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Ideazon Zboard "FANG"
The PC wasn't originally designed for games. Neither the keyboard or mouse has ever had games in mind. In fact, the QWERTY layout we use today was designed for use on typewriters with the sole intention of stopping keys from jamming up. Unbeknown to most, there is another standard called Dvorak, which is apparently more efficient and lowers RSI risk. Yet we still stick with what we know – change is a hard thing to implement.
Of course there are gamepads and joysticks around, but I personally hate them for FPS games. I feel like I missed out a little, when many of my friends were having mammoth weekend sessions of GoldenEye on the N64. I was completely useless with a controller. Give me a mouse and keyboard and I'm one happy camper (literally - ed.).
You'll notice on your keyboard, there are a few raised spots that are supposed to indicate where your fingers rest. If you've played games for even a mild amount of time, take a look at your fingers now and you'll probably find that instead of being on these raised spots, they are already poised over the WASD keys. I'm going to guess that not only did you just check, you're now laughing as you've realised I'm right.
The Dvorak standard has had very little penetration, being generally more hassle than it's worth. So what makes Ideazon believe that it can have any better luck by introducing a gaming keyboard?
This particular model – FANG, is designed as an add-on to your current keyboard. There is also a model that is a standard keyboard with this module integrated. The ideal demographic for this is notebook users, as they have traditionally poor keyboards for playing games, which also tend to get a little warm on the wrist, so an external keyboard makes sense.
The device itself is USB and doesn't require any drivers. From a hardware point of view, the PC just sees it as a standard keyboard. Although the keys might look special with “reload” written on it for instance, this just maps to a standard key – like R. This makes it 100 per cent compatible with any game. Inside the game where you would usually map keyboard keys to action, you do exactly the same except press a key on the Zboard.
The Zboard is also bundled with its own software that can remap the keyboard to suit the default keys of any game. This is quite convenient as you don't need to do any remapping. However, one of the beauties of this device is its portability. I'd be taking it to work, other LAN events where I won't necessarily have the same PC and just want to plug it in an start fragging. Unfortunately, having to install a piece of software first kind of ruins this plug and play dream.
However, if you're only going to be keeping it on one or two PCs, it's a time saver. It doesn't support as many games as I expected – but the key mappings are quite similar from game to game, so there is a high chance that there is one that already works.