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It seems strange to me that no company in the history of gaming keyboards has yet come up with the perfect one. Every effort that comes along is flawed in some way, and I've spent unhealthily large portions of time wishing some manufacturer would just combine all of the good aspects of its competitors' products while avoiding the pitfalls.
Razer is a name that implies much: at the cutting edge, razor-sharp performance, razing the enemy and sometimes, a close shave. Those who know the company a little will probably think of mice, as at one time Razer's name was synonymous with (arguably) the best gaming mice money could buy. But while it still makes excellent mice, they are no longer the all-conquering rodents of yesteryear, and models from the likes of SteelSeries and Logitech have more than caught up. So Razer has diversified, now choosing to manufacture gaming keyboards too.
Apart from a few collaborative efforts, its main candidate untill recently was the Tarantula, which despite receiving generally positive reviews failed to rise above the pack. Now Razer has a new contender which goes by the name Lycosa - actually a type of Tarantula. This naming scheme suggest some inferiority to its older brother, and indeed the Lycosa is smaller, cheaper and has fewer buttons. But it also has some features that its sibling lacks.
According to Razer's packaging, which is impressive as usual, the Lycosa lets you exist at the ‘nexus of dominion'. Some of the features on hand to help you do so include macro-programmable, non-slip rubber keys, backlight illumination (with a WASD cluster lighting option) and the essential option of a gaming mode that deactivates the Windows key.
The keyboard is well protected in a soft plastic bag, and it needs to be - everything I review these days seems to sport a shiny piano-black mirror finish, and the Lycosa is no exception. While it does look lovely, and forms the perfect contrast to the matte, rubberised keys, it also means you'll have to have regular fingerprint and smudge cleaning sessions, and it would have been nice if Razer had included a cleaning cloth with its premium-priced product.
Let me just say this much about Razer gear: most people will find it at least remotely attractive. The company has a healthy obsession with the colour black, usually complemented by funky blue LED lighting (unlike the gaudy orange that some use - Logitech, you used to be true to blue). At fist glance, the thing that might strike you most about the Lycosa is its beautiful simplicity.