Date: May 14, 2007
Author(s): Rory Buszka
You know that Razer makes great gaming peripherals, but did you know they also produce products suited for the professional and stylish type? Today we are taking a look at their Pro|Click mouse and Pro|Type keyboard which both look great and function well.
Even if Razerâ€™s products arenâ€™t your cup of tea, you still canâ€™t help but respect the reputation Razer has managed to build among the very upper echelon of PC and gaming enthusiasts. Razerâ€™s products embody an attention to detail which, in this writerâ€™s opinion, virtually no other PC peripherals manufacturer has been able to match. Razerâ€™s products focus exclusively on performance in PC gaming applications; as such, youâ€™re unlikely to find them on the desks of the local H&R Block.
Recently, however, Razer rolled out their â€œRazer Pro Solutionsâ€ brand, whose aim is to bring that same level of design excellence and styling prowess to â€˜professionalâ€™ users. Those who are familiar with Razerâ€™s gaming product line will recognize a few of the Razer Pro products, specifically the Pro|Click v1.6 mouse, which is simply the Razer Diamondback with a white plastic shell and light gray buttons, and the Pro|Type, which is essentially the Razer Tarantula in white.
The Pro|Pad is simply a white Razer eXactMat. Like Razerâ€™s gaming product line, these â€˜proâ€™ products target the high-end professional user, and that usually means Macs (hence the glossy white finish). Indeed, the press release (from 2005) which announced the Razer Pro Solutions brand was titled, â€œRazer meets Mac.â€ However, all models in the Razer Pro Solutions line retain full Windows capability â€“ Vista drivers are already available for the Pro|Click v1.6.
Razer released the Pro|Type keyboard at CeBIT, but the Pro|Click v1.6 dates back to the very beginning of the Razer Pro division. Both are based on products which have already proven themselves to be solid performers in the demanding, highly-competitive gaming market, so they already have a significant amount going for them. Finally, with the availability of the Pro|Type, itâ€™s possible to have a full complement of Razer|Pro input devices, which may be precisely what the doctor ordered for those who are looking for more features and functionality than Appleâ€™s own keyboard and Mighty Mouse can provide.
The arrival of both the Pro|Click and Pro|Type elicited considerable excitement â€“ with Razerâ€™s reputation for producing some of the very best input devices out there, I set immediately to work, putting both peripherals through their paces. Would the same features that won legions of gamers over to the Razer brand prove useful in a professional, productivity-oriented setting? Read on to see what I found out.
When it comes to packaging, Razerâ€™s is some of the best. Their retail cartons combine color, form, and even texture to enhance the allure of the product box. Unlike the dark, austere packaging of their gaming products, the Razer Pro Solutions products feature a bright white box with colorful accents, and product photos which give an ethereal impression of the productsâ€™ white finish.
My first reaction upon seeing the Pro|Type keyboard was surprise; this is one exceptionally wide and deep keyboard. Iâ€™m loathe to kiss valuable desk space good-bye, which is why Iâ€™ve been using a Dell keyboard that eschews any type of extra space-hogging features, but the Pro|Type is a major step in the opposite direction. Also included with the Pro|Type are a pair of inserts, which allow the keyboardâ€™s built-in iPod dock to support the broad array of iPod form factors that have accumulated over the years. The stylish white finish nicely complements the already clean appearance of the keyboard.
The Pro|Click v1.6 box is cube-shaped, and the mouse is nestled inside at an angle such that, when you open the lid, the mouse is attractively presented behind a clear PET shell. The box graphics are somewhat different from the Pro|Type, yet remaining relatively consistent with the Pro|Type, so that one could easily tell that the Pro|Click is a Razer Pro Solutions product. The mouse itself is white, with light gray buttons. Aside from its white finish, itâ€™s no different from the Razer Diamondback that I use on a daily basis.
|Model||Pro|Type||The Razer Pro|Type keyboard is most simply described as a Tarantula keyboard in white, with an iPod dock. The combination makes sense â€“ I wonder why we havenâ€™t seen it before now.|
|Key Layout||U.S. 104-Key + 25 function keys||Like the Tarantula, the Pro|Type keyboard also includes ten programmable macro keys, and a set of quick-access keys that activate music player and image editing functions.|
|Interface||2x USB||This keyboard dominates two of your USB ports, one of which is specifically for the built-in iPod dock.|
|Connectivity||Wired||Iâ€™m glad to see that Razer opted to go for a wired design. Wireless mice and keyboards require batteries, which can be expensive over time. However, I think the true reason for the wired design is the greater power appetite of the onboard illumination, which is always on while the PC is on. In addition, wired peripherals typically cost less than wireless peripherals of similar quality.|
|Other Features||2-port USB hub
iPod dock w/ L. Out
|The inclusion of a two-port USB hub can help offset the loss of two USB ports on the PC itself, offering an easier and more convenient location to connect mice, digital cameras, and flash drives. However, itâ€™s not a USB 2.0 hub.|
|Model||Pro|Click v1.6||The Razer Pro Solutions Pro|Click v1.6 is actually a Razer Diamondback mouse in white, retaining all the features and functionality of its gaming counterpart.|
|Buttons||7 + Wheel||In addition to the two buttons and clickable scroll wheel, the Pro|Click v1.6 features two buttons on each side, for a total of seven buttons. In addition, the scroll wheel has 24 individual click positions, for high-resolution scrolling.
|Interface||USB||Yup. Itâ€™s USB all right. The connector itself features gold plating, a technique borrowed from the analog signal connectors of high-end audio systems. However, since mice deal with digital connections, this gold plating only serves to increase this productâ€™s bling-bling* quotient.
|Connectivity||Wired; 16-bit data path; 7-foot cord||The Pro|Click v1.6 doesnâ€™t go to sleep, or enter a low-power state, so itâ€™s always ready to respond to a sudden movement. This, in combination with the onboard illumination, would quickly drain the battery of any wireless device. I hate buying batteries, so Iâ€™m glad to see a wired interface. This mouse also transmits significantly more data back to the host PC, using a broad data pathway, to support high-resolution, high-speed performance.
|Hand Orientation||Ambidextrous||Whether youâ€™re right-handed or left-handed, you can comfortably use the Pro|Click v1.6.|
|Sensor||Infrared Optical; 1600DPI, 6400fps||The light radiation from the infrared light engine is invisible to the naked eye, so thereâ€™s no red pollution of the blue illumination. The high resolution of the image sensor means more precise tracking of motion, while the high scan rate equates to seamless detection at high speeds of travel.|
|Max. Speed||40ips (15g)||Thanks to the high frame rate of the infrared optical sensor, this mouse can sense movement accurately at 40 inches per second, which equates to about 2.3 miles per hour. Thatâ€™s blisteringly fast for the short distances over which a mouse typically travels.|
The Razer Pro|Type is the newer of the two Razer Pro Solutions products in this article, having been released on April 6th of this year, so Iâ€™ll take a look at it first. Overall, thereâ€™s little to differentiate this keyboard from the Razer Tarantula gaming keyboard, with the exception of the white color and the addition of an iPod docking connector in the center of the top span.
The Pro|Type keyboardâ€™s cable will claim two of your USB ports â€“ the extra USB connector is used for the iPod dock. The cable is thick and stiff up to the point where it splits into two cables, one for each of the gold-plated USB connectors. Between the Pro|Type and Pro|Click, the ensemble will claim three of your USB ports. However, the Pro|Type contains a two-port USB hub, allowing you to connect the Pro|Click mouse directly to the Pro|Type keyboard. The rear of the keyboard also contains a line-out jack for the iPod connector.
The Delete key on the Razer Pro|Type is oversized, and the entire Insert-Home-Pageup-Pagedown-Delete key group is rotated 90 degrees, allowing it to fit into a narrower space. To accomplish the double-sized delete key, the â€˜insertâ€™ key is moved up to the top right corner of the keyboard, with the Scroll Lock, Print Screen, and Pause keys. The Pro|Type also does without the second Windows key (labeled â€˜Startâ€™) , allowing the arrow keys to be shifted slightly to the left. The layout changes aim to improve the efficiency of the plankâ€™s usage, but if youâ€™ve got any critical gaming functions assigned to the Insert key or the Insert-Home-Pageup-Pagedown-Delete key group, youâ€™ll want to be sure to revise those settings in your games.
The Pro|Type keyboard features the same blue illumination as the Tarantula keyboard, underneath both arrays of macro keys and the â€˜Profileâ€™ key, and under the Razer logo on the wrist-rest. The Razer logo lighting grows slowly brighter and then dimmer, for an effect which may have impressed bling-happy gamers in the case of the Tarantula keyboard, but is somewhat distracting in productivity settings.
The Caps Lock, Num Lock, and Scroll Lock lights all use blue LEDs as well. At night, this keyboard glows so brightly that it can light up the ceiling of a darkened room, and the illumination can make it difficult to read the non-illuminated keys in a low light condition.
The macro keys on each end of the keyboard can be programmable using the Razer-provided driver software, and independent sets of macros can be created for multiple programs. The illuminated â€œProfileâ€ key cycles through the active profiles, though during use there isnâ€™t any visual feedback on-screen to indicate which applicationâ€™s profile is active.
The Pro|Type features the same combination of quick-access buttons as the Tarantula. On the left end of the keyboard are a Standby button, a button which opens the default web browser, and Rotate/Zoom buttons which may be useful in image editing programs. One button quickly returns the zoom level to 100%. On the right end of the keyboard are music player and volume controls.
The musical-note button automatically opens iTunes, if it is installed. The Play, Stop, Skip Back, and Forward Skip buttons work just fine in Windows Media Player, however. The â€˜Shuffleâ€™ button didnâ€™t do anything in Windows Media Player, or the Windows version of iTunes. The Volume and Mute buttons retained proper functionality.
If we needed a dead giveaway that the Pro|Type keyboard is targeted mainly at Mac users, itâ€™s the Pro|Typeâ€™s built-in docking station for an Apple iPod (though Windows users with iPods can also benefit), which is the first of its kind on a keyboard. This dock also charges the connected iPod, allowing this keyboard to completely replace the iPodâ€™s included USB cable.
The iPod I used here was encased in a hard shell to prevent scratching, but the hard shell added significantly to the playerâ€™s size, meaning that I couldnâ€™t use any of the provided dock inserts since they couldnâ€™t accommodate the additional size. Removing the dock insert altogether allowed the dock to accommodate even the additional size of my iPod, hard case and all.
Next, weâ€™ll take a closer look at the Razer Pro|Click v1.6.
Like the Pro|Type keyboard, Razerâ€™s Pro|Click mouse is simply a white version of a Razer gaming product, the Razer Diamondback. The Diamondback happens to be my personal mouse of choice, so I expect good things from the Pro|Click. Both feature the same 12-position illuminated scrolling wheel, and the same 1600-dpi infrared sensor.
The Pro|Click is white, with gray buttons and steady blue illumination. Clear silicone-rubber grips and the clear scroll wheel allow the internal illumination to shine out. The buttons are enormous, and pressing anywhere on the button applies a positive clicking force.
This mouse is ambidextrous, meaning that lefties arenâ€™t left out. The sides of the Pro|Click also contain buttons integrated into the side grips, though these are fairly uncomfortable to use and require the userâ€™s hand to be bent into an awkward and unnatural position to use. I donâ€™t suggest assigning any critical gaming or productivity functions to these buttons. However, these buttons can be used for on-the-fly sensitivity adjustment.
The mouse rides on three Teflon plastic feet, which provide for smooth, effortless motion on all the surfaces I tried it on, from carpet to denim, paper, and even the wood-grain vinyl wrap that my computer desk is finished in. The light emitted from the infrared sensor engine is invisible to the naked eye, so nothing interferes with the blue illumination of the mouse.
Razer outfits the Pro|Click with an eight-foot cord, which means that this mouse has plenty of reach â€“ I was even able to snake the cord through the ferrule on my computer desk and around to the side with plenty of length to spare. Never underestimate the convenience of a nice, long cord.
Both the Pro|Click and Pro|Type include their own highly-tweakable software drivers. Each product comes with its own individual software disc hidden in the back of its instruction booklet, and the install processes are streamlined and quick. Hereâ€™s a look at the extent of the tweaks you can carry out through each deviceâ€™s control panel.
The main panel of the Pro|Type keyboardâ€™s control panel provides access to all the available options for the Pro|Type keyboard. Drop-down lists at the top of the control panel allow you to select your image editor or music player. The selection you make in each of these menus will affect the way the rotate/zoom and music control buttons function.
These menus contain several popular options like Windows Picture Viewer, Photoshop, and ACDSee for the Imaging Options menu, and Windows Media Player, iTunes, and Winamp. However, I couldnâ€™t get the â€˜Shuffleâ€™ button on my keyboard to activate the shuffle function in either iTunes or Windows Media Player 11 (the version that comes with Windows Vista).
The main panel also allows you to rename profiles and select the active profile, and you can also opt to have the new active profile momentarily displayed in the bottom corner of the screen when you switch profiles.
Clicking on any of the blue-illuminated Macro keys in the control panel allows you to set or change that keyâ€™s macro for the selected profile. After the dialog box is displayed, begin entering the keystrokes that you would like to perform. The software stores the key-down and key-up events, allowing simultaneous key-presses to be automated. Once the appropriate macro has been entered, simply click â€œApplyâ€ to store the combination of keystrokes that have been entered. Macro key presses can also activate profiles or start programs.
The control panel for the Pro|Click v1.6 mouse is simply called â€œRazer Pro Solutions Configâ€, and it offers a wealth of options for fine-tuning the performance of the Pro|Click. This control panel contains three separate sub-panels, for adjusting sensitivity, scroll wheel performance, and button functions. The first panel contains sensitivity tweaks and adjustment for the double-click speed, as well as options for on-the-fly sensitivity switching.
Hereâ€™s where the tweakability comes into play â€“ clicking on the â€œAdvancedâ€ button in the â€œSensitivityâ€ panel brings up the Advanced Settings dialog. You can control sensitivity individually in either the X or the Y direction, and thereâ€™s even a dedicated slider for acceleration control. This can be helpful if you need to do a combination of detail work and long-distance mousing, though my personal preference is still a linear response character. The speed of the Windows pointer can also be controlled independently in this dialog box.
Back within the main window, the Scroll Wheel panel provides options for changing the incrementation of the scroll wheel, as well as a fun area for testing the speed of the wheel. Youâ€™ll also notice that the continuum of the scale for scrolling speed adjustment ranges from â€˜Fastâ€™ to â€˜Fastestâ€™. Sure enough, the Double-Click Speed slider in the last panel is labeled the same way. I suppose if you truly wanted â€˜slowerâ€™ performance, youâ€™d buy a different mouse.
The â€˜Buttonsâ€™ panel allows you to switch between right-handed and left-handed operation. Southpaws will be glad to see that Razer has made provisions for their particular preference. After all, left-handedness isnâ€™t any less â€˜rightâ€™ than right-handedness â€“ itâ€™s just moreâ€¦ left. To re-assign a buttonâ€™s function, simply click on the button assignment, and select your desired function from the drop-down menu that appears.
Next, weâ€™ll examine what itâ€™s like to use these peripherals.
The Razer Pro|Type keyboard performed admirably, providing comfort and positive actuation. The keys themselves use rubber-dome switches, instead of the faster-responding scissor or capacitive switches. However, to my fingers, these keys are a bit more comfortable to use than the short-throw scissor switches used on laptop keyboards, even if they sacrifice a bit of linearity to accomplish that.
This isnâ€™t a noisy keyboard, though the key-pressing action was amplified by the large structure of the keyboard itself. Resting my wrists on the wrist-rest bar took a little getting used-to, but overall this is a comfortable keyboard to use when youâ€™ve got a lot to type. (No kidding â€“ Iâ€™m using the Pro|Type to type this review!)
The small buttons along the sides of the Pro|Type use a different sort of switch that requires a bit more force to actuate, but I didnâ€™t find that this caused any problem with their usage. Just donâ€™t expect to use the same light touch as you would with the other keys on the keyboard.
The experience of using the Pro|Click mouse was, not surprisingly, indistinguishably similar to the Diamondback. The mouse slid smoothly over every smooth surface I tested it on, and even some not-so-smooth surfaces, like carpet. Tactile response of the two large buttons was light and fast. Another thing that was fiercely apparent with this mouse was its extremely high sensitivity, which is tweakable to an almost obscene degree in the Pro|Click control panel.
To test this mouseâ€™s dexterity, I traced a drawing in an image-editing program, and found it easy to keep the cursor exactly where I wanted it. Graphics professionals will appreciate the Pro|Clickâ€™s variable sensitivity and smooth motion. On the wood-grain patterned surface of my desk, however, I found that at times the mouseâ€™s sensor couldnâ€™t make sense of the pattern, causing some accuracy problems. Itâ€™s probably still a good idea to use a mouse pad.
Though the Pro|Type and Pro|Click v1.6 are based on two of Razerâ€™s successful gaming products, their particular functional strengths also translate nicely to productivity applications. Razer has developed two peripherals that are eminently usable, and reflect thoughtful engineering and design. The Razer Pro Solutions variants are about as expensive as their gaming-market counterparts, though the superior high-end user experience is every bit as present here as with Razerâ€™s gaming products.
The Pro|Type keyboard was a pleasure to use, and comfortable, though I sometimes found its illumination to be tiresome and distracting. While the rubber-dome keys still delivered a great combination of comfort and tactile feedback, at this price, Iâ€™d like to see scissor-switch keys. The physical size of this keyboard is also a drawback for myself and anyone else who values their desk space. The driver issues I encountered were a bit disconcerting as well. In the end, I elected to award the Pro|Type a Techgage score of 7.
The Pro|Click v1.6 mouse delivers a combination of smooth motion and excellent tactile response that make it a fierce competitor in the productivity peripheral market. As with the Pro|Type keyboard, I questioned the necessity of the Pro|Clickâ€™s internal illumination, but I feel that the combination of blue illumination and white shell make for an attractive peripheral with definite gee-whiz factor. The tweakability offered by the Razer control panel is icing on the cake. As a result, the Pro|Click v1.6 fills up the Tech-â€œGageâ€ quite nicely, for a score of 8.
Somehow, I get the impression that Razer isnâ€™t targeting the entirety of the professional market with these products, only those who work in more advanced fields like graphic design and video editing, as well as home power users. When taken together, the Razer Pro Solutions Pro|Type keyboard and Pro|Click v1.6 mouse form an extremely competent input device complement. Still, you wonâ€™t likely see them on the desk of your local tax preparer.
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