The Wolf Spider has a fearsome reputation; if you were a bug that is. With quick reflexes and excellent eyesight, these spiders hunt mostly at night and their attributes have inspired Razer's design and features for their newest gaming keyboard, the Lycosa (named after a genus of wolf spiders, if you haven't already caught on).
At first glance, the most noticeable change from their previous Tarantula model is the use of rubber keys for the keyboard. The non-slip rubber finish is a pleasure to type and gives a better feel than normal keyboards. The layout of the Lycosa is quite similar to a normal keyboard, though it has a relatively flat and streamlined surface, which enhances the shiny black glossy look of the keyboard.
With its more conventional keyboard layout, Razer has done away with the additional keys of the previous Tarantula while still retaining most of its functions and even adding more. The most obvious change is that the Lycosa now sports fully backlit keys that can be toggled in three modes: all keys backlit, just WASD for the FPS crowd and one that turns everything off.
In another design change, the Lycosa replaces the previous media center and gaming hotkeys of the Tarantula with a touch panel. From the touch panel, gamers can control a (supported) media player like iTunes, backlight settings and most importantly, gaming features for switching between different profile settings and for turning off the Windows key when gaming.
However, there is an inherent issue with the touch panel. With so many controls built into the small area, one might find it prone for pressing the wrong function. Being a huge fingerprint magnet doesn't help either.
One of the best features of the Lycosa is its programmability. Instead of having only ten separate macro keys like the Tarantula, every key on the Lycosa is now programmable and can record up to 16-keystrokes and mouse clicks using the provided driver software, giving users unprecedented control over what their keyboard can do.
The Lycosa retains its onboard memory for storing up to ten user profiles. However, macros are created and saved by the driver program and are not stored internally on the keyboard, so switching keyboards to another computer will not import any settings as such.
The Lycosa retains much of its predecessor's features, such as the 1ms response time, and the anti-ghosting gaming cluster capability, which allows for up to ten keys to be pressed at a time. Design-wise, the keyboard features a detachable wrist rest unlike the Tarantula. However, some design aspects were retained: earphone and microphone jacks are located at the top of the keyboard, along with an integrated USB extension.
This is a design flaw that Razer should have taken note of, as wires often overlap the keyboard, getting in the way of dodging bullets or hotkey mashing. Another problem we noted with our unit; the keyboard was finicky about being plugged out while in use, which causes the touch panel to stop working. And if a reboot doesn't fix the issue, you'd have to resort to reinstalling drivers, which can turn out to be quite the hassle.
Pretty as Pretty Does
Small and lightweight, the Lycosa is packed full of features that belies its svelte appearance. Compared to the pricier and older Tarantula, the Lycosa at S$129 (US$80) will no doubt be a sure hit with gamers for its features despite some minor flaws and bugs. Gamers looking for an edge should consider the Razer Lycosa something to add to their arsenal.