Shortened versions of PC keyboards are traditionally abbreviated as TKL (Ten Key Less), since they usually lack a numeric keypad on the right side, due to which a reduction in width is achieved. Otherwise, these input devices are not much different from their full-sized counterparts and, unless the user is an accountant by profession, then he (or she) will not feel much difference in operation. On the other hand, short-width keyboards are very convenient for computer gamers. They leave more room for the mouse pad and avoid the unnatural posture where one arm is constantly retracted far to the side. At Razer, TKL keyboards are commonly referred to as Tournament Edition (TE). And in this review, we will introduce readers to the updated version of the BlackWidow TE Chroma V2 keyboard.
|Model||Razer BlackWidow Tournament Edition Chroma V2|
|Polling frequency, Hz||1000|
|Number of keys||87|
|Keystroke resource, mln.||80|
|Switch type||Razer MX Green / Orange / Yellow|
|Changing the angle of the body||+|
|Built-in memory, KB||–|
|Ability to record macros||+|
|USB cable length, m||1,94|
|Braid material||Nylon braid|
|Software||+ (Razer Synapse 2.0)|
|Removable palm rest||+|
|Dimensions (L x W x H), mm||366 x 154 (230 with stand) x 42|
|Weight, g||966 (1157 with stand)|
|OS Compatibility||Windows 7 / Mac OS X 10.9 or higher|
|Peculiarities||Soft magnetic palm rest, detachable signal cable|
|Average cost, $||140|
Contents of delivery
On the packaging of the keyboard, we will not linger in detail. We only note that she is beautiful and attractive, however, as always. The front has a full size image of the product and a sticker in the lower right corner indicating the type of switches used. On the back, in three pictures and a short text form, three main advantages of the device are noted, namely, proprietary mechanical switches, a compact layout, and RGB lighting. The table in the lower left corner contains information about the differences between the three types of key mechanisms used here. On the sidewalls are data on overall characteristics, compatibility with operating systems and the type of layout used.
Documentation is packed in a pocket under the top cover of the box. The keyboard is protected from damage by soft dampeners on the sides, cardboard inserts at the top and bottom, and a transparent overlay (which is desirable to save and use to protect against dust when the device is idle for a long time).
The package includes a translucent leaflet with congratulations from the president of the company, two stickers with the Razer logo and a short instruction manual.
Appearance and design
Appearance BlackWidow TE Chroma V2 as a whole continues the tradition of laconic design, characteristic of this line. The smooth, matte surface of the top panel is accentuated by bevelled edges at the front and back. In the middle front, on a glossy insert, there is an illuminated company logo in the form of a three-headed snake. Layout 87 keys – standard “American”. Both Shift keys are long, the F2 key is in its rightful place, so you won’t need extra time to get used to this keyboard. Enter is single line and long.
One of the main differences from previous BlackWidow TE models is that the V2 version has a soft, removable palm rest, 90 mm deep and as wide as the entire keyboard unit. It is enough to attach it to the body, after which it itself pulls itself up to it and is securely held by magnets.
The top of the stand consists of a tall, soft cushion with faux leather upholstery and a logo in the center. It springs under the palm, taking its shape under load and aligning back when the hands are removed. The reverse side is solid plastic, with five rubber feet around the perimeter. The mounting screws are not visually visible, it is likely that they are hidden under the legs. There are six magnets, they are located along the upper sheer edge of the stand. Similarly, there are six magnets on the front edge of the keyboard.
With the kickstand attached, the user’s fingers are almost flush with the top edge of the keycaps. And if not for their elongated travel when pressed, you might get the impression that you are working with a low-profile keyboard. In other words, the stand is quite high, and not everyone may like it. On the other hand, if you work on this keyboard without a stand, holding your palms at the level of the table, then it also turns out to be quite comfortable. But in this case, you should already choose the slope of the device case, depending on the angle at which the user sits, above or below the keyboard.
The Latin script is applied in large characters using a laser engraving in the center at the top. The Cyrillic alphabet is in the bottom right corner, middle right, and looks whiter and more visible when the backlight is off, but dimmers a lot when the backlight is on. Latin, on the contrary, is well illuminated, but hardly distinguishable when the LEDs are off. Some of the additional characters under the numbers and on the function buttons are not highlighted. The caps have a cylindrical recess in the middle. To the right of the space there is an Fn modifier. The combination of the Fn key with the function F buttons serves to activate additional functions. In particular, Fn + (F1-F3) control the sound volume, Fn + (F5-F7) are used to control playback, Fn + F9 activates macro recording, Fn + F10 turns on the game mode, deactivating the Win button (while constantly glowing white), Fn+(F11-F12) control the brightness of the backlight, Fn+Pause puts the PC to sleep. In addition, Fn in combination with ten numbers from “0” to “9” allows you to quickly switch keyboard settings profiles.
On the right side of the keyboard there are only arrows and a set of standard editing keys. There are no lock indicators, instead the Caps Lock and Scroll Lock keys glow white when activated. Macros can be recorded to any buttons except Win and Fn through the driver or on the fly, directly from the keyboard. To play macros, the software must always be active. Recording from the keyboard is simple: press Fn + F9 – the indicator on the F9 button lights up in white, the key backlight turns off. We type the desired command of any length and press Fn + F9 again. The indicator on the F9 button starts blinking. Press the key where you want to assign the macro. The indicator goes out, the macro is successfully recorded, the backlight lights up again.
Folding legs raise the keyboard case 14 mm upwards, while changing the angle of inclination. On both sides, the top panel slightly hangs over the sidewall, creating ledges for which it is convenient to lift the device and rearrange it if necessary.
This is what the keyboard looks like in profile, assembled with a stand.
There are no additional ports and external outputs on the right side.
As with the full size version, three types of switches can be set on this keyboard. They are labeled as Razer (essentially an OEM from Greetech) and differ in color and, accordingly, in characteristics. The stated time between failures of these mechanisms is 80 million clicks. The basic gaming option (installed in this particular keyboard instance) can be considered Razer Yellow. They are analogous to Cherry or Kailh Red. The key travel is completely straight, with no tactile feedback. The pressing force is 45 grams, the dead zone between actuation and reset is completely absent. The activation height is at the 1.2 mm point (+/- 0.3 mm). The second possible option is the Razer Green. They have a non-linear course, a loud and sonorous click when triggered. The actuation force is 50 grams and the actuation occurs at a stroke height of 1.9 mm (+/- 0.4 mm). The dead zone between the mechanism’s activation and reset point (where it can be triggered again without a click) is just over 0.4mm.
Razer Orange mechanical switches are similar in behavior to Kailh or Cherry Brown style buttons. They are noticeably quieter than the Razer Green, but have a more pronounced tactile feedback, which is felt at the moment the switch is activated. The button travel is non-linear, the force required to activate is 45 grams, the actuation occurs at the same height as the Razer Green, but there is practically no dead zone between the moment of activation and reset of the switch. According to the degree of noise, these mechanisms can be called average.
Stabilizers of long buttons are ordinary wire, with a slight play in the horizontal plane. The base plate under the buttons is made of white reflective metal. The plastic of the keycaps is white, painted with black paint on the outside. The massive LED installed here protrudes noticeably from the switch body and in it, at low brightness, three separate light elements of green, blue and red are clearly visible.
The wire enters the keyboard from the rear edge exactly in the center of the area marked with glossy plastic. The kink guard is quite long, made of hard plastic.
The cable is removable, it connects via a standard Mini-USB type B connector, however, due to the fact that the plastic frame of the socket is not located straight, but at an angle, this cord cannot be easily replaced by any other.
The signal cable has a length of 2 meters including connectors, a medium degree of rigidity and is fully enclosed in a nylon braid. To adjust the length, it has a reusable Velcro tie.
The base of the keyboard is plastic and completely flat. In the corners and in the center there are small rubber feet in a total of five pieces. A tag with the serial number of the product is pasted in the center. Two mounting screw holes can only be found near the back edge, the rest are probably hidden under the legs.
Folding legs have rubberized edges and one single locking position in the expanded position.
The keyboard has individual RGB backlighting for all keys (except for the space bar and the Fn button) and logo, and a lot of lighting effects, which is subtly hinted at by the word Chroma in its name. You can fine-tune the LEDs through the driver. The brightness is adjustable from 33 to 100%, it is possible to completely turn off the backlight. Color rendition is correct and beautiful.
As software, the Razer BlackWidow TE Chroma V2 keyboard uses the Razer Synapse 2.0 universal multilingual driver (version 2.21), which requires a constant Internet connection to save all settings in the cloud, but also has an offline mode of operation. In the program settings window, you can check for updates, read the manual, or select the interface language (10 options are available, including Russian). In addition, it is possible to send a review about the product or follow the official web pages of the company in social networks.
In the basic settings screen, you can remap all keyboard buttons, except for the Win and Fn keys, to any other commands or actions. Settings are stored in profiles, each of which can be assigned one of a dozen available hot key combinations for quick manual activation. Or associate automatic profile activation with the start of a specific program.
In the backlight setting, you can select six options for lighting effects (manual setting, breathing, dynamic effect, cyclic change of spectrum, static glow, wave or ripple), adjust their parameters and adjust the glow brightness from 0 to 100%. For more detailed adjustment, you can go to the effects configurator.
In the effect configurator, you can create individual light profiles for groups of keys or for each button individually. Even the glow of the logo can be customized separately. There are pre-installed options for lighting patterns for various genres of games.
The Game Mode setting allows you to turn it on or off and choose which keys or shortcuts will be blocked when it is activated. The Win key is always disabled by default, and Alt+F4 and Alt+Tab can be disabled if needed. Separately, you can enable or disable the activation of the game mode.
The macro editor is standard on all Razer devices. It can record keyboard commands and mouse clicks, taking into account time delays (their length can be edited). All recorded macros are stored in the PC memory. They can be given individual names.
Chroma Application Mode allows third-party applications to use the device to display lighting effects.
To use third-party lighting control applications, they will need to be downloaded and installed from the official Razer Chroma Workshop page.
The statistics module collects information on the use of Razer devices in quantitative terms. For the keyboard, statistics are collected on the number of button presses, the distance traveled by the keys, the number of profile switches and the activation of macros. In addition, the time spent in the game is calculated.
Ergonomics and testing
As mentioned at the beginning of this review, the main advantage of TKL keyboards for gamers over full-sized counterparts is their smaller size, which allows them to keep their hands in a more natural position in relation to each other. In the case of the Razer BlackWidow TE Chroma V2, this advantage is complemented by another nice bonus, namely, a soft magnetic palm rest, thanks to which the wrists do not experience tension and fatigue even after many hours of marathon at the computer. This keyboard is very comfortable to type and play, especially if you choose the type of switches that you like the most. The standard key layout does not take time to adapt to blind typing. And the feel of the Razer Yellow mechanical switches will definitely appeal to those who want something in between Cherry Red and Black in terms of hardness. The case of the device is assembled firmly and reliably, without squeaks and backlashes, resistant to prints. It slides slightly on the table, but if you do not move it on purpose, then stability will be more than enough.
The backlight looks good. Latin glows more brightly, while Cyrillic looks dull, but is distinguishable, at least when colors in the lighter part of the spectrum are selected. However, the spacebar and Fn keys are not highlighted, nor are the special characters in the number and function key row.
The software is generally stable, except for the statistics module, which sometimes took too long to load.
For the keyboard, the manufacturer declares the possibility of simultaneous operation of 10 keys in any combination. This is not a complete NKRO, but after all, the user has only 10 fingers, not 87. In fact, the device controller is capable of processing up to 14 simultaneous commands in most combinations, but no more.
Deservedly or due to the lack of alternatives, but Razer’s TKL keyboards have always been in special demand and love from customers, including those who were not “fans” of this brand. Therefore, I have no particular doubts that the BlackWidow TE Chroma V2 will continue this tradition. After all, she has everything you need for this: small dimensions, a standard layout, comfortable mechanical switches, a convenient magnetic palm rest and full-fledged RGB backlighting of the keys. And most importantly – this keyboard is devoid of flaws. Recommended price. BlackWidow TE is still not the most affordable purchase, but the manufacturer is priced at $30 cheaper than its full-size version.