Any decent StarCraft player can tell you the difference between a Diamond League pro and Bronze League scrub: It’s all in the keyboard. Although StarCraft can be played entirely with the mouse, a good player is going to be hammering away at the keyboard nonstop throughout the match—issuing attack orders, queuing units and buildings, and jumping around the map.
Remember that ugly plastic we keep mentioning? With the Banshee, it seems Razer ended up with some sort of surplus of the stuff, and just decided to see how much it could possibly slap onto a single headset. The individual ear cups are simply enormous—bigger than any gaming headset we’ve used. That’s OK though, as bigger cans theoretically means room for bigger drivers, and that’s a good thing. We also know that with this set, Razer has opted to store the external soundcard hardware in the set itself, rather than in a dongle on the cord, as is more popular, which would account for some of the additional bulk.
The new Onza Tournament and Standard Edition Xbox 360 controllers will give console a gamers a glimpse into the world of Razer, which up to this point has focused entirely on PC gaming peripherals and assorted gear.
Razer says the two new controllers are "built for the hardcore competitive gamer," but how do you do that with an Xbox 360 controller? The Tournament Edition offers adjustable resistance analog sticks that gamers can twist one way or the other.
Aside from that differentiating feature, both versions sport Multi-Function Buttons (MFB) on the controller's shoulders that allow remapping of buttons. Razer pitches this feature not only as a great way to increase efficiency, but also to make things easier for gamers with disabilities who might have trouble reaching specific buttons on a standard controller.
Other features include 4 backlit Hyperesponse action buttons, non-slip rubber surface, quick-release USB connector, and a 15-foot lightweight, braided fiber cable.
Both the Standard ($40) and Tournament Edition ($50) will be available for preorder starting January 17 and will ship later this month.
Razer, best known for its line of gaming mice, sometimes uses CES to launch a product seemingly out of the company's realm. One year it was the Mako 2.1 speakers, which is still the only speaker set in Razer's product portfolio. And this year? Meet the Switchblade, a "mobile PC gaming concept design."
The Switchblade is basically a netbook of sorts custom tailored for gamers and built around Intel's Atom platform, likely Oak Trail. The idea is to bring a keyboard, mouse, and touchscreen display to mobile gaming, a combo that doesn't really exist with today's handheld consoles.
"The main problem with mobile PC gaming so far is that no one has been able to port the full mouse and keyboard experience onto a small size portable solution," said Min-Liang Tan, CEO and Creative Director, Razer. "By combining adaptive on-the-fly controls and display, we managed to maintain the full tactile keyboard in a miniature computer while saving valuable screen estate."
Not just an everyday netbook, the Switchblade comes with an "intelligent user interface that adjusts the configuration and key layout on-the-fly based on game content and user requirements" (the key graphics change, somewhat similar to the Optimus Maximum OLED keyboard), and it sports a custom overlay on top of Windows 7.
Razer on Thursday introduced its new Scarab mouse mat, the followup act to the Destructor. And you know what? This sequel doesn't suck, according to Razer, which said as much in so many words.
"Most of the time, sequels to great movies suck," Razer explains. "Normally, sequels to great books suck. Sometimes, sequels to great games suck. But what doesn't ever suck are sequels to Razer products. They just keep getting better."
Whether or not the price tag sucks, we'll let you be the judge. The Scarab runs $40, which isn't the most expensive mouse mat Razer offers. That investment buys you a mousepad with a Razer Fractal 2.0 surface coated in light gray providing a "highly responsive and uniform tracking system perfect for optical and laser mice sensors." The Scarab also sports an improved rubber base for greater stability and plenty of room (350mm x 250mm) for your mouse to roam around on.
The Razer Lachesis gaming mouse originally launched in 2007, with a dramatically curved, ambidextrous design and a 4,000dpi sensor. Three years later, Razer has released a new Lachesis, which is not so much a sequel as a refinement of the original.
The most important change in Lachesis 2.0 is the 5,600dpi sensor, which puts it on par with other top-end gaming mice. We don’t usually play at such a high sensitivity, but we tested it at dpi levels across the whole spectrum and found the Lachesis responsive and reliable.
Razer's new Nostromo Gaming Keypad is a new take on the original n52te SpeedPad it co-developed with Belkin a few years back. So what exactly is new?
"The Razer Nostromo is an update to this illustrious gaming keybpad to meet today's competitive gaming demands," Razer explains. "Building on the SpeedPad's proven ergonomic design, the Razer Nostromo incorporates the latest gaming technologies that Razer has developed over the past few years, including a new chipset and software drivers that allow all levels of gamers to program sophisticated command strings to help decimate their opponents."
The Nostromo sports 16 buttons in a layout designed to provide easy access, along with a soft-touch rubberized wrist pad so you can game well into the night without suffering wrist fatigue. Each button is programmable, and unlike the original, you can switch instantly between eight keymaps instead of just three. You can also store up to 20 gaming profiles, twice as many as the n52te.
At a glance, Razer's newly announced Anansi keyboard looks like any other modern gaming plank. Ask Razer, however, and they'll tell you the Anansi is the world's first MMO gaming keyboard, and a perfect compliment to the company's Naga MMO mouse line.
"The Razer Anansi gaming keyboard is the new weapon of choice for MMO gamers," said Robert Krakoff, president, Razer USA. "Let’s face it, the regular keyboard that came with your PC was designed and built for typing, not for MMO gaming. With its revolutionary seven thumb modifier keys, every key combination that you had before is now multiplied by seven times. The Razer Anansi allows you to use every spell, ability or custom macro in your arsenal -- both instantly and in complete comfort."
Razer's Anansi sports seven thumb modifier keys, over 100 programmable "Hyperesponse" keys with on-the-fly macro recording, 20 gaming profiles with one-button profile switching, five additional gaming keys, customized backlight options, anti-ghosting, and a gaming mode that disables the Windows key.
Razer didn't become arguably the most popular gaming peripheral maker on the planet by accident, the company did it by pandering to its target audience. It started simple enough with the release of the Boomslang gaming mouse over a decade ago, and continues today with the announcement of a line of peripherals intended specifically for StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty fans.
"We have been anticipating the moment we could get these gaming peripherals into the hands of gamers and StarCraft players," said Robert 'Razerguy' Krakoff, president, Razer USA. "We could not be more happy with the massive feedback we’ve received over the unique APM (Actions-Per-Minute) Lighting System feature and remarkable design. This new line offers StarCraft II players a great new way to complement and customize their real-time strategy gaming experience."
There are three StarCraft themed peripherals in all, including the Spectre gaming mouse ($80), Marauder keyboard ($120), and Banshee headset ($120). Each one sports the StarCraft II logo and multi-colored LEDs.
Look for these devices to start shipping in November.
We're not sure how PETA would feel about this one, but gamers who like to get their groove on without a tangle of wires will dig Razer's decision to chop the tail off of its Naga gaming mouse.
"With the Naga Epic, Razer gives MMO gamers around the world more freedom than ever before," said Robert Krakoff, President, Razer. "We combined the MMO gaming capabilities of the original best-selling Razer Naga and took it to the next level by giving it a true gaming-grade wireless option utilizing the same technology that we developed for the ultra high-end Razer Mamba."
Everything about the Naga remains the same, including the 17 MMO-optimized buttons, 5600dpi sensor, interchangeable side panels, and the ability to customize the color of the LED lighting.
Razer says the Naga Epic is good to game non-stop for up to 12 hours on a single charge, or up to 72 hours under "normal gaming usage."
The Naga Epic with charging dock is available now for $130.