RAZER Lycosa Gaming Keyboard Page: 1

Introduction RAZER Lycosa logo

When it comes time to upgrade my peripherals, I must admit that I do my research and read a lot. And usually before I fork out some cold, hard folding stuff on a new item the old one has usually snuffed it or is on its last legs anyway. My reasoning behind this kind of purchasing behaviour is that I have something that serves me well; does everything that I need it to and the thought of having to swathe through countless reviews and retailer sites scares me. Or you could  call me lazy :D

I'm sure that many of you have probably been in the same scenario, and to be honest peripheral purchases can tend to be a bit of a hit and miss affair. In the absence of hard data and benchmarks that make PC hardware purchases considerably easier, the same cannot be said for peripherals.

My Logitech G15 rev. 1 keyboard is starting to look very long in the tooth, and the W,A,S and D keys have all bar worn off. But hey it still does everything that I need it to do. The thought of trying to find another  keyboard of the same calibre as the G15 conjures up images of painful experiences from the past. However, those images quickly faded away the day I was introduced to the RAZER Lycosa Gaming Keyboard.

The RAZER Lycosa is a gaming orientated keyboard named after the European Wolf Spider (from the Latin - Lycosidae). Interestingly, Lycosidae have a very strong tendency to flee at the approach of any large animal - I hope this isn't indicative of what we can expect from the RAZER Lycosa :D. Jokes aside, the RAZER Lycosa Gaming Keyboard is an impressive piece of kit and I'd like to start this review by taking a look at its specifications.

Specifications

The specifications for the RAZER Destructor were taken directly from the manufacturers product page
 
 
* Keytop with non-slip rubber finish
* Backlight illumination with WASD cluster lighting option
* Fully-programmable keys with macro capability
* Gaming cluster with anti-ghosting capability
* Slim keycap structure with Hyperesponse™ technology
* TouchPanel™ 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
* Earphone-out and microphone-in jacks
* Detachable wrist rest
* One integrated USB extension port
* Approximate size:
469mm (length) x 168mm (width) x 15mm (height) – without wrist rest
469mm (length) x 221mm (width) x 15mm (height) – with wrist rest

System Requirements

Windows® XP / x64 / Vista / Vista64
PC with built-in USB ports
CD-ROM drive (for drivers)
At least 35MB of hard disk space (for drivers)
 
 
Features
 
The RAZER Lycosa has some attractive features, that include:
 
Lycosa_1Keytop with non-slip rubber finish
With its non-slip rubber finish, the Razer Lycosa offers optimum tactile comfort and makes slipping up in the heat of action a thing of the past
 
 
 
 
Lycosa_2Backlight Illumination with WASD cluster lighting option
Make darkness your ally. While your enemies fiddle in the shadows, command precision and take hold of their fate with backlight illumination on the Razer Lycosa. With the right keys lit up, you can always be sure of your next move.
 
 
 
Lycosa_3Fully-programmable keys with macro capability
Be one step ahead of the competition with fully-programmable keys with macro capability that enable instantaneous command executions.
 
 
 
 
Let's head over the page to take a look at how your RAZER Lycosa should arrive at your doorstep...


RAZER Lycosa Gaming Keyboard Page: 2
Packaging and Contents
 
The RAZER Lycosa comes packaged in the now familiar black and grey theme. The font of the rectangular box features an image of the Lycosa keyboard itself highlighted by the blue back-lit keys. On the reverse side of the box, RAZER has included the features and specifications of the unit.
 
RAZER Lycosa front of box RAZER Lycosa rear of box
 
Opening up the lid, we are greeted by the three headed RAZER logo in flouro green on the underside. The RAZER Lycosa keyboard is protected from accidental breakage courtesy of a large folding flap of cardboard that tucks neatly into the existing box structure. On this flap of cardboard RAZER has also seen fit to highlight the features of the Lycosa again, as well as a message from the RAZERGUY. The square-shaped package that sits neatly in between houses the accessories.
 
Inside box lid Inside box showing install CD
 
Opening up the accessories package we can see the 'usual suspects' from RAZER: a certificate of authenticity; a fold-out product catalogue; some stickers; installation manual and a driver CD.
 
RAZER Lycosa accessories
 
Let's head over the page to have a look at the RAZER Lycosa in a little more detail... 


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A Closer Look
 
First impressions are usually lasting ones, and subsequently I'm happy to report that the RAZER Lycosa is both incredibly sleek and visually attractive. However, the black shiny plastic that has been used on the Lycosa absolutely loves fingerprints and attracts dust like nobody's business.
 
RAZER Lycosa front RAZER Lycosa back
 
The rear of the keyboard features small rubber feet to ensure an effective grip on a majority of desktop surfaces, and the inclusion of retractable feet should you wish to operate the keyboard in the elevated position. The RAZER lycosa also allows for the wrist rest to be removed courtesy of four small screws on the underside. While removal of it is a little more time consuming, it does make for a considerably more secure fastening system than my Logitech G15
 
The RAZER Lycosa uses an 104-key QWERTY based layout, and the keys themselves are very similar to laptop ones with rubberised protectors over the top. The keys are very low profile, especially when compared to a G15 keyboard.
 
RAZER Lycosa vs Logitech G15
 
The Lycosa also features an onboard touch panel (driver dependent) that can be used to control the keyboard backlight; audio player controls, gaming profiles and macros.
 
QWERTY keyboard Audio player screen 
RAZER logo
 
The RAZER Lycosa features an inbuilt single USB hub and sockets for both a microhone and Line-in cable. The RAZER Piranha headphones would do well here.
 
USB, Mic and headphone jack USB, mic and headphones connector
Connectors
 
At the end of the RAZER Lycosa' cable there are two USB plugs and the obligatory Line-in and microphone jacks. One USB plug provides power for the keyboard and the other provides power for the USB hub built into the Lycosa chassis.
 
Let's head over the page to see how easily the RAZER Lycosa is to install and what software RAZER has included...
 


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Installation and Software
 
After plugging the RAZER Lycosa into my Vista Ultimate based PC - AquAus, it was immediately recognised. RAZER includes a keyboard driver and driver control configurator on their install CD which must be installed in order for all the features of the Lycosa to be useable. You can use the Lycosa without the features offered by the driver, but that would be kind of pointless. After installing the software and restarting the PC I took a short trip to my 'Start Menu' to see if any other software was installed during the procedure. I'm happy to report that RAZER has seen fit not to include additional useless crap with their drivers; unlike some other keyboard manufacturers.
 
Start Menu
 
The driver includes a small RAZER logo icon in the system tray which provides access to the 'Driver Control' panel. The Driver Control panel allows for configuration of the RAZER Lycosa; changing of profiles and deployment of macros should the urge grab you.
 
System tray
 
At the top of the Driver Control panel you can set the Lycosa' backlight to being on, off and a slightly weird WASD configuration. I'm not quite sure of the WASD setting, as every game that I use needs more than those four keys. Plus having the WASD keys lit, but the rest of the keyboard blacked out tends to make finding other keys a little tricky in dimly lit, or no light situations.
 
Backlight configuration
 RAZER Lycosa backlight RZER Lycosa WASD
 
The RAZER Lycosa has the ability to control software audio players courtesy of the onboard touch sensitive panel. Support for the four major players out there has been included - Windows Media, iTunes, Real Player and Winamp.
 
 
Lycosa Media Player options
 
Lycosa Media Player controller
 
At the bottom left hand corner of the Driver Control panel we can see the Profile Selection tab. The Profile Selection tab allows you to make up to ten personalised profiles for your keyboard. The beauty of the RAZER Lycosa as far as profiles are concerned is that you can set the profile to start from the moment that a program is launched.
 
Profile configuration
 
As well as editing the profiles to your own personal preference, the RAZER Lycosa allows you to include macros as part of the profile. The Macro Key Function tab gives you the ability to store different profiles for different applications or games. Each of them holds macros, which are specific chains of key presses. With these macros, you can bind actions like buying weapons and armor in Counter-Strike to a single key.
 
RAZER Lycosa Macro Key Functions
 
Let's head over the page for the testing phase...


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Testing
 
I have decided to test the RAZER Lycosa Gaming Keyboard according to two criterion: Gaming and Desktop. I will testing the RAZER Lycosa on my current test setup - AquAus. For the gaming phase of the testing I will taking the RAZER Lycosa into battle in Counter Strike: Source and Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. I will be testing the RAZER under both well lit and dark conditions to see how the backlight performs, and whether the W,A,S, and D configuration can be used effectively.
 
During the Desktop testing I will be using the RAZER Lycosa for typing Word documents, reviews and a few bouts of Photoshop. I will be looking at the following aspects: comfort, speed and accuracy.
 
 
* Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9650
* Asus Blitz Formula SE
* PowerColor Radeon HD4870
* 2GB PC2-9600 FlexXLC DDR2 RAM
* 2 x 250GB SATA II Seagate NCQ 16Mb cache 7200.10 - RAID 0
* 1 x 200 SATA Seagate Barracuda (Storage)
* Logitech G9
* RAZER Lycosa Gaming Keyboard
* RAZER Destructor Precision Gaming Mat
 
* Reference keyboard  -  Logitech G15
 
Gaming
 
The RAZER Lycosa is unlike any other keyboard that I have ever used before. The low profile keys feel very fast and have just the right amount of travel before registering the keystroke. The keys aren't the quietest when typing, but they aren't the loudest that I've used either. When gaming, I didn't see an increase over my usual performance. However, the keyboard certainly feels more responsive to the touch.
 
I found the backlit keyboard very easy to see in both well lit and poorly lit conditions, although some may find the LED's a touch on the bright side and as such they may pose as a distraction. An adjustable brightness option may be welcome here. The W,A,S and D configuration was okay to use in well lit conditions, but I found it frustrating to use in the dark when I needed to push other keys.
 
 
Desktop
 
Using the RAZER Lycosa for desktop work is very pleasant. Initially I did find the change from my Logitech G15 took a little getting used to. The Logitech G15 has a slightly wider keyboard than the Lycosa and I found myself constantly hitting the 'Caps Lock' key instead of the 'A' that I was looking for. A slight adjustment to the positioning of my arms was all that was needed to correct the issue. Once you get used to the RAZER Lycosa layout, the lower profile keys are extremely fast for touch typing as the fingers don't need to lift quite as high. This equates to more words per minute which is a bonus.
 
All things considered, the RAZER Lycosa is a competent performer and worthy of a serious look.


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Conclusion RAZER Lycosa
 
So how well did the RAZER Lycosa perform in today's review?
 
I must admit that I was really impressed by the RAZER Lycosa. Even though it doesn't bring anything exceptionally new to the table that hasn't been done before, it does what it does well, and without feeling clunky or awkward. The included software for editing keyboard profiles and macro functions is also both intuitive and easy to use. Thankfully RAZER has also kept an eye on the software and ensured that it remains free of bloat and useless features.
 
Overall, typing and gaming on the RAZER Lycosa was a very pleasant experience and the rubberised keys were very responsive and comfortable to use.
 
The quality of the RAZER Lycosa is typical RAZER - thoughtfully designed and well implemented with a definite feeling of sturdy construction oozing from it. One thing to remember here though is how easily the RAZER Lycosa attracts dust and fingerprints. If you're anything like me and like your gear to always look its best, then you had better be prepared for some regular cleaning with a micro-fibre cloth.
 
Recommended Retail Pricing (RRP) for the RAZER Lycosa Gaming Keyboard comes in at US$79.99. The best price I could find in the UK from a reputable retailer was £54.63 Inc VAT from Scan Computers UK.
 
For our Australian readers, Altech Computers has the RAZER Lycosa Gaming Keyboard for $148.90 (inc. GST)
 
The Good
+ Looks
+ Build Quality
+ Compact design
+ Drivers
+ Performance
 
The Mediocre
* Readily attracs dust and fingerprints
* A little pricey
 
The Bad
- Nothing to report
 
OC3D Gamers Choice Award
 
Overclock3D would like to thank Altech Computers for making the review of the RAZER Lycosa Gaming Keyboard possible.
 
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