It is finally here! The first BlackBerry BB10 smartphone with a full qwerty keyboard launched in the US a few weeks ago and I put it through its paces. I purchased the phone out of contract at T-Mobile for $579.99 + tax. For most BlackBerry faithfuls, this is the the top phone to have. the Z10 is a great device but for me, I need a berry with physical keyboard. Coming from the Bold 9900, this was not a necessary upgrade but I couldnt resist a flagship BB10 smartphone with a keyboard. Lets go over in detail what I think about this device and BB10 overall. Continue reading T-Mobile BlackBerry Q10 Full Review
The Realforce 87u is one of the best and prestigious keyboards in the world. This keyboard is sought after by many programmers, secretaries, and other professionals that spend most of their day typing. This keyboard uses the capacitive Topre switches which are arguably, the best key switches in the world. While this keyboard is often considered a mechanical, Topre switches are technically a hybrid switch. Part rubber dome, and part mechanical spring. For the sake of simplicity, Ill refer to this keyboard as mechanical. Now that we got that asside, lets talk about this keyboard. Like I said, the Continue reading The Best Mechanical Keyboard? Realforce 87u Review
Around late 2007, a new computer entered the consumer market by appealing to users who wanted something in between their smart phones and laptops. Filling the gap, theВ NetbookВ was born. The main purpose of the Netbook? Its a computer that can browse the Internet, type documents, and still be portable. Most netbooks are powered by Intels underwhelming Atom CPUs which improved longevity. Besides their small form factor and long battery life, netbooks continued to penetrate the market with their attractive pricing. Most can be bought for about $300 and even giant retailers like Wal-Mart and Target started selling them. They also worked great on Linux and I even bought one! Whats not to like? They were portable, В affordable, В and cool. Today, theres a general consensus thatВ the Netbook is dead or dying. Can this be true? Lets take a look at the signs.
The mainstream do not like Netbooks. Netbooks are looked at as cheap, underpowered laptops. The mainstream values power over longevity. This is probably why people drool over the latest 1-2Ghz smart phones but battery life is a second thought. The same can be said about computers. If you think about it, marketing power is easy. This laptop is the fastest on the market sounds much more appealing than This netbook lasts twice as long as that fast laptop. Power is easy to market and trying to sell an underpowered laptop is difficult to say the least. Another reason the mainstream dont like Netbooks is their build quality. Netbooks are affordable. The side-effects of affordability is a reduction inВ quality. In order to keep their prices down, luxuries like a metal body must be replaced with plastic. One can argue that you are getting a good value, but try convincing that to a culture that is infatuated with expensive iProducts.
MSRP Buy I mean Best Buy
I was in the market for a netbook last year and Best Buy had tons of them for sale. Unfortunately, they all had the N450 single-core processors. I spoke to one of the staff and asked him if they were getting the dual-core N550 soon. He told me perhaps they are clearing out the N450 netbooks before they stock in the new one. Flash forward a year later and Best Buy still has these crappy N450 Atom netbooks on their shelves! Im glad I didnt wait. I ordered my AsusВ EeePC off Amazon and put that sucker to work. If I am in the market for another netbook, my money will probably go to Amazon again. Why? Because the retail industry suck. Why, after a year, does Best Buy still have netbooks that are years out-dated? I mean, this is not a flea market. This is supposed to be an electronics retailer. Electronics go out of date the day they hit the store shelf. Lets get some new models already!
I think a few things might be going on. They could be liquidating the ones they have in stock. That makes some sense. If netbooks are dying, why order new units? Why not just get rid of the ones you have? On the other hand, if you are trying to sell a bunch of new tablets, why promote a competing product? Out with the old, in with the new, right? Maybe retailers dont have much faith in netbooks anymore? Maybe they ARE dying? One thing is clear, if netbooks are not dying, the retail industry is not helping.
The Tablet Experience
Many analysts predicted that the tablet market will eventually kill off netbooks. People needed a product to fill in the gap between their phones and their laptops. Netbooks and tablets did just that. Although netbooks had a head start in the market, tablets continue to fill the shelves of electronics retailers gaining massive popularity. Another interesting thing about tablets is their demographic. Both tablets and netbooks aim at similar markets but tablets are more geared towards consumers. A netbooks main strength is the physical keyboard and full operation system. Tablet OS are less featured and generally dependant on app quality. App design and quality varies on most tablet OS and they havent had as much time to mature compared with traditional desktop OS. Tablets seem to have a disadvantage, right? They dont have keyboards. Their OS is not geared for production. And yet they are still more popular. This leads me to believe that most people are looking to buy tablets for another purpose; consuming media. And that is probably why the netbook is dying. The gap between smart phones and laptops is more fit for consumers than producers. Producers would rather use a laptop or a desktop to edit images and video over a netbook. The only real production work you can do on a netbook without hiccups is word processing. With tablets, you can browse the web, listen to music, view photos, watch videos, and play games easily. You cant really edit videos or images effectively on tablets but consuming media fulfill the needs of most people. Perhaps in the future, they will be powerful enough to handle production tasks.
In the meantime, the relatively new experience of using gestures and a touchscreen as a main input method is fun and intuitive. This tablet experience makes it easy for anyone to pick one up and use without being well versed with computers. Maybe the market is asking for a new way to use the computer.
The Future of Netbooks?
Do I think netbooks are dying? Yes, sort of. Netbooks are becoming less popular in the mainstream but there is still a demand for them. Students who want a computer are still more likely to buy a netbook over a tablet because of their physical hardware keyboard. Netbooks are becoming a bit stale. Theres nothing about netbooks that really impresses consumers. They dont offer anything new. Sure they are smaller and slowly getting more powerful. Anything else? The tablet experience is fresh and while some people thought it was a passing fad, they are still going strong. The fact that netbooks are small and affordable means they can be transported easier by student and purchased in bulk by school districts. Aside from the education sector, netbooks in the consumer market only seem to attract a small niche. Unfortunately, unless something drastic happens, like a huge bump in processing power, I continue to see interest in netbooks decline. As someone who is a part of this niche, this makes me sad. What do you thing? Are netbooks dying?
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.