Date: September 14th, 2007
Article by: Jackie Mueller (Hardware Reviewer)
Edited by: Nathan Glentworth (Owner / Head Editor)
Product was submitted by: Wolf King
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PRODUCT PICTORIAL AND WALKTHROUGH
The Warrior has a total of 55 keys arranged in a circular formation to keep everything within easy reach. Let's start out by taking a look at the letter keys and their placement. W, A, S, and D are in the familiar position with W on top and ASD forming a row below it. With a default FPS configuration these become the “home” keys with Q and E located directly above, just like a regular keyboard. The K key is out to the left, away from all the other letter keys. Moving down, we find elongated Z, X, and C keys and underneath those are M, H, and N at the very bottom. To the right is a large vertical space bar with F, R, G, and T near it. A bit further out to the right are oval shaped O and B keys.
On top are number keys 0-9 and above those are F1 through F12. On a normal keyboard reaching some of these keys during FPS games is a bit of a chore, but the arc design of the Warrior places them closer to where your hand will be.
To the left are two ctrl keys (to accommodate different sized hands, according to Wolfking), shift, and tab. Further out away from the main set of keys are three more buttons – escape, volume up and volume down. These are placed off to the side to avoid accidental pressing. When plugged in to a USB port a red power LED shines in the upper left hand corner.
Moving on to the bottom keys we find tilde, alt, dash, equal, comma, and period. These are larger than normal and positioned so that any of them can be quickly reached with the pinky or thumb.
On the bottom are four rubber pads to keep the unit from sliding around. There are also two stands that flip up to raise the height of the board if desired.
PRODUCT INSTALLATION AND TESTING
Since no drivers or other software is required for the Warrior, all there is to do is plug it into an available USB port. It will be installed automatically and Windows will see it as a normal keyboard. It is not meant to be used as a replacement keyboard so in-game chatting will require moving over to the QWERTY keyboard.
I tested this product using my left hand for all keyboard functions. I suppose it would also work with the right hand although with placement of the space bar and such it favors the left.
My first impression of the Warrior was that it felt comfortable and my fingers didn't feel cramped or stretched. The keys are reasonably quiet when pressed and feel more “soft” than clicky. One thing I particularly liked was the ‘W' key being directly above the ‘S'; not having to make that (albeit slight) reach off to the side made a noticeable difference in comfort. My thumb rested on the spacebar perfectly and it wasn't too much of a stretch to reach the ‘O' and ‘B' buttons. Their larger size definitely made them easier to utilize and the shape was just right for the thumb.
Now the real question is, how well does it work in games? For my first test I was feeling nostalgic and decided to load up some Quake III free for all deathmatch. Right off the bat I noticed response time to be excellent, the keys were quiet and easy to press, and changing weapons with the number keys was a breeze since they are all located close by. Once I had button assignments the way I wanted them I didn't have any issues with accidentally pressing the wrong button. Even though it worked great with Quake III, I wanted to try it with a more recent game.
The next game I tried out was S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Again, everything worked great in single player mode and the larger keys proved to be a welcome feature. I changed a few of the default button assignments to my liking and after a bit of time getting used to the new configuration, it became very comfortable to use. In multiplayer mode, the function keys at the very top (for voting and such) still required a bit of a stretch and I found myself having to look at the keyboard to find the key I needed. Also, in-game chatting requires moving over to the QWERTY keyboard which can become annoying after a while, especially since there is no way to identify the home keys on the Warrior by touch. On many keyboards there is a small raised notch on the ‘F' and ‘J', indicating the home row keys. I would have liked to see this on the WASD keys on the Warrior as well.