Razer Orbweaver Mechanical Elite Gaming Keypad Review

Hassan Mujtaba
Posted Mar 12, 2013
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Introduction

In late 2010, Razer unveiled its Nostromo gaming keypad which was designed specifically for gamers. These new gaming keypads offer the most necessary keys required by online games available these days in a small package that is less than half the length of a regular keyboard.

The Razer Orbweaver is Razer’s second generation gaming keypad and an update to the Nostromo featuring 20 fully mechanical and programmable keys with which you can add customized hot-keys and marco lengths and the support of Razer’s Synapse 2.0 software at hand.

Razer Orbweaver – The Fully Programmable and Mechanical Keypad

Design wise, Razer Orbweaver is a sexier and much more adjustable gaming keypad than its predecessor aka Nostromo. Designed for hardcore online gamers, the Razer Orbweaver comes with 20 programmable keys which can be adjusted by the users as he suits fit by adding an endless amount of hot-keys and marco lengths. Unlike the fixed design on the Nostromo, Razer Orbweaver comes with adjustable hand , thumb, and palm-rests which can be adjusted for full comfort.

Razer OrbweaverIt is designed as such that you can control any games with a single hand using this gaming keypad. All of the keys including D-Pad, Space Bar, Alt key are well within the reach on anyone’s fingers. The keys are fully backlit which allow easy navigation when operating the pad under darker lightning environments.

Razer Synapse 2.0 is a free utility and is one other reason to select Razer gaming products due to its ease of use and easy installation/compatibility with all the latest hardware support. Managing gaming profiles with Razer Synapse using Orbweaver was fairly easier, we have given a detailed article later in this review so keep reading on. You can find technical specifications of the Razer Orbweaver Gaming keypad below:

Razer Orbweaver Technical Specifications

 Technical Specs

  • Full mechanical keys with 50g actuation force
  • 20 fully programmable keys
  • Programmable 8-way directional thumb-pad
  • Adjustable hand , thumb, and palm-rests modules for maximum comfort
  • Instantaneous switching between 8 key maps
  • Unlimited macro lengths
  • Stores unlimited game profiles
  • Backlit keypad for total control even in dark conditions
  • Synapse 2.0 enabled
  • Approximate size: 55 mm / 2.17” (Depth) x 154 mm / 6.06” (Width) x 202 mm / 7.95” (Height)
  • Approximate Weight: 395 g / 0.87 lbs

HARDWARE REQUIREMENTS

  • PC with USB port
  • Windows® 8/ Windows® 7 / Windows Vista® / Windows® XP (32-bit)/ Mac OS X (v10.6-10.7)
  • Internet connection (for driver installation)
  • At least 200MB of hard disk space
  • Synapse 2.0 registration (requiring a valid e-mail), software download, license acceptance, and internet connection needed to activate full features of product and for software updates. After activation, full features are available in optional offline mode.

Accessories

  • Razer Orbweaver Gaming Keypad
  • Razer Quick Start Guide
  • 2 x Razer Stickers

The Razer Orbweaver falls under Razer’s Elite gaming peripherals branding which offer the highest level of performance to users. Starting off with the Orbweaver specifications, the first thing to note are the 20 full mechanical and backlit keys. It only requires a force of 50 grams to punch the keys with your fingers and the backlit option makes it easier to navigate under dim lightning areas.

Orbweaver weighs at 395 grams and it can easily be put on top of any surface. The gaming keypad comes with a gold plated USB connector however it isn’t sleeved like other Elite gaming products from Razer, instead it comes with a simple plastic cord. General look and design of the Razer Orbweaver is mighty impressive, one can just glance at it for hours and not get bored of its looks.

Coming back to the mechanical keys again, the Razer Ouroboros has 20 keys which can are programmable hence can easily be configured with hot-keys and marcros of unlimited lengths by users for their games. The users can also store an endless variety of gaming profiles configured on the Razer Orbweaver through the Razer Synapse 2.0 software, i will detail more on configuration through Synapse 2.0 software later in this review. The palm/hand and thumb rest areas which were fixed on the Nostromo are fully adjustable on the Orbweaver, you can easily configure them from the switches located on the side and back of the keypad.

Other options on the Razer Orbweaver include a 8-Way D-Pad which can also be used as a scroll wheel, a button below and above it which are used for space bar and select keys. The Razer Orbweaver comes with 8 key mapping options which can be switched on the go and all of which can be stored with an unlimited number of profiles. That’s almost about it of what you need to know about the specifications, let’s head forward to look inside the the package itself.

Unboxing The Package

Razer Orbweaver comes inside a cardboard box shaped packaging with the Black and Green Razer theme. The front has a large image of the Orbweaver itself while the sides mark technical aspects of the gaming keypad.

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Opening the front cover shows that the Orbweaver is placed in a second packaging made of plastic. The front side of the plastic is clear while the back side comes in green color.

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There’s not much in accessories with the Orbweaver, it comes with a Quick start guide, two Razer Stickers and a welcome card to the CultofRazer!

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Finally, we have the Orbweaver unboxed featuring a cool black design with a touch of green “backlit”. Let’s move onward to take a closer look at the Razer Orbweaver.

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A Closer Look at the Razer Orbweaver

In this section of the review, we are going to take a closer look at the features and design the Razer Orbweaver has to offer.

The bulk of the area is acquired by the 20 mechanical keys which as stated above are fully programmable. The palm and hand rests are located below.

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The right side of the keypad is made up of the 8-Way D-Pad and two additional buttons. The D-Pad and the other functional keys are fully programmable like the main gaming keys.

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Above the D-Pad are three LEDs which represent the 8 different key mapping profiles on the Orbweaver. Each mapping is customizable and can easily be configured with an unlimited amount of gaming profiles with the use of Razer’s Synapse 2.0 software.

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Razer Orbweaver comes with dual mesh panels at the front which gives it a good look although you won’t notice it almost all the time using the keypad.

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The Razer Orbweaver comes with mechanical keys hence removing them off the keypad is fairly easier. Underneath the keys we can see that the keypad makes use of Cherry MX Blue switches which are similar to what Razer offers on their mechanical gaming keyboards notably the BlackWidow. Each key is separately backlit which improves the overall brightness of each key. Brightness can be configured through Razer Syanapse 2.0 software.

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The back is fairly simple and is equipped with 8 rubber pads to keep it steady on surfaces. A single wire runs from the main keypad to the D-Pad on the right panel. The main USB cable runs from the front right hand side of the keypad.

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The palm rest can be easily configured from the side notch. To do this, pull the switch in outwards direction than set the palm rest up and downwards.

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In a similar way, the length of the palm rest can be increased by pushing the lever place on the backside. Following is the maximum length achievable with the Orbweaver. Its fairly adequate for hands of all sizes.

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You can check out more images of the Razer Orbweaver in the gallery below:

Razer Synapse 2.0 Software

Razer Synapse is a useful utility developed specifically for Razer’s gaming peripherals. The Razer Synapse 2.0 software automatically stores your gaming profiles on the Cloud server and can be loaded automatically from anywhere at anytime. You can download the utility from Razer’s official webpage at:

http://www.razerzone.com/software-support

Let’s have a look at what the Razer Synaspe 2.0 has to offer with the Razer Orbweaver Gaming Keypad.

Just like the other Razer gaming peripherals we tested, the Razer Synapse 2.0 software automatically detected and downloaded the required files to get the Orbweaver working. This process hardly took a minute to complete.

The main panel on the Razer Synapse 2.0 software with the Orbweaver installed shows an image of the keypad itself along with the 8 key mappings detailed on the side. Each key mapping comes with a specific lightning scheme that is displayed on the right side LED indicators on the Orbweaver, it shows the mapping currently enabled by the user. You may need to memorize those to know which mapping is configured for which game want to play.

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can hover over the 20 programmable keys to customize them manually. Each key can be assigned with a button, hot-key and a macro length.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can also get a side view of the gaming pad, hovering over the keypad from this mode would show three main keys. The D-Pad, Alt and Space Bar. Just like the main keys, these ones are also customizable.

The D-Pad is the main key here offering the most customization options. Starting off with the directional keys which you assign 4-Ways – Left/Right/Up/Down.

 

 

 

 

 

 

While a total of 8 functional keys can be assigned to D-Pad through the Razer Synapse 2.0 software.

The lightning panel allows you to adjust the brightness level on the keypad, you can turn it off completely too.

From the Macros panel, you can make custom macros of unlimited lengths, assign whether there should be delay or not when triggered and give the names through Synapse 2.0 software. The Macros can be assigned to any of the 20 programmable keys on the Razer Orbweaver keypad.

Finally there’s the Add On panel which may in come handy for most users since it allows to add custom profiles for your games to the Razer Orbweaver if you can’t make a customized one.

Razer Orbweaver Gaming Performance

The Razer Orbweaver being a gaming keypad is meant to be tested in games only, for general usage you are better off selecting a keyboard rather than a keypad.

I started off the testing with Need For Speed: Most Wanted *2012*. It required me to adjust my hand a bit to found the perfect place of control however reaching the keys on the top position was quite a hurdle, my hand slipped off twice the keypad while reaching the top most keys. But after getting past the learning curve, it became much easier to control the gaming keypad. Using the regular WASD keys felt as if you’re just operating another mechanical gaming keyboard, reach the space bar key was easy though could become a problem for those with smaller hands since its quite a distance from the regular keyboard positioning. Using the D-Pad in a racing game for me was entirely impossible, you can’t control the game using that game but Razer said that the D-Pad is more optimized towards MOBA/MMO titles so i thought it was time to switch to another game.

Next up was DOTA 2, a game where you can make use of those hot-keys and Macros which can easily be configured to the Razer Orbweaver. A few rounds of the game with custom made hot-keys was quite a delight for me including the Macros which did gave me an unfair advantage over the other players but hey its not an banable offence and i was just doing my testing *:p*. The D-Pad was better off in DOTA 2, the movement keys were easier to control the character however the eight function keys were a slight bit of a problem while testing. If not pressed correctly in a specific direction, you may end triggering the wrong spell or skill and that was exactly my problem, so i rather choose the main keys to assign hot-keys. Its quite easier for me to say that the keypad is more optimized towards the MMO/MMORPG/MOBA titles. I regret that i uninstalled Star Wars: The Old Republic a few days ago, testing it with the Orbweaver would have been a great experience for me.

My testing doesn’t end here, the last thing i wanted to test the Razer Orbweaver was with an FPS title. So i booted up my most favorite and baddest title ever, Battlefield 3. Battlefield 3 seemed to be the perfect title to test out the gaming keypad although some would say that Counter Strike would have been the testing material since it offers more competitiveness but honestly speaking im not that much of a COD or CS player as im a Battlefield one. I played a few rounds on the latest Alborz Mountains map using the support class. For testing keys, i thought the class was perfect since it required an amount of switching through the numbering keys to drop ammunition  grenades and switching weapons. I customized the D-Pad with the number keys so changing weapons was a bit easy as compared to the keypad itself since the keys were pretty high up as i mentioned earlier. There is so much one can experiment with the programmable interface of the Orbweaver so i am better off leaving it to the hard core players.

Conclusion

First of all i would like to thank Razer for sending me the Orbweaver for testing, its a cool product but built for a limited user base. As my testing revealed that most casual and even hardcore gamers would be better off spending the $129.99 Razer’s asking for the Orbweaver gaming keypad on a gaming keyboard instead. Heavy MOBA/MMORPG/MMO fans however would choose the Razer Orbweaver as their perfect choice for gaming in LAN parties or competitions.

The design of the Razer Orbweaver is simply put cool enough to attract anyone towards it but not anyone would be pleased with the way it plays. Compared to the Nostromo, Orbweaver is quiet an update with a fully mechanical design, adjustable palm rests, 8-Way D-Pad and with the Razer Synapse 2.0 software which can add an unlimited amount of gaming profiles, Macros and Hot-Keys. The addition of programmable keys is just what online MMO and RPG players want from the latest gaming peripherals, even a few FPS gamers would benefit from these but the bulk of these games would instead prefer keyboards.

There are quiet a few problems i faced controlling the keypad but i hope they are sorted out in the next gaming keypad from Razer. So all i want to say about the Razer Orbweaver is that it is a cool gadget designed to offer gamers the experience of a mechanical keyboard in a small package coupled with a fully programmable design.

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