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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Microsoft Reclusa Review (Powered by Razer)


Microsoft Reclusa Gaming keyboard Review

Microsoft has partnered with Razer to come up with a gaming keyboard following their first partnership, the Habu. This time it seems Microsoft has packed in a whole chunk of juicy features that made the Reclusa a strong contender in the world of gaming peripherals. Microsoft is a giant itself in the revolution of how computers work and Razer is a giant in the field of gaming peripherals. When this two tech giants stand together, it seems that the ultimate baby is born. Can the Reclusa stand up to the strong giants in the gaming world like products from Razer itself? Let’s take a look and find out.

First Look

The packaging of the Reclusa looks very typical like how Microsoft has always packaged their stuff, revolving around red and black. It does not stand out much in terms of packaging, and if one were to step into a shop, he might not be able to differentiate the Reclusa from the other Microsoft keyboards. Taking a closer look, the bottom right hand corner of the box has a space dedicated to Razer, with a Razer logo and the “ingredients” that Razer has contributed to the Reclusa. Descriptions of the keyboard are all over the box, and when you turn to the back, it shows a full picture of the Reclusa, with additional features that were not already mentioned on the top of the box. As you open up the box you will be greeted by Reclusa and the CDs and instruction manuals at the reverse of the box flap. The wrist rest sits on top of the keyboard, separated by a cardboard flap.

The Reclusa is rounded at the sides, a pretty unusual choice by Microsoft because the more conventional and cool edges that you see on gaming keyboards are absent from the Reclusa. But by doing so, it portrayed a more comfortable look which may be what Microsoft wanted. The fonts on the Reclusa also look a bit more round which make the whole visual of the keyboard soft and warm.

Flipping the Reclusa to the back will reveal a very unique design. A smart cable winder with its USB cable nicely tucked inside. I would say this is a great choice made by Microsoft as it would mean better cable management and your desktop will not look like a spaghetti mess after you add in all your other wires. There is also a pair of keyboard legs that props the keyboard up to a comfortable height for typing. However, there is no rubber on the feet of the legs which could be a bit slippery if used on a surface with little friction like glass. It could slip and get out of place in the heat of a gaming session which was quite a turn off for me.

When you attach the wrist rest, the Reclusa immediately requires about 20% more space on your desktop, so if you have limited desk space, you might want to remove the wrist rest. The wrist rest however, is a great plus to comfort, because the soft spongy material made typing on the Reclusa feel comfortable, although I wished it was a bit bigger to cover the whole of my palms as the lower part of my palm is sitting on the edge of the wrist rest.

At the top left and right corners of the Reclusa, there are 2 USB 2.0 Hubs which are gold plated that are pretty useful, but falls short on expectation. We will touch on the USB hubs later.

Also at the top corners of the Reclusa, you will see two very interesting jog dials. This is something new that garnered my attention when I first got it. The right dial is by default set to control the volume whereas the left dial has no default actions which could later be set by the Razer software.

The sides of the keyboard are also adorned with 10 programmable buttons, 5 on each side, which could individually be assigned to different actions or macros using the Razer software. They are individually marked, so you will know which default action is being assigned to the key.

Plugging the Reclusa into your PC will bring it to life with its Blue LED backlights. The LED lighting cannot be turned off, so one may wonder about the lifespan of the backlight. It does however, feel soft and warm, just sufficient to allow you to see the keys in the dark, but not to the point it blinds you.

Test Run

I typed an essay using the Reclusa in order to get a good feel of how the key presses feel like. The keys have a very soft feel to them and it does not offer that much of a tactile feedback that gamers seek. The keys are very easy to press and each key actuate effortlessly. However, I felt that the keys were registered too easily, and some mistakes that would normally not be picked up by other keyboards were all picked up by the Reclusa. It is not a bad thing, however the sensitivity would mean that there could be more errors in the heat of a game where gamers don’t usually pay much attention to accuracy on the keyboard itself.
The placing of the macro keys however, was very good as there was adequate space between the keys and the programmable keys which could be reached with your left pinkie without stretching too much. The 2 keys that are separated on the side of the keyboard on the other hand, required more effort to press before it could be registered. There is a click sound to signify that the key has been registered. The 5 keys that are on the right hand side of the Reclusa takes on the function of media control with the media keys set as default to the individual keys.
The keys are very silent, which makes it a great companion for late night gaming, with little or no noise produced. I would think the soft keys are the main contributing factor. I have my reserves towards the sensitive keys, but at the same time, they are so quiet that it makes gaming at night more possible as compared to a mechanical keyboard which might possibly wake your whole family up in the middle of the night because of the loud and noisy “clicking” sound produced by the keys.
Overall, I felt that it was comfortable typing on the Reclusa with the wrist rest and soft keys, but however it was too sensitive for my liking. But that said, some would prefer sensitive keys as it would cause lesser strain on the fingers for longer gaming hours.

The USB Hub was a plus to me initially; however I was quite disappointed with the performance. The hub was incapable of handling power hungry devices like hard disks or phone. The best it could do with was a thumb drive and the transfer speed was slower than a direct connection to the PC ports. I would think the USB hub is a novelty rather than functionality as it wasn’t really able to support its intended tasks. On one instance, I plugged in 2 devices to the hub and it caused a force shutdown on my PC as it could not supply enough power to power the 2 devices.

The software is powered by Razer and in this department, it was really quite well done up. It was easy to understand and I could set up macros for my game in under five minutes. You’re able to set delays in the macros too. The software itself is pretty self-explainable, and it allows you to set an action or command to the 10 programmable keys and the 2 jog dials. It does not allow you to turn off the LED lighting on the keyboard.

Technical Specifications
  • Features ambient backlighting and two built-in gold-plated USB ports
  • 12 custom-programmable buttons, including two 360 degree jog-dials and two bumper buttons
  • Comes with detachable wrist rest
  • Smart cabling system allows you to stow away USB cable when not in use
  • Hyper-response gaming key action for maximum response with minimal latency
  • 2 golden plated USB 2.0 Hubs
  • Keyboard has back lighting
  • 2 jog dials that could be assigned to different actions
  • Razer’s Hyper-response technology
  • Detachable wrist rest
  • Ample of programmable buttons
  • Razer configuration software
  • Quite bulky
  • Keys does not feel as tactile as compared to other gaming keyboards
The Reclusa is a gaming keyboard that retails at around $100. It packs a lot of juice and features that gamers require. The blue LED lighting is every gamer’s fantasy as it looks pretty cool in the dark, exuding a futuristic look. The overall round shape of the Reclusa looks warm and comfortable. However, the key press are not as tactile as other gaming class keyboards, which might be a big turn off for gamers who like that kind of realistic feel of each key giving the right amount of feedback. It is however, a good keyboard for everyday and office usage as you can type on it for long hours without feeling the strain. In terms of gaming, I would only place this as an entry-level gaming keyboard.

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