WolfKing Timberwolf FPS Gaming Keyboard

ajmatson - 2007-08-17 16:54:24 in Input Devices
Category: Input Devices
Reviewed by: ajmatson   
Reviewed on: August 22, 2007
Price: $44.99


When you hear about someone that put together a killer gaming computer to play all the latest games on, you think about components like the CPU, memory, and the video card. As important as they are, to make it all worthwhile, you need to have the right input devices to give you that gaming edge. Response time is crucial when you are head-to-head with your enemy and that millisecond can make the difference between you or him taking the fall. A great keyboard gives you quick access to the things you need and nothing makes that happen like the WolfKing Timberwolf FPS Gaming Keyboard. For those of you who don't know what a FPS game is, it stands for First Person Shooter, which include games such as Counter Strike, F.E.A.R, and the Battlefield series.

The Wolf King Keyboard was designed to make FPS games easier to play by arranging keys for faster access that traditional keyboards do not offer. According to WolfKing Inc, its products are "Engineered to give you the ultimate experience, its one palm size fits all keys concept makes your movement even more professional and precise as opposed to a standard keyboard. Experts can now play more professionally and beginners will be able to adapt to FPS games much faster and easier."


Closer Look:

The Timberwolf takes WolfKing's original product, the WolfKing Warrior (a circular type keyboard to have beside your regular keyboard), and merges it with a compact version of a full QWERTY keyboard to give you the best of both worlds in one complete package. Now that we have our minds thinking what this looks like, lets take a look at the packaging before we get to the keyboard itself. The front has that gaming feel showing a picture of the keyboard and a Wolf dressed in Desert Camo. The back highlights the features of the keyboard, as well as some review comments.



Now let's get into this box and let the "Wolf" free. The keyboard is secured between foam to keep it well protected. Once it is opened, you can see the way this keyboard differs from normal ones. Included in the package are the Timberwolf Keyboard and a User's Guide in English, French, and Spanish.


Right off of the bat you can see the uniqueness of this device. The main part of the keyboard is compact, without the number pad on traditional keyboards. Instead, the number pad is transferred to the left hand side and expanded to make the "Gaming" portion of this device. The left side has the keys most used in FPS games, so with one hand you can reach for the keys you need and not the ones you don't. The keyboard is made of a rubbery plastic that has a smooth and comfortable feel to it.


On the top of the keyboard there are three LEDs that display power, caps lock, and scroll lock. There are also eight internet "Hot Keys" to aid in web navigating. From left to right, they are browser back, browser forward, stop loading, refresh, search, My Computer, home, and email.



This keyboard has a USB connector. Being USB, it offers something that most other keyboards do not, which is a built-in 2 port USB hub at the top of the board. This is great for plugging in your gaming headset or flash drives without having to stretch the cord to the back of the computer.



Installation of the keyboard is simple because it is Plug-N-Play. There is no software needed to get started. Just plug the USB cord into an empty USB slot. Windows will automatically install the drivers for it and once done, the notification will pop up letting you know.






Since the keyboard is Plug-N-Play and there is no software for it, all configuration is done via a game's control setup. Most of the keys are standard use keys, like movement and such. The biggest thing to configure is the weapons and actions keys that are done in the game. For F.E.A.R. and Battlefield 2142, you just have to go to Settings > Controls. Click on the item you want to change and press the key to assign it.


Once you have everything set up the way you like it, you are ready to go and do some damage. Now that we have the keys set, let's test this baby out and see how it performs.






Test Setup:


For testing, I wanted to look at two areas. One is the gaming performance of the keyboard and the other is real world use, since it would most likely be the only keyboard used for the computer it is connected to. For gaming, I am going to use Battlefield 2142 and F.E.A.R. as the two are recent and popular First Person Shooter games.

For real world testing, I wanted to see how it felt while using the keyboard while typing for 30 minutes. I started typing an essay for college and when I was done, I switched to a standard 104-key keyboard and finished the essay for the last 30 minutes. I recorded the comfort of use, the ease of finding the keys, the number of mistakes I made, and the number of words typed per minute in the time period for each. For all scores, higher is better, except for the errors, in which the lower scores are better.




The scores were close. The words per minute was a little higher on the standard keyboard because I am used to it, and should even out with continued use of the Timberwolf as I wouldn't have to look at the keyboard as much. Next, I wanted to test the transfer speeds of the integrated USB hub on the Timberwolf. I used HD Tune to test transfer speeds on a 2GB OCZ Dual Channel Flash Drive.


During testing, I noticed that the ports on the keyboard were not USB 2.0. When plugging in a USB 2.0 device, I received the error message telling me to plug it into a USB 2.0 port for faster speeds. Also, when I plugged in a Media Flash Card Reader, I received an error that the USB Hub's power was exceeded.


Now that we have the everyday use test out of the way, let's see how it holds up in the gaming tests.


For the gaming portion of the testing, I was looking for customization, response time, and comfort in comparison with a regular 104-key keyboard. Although the Timberwolf took a little bit getting used to, it performed very well. Once you get the feel down for where the keys are located, it becomes second nature to you. I did like the fact that I could assign any key to the action that I wanted via the in-game control settings. I also liked how the movement and number keys are colored black while the others are gray so it makes it easy to get your hand back to the right place if you have to move it for a moment.

Now let's get into the testing side of it. First up is customization. The keyboard comes with no software to program it, so all of the setup is done in the game. This is also the same for a standard keyboard, so as far as customization goes, it is head on in a tie.


Next up we have response time. Response time is critical in a First Person Shooter type game because that split second can make the decision of whether it is you or them who dies. Just like it is important to have a good performing mouse, it is just as important to have a great keyboard. While playing F.E.A.R. and Battlefield 2142, I noticed a big difference. My kill/death ratio for 2142 per round went from 4:1 to an average of 7:1. That is 7 kills for every death. Now in a game like 2142 and F.E.A.R. where you have many people on a fast moving server, that is a good score to have.



Finally, we have comfort. When playing for hours on a regular keyboard, I usually get that crampy feeling in my hands like carpal tunnel. It makes for a really bad day because as your hands start to hurt, your performance level starts to drop, leading to more deaths and frustration. With the Timberwolf's hand rest at the bottom of the circular portion of the keyboard, my hands didn't get tired and sore as quickly, so I was able to keep up my streaks for longer periods of time.




This shows that in the areas that matter, when gaming, the Timberwolf smashes its contender, the standard keyboard.


As mentioned before, a good keyboard is just as important as a great video card or processor. Without it, your performance will still take a hit. I really liked the layout of the Timberwolf and the simplicity to get it up and running without having to do a lot of setting up or lengthy configuring. The biggest drawback was the lack of USB 2.0 support and the low power output of the integrated USB hub. This was a big letdown because the idea is there, but the support for it isn't. It would be nice to be able to plug in a flash drive or gaming headset and have it run at full USB 2.0 speeds and not crippled as it is on the Timberwolf.

When it came to gaming, this keyboard was a godsend. As you can tell from my response times, my scores increased dramatically. The ability to move and alter my weapon so quickly in-game gave me a big advantage over my opponents. I play Battlefield 2142 frequently and I saw myself go from the top 15 to the top 5 in almost every round I was playing. It didn't matter if I was on foot or in a Battle Walker, I was dominating everywhere I went. For the FPS gamer, a dedicated FPS keyboard like this one is a must, and for the price and ease of use, you would not go wrong by picking up the WolfKing Timberwolf keyboard.