Summary: Jake takes a look at the full-sized gaming keyboard by Wolf King. Does it play well, or is it a case of form over function? Read on to find out!
Since the dawn of FPS (First Person Shooter) games, the controls have been similar throughout. The WASD keys should be familiar to all gamers. Games such as DOOM and Wolfenstein were the first of the 3-D FPS hits. Today, first person shooters are still extremely popular for the PC. However, unlike other genres, they never had a special tool, or accessory to assist with playing. Racing games have steering wheels, flight simulators have joysticks, and sports games have controllers. Wolf King (official site) has introduced the Timber wolf keyboard, a tool for gamers who enjoy first person shooters, while also combining a keyboard for regular use.
Their Timber Wolf keyboard is one of two available geared-towards-FPS products. The other is a game pad, the Warrior, which is the Timber Wolf without the keyboard half. It was reviewed previously by FiringSquad this April here. The Timber Wolf keyboard can be purchased from Newegg for $44.99 plus shipping, versus the $29.99 plus shipping for the Warrior gamepad. So, for a $15 premium over the Warrior, you would get a keyboard with extra internet hot keys. That doesn’t sound like a bad deal to me. Now let’s see what the Timber Wolf looks like.
Even before we open the box, Wolf King gives us a figurative meaning to the job of the product. There’s a wolf soldier, combining the company name and the keyboard’s FPS duties. When we open the box, we see the good packaging job done. There’s foam holding the keyboard which is in a plastic bag. This isn’t anything special, but it shows that the company wants to show it provides top quality products.
The keyboard half of the Timber Wolf is no different from a regular keyboard except for a few minor key placements. The number pad that is usually on the left has been removed completely. The Home/PgUp/PgDn/End/Ins/Del cluster has been whipped around the right edge of the keyboard. The Ins/Del keys are right by the arrow keys. This takes a bit of time to adjust to. On the back of the keyboard there are rubber feet to prevent slipping while gaming and to prevent scratching the table surface. There are also plastic tabs to elevate the keyboard if needed. The LEDs for Num/Caps/Scroll Locks are very visible, but not bright enough to be annoying or irritating, even when you look straight down at them.
The Wolf King comes with a USB connection. Once plugged in, it becomes recognized as a HID, or Human Interface Device by Windows XP. The eight (8) internet hotkeys at the top of the keyboard are recognized instantly, there is no need for any additional drivers to fully utilize this keyboard. One of the main goals of the Timber Wolf keyboard is to incorporate the circular FPS half while maintaining the same overall size of a standard keyboard. As you can see, when compared to a standard Logitech keyboard, the Timber Wolf is only slightly longer.
The FPS oriented half of the Timber Wolf is very similar to the Warrior, as it should be. There are forty (40) keys on the FPS part of the Timber Wolf. They have the same value as it’s counterpart on the keyboard half. This means if I press the button designated as “W” on the FPS half and do the same on the keyboard half, the result will be the same. In a word processing program, hitting both keys will give “W”, and in a first perform shooter, both “W” keys will execute the forward command. This shows that the FPS half is made for comfort and ease in game, not as a separate part. The “W” key on the keyboard half is 12mm(L) by 14mm(H). On the FPS side the same key is 16mm(L) by 17mm(H). The size increase is so when gaming your fingers don’t slip over and strike another key. A gamer should have to look down to find his keys, so the keys are enlarged.
One of the features I like was the vertical spacebar (biggest key). When gaming on a regular keyboard, your finger, usually the thumb can only press a small par of the spacebar. The vertical spacebar on the Timber Wolf allows easier access to the spacebar. Another smart aspect of the Timber Wolf is it’s positioning of the Ctrl key. It has been moved up. On a regular keyboard, one must curl his finger back to reach the Ctrl key. The Ctrl key is now easier to reach and larger too. The numbers are curved around the other keys. This provides much easier access to the later numbers, especially numbers6 to 0, which are far from the WASD cluster. There a couple of peculiarities about the Timber Wolf’s FPS half though. The “K” key is in a completely random position, right between the “0” and Ctrl keys. In reality the key is so far from the WASD cluster that it isn’t used. The Shift button could have been put to better use there. There are also “+”, “-”, “,” and “.” keys. On a regular keyboard they are rarely used in FPS games and should have been replaced by other keys.
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