Razer Lycosa Keyboard Review
By André Gordirro on October 20, 2008
A traditional maker of gaming-grade peripherals, Razer introduces its mid-level keyboard, the Lycosa. Small and slim and featuring rubber-coated keys and headset connections, the product has an elegant and high-tech design – especially when the blue backlighting is on. But beauty can only go skin deep, so it’s time for us to check out if functionality goes with its gorgeous design. Let’s put the Lycosa through the test.
At first glance, the rubber coating makes a good first impression until you notice that the letters are virtually invisible without the keyboard being hooked to a PC and the backlighting option turned on. From the rear side, there’s a cable with two USB outputs and two separate audio outputs. Unfortunately, the Lycosa requires two USB ports from your PC while giving back a single spare USB input on its top edge – an unfair trade-off. Of course Razer intended to keep a clear channel for the data stream concerning typing reactiveness, but we still think it’s a bit of overzealousness and waste of a USB port. Once the Lycosa is hooked to your PC, you can plug a mouse and headset to the connections in its top edge.
In addition to the rubber-coated keys, the Lycosa features a small touch pad with multimedia controls (play/pause, stop etc), a switch for the backlight (turn on/off and a special light for the WASD cluster), and a button in the shape of Razer’s logo. This particular button selects the different user programmed profiles when pressed along the F1-F10 function keys. It’s a space saving feature because other keyboards have separate function keys that make them much bigger than the Lycosa, like Razer’s own Tarantula, and both OCZ's Elixir and Logitech's G15 (these two were previously tested by us).
The Lycosa also features a detachable plastic wrist rest that is anything but: it requires four screws to be detached. Come on, Razer, could it be a little more practical, like a plastic rabbet? We also think that the rubber coating could have been applied to the wrist wrest to make it more confortable.
You can configure the Lycosa to your liking by using Razer’s proprietary software that comes with an installation disk. The application let you create 10 profiles to be assigned to the F1-F10 function keys – they can be configured to open a photo editor, a game or a text processor, for instance (we did it with Photoshop, Word and Team Fortress 2). You just have to press the Razer logo button on the touchpad and the function key at the same time to access the new functions you programmed. The user can also record macros – programming a sequence of keys to respond to a single button stroke – that can save up to 16 keystrokes to a single button.
There’s no way you are going to use the Lycosa with the backlighting feature turned off, because the keys become almost invisible – and although our typewriting is pretty good, every new keyboard demands an adaptation period. Without properly seeing the keys, your typewriting goes out of whack. The lighting is so faint that only gives a hint of the keys in a brightly lit room. It did bother us that the keyboard doesn’t have a way to regulate the lightning – it’s either faintly lit, turned off or illuminating the WASD cluster. In a darkly lit room – such as a lan house – the backlighting feature worked really nicely. Aside from the backlighting issues, the overall experience of using the Lycosa to work and play games was very satisfactory. The rubber-coated keys felt comfortable while typing and playing, and they are easy to clean – for those who, like us, have the habit of eating while at the computer, rubber is the way to go.
To paraphrase Jack Nicholson, “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” So we plugged on our Razer Piranha headset and one of our gaming mice (to be tested in a later opportunity) and hit the virtual trenches. The keys responded very precisely and quickly, either the WASD cluster or the macro keys we programmed to change weapons and engage the power from our game personas. After hours of gaming, the rubber coating felt smooth and comfortable although, as we said earlier, it could also extend to the wrist rest.
Costing about USD 20 less than Logitech’s G15 (which actually is more on par with the Tarantula model from Razer), the Lycosa is still a bit expensive if you bear in mind the weak points (like lightning issues and having only a USB port to spare). Still, you have to give kudos to the beautiful design that turns every desktop into a high tech setup. And the solution for configuring the function keys made for a slimmer and more elegant final product and less convoluted workspace.
Razer Lycosa main specifications are:
* Researched at http://www.shopping.com on the day we published this review.