One might think (as I did) that a ‘keyboard is a keyboard’ but after using the TarantulaTM for a while I can say this keyboard is a cut above. The Razer TarantulaTM is their first foray into the keyboard market, featuring a 1000Hz UltrapollingTM response, 10-key anti-ghosting, 32Kb of memory for storing up to 5 profiles, a BattleDockTM, and a built-in USB hub. The keyboard is constructed out of a ‘slick’ black plastic with a dull black wrist rest area featuring the trademark pulsing Razer logo. The keys are arranged in a standard QWERTY format, with 10 extra programmable keys running vertically on the left and right sides of the unit. To the left and right of those are the media keys which include a rocker switch for volume, ‘home page’ button, and more.
At the top of the unit is the Razer BattleDockTM, a port which can accomodate many current and future Razer accesories including the BattleLightTM, which is a snap-in light bar that illuminates the whole keyboard. Speaking of illumination, the Tarantula’s vertical programmable keys are the only lit keys on the unit aside from the ‘Profile’ button. This could be a problem in low-light conditions unless the aforementioned BattleLightTM has been purchased. On the rear of the unit are two USB ports, a microphone jack, and a headphone jack. This makes the keyboard great to bring to your next competition or LAN party as it provides an all-in-one interface for your peripherals. The USB plugs that connect the unit to your PC are gold-plated and of good construction. That can be said about the whole keyboard, however, as it feels very sturdy and well made.
The keys of the unit are crisp, yet not jarring, and were at just the right spacing for my fingers. I do alot of coding as well as gaming and the form factor of the unit worked very well for both activities. In fact I was able to assign one of the five profiles to providing many Visual StudioTM hotkeys at the touch of a button. Speaking of profiles, the software control panel makes assigning keys to profiles very easy and switching between them on the fly is a very nice feature while in the middle of a gaming session. 10 extra key shells have been provided which can replace the vertical, illuminated programmable keys and instead of normal designations like ‘L1’ and ‘R1’, have small images of gaming icons on them. So if you assign L1 to be your ‘Fire Mortar’ key, you can switch that button out with a key that has a picture of a rocket on it. ‘Picture’ is actually misleading, they are cutouts which allow the backlight to shine through them.
The TarantulaTM features an ‘Anti-Ghosting’ capability which allows the gamer to depress up to 10 keys simultaneously and not get a signal failure! In addition, the keyboard features the 1000Hz UltrapollingTM that Razer has been providing on all their latest peripherals. This means that while a standard keyboard’s polling rate is 125Hz and gives an 8ms response between key press and result, the 1000Hz of the Tarantula gives a 1ms response between key press and result. This difference of 7ms may seem like nothing worth mentioning but after using it you can definitely feel the greater response time.
Our tests of this mighty keyboard took us to the shores of Far East Asia in Age of Empires III: The Asian Dynasties, the depths of the ocean in Bioshock, and to the perilous alps of Photoshop and MS Word. In all these uses the keyboard performed keenly and without fail. We even went back to our older ‘standard’ keyboards for a while after just to see if we felt a difference in these tasks. We did…and promptly plugged the TarantulaTM back in.
We can’t recommend the Razer TarantulaTM enough for the user who is looking for one of the best keyboards on the market to date. It’s price point may be a bit steep for the average user but if you consider it an investment for your hands, and try it for even an hour, you will know it was a good purchase to make.