Priced at about $80, the Black Widow is one of the cheapest mechanical keyboard you can buy. It lacks the backlighting, headphone output and usb ports that the ultimate version have but at the end of the day it’s still a Cherry MX Blue switch mechanical keyboard that can be macroed to your hearts content. If you’re not familiar with mechanical keyboard, basically by using mechanical switches instead of the usual rubber domes, you will get a longer-lasting keyboard with unique tactile characteristics on every keypress depending on the type of switch used.
If you read mechanical keyboard reviews, most put the Cherry Blues as the “typing” switch. It registers each press clearly with a satisfying click. This click however can be too loud for some and there is no way you can use the keyboard in an office environment if your coworkers are not cool with that.
The keyboard has 5 dedicated macro keys on the left edge of the board. With Razer’s configuration tool you can use these to initiate pretty much any action you can think of including very long macro sequences. Other keyboards such as the Corsair K90 have more than 5 macro keys but I think this is plenty for everyday gaming.
Form and Ergonomics
Like most gaming keyboards the BlackWidow doesn’t particularly make any attempt at ergonomics such as curving the keyboard or providing ample wrist rest. Gamers do not seem to view this as a must-have feature though, since they spend most of their time with one hand on the ASWD region and the other handling a mouse.
The keyboard layout is very traditional save for the aforementioned macro keys. Despite of that, I feel that this is the most comfortable keyboard I’ve had for typing. Although the keys are deep they don’t need a lot of effort to push down, resulting in a very fast and precise typing. Even if you don’t spend most of your time gaming, I would say buying this keyboard is still worth it for the better typing experience.
I did some light gaming test with Guild Wars 2 and Dishonored. I moved some functions that requires me to shift my hand to the right (such as I for inventory or M for map) to the macro keys so that it is more easily reachable. It usually takes a second to shift your hand to the right while going slightly to the left to hit the macro keys takes probably half a second. This is a very clear advantage over regular keyboards for me.
I do coding at work and some of the most used features on my IDE (Integrated Development Environment) requires key combinations (e.g. Ctrl-Shift-R) and can be quite straining if you use it a lot. Mapping these combinations to the macro keys definitely makes my work easier since I don’t have to get my hand into difficult positions.
Some of us may balk at the thought of spending so much money for a keyboard. My rationale is that if you use it a lot it might as well be comfortable, longer-lasting, and helps with your productivity. I definitely recommend this keyboard IF you’re not planning to use it somewhere where people are extra crazy about quietness.
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