Date: November 21st, 2008
Article by: Jackie Mueller (Hardware Reviewer)
Edited by: Nathan Glentworth (Owner / Head Editor)
Product was submitted by: WolfKing
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PRODUCT PICTORIAL AND WALKTHROUGH
Wolfking took the layout of a standard QWERTY keyboard and reconfigured it into a circular format for the right side of the Warrior XXtreme. The top three rows of letter keys correspond to the left side of a standard keyboard while the bottom three rows correspond to the right side of a standard keyboard. The large round button is the spacebar. The idea behind this design is that all of the keys can be easily reached with one hand.
At the top is one more arrangement of buttons. The small circular button toggles blue backlighting on and off. Surrounding the button is a Windows key, K Lock key (for communication in games that use K for talk), and an Escape key. There are also volume up, volume down, and mute buttons here.
Two USB ports are provided right on the keyboard for attaching a mouse or other USB device. Most modern motherboards and cases already have several USB ports, but if you find yourself with a device that has a short cord these ports will come in handy.
Height can be adjusted using two stands on the back of the keyboard that flip out. This is a pretty standard feature found on traditional keyboards as well.
PRODUCT INSTALLATION AND TESTING
No software is required to use the Warrior XXtreme, so all there is to do is plug it into an available USB port on your computer. It will be installed automatically by Windows. Since there is no included software, custom key mappings require using the in-game options to set them.
Like the original Warrior gamepad, the XXtreme is built with ergonomics in mind so my fingers didn't feel cramped or stretched. The keys are reasonably quiet and custom weighted so the end result is a “soft” key rather than a clicky one. On the left side, I particularly liked the ‘W' key's location directly above the ‘S' and the larger Z, X, and C keys. Not having to make that slight reach off to the side actually 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.
Response times in FPS games are excellent and due to the placement of the keys, it doesn't take too long to adjust to the layout. It's similar to a standard keyboard with just a few differences to become familiar with. I made some changes to the default key mappings using in-game options so I had all functions I needed within a very short reach. This improved my speed only slightly, but even a small increase in speed is a good thing in games. On the other hand, the function keys required more of a stretch to reach, and since they are smaller I would have to glance down at the keyboard to make sure I was pressing the right one. All in all though, it works quite well with FPS games.
Since the right half of the keyboard is a modified version of a QWERTY keyboard, it is meant for single-handed execution of in-game commands and chat. There are two downsides to that. The first is that it will require moving your hand over to the right side set of keys, not something you want to be doing during a fast paced online game. The second issue is typing out sentences with one hand is difficult and slow, and forget about using two hands because there isn't enough room. For short commands however, the right side works well once you familiarize yourself with the key layout. Its usefulness is better suited to RPGs and games with complex menus and interfaces where time isn't always of the essence.