Keyboard head-to-head

Written by Joe Martin

May 6, 2007 | 14:21

Tags: #comparison #crystal #head #keyboard #protype #review #to

Companies: #enermax #logitech #microsoft #razer #test

The Razer Pro|Type Keyboard

The Razer Pro|Type is almost the exact opposite of the Enermax Crystal. Where the Crystal is small, heavy and metallic, the Pro|Type is massive, plastic and lightweight. So lightweight in fact that just mashing keys a little too firmly flexes the whole frame.

The Pro|Type is as packed with features as Arnold Schwarzenegger is full of witty one-liners. There are a total of ten programmable keys, multiple profiles that can be switched between, backlighting on some buttons, media keys, shortcut buttons and a pointless Razer logo that pulses neon blue on the wrist support.

And that's without the iPod dock, which Razer claims it is the first to mount on a keyboard.

The iPod dock, which is most likely what the majority of users will buy this incredibly expensive keyboard for, is capable of being used on all the third generation iPods upwards, including the nano and the Mini. Due to the extra power required for the iPod dock, which can charge iPods even when the PC is off, the keyboard has two USB connectors that must be plugged in. It can be a pain for those who are port-starved, but thankfully the Pro|Type has two USB ports in its top right, along with a line-out port, which help make up for this issue.

Keyboard head-to-head The Razer Pro|Type Keyboard head-to-head The Razer Pro|Type
Click to enlarge
One thing the Pro|Type and the Enermax Crystal do have in common though is the deliberate sense of style. Where the Enermax went for a understate, sleek look though, the Razer is quite blatantly targeted at Mac owners with its all white chassis and subtle blue highlights. Again, without mentioning the iPod support.

In terms of general use, the Pro|Type holds up well enough. Its keys don't feel as strong and satisfying as the Enermax Crystal, in fact the whole keyboard feels a bit on the flimsy side, but the massive array of extras more than compensates for this.

Keyboard head-to-head The Razer Pro|Type Keyboard head-to-head The Razer Pro|Type
Click to enlarge
In gaming tests the Pro|Type held up just as well as the Crystal, if not better. Media keys are a real bonus in some games when a little musical relief is wanted but the need to pause without ALT-tabbing remains. Likewise, the programmable keys can be a boon in games like Oblivion, where the ability to cast three healing spells and a fireball with one button press is desirable.

Placing the media keys along the sides of the keyboard also makes a nice change to having them squashed along the top.

For everyday tasks the Pro|Type has some extra buttons, like scalable zooming and a rotate key which can prove handy for quick photo edits. Again, it's probably marketed at Mac users but it's still a handy thing to have even if Photoshop isn't your thing.

Keyboard head-to-head The Razer Pro|Type Keyboard head-to-head The Razer Pro|Type
Click to enlarge
On the down side, the Razer could be a bit big and fragile for some people. The type of person who wants to toss a keyboard in a backpack and bike over to the nearest LAN party may be impressed by the Pro|Type's lightweight, but disappointed by its fragility. The iPod dock doesn't have a cover of any description and we found that it tended to accumulate dust quite quickly, though even small amounts of grime show up easily on the pristine white surface.

The Razer Pro|Type is a decent enough keyboard, providing a fistful of functions and a dandy iPod dock for the ultra-fashionable geeks that want to listen to their tunes via their keyboards. It's macro recording suite isn't as comprehensive as some, but it's easily enough to get by with. The price tag is massive though, much larger than the Enermax Crystal and we have to wonder if the keyboard is really worth $129. No UK pricing has yet been announced, but Razer has said it will retail at €129.99 in Europe.

Keyboard head-to-head The Razer Pro|Type Keyboard head-to-head The Razer Pro|Type
Click to enlarge
Really it's this hefty price tag that lets the Razer Pro|Type down because, as good as it is, it isn't value for money and in reality every time I typed on the keyboard I was just thinking of better ways to spend all that moolah.

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What do these scores mean?

Conclusions

So, when all is said and done just which is the best keyboard of these two?

Well, obviously part of this is going to depend on your priorities. If you are after a barebones keyboard that represents value for money and decent performance, then neither of these are for you. Go out and buy yourself a Microsoft keyboard. You can pick up a good one for under £20.

On the other hand, if you're after something a little more flashy and expensive then you may want to side with either the Razer or the Enermax keyboards. The Enermax keyboard represents solid, weighty construction and the bragging rights that come of having a keyboard cut with diamonds, while the Razer Pro|Type highlights the benefits of extra functions and features.

If we had to choose one for most users, then the Razer Pro|Type would get our vote due to its fancy buttons and macro-recording software. It's far too expensive though, more than we ever would have dreamed it might cost and for this we have to say that, of the two, the Enermax Crystal is the best. It's not strictly as good as the Pro|Type, but it has some good points of its own and won't break your bank manager's heart.
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