Ideazonís Merc gaming keyboard remains my current favorite while playing games. Combining the big keys and designs of a gaming pad with a fairly standard work keyboard layout has worked out very well. I can type reviews and previews on the keyboard during the day and shoot virtual terrorists in the head at night with the oversized movement keys and well placed buttons on the left side.
So when gaming mouse company Razer first announced their plans for their entry into gaming keyboard with the Tarantula I was more than intrigued. Iím a big fan of their gaming mice products and even though their recent headphone recently was a little bit disappointing I was looking forward to seeing what they would do for gaming keyboards. After all, a mouse is basically a PC input product so creating a companion keyboard would be a natural fit. When I actually got a chance to use Razerís Tarantula, however, it was something of a surprise. It was more than what I was expecting from the companyÖand also a little less. Thatís confusing, Iím sure but stay with me; it will all make sense.
The first think I quickly noticed about the Tarantula was its size. Itís a big one. Itís not quite as long as the Merc keyboard (20 inches to the Mercís 21 inches) but it still takes up more desktop space because the Razer is wider than the Merc. Itís also very, very black with a shiny hard plastic finish that makes you be very careful while handling the product. You just donít want to scratch it at all.
Unlike the Merc, the Razer Tarantula doesnít really have a dedicated section devoted to just gaming buttons. Indeed the keyboard layout is pretty conventional for the most part but there are some interesting differences. The main one is the 10 keys (5 on the left and 5 on the right of the main keyboard layout) that are specifically made for the Tarantulaís macro set up (more on how that works later). Those buttons along with the Razer logo on the bottom center of the Tarantula, have an electric blue light glow coming from them that gives the keyboard an eerie presence to it in the dark, much like Razerís Diamondback mouse. There doesnít seem to be a way to disable the glow, however.
Installing the Tarantula may give you a bit of a fright at first since Razer is requiring you plug in two included USB cable connections in order for the keyboard to work (itís possible that the reason for this is that glowing light effect takes up a lot of energy but we donít know that for certain). Thankfully the Tarantula makes up for it by providing for two on-board USB ports that are placed on the top right hand side of the keyboard which is perfect for plugging in your mouse and whatever other USB device you might want (alas these ports are only USB 1.1 and not 2.0 ports). The USB cables also come with headset and microphone cables as well. If you plug both of them into the appropriate openings on your soundcard you can then plug in your headphone-microphone combo into the keyboard itself through the use of two such ports located next to the keyboardís two USB ports.