windows machine but the same thing happened. I tried every USB port I had but no luck. I thought I might have purchased a dud but then I decided to try it on the PS3. It worked! It worked perfectly on the PlayStation 3 but not my computer. I thought my computers USB ports werentВ deliveringВ enough power. It turns out, the mighty PS3 fixed this problem. Now it works fine on my laptop.
The typing experience was a bit strange at first. I think I may have gotten too used to the split keyboard design. I tried toВ acclimateВ myself with the traditional style by using my laptop keys as much as I could but its only been a few days. I wasnt too confident typing with these at first but I В took a typing test and beat my Microsoft Ergonomic Keyboard record. I quickly got used to it and it feels great. If I press the keys slowly, I can feel when the letters input. They keyboard is also heavier than I expected. It has a high-quality feel to it. The letters are laser etched with white paint filled in. Most keyboards have a cheaper sticker placed on the keys. This is a much nicer keyboard overall. First impressions are good so far. Stay tuned for a full review.