There’s a saying – “You need the right tools for the right job” and in many cases – people wouldn’t associate that saying with video games but in the last few years that standard has changed drastically – with companies such as Razer creating peripherals for PC and console gaming since 1998 it’s now simply no longer acceptable to have your standard keyboard and mouse combo for your gaming setup. I spent a weekend recently with three of Razers personally chosen gaming products to give my views n The Razer Experience…

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Blackshark Headset

The thought of reviewing headsets used to fill me with a certain amount of dread, being a music lover on a budget I’d be happy with a pair of earphones which lasted me through till payday but that was before being interred into PC gaming. Now I realise that if you have the right setup and a passion for quality gaming then you can’t afford not to have a good gaming headset to compliment the experience and if you’re playing anything team based it’s not only recommended, it’s essential!

So from the masters of bespoke gaming hardware comes the BlackShark, one of the more aesthetically pleasing gaming headsets I’ve had the fortune to review. Previously reviewing the Tiamat 2.0 left me with the impression that good gaming headsets would need to be big and weighty but the BlackShark goes against this policy, it’s a small and light headset. As soon as I opened the BlackShark I expressed doubt about the BlackSharks earcups fitting over my ears – now I’ve not got huge ears, actually they’re probably just smaller than the average but the BlackShark seemed to fit over them nicely and the decreased weight meant that the headset didn’t cause any head/neck strain and after about an hour of playing DOTA2 whilst wearing them. Like I said, the design is which stands out the most for me with this headset – with the neon green cable to the exposed steel framework it feels almost something out of a cyberpunk novel which makes me like it even more. The adjustable mic is very responsive also and includes a small pop guard for greater clarity. It’s a good sized headset with very nice features and one of the best designs I’ve seen in awhile,. My only issue with the Blackshark is the same is the same one which hounded my Tiamat 2.0 review – the ‘noise cancelling’ speakers aren’t exactly noise cancelling, wearing them at the moment for example whilst listening to music I am still able to fully hear my keyboard taps with no problems so wearing them in a crowded LAN party would offer some issues. (FYI, I’m currently listening to music on Youtube with the Youtube volume on full and my computer’s volume on roughly 50% in case you wanted to test this yourselves) Whilst this isn’t exactly a deal breaker for me with the BlackShark if you’re paying out over £100 for a headset then you might want to weigh up your necessity for complete noise cancellation first.

Current RRP: £119.99 (Jan 2013)

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DeathAdder 2013 Gaming Mouse

Unboxing the DeathAdder 2013 was like shaking hands with my best friends big brother – both myself and the original DeathAdder have some history together and I remember reviewing the Guild Wars edition with a huge amount of reverence and pride so meeting the new and improved version of the DeathAdder was a welcome experience.

The main facial differences between the ‘classic’ and the updated DeathAdder are the new ergonomics – there are two textured sections of either side of the mouse and the mouse itself feels slightly larger (it’s not but it definitely feels it). Also the grip feels slightly smoother than the Guild Wars Edition. It’s also very slightly lighter than it’s predecessor.

Technology wise the internal sensor has changed from 3500dpi3.5G to a 6400dpi 4G sensor which does offer much greater sensitivity. It also come equip with a feature called Synapses which downloads and installs new driver versions and firmware updates automatically, this also saves mouse settings for different games and loads theses settings automatically. Something that whilst I have not seen in it action myself does sound fairly useful.

So if you want a gaming mouse which offers superb response, comfort and one of those sexy braided nylon cords (still seven foot long too) then the DeathAdder 2013 is where you need to go.

Current RRP: £64.99 (Jan 2013)

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Arctosa Gaming Keyboard

Oh no! You were doing so well Razer! With both the Blackshark and DeathAdder2013 performing so well I was certain that this experiment would be a slam dunk but then I started to test the Arctosa Gaming Keyboard.

Before I highlight the bad points of this otherwise fine gaming keyboard, allow me to tell you about its saving graces.

Firstly, it’s a very light keyboard and whilst that might not mean much it does mean that you can easily shift it wound your desk with one hand whilst still playing if it’s not in the right position for example. It also comes with possibly the softest keys I have ever used, there are no hard key presses needed when using the Arctosa meaning that it will cause much less strain on your fingers if you are using it for extended periods. It also comes attached with a screw-on wrist rest which offers a surprising amount of support

So, what could have combated all of these elements to make me dislike the Arctosa? Light…or rather a lack of it.

Yes, the Arctosa is not a backlit keyboard which I know shouldn’t present itself as such a problem but when Razer have printed black writing on their black keyboard it becomes near impossible to use if you can’t touch type (which as I’m sure you’ve guessed – I can’t) It unfortunately means that even in the well lit Gadget Corner office I find myself straining over the keyboard to find my current position of a specific function key.

It’s a strange situation too as I’ve seen other reviewers using an Arctosa with white lettering on black keys and reviews online seem to be littered with a mixture of people who received an Arctosa with either colour, making it nearly impossible to determine whether or not this is a purposeful design decision or merely a flaw in their manufacturing – I’ve asked Razer for comment and will update this article when I hear back from them.

Current RRP: £44.99 (Jan 2013)

CONCLUSION

It’s easy to see why Razer are taken so seriously in the industry, everything I’ve reviewed of theirs has been well made, professionally packaged and usually meant to make a statement. Most of their products shout “Gaming is a serious business!” and they do that well. I’ve currently never used a gaming mouse I loved more than the DeathAdder series and I’m sure that Razers headsets could stand toe-to-toe with brands like Turtle Beach and it’s a shame that the first Razer keyboard we got here at the Gadget Corner office had to be such a let down. I simply could not recommend that keyboard to anyone. Even if the “Black on Black” is a manufacturing error the inclusion of a backlight on a keyboard theses days seems like such a standard feature that it’s very odd for it to be missing here.

FINAL VERDICT:

BlackShark: Buy it if you have the money spare and are in the market for a lightweight headset
DeathAdder2013: Buy it, you will not regret it!
Arctosa: Don’t buy it, I’m sure Razer do some other lovely keyboards – this just isn’t one of them.