Review: Razer Lycosa Mirror Special Edition

When DHL stopped outside my house this morning, the first thought that ran through my mind was "has Red alert 3 finally arrived?" I have been waiting over three weeks for a replacement copy to arrive after all. I then realised that unless EA had started distributing games on vinyl records, there was no way a box of that size could be it. Alas, it wasn't, but imagine my surprise when I realised it was the Razer Lycosa Mirror Special Edition that I had admittedly, completely forgotten about.

The Razer Lycosa came in simple packaging, without any excess amounts of plastic. It made a nice change and despite the lack of plastic packaging, it was nicely presented and felt very well protected inside it. Opening up, the good presentation continued with a protective piece of cardboard over the top of the keyboard and a paper pouch containing a "Certificate of Authenticity", some Razer stickers, quick start guide, "Master Guide", driver CD, product catalog and a cleaning cloth - which would later turn out to be essential.

The box contents included a "Certificate of Authenticity", some Razer stickers, quick start guide, "Master Guide", driver CD, product catalog and a cleaning cloth.

I took the keyboard out and was instantly impressed by its immaculate shiny piano black surface. I instantly noticed that the keyboard didn't just have a single USB cable, but two, as well as microphone and stereo jacks, allowing you to plug a USB device, microphone or earphones directly in to the keyboard. I think this is a good feature to have as earphone wires are rarely long enough to reach an available stereo jack on the computer.

The ports on the back of the keyboard are very useful.

One of the things I dislike most about keyboards is the placement of loads of additional keys, so the first thing I liked about the Razer Lycosa is its simple layout. They low-profile keys feel soft to the touch and have a nice blue glow behind them. The top right of the Lycosa features "Touchpanel media keys", which respond to the lightest touch. These include your basic play, pause, stop, forward and back media keys, as well as two for the volume, the Razer logo (more on that in a minute) and a key for changing the backlight setting. The backlight key does what you'd expect - it allows you to cycle the backlight between on, off and "WASD", which lights just those four keys.

The Razer Lycosa Mirror's backlight can be cycled between on, off and "WASD".

The Razer logo acts as a kind of activation key for the advanced features of the keyboard. Touch the logo in combination with one of the function keys and it changes the profile. Touch it in combination with the Windows key, and the Windows key is disabled, preventing you from accidentally hitting it while scrambling for Ctrl or Alt. The only downside here is that there is no indication that it is disabled, other than it not working - it'd be nice if the backlight behind the Windows keys turned off as well.

The Touchpanel contains your basic media keys, as well as an additional one for cycling the backlight. Even the Razer logo is a key.

In games the Razer feels very responsive with a 1ms response time, thanks to "1000hz Ultrapolling", and the detachable wrist rest feels perfect for games as it slants up to the keyboard very gently. I could find no instructions in either of the two guides on how to remove the wrist rest, however it appears to be done by removing four screws in the base of the keyboard.

Unfortunately, the Razer Lycosa Mirror seems to fall a little when it comes to general typing. While the keys feel soft to the touch and are very responsive and light, the travel on them is a bit too short for me. The caps, num and scroll lock lights also start to become a little annoying when glancing down at the keyboard as they are very bright, even in a lighted room. The corners of the plastic feel a bit rough and sharp too, spoiling what is otherwise a very well polished keyboard.

The Razer driver control software, which allows the creation of profiles and macro keys, is excellent. You are allowed up to 10 profiles, which correspond to the relevant function key on the top of the keyboard when pressed in combination with the Razer logo. Profiles can also be assigned an exe so that the keyboard automatically switches to the relevant profile. So if I set a profile to use 'photoshop.exe', whenever I open Photoshop the keyboard automatically switches to that profile.

The included software really unlocks the keyboards potential.

Macros are created by clicking a key on the picture of the keyboard, which opens a special panel for editing the macro. You can assign keystrokes, commands such as copy and paste, or simply set it up to launch a program. The interface for macros seems a little daunting at first but quickly feels familiar and easy to use. The software feels really quite powerful and seems to unlock a lot of hidden potential.

The only other problem with the Lycosa Mirror is the same thing that makes it so attractive - the glossy black finish. It is a magnet for finger and hand prints, which explains the included cleaning cloth.

The Lycosa Mirror's shiny black surface looks great, but is a fingerprint magnet.

Overall the Razer Lycosa Mirror Special Edition feels like a very polished keyboard. However, some things let it down such as sharp edges to the plastic and the over-bright caps, num and scroll lock lights. If all you use your computer for is gaming, this keyboard is definitely the one for you, but if you use your computer for a lot more, you may want to consider something else. Razer's motto of "For Gamers. By Gamers" definitely applies to this keyboard.

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This refers to the previous Lycosa keyboard - with rubberized keys.
For an expensive keyboard aimed at gamers this product fails on many levels.
The rubberized paint comes off after a few months making the markings unintelligible.
The back light is not bright enough - the keys are invisible if not viewed straight from above.
It is impossible to use it (unless you touchtype) if the lightning is turned off.
The software is unintuitive to say the least.
Razer customer service is a joke - they claim that you need to wash your hands before you use the keyboard. LOL. You could get something better for this money. Or get something cheaper - can't be worse than this keyboard.

@ Matthew Hopson

I'm seriously considering buying this keyboard in the near future. Any more pros and cons after owning it for a week?

I like the look of that, just wish there was a version without the num pad. My Toshiba laptop (which has now been claimed by my gf) has glossy keys like that, and they feel great.

The tops of the keys don't seem to show any signs of wear at all, after months of use. I can't say the same for my VAIO which is exactly the same age

i got the original lycosa with the "non-slip" key coatings.

after a couple of months, the non-slip coating peeled off.... now the letters on my ASDW keys are just blue glowing circles.

i've switched back to my old tarantula....

just curious... what keyboard layout is that? I thought the Lycosa only came on standard US layouts.

more on topic, I seen the standard opaque lycosa in person and seems ten times better than this... I guess those mirror-finished keys are the worst enemy of sweaty hands (not that I have them, but just wondering about the big mess for most people.)

Strangely, it is a German layout (so it's a good job I can touch type). :P The picture of the keyboard in the driver control software looks like a UK layout to me though, so I assume it is available in a UK layout too.

what i dont understand is WHY people buy expensive keyboards?

a mouse i can understand because of the feel in your hands and the way the mouse moves etc etc... but a keyboard? (you just press keys and it all reacts the exact same... avoiding the 'cheap' keyboards i think is a good idea but once your at a decent range one (say roughly 20 bucks) there's pretty much ZERO advantages between a 'decent' keyboard and a high end one... i think all you really get on a high end one is that it 'looks cool')

If you type for a living you'd understand. Finding a keyboard that complements your typing style and feels natural and comfortable makes a WORLD of difference to your enjoyment of the computing experience.

I've spent probably upwards of $1,000 over the last 10 years trying to find the right keyboard.

I agree with daerid. I haven't spent that much, but I have bough some pretty expensive keybnoards. Right now my main 2 machines each have a Logitech Dinovo Edge. I absolutely love this keyboard. It's quiet and comfortable. It's got a great range for when I want to sit on the couch and use it for watching downloaded shows, has a built-in touchpad to make that even easier.

A good keyboard is a great thing to have.

@ daerid and MR_Candyman ...

ok maybe there are certain ocassions where keyboards can help on a 'job' or something but it seems for general home use for the average joe i still think a mouse would be far better than a keyboard if you had to choose one.

and dont get me wrong... im sure you can feel the difference between a cheap-ish keyboard vs a higher end one... but the question is, does it help enough to justify the extra 50 or so dollars?

so i guess is what im saying is i would think for the 'average home user' that a fancy keyboard would not be as useful as a fancy mouse.

i got a fairly basic keyboard myself and it works great but to me a fancy keyboard is probably sorta novelty item for those with a little cash to burn... but i guess if you type ALOT on your keyboard and it's easier on your hands... then i guess in the long run it would be worth it.

I would recommend a good keyboard for everybody, not just at work. I type FAR more at home than I do at work, and they're better for gaming as well because they're more comfortable and they can accept more simultanious commands.

It looks nice. I actually like how they don't put a million stupid keys on it. I just want my keyboard to be a keyboard. For gaming I also have a N52 that works wonders. Far better than what a bunch of a extra buttons on a keyboard would give me.

really don't like slim keys specially for gaming or glossy finish which would be a pain under dark or no light with screen reflection off it. still think G15 is much better and glad i have one.

The gloss finish I can't stand and I have no clue how people type with it. However, with the slim keys. I can't type on anything else. Gaming come natural on it too.

I considered this, but then I felt it up, along with the Logitech G15. I decided to go with the G15 instead. I like the information panel, but typing on the G15 is a little harsh as well...