The keyboard market is saturated with solutions ranging from the vanilla to the high-end and we’ve seen our fair-share of them here in Back2Gaming. With such a large selection to choose from, majority of buyers are at the mercy of marketing gimmicks and flashy ads. Some well-versed consumers scour for reviews and opinions only to underrate possible solutions for his/her needs. This sparks a debate on what makes a good keyboard. Although it ultimately ends up to the buyer’s personal taste, a classic design always warrants a bit more attention. Such a product is the Lycosa, Razer’s expert gaming keyboard which has been around for 4 years serving as a testament that a true classic is timeless. Let’s see first-hand what makes the Lycosa such a great keyboard. More after the cut and let’s make this showy!
Razer released the Lycosa back in 2007 and its still around. In the PC world, that’s already several lifetimes. Just gotta wonder what makes it such a classic. Let’s get down to business and here’s a quick-spec on the Lycosa:
- Keytop with non-slip rubber finish
- Backlight illumination with WASD cluster lighting option – for all you FPS fans
- Fully-programmable keys with macro capability
- Gaming cluster with anti-ghosting capability
- Slim keycap structure with Hyperesponse technology
- TouchPanel easy access media keys
- Gaming mode option for deactivation of the Windows key
- 10 customizable software profiles with on-the-fly switching
- 1000Hz Ultrapolling / 1ms response time
- Earphone-out and microphone-in jacks
- Detachable wrist rest
- One integrated USB extension port
Here we have the Lycosa’s boxfront. The left side is clear so you can have a glimpse of the flat profile and rubber keys as well as the touch panel. I’ll say it again, gotta love Razer’s packaging style since you get to see the product. No flashy cartoon robot or 3D girl or guns in the box because you won’t find none of those inside. This is actually an updated packaging, the Lycosa way back when used to come in a larger fully enclosed box with no clear window.
The back of the box highlights multiple features of the Lycosa as mentioned earlier. Lots of bullets and highlights here, marketing stuff.
The side are rather minimalistic with the Lycosa’s catchphrase Nexus of Dominion as the focal point.
Opening up the packaging, you slide out the inner protective cardboard which has a nice clean message welcoming you to the Cult of Razer.
This flap flips outward to reveal the covered encased in molded plastic with clear protective film to protect the glossy surface. Beneath the blister plastic is the cable neatly tied and wrapped, with the Razer Paper loadout nicely tucked under the keyboard.
Opening this baby up, we have the main event star right here. The Razer Lycosa. Those of you who’ve watched the Hax Life should be very familiar with it. Whatever you want to call the design be it elegant, aggressive, slim or sexy, its still catches your eyes.
Flipping it over, we have 2 heightening stands and rubber feet. The feet do a good job holding the Lycosa in place and with a very low profile, it also serves as shock absorbers when you slam on your keys.
From this view you can also see the mounting screws for the arm-rest. Removing the screws will allow you to remove the arm-rest though we have no idea why you will do that. And we don’t recommend it either. Hence we don’t include a picture of it. Since we don’t like without the arm-rest.
The upper part of the keyboard is where the cables run to and a bit to its side are the USB and audio passthroughs. Compared to some we’ve seen earlier, depending on your setup this is a nice place to put these ports in. Notice how slim this keyboard is.
Here’s a topdown view of the Lycosa with a coin on it (roughly more than an inch in diameter). The left picture shows the Lycosa’s thicker part and the right is the armrest. That is how slim this keyboard is people. Bet your slimline LCD monitor would love some company tonight.
The keyboard main chassis has a fully glossy surface. Someone say fingerprint magnet? Why yes it is. But I don’t see why your fingers would get lost up there when you have a nice armrest to lie your wrists on.
The cable is vanilla shielded cable which is rather thick due to the additional ports.
A closer look on the cable plugs, we’ll see traditional audio 3.5mm jacks and 2 USB ports. You’ll need to plug in everything to get full functionality. Also they are non-gold plated.
Lighting this baby up we get to see its glorious glow. Not too bright, but not too dark either. The TouchPanel has the lighting control toggle to switch the lighting from off, WASD only or on.
PERFORMANCE, COMFORT, FUNCTIONALITY
We’ll start things off with gaming experience as this is the intended use of this keyboard. If you’re a full-pledged desktop user and have not much experience on low-profile keys such as on laptops, transitioning towards the Lycosa takes a bit of getting used to. That said, after getting accustomed to the Lycosa everything is set. So starting a long gaming session, we put the Lycosa through its paces with a nice FPS playthrough then a good set of RTS titles. From the get-go its the Lycosa’s distinct tactile feel that sets it apart from its high-top brethrens, the large surface area gurantees sure presses with a fast response rate to back it up. The rubber coating on the keys proves a nice touch as slippage is reduced to near zero even on intense keypress combos. All in all, the gaming experience is impressive.
For day to day typing, the Lycosa’s non-slip keys prove a bit of a drawback especially for touch-typist who tend to slide rather than lift when pressing keys. This is a minor setback as the good response of the Lycosa guarantees solid keypresses.
Â Sneaking in a shot to break the wall of text :)
Moving on to the feel of the keyboard, the included wrist-rest is something I’ve always wanted on any keyboard. The sleek and aggressive design also guarantees extra swag. For fans of low-profile keys, the overall layout is going to be very familiar and as said earlier the wide surface area and good tactile feedback provides a nice typing experience. Though it looks wide, the low profile means it hugs the desktop surface and most will find it visually appealing.
Feature-wise, the Lycosa is simply packed. Starting things of with the multiple lighting options, the WASD cluster lighting is a neat little bonus but most will just leave everything on. The TouchPanel proves to be a very nice feature especially for people who play iTunes or Winamp during gameplay, me included. Compared to Razer’s recent Fn key solution to the media key problem, I find the Lycosa’s touch panel a more practical and easier way to control your media during gameplay. Finally we have the USB and audio in/out passthroughs which are intuitively placed. I find this sort of placement optimal for people with smaller desks or use a stacked computer table that has spaces in-between the stacks to snake cables through. All in all, the features prove themselves very valuable.
So what do we like about the Lycosa? Starting things off its one sexy looking keyboard. Sole reason we decided NOT to remove the armrest and we never will for this review. Still, we’re left wondering why this product has been around for quite a while. Typically manufacturers will tack on extra features or do a color swap and refresh the product line, but in the Lycosa, Razer has chosen to stick to a design that works. A nice set of extra features, good performance and nice pricing. And if the rubber keys bother you, there’s always the Mirror edition with glossy keys that’ll give that slick typing experience for the same price.
Speaking of pricing, it all boils down to it. Coming in at around the Php3,700 locally it is well positioned against the majority of gaming-oriented keyboards out there. At this price range, its usually looks and performance that wins the buyer’s choice, and having a name like Razer also helps.
Closing things off, the Razer Lycosa has proven itself to be a worthy all-rounder keyboard and we’re impressed by the fact that it has gone through a long time without any refresh aside from the packaging. So if you’re in the market right now for a nice gaming keyboard that looks mean and sexy at the same time, has nifty features like lighting, touchpanel media keys and a handy USB/audio passthrough all for a reasonable price, the Lycosa is your best bet.