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Upgraded : G15 to BlackWidow Ultimate - My Thoughts

post #1 of 12
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Hey guys. Sorry in advance for the wall of text, but I wanted to share an experience.

Last Friday, I managed to spill close to a full pint of orange juice all over my G15. I tried to save it; took it apart, dried it, made sure I left it overnight before I tried it again, but alas, when I plugged it back in half of the keys produced random character combinations.
So, as I've been reading a lot about Mechanical Keyboards, and I've had my eye on the BlackWidow for a while, I decided to take the plunge and order one. It arrived this morning. I've had a day with it now and I'd like to give my thoughts on it in the hopes of making a decision for someone reading this, a little easier.

I have always had rubber dome keyboards for as long as I can remember. My first was an Amiga 500, then moving on from that, a couple of cheapy £5 odd jobbys, before I got my first Illuminated Keyboard, the Saitek Eclipse. This keyboard served me well for a good few years, but eventually, as all cheaper things do... it simply wore out. The printing on the keys wore off, and the LED's went so dull, they were practically useless.

Then, lastly I replaced the Eclipse with the Logitech G15 v2. I bought my G15 on the 6th November 2008 for the grand total of £59.
This was a massive step up from the Eclipse I had been used to. The keys were made of tougher stuff, the lighting was brighter and more even and to top it all off, there was a row of macro keys.
Before the unfortunate drink spilling, the G15 was still in perfect condition. The keys had not worn down, and nothing had fallen off. I honestly thought that there wasn't much better you could get when buying a keyboard. This was it.

So... now I was used to macro keys, I couldn't go back to a board without them. But after having read through the mech keyboard threads on OCN, I'd decided I wasn't going to spend another £100 or so on anything other than a mech keyboard.
With so many people professing the benefits of a mechanical switch instead of a rubber dome, I simply couldn't ignore the opportunity that had presented itself with the death of my G15.
I'd heard stories of Razer's build quality, but decided that as they are the only company I could find with a backlit mechanical keyboard that also had macro keys, it was worth the risk. I've had 2 Mamba's (first one I broke myself) and their build quality was at least good, if not very good (first one's wheel squeaked and needed to be oiled, no biggie) so I wasn't overly worried.

It arrived this morning. As has been said in other reviews, the first thing I did when I unpacked the shipping box was to play with the arrow keys through the cut-out. I'd promised myself I wouldn't, but I couldn't resist.
My god... The keys were/are SO light. They hardly needed any force at all to press them down to a satisfying 'click'. Unboxing it was seemingly par for the course given the packaging my Mamba came in. Sturdy, protective, and it just fit. Sometimes, I've found when opening boxes for items, that you have to practically rip the tabs at the end to get the packaging open. Not here. It all fits perfectly.
The only thing that let the packaging down, was the somewhat strange set of holes the cable was routed through to store it. It took me a few seconds to figure out how to get the cable out without ripping the box. Perhaps it was just me being stupid, meh.

So now I'm comparing the two keyboards, side by side with my broken G15 on the dining room table. The G15 still feels normal, it flexes a bit, its not particularly heavy, and the keys need to be pushed with the pressure you normally would.
Then I switch to the BlackWidow. It's so light. I honestly can't describe it. You need to feel it. I've heard about people having issues with the Widow with sticking keys, or keys pushing other keys down when you press them funny. Fortunately, not mine. I spend a good 10 minutes prodding, poking and generally being... adventurous with my key presses, but nothing I did has caused the keys to falter.

After taking the Widow upstairs and placing it on my desk, the very first thing I notice, is... fingerprints. xD Yup, this collects 'em like some kind of CSI technician. This will annoy a lot of people, but I can live with it as I always have a cloth to hand for cleaning glasses, screens, etc.
Plugging it in, I am a little worried that the lights are not on. The first thought that ran through my mind was "omg, please don't say its faulty". But, a press of the back-light button immediately puts that fear to rest with a brilliantly sharp blue emanating from every letter and behind every key. Wow. This is the lowest setting and it's already twice as bright as my G15! Just for giggles, I decide to flick through all the levels of brightness. Quite simply, blinding. How anyone would ever need a keyboard to be this bright, I'll never know.

First things first then, I've already downloaded and installed the drivers, and updated the firmware (remind me, why does a keyboard need firmware?) so now its time to set up the macros I use every day. Yes, I play WoW. Yes, I like to have a rapid fire button in games like L4D, so that I don't have to mash the mouse buttons. All work correctly after the correct profiles are set, so I fire up WoW. (I know a lot of people will stop reading here, lol)
As expected, typing is fantastic. Moving around however, feels a little weird. Having the key actuate half way through it's travel feels just... weird. Its like I shouldn't be bottoming out the key, even though that is what I am used to. Its not bad, not uncomfortable, just weird. I've already started to get used to it by the end of the day, but still...

The only big problem I've had, is that the weight of my fingers resting on the keys is enough to actuate them. Quite a few times I found myself literally flying in circles when I wasn't paying attention to the keyboard. I thought something weird was going on with my game, then I realised it was my fingers resting on the keys and I hadn't noticed because they are so light to the touch. I have started doing this less, and by the end of the night, I was hardly doing it at all.
I played some CoD 4, and again, the light keys took a little getting used to, but otherwise, there was no ghosting, no roll-over issues, and the whole thing was very responsive.

After having typed everything you see above, I can without doubt say that typing in now in no way a tiring experience. I've found myself looking for excuses to type on it, hence one of the main reasons for this post.
Speed wise, I haven't noticed much difference. However, I'm 100% sure that as I become accustomed to the board, that my speeds will increase. I just need to reset my finger's muscle memory. One thing however, is an absolute certainty. Even after only a single days worth of use, I will never go back to a rubber dome keyboard. In fact, the experience has also made my mind up as to what one of the things I will be buying for my partner's birthday in June will be.

I will no doubt be posting an update in the coming months as to any problems that may or may not arise. But overall, consider me a convert to the Mechanical Keyboard User base. 100% recommended.
Edited by weidass - 4/11/11 at 5:18pm
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post #2 of 12
Quote:
(remind me, why does a keyboard need firmware?)
It's got a controller chip, don't it?


Congrats on the conversion. If you think blues are light, wait until you try browns.
post #3 of 12
I like my BlackWidow Ultimate. Dont really need the backlight as I dont need to look down at my keys. My only complaint is the sound. Sounds like a 1980s type writer. Clack Clack Clack lol.
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post #4 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Krymore View Post
I like my BlackWidow Ultimate. Dont really need the backlight as I dont need to look down at my keys. My only complaint is the sound. Sounds like a 1980s type writer. Clack Clack Clack lol.
You've never heard a typewriter then.



MX blues are a half-successful attempt to modify a Cherry MX switch to have a similar feel and sound to the IBM Model M's buckling springs, which were a cheap version of the Model F's buckling springs, which were a cheap replacement for IBM's beam spring switch, which was a half-successful attempt to make a keyboard switch with a similar feel and sound to an IBM Selectric II typewriter (from the early 1970s).

It's a pretty distant cousin.
post #5 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Krymore View Post
I like my BlackWidow Ultimate. Dont really need the backlight as I dont need to look down at my keys. My only complaint is the sound. Sounds like a 1980s type writer. Clack Clack Clack lol.
I love that sound...it's so soothing...
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post #6 of 12
I also have the BW Ultimate, my 2 minor issues about the keyboard are:

The shift key is not built as well as the space bar key, on the space bar even if you hit it at the very edge the feeling is the same for the shift keys you need to hit it center or t least where the print is to get a very even feel second minor issue is that the font on the keyboard I have uses random upper and lower case.
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post #7 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by EarlZ View Post
I also have the BW Ultimate, my 2 minor issues about the keyboard are:

The shift key is not built as well as the space bar key, on the space bar even if you hit it at the very edge the feeling is the same for the shift keys you need to hit it center or t least where the print is to get a very even feel second minor issue is that the font on the keyboard I have uses random upper and lower case.
Remove the shift key and reseat it. The stabilizer isn't right. I've had to do that with two of the three iOne keyboards I've used.
post #8 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by weidass View Post
I've found myself looking for excuses to type on it, hence one of the main reasons for this post.
That's very common

Congrats on your purchase!
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post #9 of 12
You should try the Cherry MX Browns, no not as clicky as the Blues (not trying to emulate the Model M's), but compared the Blue's...they're something else

In any case, congrats on your purchase, may this be the first in a long string of mech keyboard purchases (well...maybe not...they're expensive, and few have macro keys)
post #10 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phaedrus2129;13092345 
Remove the shift key and reseat it. The stabilizer isn't right. I've had to do that with two of the three iOne keyboards I've used.

I've done that and even reapplied the silicon grease that was used, it feels a tad bit better, is it expected to feel exactly like the spacebar key?
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