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Razer BlackWidow Ultimate Stealth 2013 Edition Keyboard Review

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Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Razer

Introduction and externals

Razer maintains a distinct sense of style across their product line. Over the past decade and a half, Razer has carved a spot in the peripherals market catering to competitive gamers as well as developing wholly novel products for the gaming market. Razer has a catalog including standard peripherals and more arcane things such as mice with telephone-style keypads geared toward MMORPG players as well as motion sensing controllers employing magnetic fields to detect controller position.

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The Razer BlackWidow Ultimate Stealth 2013 Edition comes out of the box ready for use without additional software provided or assembly required.  The keyboard uses a standard layout with five macro keys attached in a column on the left of the board. Rather than dedicated media buttons, media and keyboard specific functions are accessed by pressing a combination of a function key located to the right of right alt and the function keys on the top row.

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The headphone and microphone jack are present on the side of the keyboard.

Continue reading our review of the Razer BlackWidow Ultimate Stealth Keyboard!!

One USB port as well as two audio passthrough ports are present on the right side of the board. The keyboard’s cable includes two USB connectors as well as the audio cables, fed out of the center of the keyboard and braided together. The bottom of the keyboard has five rubber feet. The stands are rubberized as well.

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The bottom of the keyboard holds no surprises.

While the Razer BlackWidow 2013 uses Cherry MX Blue switches. The Razer BlackWidow Ultimate Stealth 2013 Edition uses the quieter, smoother Cherry MX Brown switches. Cherry MX Blue switches can be noisy and the high level of feedback they provide may not always be desired. Cherry MX Brown switches have a small bump when actuated while being less audible than the Cherry MX Blue switches.

The Cherry MX Brown has some feedback during a key press, but less than the MX Blue’s much more distinct drop.

 

Razer provides two case stickers and a manual with the keyboard but does not include a software CD. While the keyboard has its base functionality without additional software, gamers will have to pay a visit Razer’s website for the drivers.

August 27, 2013 | 10:18 AM - Posted by Jim Carhart (not verified)

I've owned this keyboard for several months now, and though I share the strong endorsement from your article I do want to point out a shortcoming. In terms of the backlighting, only the primary (non-shifted) function of keys are backlit. So the number keys are lit, but the '!,@#$%^&*()' shifted key values are not, note this holds for opening and closing parens, pipe symbol, all of which are heavily used in programming/command-line shell environments.

Maybe not an issue for gaming use, but definitely an issue if you code or use this keyboard with Linux/Unix systems. Such a shame, as a bit of work by Razer and this would have been a very, very good keyboard.

August 28, 2013 | 05:04 AM - Posted by Theo (not verified)

Cherry MX blue is too loud also, this new version should help that but I agree the non-backlit shifted keys is the only real let down on the keyboard.
Also the Synapse software is bloated junk and causes endless issues with start-up and reassigning keys to macros you haven't asked for.

August 28, 2013 | 07:44 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I have the 2012 version and it's a solid great keyboard.

The software sucks. It requires an online connection. Hope they fixed that.

August 28, 2013 | 02:31 PM - Posted by Chris Borden

I just checked on this. There's an offline mode in the software accessed by going to the top right of the window, clicking on the drop down arrow, and hitting 'go offline'.

September 11, 2013 | 04:46 AM - Posted by Dopie

You still need and account and online connection for the first setup. Wouldn't mind if the sotware allowed you to use it without any kind of login and exporting of profiles in XML (like Logitech does).

August 28, 2013 | 08:36 AM - Posted by mLocke

Doesn't mention if the keycaps are OEM or authentic cherry height or what plastic the keycaps are made from. Probably OEM ABS.
http://keycapsdirect.com/images/faq/row1keycap.jpg

USB and audio ports on a keyboard make me giggle a bit. With most gaming grade mice coming with two meter cables, do you really need to have your mouse plugged into the keyboard?

If all the audio is being fed to the keyboard over USB then the keyboard has to have some cheap DAC/ADC inside of it to spit out and receive the audio over the 3.5 jacks on the side. One assumes that the keyboard is limited to processing stereo signal has no way to take the more common six or eight channel audio and process it into stereo for headphone/headset users that this keyboard is meant to cater to.

Would have been nice to see the PCB inside the keyboard and get an idea what kind of capability for modding it has. Overall great review, keep the mechs coming.

August 28, 2013 | 03:00 PM - Posted by Chris Borden

The USB port and the audio ports are passive passthroughs from what I can tell.

Since I'm not a believer in USB hubs - I had a decently expensive one take out a not-cheap microphone while a tablet and 3D mouse were plugged into it - I appreciate having to run one less USB extension cable from my case to my desk.

I'm also on an Ergotron Workfit, http://www.ergotron.com/tabid/640/language/en-US/default.aspx , so the fewer cables I have to manage the happier I am.

I'll be paying attention to keycap types in future keyboard reviews and I'll include a page showing disassembly in any of my future keyboard reviews.

September 11, 2013 | 06:35 AM - Posted by Halbyrd (not verified)

One issue I've had with Razer's backlit keyboards, mechanical and membrane both, is the way the keycaps are designed to accommodate the backlighting. Their method is to make the keycaps of clear ABS, and then paint them black except for the label part. Keycaps made in this manner have the unfortunate tendency to have their paint rubbed off over time on top, which means that instead of backlit lettering, you get big, undifferentiated blobs on the keys you use most often. While annoying on any keyboard, this is especially inexcusable on a mechanical keyboard, which are meant to last many multiples of the lifespan of a cheaper membrane keyboard.

October 2, 2013 | 09:46 AM - Posted by jorg (not verified)

To clear up the usb/audio questions:
USB & audio are passive passthrough. There are four cables coming from the keyboard, but very nicely wrapped inside one braided line.
-2x usb connections;
1 powers the keyboard which is 5V and has a 350mA draw & the other to a seperate usb out, making that a full powered port on the right side of keyboard.
-1x Mic minijack.
-1x Headphone minijack.
These both are colour coded (pink&green) and plug directly into your pc audio.

Synapse 2.0 software/drivers...grrrrrr!!!!...needs work!
-I installed the stuff, set up keyboard, then exited program. Synapse will restart w/ a boot or a user change. Run>msconfig>start up. Uncheck the synapse & reboot.

& it'll stay that way, unless/until Razor can get it correct. It is a novel idea using cloud, but not nessesary for HID's.

April 13, 2014 | 09:17 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Do you need to download the software to use the keyboard or does it work straight out of the box

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