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Razer Deathstalker Ultimate Keyboard - Tech Junkies

GrantK

Posted October 17, 2012 - By Grant Kohrmann







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  • Videos
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  • Screenshots
  • Cheats and Walkthroughs

Razer Deathstalker Ultimate Keyboard - Tech Junkies

One of the things you’ll first notice when you lay eyes on the Deathstalker Ultimate from Razer is the additional Switchblade interface that adorns the right side of the keyboard. The Switchblade UI replaces the number pad area of most keyboards with 10 dynamic display programmable keys, a Synaptics touch sensitive LCD screen, and right & left mouse buttons at the bottom. For the LCD touchscreen Razer has released a freely available SDK (Software Development Kit) that allows developers to make dynamic and reactive applications that will display in the screen area of the keyboard. You might initially think that this is the only thing that sets the Deathstalker apart from its peers and fortunately you’d be wrong.

The Deathstalker Ultimate has a whole host of recognizable Razer features and a few new add-ons that are sure to be welcomed by gaming enthusiasts. For those who have other Razer products you’ll instantly notice the braided cables, backlighting, and triple snake branding. Some of the newer features include a fixed wrist rest with a rubberized inlay, tri-color LED backlighting, fully customizable keysets, five additional macro keys, 10 key anti-ghosting technology, and an onboard macro recording interface.

Switchblade interface enabled keyboards such as the Razer Blade laptop or the Star Wars™: The Old Republic Gaming Keyboard can display pertinent information related to the game you’re playing on the LCD screen. A good example is the Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO’s Combat Logger which puts statistics such as damage per second, healing, and threat levels on the Switchblade screen for easy readability. More and more modern MMOs and MOBAs offer in-game statistics to help players become efficient at tasks like dealing damage or healing teammates. Developers use the Razer’s Switchblade SDK to create applications to display these stats in a meaningful manner.

Razer Deathstalker Ultimate Keyboard - Tech Junkies

Right now, Razer has four gaming related apps available for the Deathstalker and other Switchblade enabled keyboards: Star Wars: The Old Republic Combat Logger, Counter-Strike Trackpad, Battlefield 3 Trackpad, and Team Fortress 2 Trackpad. For the trackpad applications, the functions are limited to context sensitive dynamic keys that can be customized for each game. For example with the Counter-Strike app, you can quickly buy weapons, swap equipment and defuse bombs. If your game is not supported, you can quickly create extremely complex custom macros using the Synapse 2.0 control panel. Once you record the macros, you will be able to assign them to one of the 10 dynamic Switchblade keys and you can even customize the picture of the key to be anything you want. You can create some ingenious color-coded keys that will increase your productivity & efficiency in a MMO.

One of the benefits I found with the Switchblade interface was the Youtube, Social Networking and Web Browser apps. I could keep track of my social networks from inside a game by hitting the Twitter or Facebook buttons. My lightbulb moment was even more profound as I was able to use the Web Browser app to lookup Minecraft recipes and keep the page open while I dug deeper and deeper into my newly created world. Razer should keep expanding the number of apps available for the Switchblade interface as these few only scratch the surface of what is possible with the SDK that’s available.

The tri-color LED backlighting is a new feature that has some benefits and slight drawbacks for the enthusiast crowd. You can easily match the Deathstalker to any external peripheral’s color scheme by using the Razer Synapse 2.0 control panel. The LEDs embedded behind the keys are bright enough to stand up to other lighting sources at your desk, but are on the lower end of brightness for Razer peripherals. Function keys F11 and F12 will decrease or increase the LED brightness right from the keyboard even while you’re in a game.

Razer Deathstalker Ultimate Keyboard - Tech Junkies

The Switchblade interfacing keys rely on a 2-way connection to the computer and the Synapse 2.0 driver for the operating system. My experience yielded some interesting bugs with the Switchblade keys spread out over the week that I tested my unit. Periodically, individual keys would go blank, so for example once when I was using the number pad replacement keyset the “5” key went missing after a few minutes. The Synaptics driver crashed at one point leaving the Switchblade interface completely useless until Windows or the driver were restarted. While using the web-browser, Twitter, or Youtube there would also be intermittent crashing out of the apps with a full reset back to the default touchpad/app-selection set. These issues represented an insignificant fraction of my experience while using the Deathstalker but nonetheless they stood out as situations where the Switchblade interface failed while the rest of the keyboard continued to function properly.

The fixed wrist wrest proved also to be a mixed bag of issues for me. The rubberized inlay is one of the best supports I have had on a keyboard. It firmly held my hands in place as I typed while reducing fatigue. Unfortunately I have medium to medium-large hands and as it stands the bottom of my palms were slipping off the wrist rest under normal typing conditions. With my palms comfortably on the wrist rest, my fingers were placed at a steeper angle that made typing difficult. While using WSAD or other gaming key-combos I didn’t have any of these problems as my wrist could move up to sit on the inlay. A simple fix would have been a larger surface area for this component, had it been a bit larger I would have had no problem at all. Given it’s fixed placing it cannot be removed which further complicates things.

My own wrist complications aside users of average or smaller proportions will find the Deathstalker keyboards to be some of the most comfortable options in Razer’s arsenal. The chiclet keys, their spacing, and the rubberized wrist rest all work in concert to provide an extremely enjoyable typing/gaming experience. The Switchblade interface is very customizable and the Synapse 2.0 software that controls everything is the now officially the command center for all of my Razer products. Despite the ergonomics issue and the backlighting changes the Deathstalker easily replaces a number of my desktop peripherals. With the Switchblade interface it stands to clean up my MMO screen space by moving important information from the desktop monitor down to the keyboard. Right now options are limited though so expect to wait a while before more popular games are added to the Switchblade interface applications list.

Retail Price: $249.99

More Info: Razer Website

Razer Deathstalker Ultimate Keyboard - Tech Junkies
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