Razer Lycosa Mirror Keyboard ReviewZertz - January 29, 2009
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Just as with most modern USB devices, getting started with the Lycosa was a painless process. After it was plugged into a free port, the default Windows driver was automatically loaded and every basic functionality a keyboard can have was enabled. However, backlighting and media keys didn't work. Of course, installing the software contained on Razer's driver disc also has its uses so I dropped it into my optical drive. Oddly, the first window to pop up was asking me whether I was installing a keyboard with 104 or 105 keys. The default choice, 104, was the right one. After carefully reading the terms and conditions, clicking "Next" a couple more times and a quick restart for good measure, the Lycosa was ready to be exploited to its full extent. Those steps worked flawlessly on both XP and Vista in 32 and 64-bit flavours.
Right before restarting, I was prompted to register my freshly installed Razer product. It's always a good idea to do it as soon as you're asked to, because we humans have a pretty limited amount of memory and we tend to forget these sort of things. Once you've started gaming, going back to Razer's website to register is probably the last thing you will want, or even remember, to do.
Once your computer's desktop is back under control, you will certainly notice a new icon in the taskbar. Double click it and Razer's driver control software pops up. Not only does it have this neat gaming and catchy look, this program also allows much customization to be done on the Lycosa. The first drop down menu - Light Options - gives the choice between On, Off and WASD, which are the different available settings for backlighting. The second menu - Media Player Options - lets you select which player the media keys should launch. You are given the choice between four popular players, which, by the way, aren't necessarily installed.
At the bottom of this window, there are a few choices to be made. First, using the Auto Switching Override checkbox, you can choose whether you want the driver control to automatically switch between profiles if the application is running. The second box, Show changes on screen, is supposed to display a message on screen when the profile changes from one to another. However, it didn't seem to do anything. The last and third box, System Tray Default could've been left out, it simply prevents, or not, the driver control to launch when you double click the tray icon.
Just as with most recent gaming peripherals, different configurations can be saved to profiles. This can be particularly useful since multiple games most likely won't require the same macros to be programmed so switching between profiles makes it easy to go from one game to another. You can name your profiles so you don't have to remember which one was set to what program by double clicking in the Profile Name column. The next column, named .Exe, lets you to choose an application. Simply double click and a file dialog will pop up and let you browse through your hard drive. This allows the driver control to automatically switch to the right profile when you launch an application so you don't have to worry about firing up the software to switch between them.
Now let's move on to the most interesting part of Razer's software. When you mouse over any key, it will turn red and, when you click one, the macro key functions menu will drop down. That leaves the user with a plethora of actions to assign to the selected key. The awesome thing about this is that every single key can have a macro assigned, not just some specific ones.
Basically, once you've chosen a key you have a ton of choice to customize it. The small window on the right displays what the selected key is currently bound to, enables you to record a series of keys and, using the small mouse image at the bottom, mouse clicks as well - albeit only left, middle and right buttons. Razer also gives the possibility to ignore delays between each key stroke. Instead, you can choose to insert a custom delay between 50 milliseconds and over 12 seconds, which eliminates the unpredictable delay between every key press and permits to do some fine tuning.
Under that small window, you can select how you want the macro key to behave. First, you can choose One-Time which will act as a normal key - press it once and it performs the action once. The second choice, Repeat while pressed, is self-explanatory, it will execute the macro as long as the key is pressed. The third and last option, Repeat until next key is pressed, will run the macro over and over until you press another key.
Using the Basic Commands and Additional Commands drop down menus, it is also possible to insert simple commands like cut and paste into a macro. Clicking inside the Launch Program text box with .exe / .Ink selected will pop up a window to select any program you want. If Run is highlighted, then the text box will work just like the run command in the Windows Start menu. Either of those allows the launch of a program using a single key. The last box, Select Profile, is another drop down menu that lets you choose exactly which profile to load upon pressing the selected key. If Normal Change is highlighted, it will instantly switch profiles. In case Change only when key held is chosen, the driver control will switch to the selected profile only while the key is pressed, as soon as it is released it switches back to what it was set to before.
Finally, once you have applied a new macro to a key, it will stay coloured red so it's easy to figure out which ones have been assigned to macros. If you ever wish to delete a macro binded to a key, simply press the Reset Key and it will revert that key back to its default assignment.
Let's take a quick look at the specifications and then see how Razer's brand new gaming keyboard performs.