Regular keyboards use plastic membranes with dome-shaped rubber switches under the keys to determine when a user pushes a key.
Mechanical keyboards use an individual physical switch under each key to define a key push. This results in better audible and tactile response, as well as improved speed and accuracy.
The Razer BlackWidow Ultimate 2013 edition mechanical gaming keyboard is one of the best. It was named DL Editor's Choice last year.
The 2014 edition looks, weighs and measures exactly the same as its predecessor.
At 1.5kg and nearly half a metre wide, it takes up considerable space on your desk. A tangle-free braided cable connects it to your computer via two USB connectors.
The keyboard's construction is superb - its matte finish defeating fingerprints and smudges.
A USB 2.0 port, microphone and headphone jacks can be found on the right side of the keyboard.
The biggest difference between this year's model and last year's is that Razer says the newer one uses its own mechanical switches that has been purposefully designed specially for gaming.
When we pried open the switches, we found that there were two logos on each switch. One was Razer and one was from global switch manufacturer Kaihua Electronics.
Each mechanical switch is triggered at an optimal distance for faster speed during gaming. Each key also resets at half the distance of a key on a regular mechanical keyboard, for effortless tapping.
Having used its predecessor previously, I found that each key of the new version does not have to be depressed as much in order for the keystroke to register. But the difference is quite minimal.
Still, each concave-shaped key maintains great tactile feedback with every tap. It feels equally good when you use it for normal typing.
Another improvement is that it is not as loud as the 2013 version.
Each key, which is supposed to last 60 million keystrokes, is individually backlit, so you will never mishit any during a battle in the dark. It uses a gaming optimised key matrix to avoid ghosting and supports anti-ghosting of up to 10 keys. Ghosting refers to a situation when some keys do not work when multiple keys are being pressed at the same time.
All the keys, including the five additional dedicated macro keys (on the left of the keyboard), can be fully programmed using Razer Synapse 2.0 software. The keyboard also allows you to create on-the-fly macros.
If you already have the 2013 Razer BlackWidow Ultimate gaming keyboard, you probably can give this a pass. But the 2014 edition is a great buy for gamers after a new mechanical gaming keyboard. That is, if you are willing to pay the price.
Compatibility: Windows 8/7/Vista/XP(32-bit)/ and Mac OS X (v10.6 to v10.9)
Value for money 3/5
This article was published on April 16 in Digital Life, The Straits Times.
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