Razer Arctosa Gaming Keyboard Page: 1
Introduction 
 
Razer Arctosa Gaming KeyboardI had never been into gaming peripherals much until a year or so ago, when I bought a Razer gaming mouse. I had mostly got by on pretty generic input devices before upgrading to a dedicated gaming device. I was impressed with it, not just for the performance it offered, but with the overall package. Razer have got their branding and corporate identity down to a tee. The logo is immediately identifiable and well known and regarded amongst PC gamers. I have been given the opportunity to review their latest keyboard, the Arctosa, which is the little brother of the Lycosa and am looking forward to putting it under the microscope.
 
Founded in 1999, Razer are well known and well regarded for their gaming input devices. They offer a wide range of mice, mouse-mats and keyboards, specifically aimed at the gamer segment of the market. Most of their products follow a simple, but stylish, design theme. Today, we shall be taking a look at their latest keyboard offering, the Razer Arctosa. Will it live up to the pedigree which is associated with Razer products? First though, let's find out a little about the company and the keyboard's specifications:
 
 
"Razer collaborates with gamers to develop, manufacture and market cutting-edge gaming peripherals utilizing proprietary technologies that give gamers the competitive edge. We reinvented the computer gaming industry by bringing this competitive edge to gamers when professional computer gaming was in its infancy. In the mid 90s, with the advent of networked gaming and competitive first-person-shooter (FPS) games, gamers found that their legacy peripherals were inhibiting rather than enhancing their gameplay."
 

"Headquartered in Carlsbad, California, Razer collaborates with gamers to develop, manufacture and market cutting-edge gaming peripherals utilizing proprietary technologies that give gamers the competitive edge. Razer products have earned critical praise and won multiple awards from around the world for their precision, sensitivity, usability and distinctions in product design. Engineered to near perfection, Razer’s reputation of being the leader in gaming peripheral technology is embodied in every single Razer product.

Razer - For Gamers. By Gamers™."

(Taken from the Razer website)
 
 
 
 
Razer Arctosa Gaming Keyboard Features & Specifications
 
Slim Keycap Structure with Hyperesponse™ Technology 
The Hyperesponse™ keys of the Razer Arctosa reduce key latency and maximize response for critical actions during competitive gameplay ensuring fast, accurate and consistent actuation response in the intense frenzy of competitive gameplay.

Selective anti-ghosting capability around WASD gaming cluster
The Razer Arctosa addresses “ghosting” signal failure that occurs when you press multiple keys simultaneously on traditional keyboards. Selective anti-ghosting around the WASD gaming cluster on the Razer Arctosa allows more commands to be entered at any one time without the “ghosting” signal failure.

Fully-programmable keys with macro capabilities
Too many keystrokes to enter and too little keys? Sometimes we wish we had more fingers (or maybe an additional arm for that can of soda or beer while we’re in the middle of a raid.) The next best thing would be fully programmable keys with macro capabilities that enable instantaneous, multiple commands with a single keystroke. Buy armor and weapons or execute complex manoeuvres with a single key with the Razer Arctosa. Some things are better than extra fingers (or arms).

•Fully-programmable keys with macro capabilities
•Selective anti-ghosting for WASD gaming cluster
•Slim keycap structure with Hyperesponse™ technology
•Easy access media keys
•Gaming mode option for deactivation of the Windows key
•10 customizable software profiles with on-the-fly switching
•1000Hz Ultrapolling™ / 1ms response time
•Detachable wrist rest
•Approximate size:
470mm (length) x 165mm (width) x 20mm (height) – without wrist rest
470mm (length) x 222mm (width) x 20mm (height) – with wrist rest

System Requirements
•PC with built-in USB
•Windows® XP / x64 / Vista / Vista64
•CD-ROM drive
•Internet connection (for driver installation)
•35MB of free hard disk space

(Taken from the Razer Arctosa product page)
 
 
 
So that's the introduction over and done with, now it's time to take a look at the Arctosa, up close and personal, starting with the packaging and contents on the next page.


Razer Arctosa Gaming Keyboard Page: 2

Packaging

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. 

 

Razer Arctosa - Box Top  Razer Arctosa - Box Bottom
 

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.



Razer Arctosa - Inner Box  Razer Arctosa - Box Inner 2

 

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. 

 

Contents

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.

 

Razer Arctosa - Wallet Contents  Razer Arctosa - Keyboard

 
Moving on, it's now time to take a good look at the Arctosa and see what it can offer, on the next page.


Razer Arctosa Gaming Keyboard Page: 3

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.

 

Razer Arctosa - Keyboard  Razer Arctosa - Back of Keyboard
 

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.

 

Razer Arctosa - Keys Close Up  Razer Arctosa - Media Control Panel

 

Razer Arctosa - Logo on Wrist Rest


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.



Razer Arctosa Gaming Keyboard Page: 4

Testing

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.

Gaming

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:


Razer Task Bar Icon
 


 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.
 

Razer Arctosa Device software  Razer Arctosa Device Software 2
 

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.



Razer Arctosa Gaming Keyboard Page: 5

Conclusions 

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.

 
Although the keyboard does feel cheap in construction and materials, it is presented nicely. From the packaging to the design of style of the keyboard, it all ties in nicely and looks great. The Razer logo on the wrist rest does demand attention and the piano finish on the plastic body does look nice. Unfortunately though, this isn't enough to offset the negative aspects of the keyboard. Considering that you could purchase the Razer Lycosa, which has a touch sensitive panel, USB ports and an overall improvement in build quality, for just £13 more than the Arctosa, I would much rather consider the Lycosa as my gaming keyboard. The Arctosa is obviously intended to be aimed at the entry level market, but I do feel that the price could have been set more sensibly. Had the keyboard been given a lower RRP, I could have been more forgiving of it's faults.
 
Our thanks go to Razer for providing the review sample. The Razer Arctosa is available to purchase at Scan for £39.81. You can discuss this review within our forum.
 
 
The Good  
+ Macros and Profiles
+ 1000MHz Polling
+ Media Controls
+ Nice styling
+ Attractive overall packaging
 
The Mediocre
* Media Control Panel not touch sensitive 
 
The Bad
- Feels cheap
- Styling let down by cheap feel.

 
OC3D Reviewed