The name Lycosa is a type of Tarantula which leads you to believe that this keyboard is in the same series as the original Tarantula. This doesn’t appear to be the case, as this keyboard doesn’t improve on the features of the original, which you would expect from a sequential release. Instead, this board appears to have features removed such as the docking bay (BattleDock) and the extensive media buttons; this time there are only the essentials.
The box that the Lycosa is sent in is the usual Razer colours of green and black. The front has a large glossy image of the keyboard in its illuminated mode with the Lycosa logo itself being covered with silver foil. This logo has the silhouette of a spider instead of the ‘o’ in Lycosa; which follows the tread that Razer have of naming all of their products after various deadly insects, arachnids and snakes.
The rear of the box has plenty of information on how this board is far superior to a standard keyboard. There is a comparison list, and a small paragraph explaining the keyboards features in English; the rest of the rear is covered with what looks a multi-lingual translation phrase book.
Looking at the specifications, you can soon see where the differences are between this keyboard and the Tarantula. With the Tarantula every key had the anti-ghosting facility, which means that when you press multiple buttons at once, you don’t get a random key being sent to your PC. With the Lycosa, while you’d expect the entire board to have this feature, it’s only the WASD cluster which is a little vague. Does it mean that you can press all of the WASD buttons at once or does it mean that you can press other keys AND all the WASD buttons? The ability to press all the WASD keys at once is pretty much useless, as according to Razer’s own evidence, a generic board can have 3 buttons pressed at once. When have you ever wanted to go backwards, forwards, left and right at the same time? It sounds like this ‘anti-ghosting’ feature is a PR point rather than something that’ll help in your day-to-day gaming.
The original Tarantula didn’t have backlit keys, like the Lycosa, because the extra traces enabling anti-ghosting would have prevented any back-lighting from reaching the keys. The fact that the Lycosa does have back-lighting makes you realise that it can’t have the anti-ghosting on all of the keys by Razers own admission.
The feature is not a lie, i.e. the WASD cluster will all work at the same time, just that its actual usage in the real world is unlikely and seems to simply be a point that most people read and assume that the whole board has the same functionality. This feature does mean that this board is better than most generic keytrays however.
Another feature of the board is the HyperResponse keys. This IS a useful feature, and this is what gamers are looking for. The keys themselves are almost laptop in style as they are a much lower profile than a standard keyboard. While the inner workings are the same (rubber mat with plastic trace plate) the keys themselves require a shorter distance to send a signal (distance to signal). This means that you take less time to press a button which relates to a mildly faster reaction speed. Combine this with the 8x polling rate of the USB port (1000 hz (1ms) as apposed to 125 hz (8ms) for a standard keyboard) and you’ll be able to shave a good 10ms off your game; unlike the Killer NIC.
Inside the box, you’ll find a booklet containing a vast array of different leaflets and information, including a couple of stickers, the manual, the driver CD and certificate of authenticity. The driver CD is quite key to the usage of the board, as the drivers are not yet available on the Razer site itself. In the coming weeks, I’m sure it’ll appear.
Out of the box, you’ll notice that there aren’t any markings on the keys themselves which is a little odd. This is because the board uses a backlight which shines through transparent holes on each of the keys. This means that you can’t really use the board without the lighting turned on unless you are a daemon touch typist; the usual notches on the F and J buttons are there. This seems a little odd, especially when compared to say the Saitek offering which has light coloured keys and the hole where the light shines out is dark when the backlight is turned off creating enough contrast for the marking to be seen. As Razer want to use black on black, light coloured keys aren’t possible.
The sample we have today is the US layout and is a little different from the UK version shown below. As you won’t be purchasing a US layout if you are in the UK, I won’t be covering this aspect. From the diagram, you can see that all of the keys are in their normal locations reducing learning times unlike a proprietary layout.