The keyboard is supplied in an attractive cardboard box, which is printed on all sides with information about the product. I must say that the packaging made me eager to see what was in it. The top of the box features a nice image of the keyboard and the Razer logo and product name, while the bottom has text that goes into detail of the features. There are also a few inset photos of the keyboard.
Upon removing the outer box, we are greeted with the inner box, which has a hole cut out, into which a nice looking cardboard wallet is inserted. The wallet is emblazoned with the Razer logo, and does look quite eye catching. Inside the inner box, we finally get to the keyboard. There is nothing else in the main compartment. The keyboard is placed in a plastic envelope.
Overall, the packaging is very attractive, and does it's job. The addition of the cardboard wallet was a pleasant surprise, and does give a nice, well thought finish to the packaging. There were no unexpected surprises regards the packaging. The information contained on the outer box would be enough for a customer to make an informed opinion of the product.
So now we get down to the nitty gritty, and see what we get for our money. Obviously, there is the keyboard, then there is a quite good quality manual, installation CD, a certificate of authenticity and two Razer logo decals. Considering the price point that the Arctosa is at, the package has some nice little touches and makes you feel that Razer have spent some effort on their products and packaging.
A closer look
The packaging would lead us to believe that we have a very stylish and attractive product to discover within, so let's see if this is the case or not.
The Arctosa is quite a slim keyboard, and the layout of the keys does feel reminscent of a laptop's keyboard, with the exception of the numeric pad. With a striking piano finish to the keyboard, the style of it is quite eye catching. The Razer logo features twice on the Arctosa, with a large transfer on the wrist rest, and another smaller logo on the media control panel.The wrist rest is secured to the main body by several screws. I was quite surprised to see this as most rests are usually held in place with some simple clips or slots.
The keys themselves are of the low profile variety, with a short return on them. The characters on each key are simple transfers, which could wear with usage. Moving on, the next feature to mention is the media control panel, which is located on the top right portion of the keyboard. This is also used to select the macro profile too. The panel is able to control the four main media players, and the media player or system volume too. On face value, the panel looks to be touch sensitive, but Razer have been a little bit cheeky here. I shall reveal why in my conclusions. The panel also sports the Num, Caps and Scroll Lock status LED's, which are a contrasting pure white colour.
So that's about all there really is to discuss in the looks department. The Arctosa does look visually striking, and the overall theme works well. With the glossy black piano body and matte black keys, the Arctosa is pleasing to the eye upon first glance.
The big question now is whether it can earn the title of a gamer's keyboard. I shall be testing it and discussing the results on the next page.
To give the Arctosa a run for it's money, I tested it whilst gaming and for general typing usage. I played a few different genres of game, to give me an overall feel for the keyboard whilst gaming, and I carried out day to day tasks, such as browsing, email and word processing to get a feel for every day usage.
The ability to use macros when gaming is a great advantage. You can basically bind certain chains of commands to one single key press. The Arctosa's controlling software makes setting up macros easy and pretty effortless, by using the software supplied. Another great thing is that you can set profiles which will allow you to store macros seperately. So if you use macros in more than one game, you don't have to keep setting the individual macros for each game. You would create a profile and select the relevant profile for each game. You access the controlling software by clicking on the Razer icon on the task bar:
To set a macro, you would click on the key that you want to set for usage on the graphic keyboard representation, and then click on 'Record', followed by the key combination you require. It's as simple as that.
To switch profiles on the fly, you just need to press the Razer logo on the media control panel, and then the appropriate F1 to F10 key for that profile. Text will appear on screen, in Razer green, to show confirmation of which profile has been selected.
The Arctosa also features 1000MHz UltraPolling, which means that the keyboard scans for user input at a rate of 1,000 times a second, meaning that inputs are detected and acted upon pretty damn quick. I certainly felt an increase in responsiveness over my standard keyboard. One thing I didn't like was that the keys are low profile, and you can lose track of where your fingers are when the gaming action heats up. I did find myself frantically having to look away from the monitor a few times after a lively bit of action in-game.
Whilst testing the keyboard, I tried quite a few different games. I played Battlefield: Heroes, World in Conflict, Lord of the Rings Online. Half Life 2 and Star Wars Galaxies, amongst others. The macro feature really comes into it's own with MMORPG's, as it can simplify often quite laborious in-game tasks. I enjoyed my gaming time whilst using the keyboard, apart from the afore mentioned niggles. The keyboard will never make me a pro, but at least it helps me make the most of the skills I have.
Every Day Usage
This is where the Arctosa fails me. I am not a big lover of low profile, laptop-esque keyboards. I like a satisfying and comforting feel of chunky keys. That is my personal preference though. Some may find the keyboard perfectly acceptable. When first using the Arctosa, there was a transition period of getting used to the feel of it. But I have not felt any more comfortable using it over my main keyboard. In my opinion there are no advantages to the Arctosa when using it for non-game related tasks. It isn't great, but it isn't terrible either. You can also set macros to work with applications, so if you wanted to alter the hot keys, or reduce multiple key combinations to acheive a task down to one key press you can do so.
So the test are finished and we have discussed the features and looks. So all that's left for me to do is draw my conclusions and give the Arctosa it's score, on the next page.
The Arctosa has generated mixed feelings from me towards it. On the one hand, the macros and profiles features work well, and the responsiveness of the keys is great. As a gaming keyboard, there are enough features there to earn that tag. But on the other hand, I can't help but be disappointed by the overall finish to the Arctosa. It feels and looks like a cheap keyboard. There really is no other way to put it. When I opened the box and saw the media control panel, I thought that this would lift the keyboard to a higher level, as I thought it was a touch sensitive panel at first. I was shocked to find that it was just a strip of cheap plastic covering the media control switches. I did feel slightly robbed by this. The keyboard, when in use, felt very much like a laptop's keyboard. The keys don't have a lot of return, and are quite clicky when depressed. As I said though, the macros and profiles settings work extremely well, and are simple to set up. Whilst gaming, the keyboard did also feel much more responsive than my usual keyboard.