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Razer Nostromo Gaming Keypad Review

By on January 8, 2011
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A compact keyboard right under your palm.

Good: makes you feel like you’re controlling a mech oh yeah!, stylish, comfortable, customizable
Bad: pointless for FPS players, thumbstick too stiff for any purpose, slightly costly, not ambidextrous, takes a while to get used too
Price: AED 264 appox.
* The price is the Suggested Retail Price at the time of review. Please call a retailer to confirm the latest price for this product.

At the risk of sounding blasphemous I will admit this: I prefer first person shooters on consoles. Now before you shake your fist in a fit, hear me out. Let’s disregard the higher performance gain, increased visual fidelity, and improved aural immersion that you get with PC games, and just concentrate on the gameplay, on the controls and that’s where I have my reasons for my preference. For one, I like thumbsticks to move around – not that I do not share equal love for our beloved WASD keys, but thumbsticks just feels more natural way of maneuvering maps. And secondly, a console’s gamepad provides me all the keys nicely and ergonomically wrapped around my fingers. I do not have to twist and stretch them like I would have to on a traditional keyboard. Razer knows our plea and so have teamed up with Belkin (yes, the router guys) for the Razer Nostromo that aims to give gamers that gamepad-like experience while having the customization potential of a solid gaming keyboard.

The Razer Nostromo is based on Belkin’s own Nostromo n52, but knowing that people would not take them too seriously for gaming products, decided to partner with Razer who gave the product their own touch – namely replacing all and any visual color with matte and glossy black. How dare a Razer product have any color?

Nostromo is almost identical to Belkin’s product, and can be best described as a gaming paw, or a gaming glove, ripped out of the WASD side of the keyboard. When I first gripped the keypad, I almost felt I had a mech under my control and all the 16 keys would fire missiles and mounted guns at my command! Developers need make a game especially designed for this keypad, pronto! Along with the 16 keys, the keypad also features a scroll wheel (though I don’t quite understand why), two additional buttons near the thumb area, and an 8-way directional thumb pad. The original Nostromo only had a d-pad, but Razer seems to have understood how useless that would be and have quite simply changed into a thumbstick. There is also a 3-LED system to denote which of the available 8 profiles is activated. Each profile is denoted as an individual color; however, if you plan to have many such profiles, you would have to remember which color stands for which – a little problem that could have been solved away with numerical display of the profile than a color.

The Nostromo also features a Razer trademark icy-blue back lighting system. The back lighting can be turned on by a switch under the device. I would have liked if the back lighting would had changed according to the profile selected, giving the device more visual fidelity, but alas even the option to customize the light was not to be found. I hope Razer includes it in the next revision.

Like all Razer products, the Nostromo also comes packaged with the now familiar configurator software. In fact, we have become so familiar with the software that MS Word seems to have added the word ‘configurator’ to its dictionary automatically! Anyway, I digress. The Razer configurator allows you to reprogram each and every key on the device. From the 16 keys to even the thumbstick, all of the keys can be customized to hold a combination of keys or can be made to launch a particular program on Windows. The default key configurations are made to suit first person shooters – keys 1-5 represents the Tab, Q, W, E, R keys; keys 6-10 represent the Capslock, A, S, D, F keys; and keys 11-14 represent the L Shift, Z, X, C keys on the keyboard. The software allows you to create 8 keymaps and 20 game profiles, which should be more than enough for most gamers.

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About

Mufaddal Fakhruddin is the Editor for IGN ME and thinks writing in third person about himself in an about me section is weird.

Comments
  • Afrorific

    “After using the Nostromo for a while, I found myself realizing how entirely pointless it is for a first person shooters.”

    That is why people like me own people like the reviewer online. Master the thumb pad and you can spin while circle straffing and take ou anyone sneaking up behind you gfaster than with aplain keyboard. You can sprint while straffing to take a look at what is coming up from the other side of the map and in COD sprint run into aqn enemy nudge the stick left or right instant stop and instant frag for you and much more!

    Anyways this device is usell for novice gamers. Try the PCGU or Cyborg… even better than this!!

    Top 500 COD: BO DM
    Top 100 000 BFBC2

  • Afrorific

    Anyways this device is usell for novice gamers

    should read

    Anyways this device is useless for novice gamers

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  • http://twitter.com/insidiousDesign insidiousDesign

    Need a version for us lefties!

  • magickitten

    will it work with my macbook?

    • http://www.facebook.com/mufaa Mufaddal Fakhruddin

      Apparently not. The drivers for the device only supports Windows.

  • John

    At least learn a bit about the product before “reviewing it”.

    Quote “. The original Nostromo only had a d-pad, but Razer seems to have understood how useless that would be and have quite simply changed into a thumbstick.”

    The Belkin n52te also had a thumbstick, and looks and is almost identical to this.

  • Anonymous

    The new Razer Nostromo is actually an upgrade to the Belkin n52te, which shares the same form factor/shell. However, the new Nostromo has completely overhauled chipset.
    While the reviewer finds the Nostromo useless for FPS and new players, I disagree.
    First, this is based on rebinding WASD to the middle of the Nostromo keypad, rather than taking advantage of the DPad.. Using the Dpad WITH the mouse will give much greater mobility and ease of movement than WASD and mouse.. Plus it opens up the full keypad for abilities and frees your left hand’s fingers for using all your abilities.
    Second, I’ve gotten numerous newer players hooked on the Nostromo. Without a framework to work with, the Nostromo can be very daunting.. But given a functional framework to start playing with, they find it much more comfortable than clicking or keyboard gaming. The device itself isn’t the issue, it’s the ‘what do i DO with it?’ which unfortunately there’s little guidance or support for at the moment..

    Which is why I put together my YouTube channel, The 2 Ring, at http://www.youtube.com/user/grendalsh.. It’s focused on the N52te/Nostromo (as they’re functionally the same), and how to use it for various games.. well.. mostly WoW and SC2 for now.. But there are vids on how to set the devices up and integrate them with the games.

  • Noobalert

    I stopped reading when the noob said he prefers a joystick to qwerty for turning in a FPS… You use a MOUSE to turn in a FPS making your turns instant… I refuse to read an article written by such an obvious noob…

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