I’m Jason and I’m part of the Razer product team for the Razer BlackWidow.
We’ve been following this and related mechanical keyboard threads on various forums and on behalf of the team, I’d like to thank everyone for your interest in mechanical keyboards and the Razer BlackWidow in particular.
The community is very important to Razer and we’d like to do our best to address your needs and concerns. Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen a huge number of queries (and some misconceptions) that have been posted on this forum and we’re taking this opportunity to clear as much as we can before the first reviews start coming out!
Unfortunately, we won’t be able to monitor all the forums as much as we would like to but we’re definitely looking forward to hearing your feedback and any other suggestions that you may have for the Razer BlackWidow and our future mechanical keyboard products. I’ve appended my contact info below as I won’t be able to track this on a regular basis (so my apologies in advance for not tracking this thread regularly – I’ve tried to cover as many of the queries as possible) – feel free to reach out!
1. Why did Razer go mechanical
? Because we’ve always had mech heads in the office as well as gamers calling for them – it took us a while because we went through several re-designs, but we think you’ll like what you see. The Razer BlackWidow will be the first line of mech keyboards that we will release.
2. What key switch is used in the Razer BlackWidow
? To dispel all confusion once and for all – we use the Cherry Blues – and in our design process, we’ve got a pretty strict guideline on sorting of each switch, so it’s not just the Cherry Blues but those with a certain characteristic/tolerance guideline. So…they’re cherry-picked. :becky: I can’t go into the tolerance/sorting guidelines but I can say that it provides for a different experience as opposed to a normal Cherry Blue switch keyboard.
3. OMFG/WTF/etc WHY THE BLUES INSTEAD OF THE [Insert your favorite color switch here]
First up, they all cost almost the same – blues, blacks, reds, etc and we had tested all of the switches with multiple designs. So we picked the Blues intentionally from the get go. We went through a design cycle with each of the different switches and our ergo team together with our pool of pro gamers went through extensive validation of the Blues – we came up with 2 real conclusions, 1. It’s a question of preference of each user primarily and 2. There’s a lot of marketing bull**** and FUD out there about which color is better etc etc.
We finally picked the Blues over the others like the blacks after the testing/validation that we did over the past couple of years– the data was pretty clear to us. The biggest downside to the Blues was the sound – but the other features were huge winners – and the data we collated from hundreds of pro/amateur gamers indicated that the tactile and clicky Blues provided a significant advantage to the gamers as opposed to those that used other switches (though we wouldn’t recommend LAN centers to kit up on the Razer BlackWidows, it would drive everyone crazy). A few people here also brought up the release point of the blue switches being higher than the actuation point by a fraction of a millimeter requiring you to release it fully to ensure a re-actuation. This was also one of the issues that we had tested extensively internally with our test robots as well as with our pro-gamers and this was addressed as part of our design. The Blues do provide a better switch mechanism for gaming (although it depends on your preference at the end of the day too). Don’t take our word for it, give the Razer BlackWidow a go – you may just realize that you prefer the Blues at the end of the day.
4. Does the Razer BlackWidow have NKRO
? We were the first in the world to push the limits of anti-ghosting when we released the Razer Tarantula gaming keyboard some 4 years ago, so we know how important this feature is for many gamers. However, we also balance this against the other features that gamers require. . Razer BlackWidow’s up to 6-key rollover gaming optimized key matrix serves a similar purpose for gamers who need anti-ghosting while using an ordinary USB port (as opposed to a PS/2 port). In addition, by using a USB connection the Razer BlackWidow is able to provide gamers advanced customization and performance features that are not available using a PS/2 connection, using Razer’s configuration software.
5. What were the key areas of design/engineering that make the Razer BlackWidow a mechanical gaming keyboard
? We spent a lot of time on this – balancing some of the cool features that we wanted to put into the product vs making sure that we didn’t alienate users with a keytop scheme that would be too difficult to just jump into. The biggest challenge was primarily that from the get go – how to design the Razer BlackWidow to be as simple for the new user to use, to ease him into mech keyboards but also to provide the competitive advantage in game play.
Some of the key design features include our shifting of the F-key row from the traditional position to the right – just above the WASD cluster (F1 is above the W key). There are significant gaming ergo benefits to the same. We also included 5 additional gaming keys and did a significant study into the angle of the keytop to the desk surface ratio to ensure a uniform keystroke experience across all the keys during game play. A couple of other things include on-the-fly macro recording, gaming profiles etc, but our focus was to provide as many subtle changes as possible that may not seem evident at first glance but ultimately indispensable after a few hours of use.
6. Why are the function keys on the Razer BlackWidow shifted slightly more to the right
? Our ergonomics team has made subtle changes to the placement of the keytop – while most of the placement of the keys have been retained to allow gamers to immediately get used to the key locations, we have shifted the F-key row to the right slightly to align the F1 key directly above the W of the WASD home keys. Extensive ergonomics tests have shown that this new alignment will allow faster keypress accuracy for games that require the use of the F-key row. Some slight adjustment will be required.
7. The Razer BlackWidow must be a cheapass, low quality piece of junk because it costs US$79.99 while other mech keyboards cost at least twice that! I insist on paying twice more
! Well, due to the feedback, we have decided to increase the price to US$149.99 for the Razer BlackWidow. :becky: (just kidding)
We find it really odd anyone can pass judgment on the quality before even getting their hands on one (just saying)– but the proof is in the pudding – wait for the first couple of reviews that should be out soon or try one out when we release it in the next couple of weeks.
Seriously, there’s really no reason for mech keyboards to cost a bomb. It just doesn’t make any sense and we didn’t see the need to peg an ultra-high price without any reason for it. The Razer BlackWidow was designed by a group of gamers internally (I was one of them) within Razer that championed the mech switches and we believe in propagating this to as many gamers out there without profiting unfairly off them.
Don’t take our word for it, wait for the reviews or better yet, try it out yourself. We’re big fans of the mechanical keyboard ourselves and we’re looking to get it into as many hands as possible – this is our one chance to make mech keyboard ubiquitous for gaming. The more we make, the better our next mechanical keyboard will be. We believe in this and we welcome as much feedback from the community as possible so that we can make a better product.
To get more updates and new reviews as they are posted, you can join our twitter feed at http://twitter.com/cultofrazer
. Do join our Facebook fansite too at http://www.facebook.com/razer
If you represent an established review site and would like to do a review do reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
. Kindly include information on your identity and the review website you represent and we’ll try to get you a review unit (no promises). We’ll try our best to answer every single email but I do have a day job and I’ll do what I can to get back to you if I can!