on 1 January 2013
Buying a new keyboard was a hard task, especially with the many different options available. I figured that I would want a keyboard for life, or at least for a sufficient amount of time without having to upgrade due to a faulty key or snagged cable. This, being the main reason, was the sole reason for choosing a mechanical keyboard.
So the Razer Blackwidow ultimate 2013 appeared within my quest for a keyboard; admittedly, the price at the time was nearer to £120 when I did a little research behind it and made my comparisons with other mechanical backlit keyboards (such as the Corsair CH-9000003-UK Vengeance K90 and the Qpad MK-80 Pro Gaming Back-lit Mechanical Keyboard). After a vast amount of time (as £120 is by no means cheap) I plucked the courage and bought the Blackwidow.
The keyboard arrived a couple of days after Christmas, all wrapped and parcelled nicely within a cushioned box. Inside lay the Razer Blackwidow, nicely packaged in the traditional Razer fashion (the brightest green interior you can imagine). Enclosed with the Blackwidow itself were a certificate proving authenticity, 2 Razer Stickers, a quick start manual and some more in-depth manuals providing the high-tech specifications. The keyboard itself has one braided cable, which is strongly fixed into the main body. Anyone who is clumsy, or as in my case has a million cables around their computer can sleep easy knowing that this thing will not be broken with snagging. The braided cable is long, breaking off into four points towards the end. These are 2 Gold plated USB's (one is for the keyboard port and one is for the pass-through which allows use of the USB which is on the right hand side), 1 Gold plated 2.5mm Audio Jack and 1 Gold plated 2.5mm Microphone Jack, which also seem to be of good quality so far. After plugging my keyboard in, using all the provided cables, I plugged my microphone and headset into the right and side of the keyboard and downloaded the Razer Synapses 2.0 software from their website. The keyboard itself was a joy to set up, no messing around and no confusing software, just simple plug download and go. I should say however that I have yet to use the five customisable macro keys down the far left hand side of the keyboard, so this should be something I should attempt, however it doesn't look hard to customise them from what I have seen.
Anyway, let's talk about the keyboard itself, what does it look like? Well, Razer has gone for the matte finish on the 2013 model... thank the lord! The 2012 model by all means was a fingerprint magnet, so I can only smile at this choice. The keyboard is heavy, 1.5kg in-fact, so this for me is also a positive aspect as you know it isn't going to slide around when you are gaming. To be quite honest, the build quality alone justifies its weight as it is constructed of a combination of metal and plastic.
So what does the Ultimate version offer over the Standard Razer Blackwidow? Well, to answer your question... lights! Big green lights everywhere! The back-lighting is the extra addition that gives the ultimate its name. Now £30 for back-lighting is expensive, this we all know, but regardless of the fact that I am going to try justify this a bit with some things I pondered about when making comparisons between the two. This keyboard, personally, was intended to last me a long time, so back-lighting was a little touch that I could afford and thought necessary for times where lighting is next to nothing. After all these years using keyboards, I am ashamed to say that I still find it difficult to navigate around the keyboard with little light, so again, this made my decision a little easier. To add to this, it looks great, the green back-lighting looks amazing when set to the maximum setting (which I think is of ten levels). A final thing I will add which influenced my choice towards the ultimate was the laser etching. As each key is individually backlit (besides the function key), there is no chance of the lettering rubbing off, so again this swayed my decision also.
The Blackwidow and the Blackwidow Ultimate both use Cherry MX Blue switches, which are renowned for the 'chunk' or 'clicking' sound that you can hear when pressing below the actuation point. This again, I love. The sound is great, you really know when you have pressed a key... this may sound silly and slightly obvious, but I read many of times about the feeling of typing on a mechanical keyboard which use these switches and all I can say is they were right. I can say however, if you have a family member who is a light sleeper, consider this as they really are loud, there is no exaggeration here... YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED LADIES AND GENTS! The final thing I will add is the gaming mode, which enables you to customise which keys are unavailable whilst in it. As many gamers who read this may know, that windows key feels like it becomes ten times its original size when gaming, so it is a relief to know I can programme it to switch off.
So it seems like there are a lot of pro's, and after thinking hard I think it is safe to say that I can only think of one slight little niggle. There is a little play with the larger keys such as the enter (UK version) and the space bar, meaning it does wobble slightly when you try to. This doesn't bother myself, however, I know it may really annoy others out there so I thought it would be worth a mention.
All in all, I really do like the keyboard, Razer have definitely provided a nice and solid mechanical keyboard that I know will last me a long time. For some, it may not be necessary to spend the £30 to get the back-lighting, but I do like it, I guess it is preference. Razer have provided a lot of good products to the market, I myself have a Razer Deathadder so I guess this also lead me into buying the Blackwidow over other keyboards. Definitely something I would recommend.