Razer Anansi ReviewManufacturer: Razer
UK price (as reviewed): £94.98 (inc VAT)
US price (as reviewed): $79.99 (ex tax)
The primary purpose of Razer's new Anansi keyboard is to makes you better-equipped to pwn and not suck – in MMO land at least. At first glance, there isn’t a lot about it that’s different from your typical gaming keyboard, but the Anansi brings a few new key elements to the table.
The single biggest advantage that the Anansi provides is its array of seven definable thumb modifier buttons (labelled T1-T7), which reside directly underneath the space bar. Stomping down on these buttons with your thumb instantly enables MMO gamers to alter the functions of the top-row numeric keys (1 to =) to encompass various combinations of Shift, Alt and Ctrl functions. This relieves the average MMO addict from hand-cramps while attempting overly ambitious alternative key mappings during gameplay.
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The Anansi also integrates well with Razer’s Naga range of mice, such as the Razer Naga Epic
MMO mouse, enabling you to switch the function of the mouse’s 12-button keypad via Anansi’s thumb modifiers, taking laziness (sorry, skill) to the next level. You’ll never have to reach for the top row of the keyboard again. It might sound a little petty, but in tense and complex MMO combat it’s powerful stuff, and once mastered you’ll probably never want to raid any other way again.
The Anansi also features fully recordable on-the-fly macros, and an all-important Windows lock button to avoid dropping to the desktop when you’re about to roll on some choice epic loot. Additionally, the left side of the board sports five specific macro buttons (M1-M5) to which you can map whatever the heck you like. Indeed, all 100 keys are macro-customisable through Razer’s configuration software.
As well as playing with the keys’ functions, you can also alter the backlight colour. With 16 million colours from which to choose, you’re sure to find one that matches your new +10-style trousers. It isn’t all an epic win, though. The aforementioned backlighting requires you to use two USB ports to start the light show; this is just plain inconvenient when you consider that competing backlit keyboards, such as Logitech’s G510, accomplish the same with just one port.
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Despite using two USB ports, the Anansi also lacks a built-in headphone, microphone or USB hub pass-through. It isn’t the cheapest keyboard on the block either, relieving your wallet of £90. Logitech’s G510 offers all but the array of thumb keys for £10 less, while the dependable, but less feature-rich, Cyborg V5 is available for less than £35.
Our final observation is a matter of personal taste, but it's one that's worth sharing. The keys initially feel quite old-school and chunky, and are fairly resistant to pressure and touch. If you like low-profile keyboards similar to those found on most laptops, then this won’t appeal.
Pairing the Anansi with a Naga mouse makes it even more expensive, but if you take your Azerothian skull-cracking seriously, the Anansi is a great place to start introducing high-level control customisation and macro mastery. For those less inclined to while away the hours in MMOs, there are cheaper, less feature-heavy alternatives that will serve you just as well.