Home > Raiding and Hardware > Raiding Hardware Peripherals – Keyboards

Raiding Hardware Peripherals – Keyboards

February 9, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

So far in the blog, I’ve focussed on how a good user interface within the game can improve your skill as a player. While that section is still a work in progress and I’ll continue to spotlight certain addons that I think are essential for the raiding elemental shaman, there is another related element. I always stress how everything should be key bound and you should play until you know these binds by hear. (Incidentally when using a new UI or key bindings, I thoroughly recommend battle ground play to familiarise yourself with everything). The most common thing I have battled myself in the past and that I hear from guild members is a lack of keys to bind things too.

As a female player, I’ve suffered with this a lot in the past. I have relatively small hands so the amount of keys I have available on a standard keyboard (when you consider my comfortable hand span), is quite small. Most players will bind their key skills to the first few number keys. This allows them perfect access to their strafing keys which are generally either Q and E or A and D. Keeping this in mind, it makes sense for as many binds as possible to be in span of this section of the keyboard. You can increase the number of key binds available to you via the use of the shift, alt and control keys. Personally, I am not a huge fan of having hot keys that require two key strokes (for example, shift+1) as pressing two keys simultaneously will naturally make your responses slower.

Fortunately, in the last few years the development in computer peripherals has been huge and gaming keyboards and mice are more common place. These frequently bring with them a larger number of keys to aid gamers with the precise problem of running out of convenient binds. What follows is my personal choice in computer peripherals. Obviously, there are far more out there than will be featured here. This article will focus on keyboards.

Keyboards

My personal choice in keyboards are Logitech. Since they first released the G11, they have been amazingly popular with gamers due to the additional programmable “G Keys”.

These keys are conveniently situated to the left of the normal keyboard and within reach of most players’ little fingers (even with my hand span!) In addition, these are fully programmable to allow you to create you own macros.

The most recent addition to the Logitech gaming keyboard family is the G19 and my personal choice.

Much like its predecessor, the G19 features two rows of the G Keys. Instantly, this gives you twelve more key bind options. In addition to this, it has three profile keys nestled just above this row of G keys. These profiles can all be configured to hold their own keybinds. So by altering the profile in game, you actually have access to thirty six additional key binds in this small row of keys. When correctly configured, these should ensure that you never run out of convenient keys to use for your in game bindings.

As these can be macro’d they’re also the only legal way to automate certain crafting actions in game. Disenchanting and milling are both lengthy and dull processes with no automated feature in game (that is to say, there is no, “disenchant all” or “mill all” option). There are third party programs that will do this by mimicking your keystrokes and repeating them. These are banned by the Blizzard Eula however and their use can result in game bans.

In addition to the g keys, the G19 features a colour LCD panel which fully supports World of Warcraft and Ventrillo. What you see here is fully customizable and can be invaluable to gamers. For example, it can be set to display the spell power, haste, crit and hit of your elemental shaman. It will tell you who is speaking on Ventrillo and alert you when someone leaves or joins a channel. If you’re tabbed out, it will alert you to any whispers in game and who they are from. In addition to this it has movie and youtube support. Want to check the positioning on that youtube strategy guide quickly? The LCD will allow you to do exactly that.

Have you ever hit your windows key by mistake in game only to have the game minimise at a crucial moment during a raid? The G19 allows you to switch between gaming mode and windows mode at the flick of a key, disabling all windows or context keys while you play (and ensuring you don’t accidentally tab out at a dire moment).

The back lighting is now common place amongst gaming keyboards as companies became more aware that many players will be active deep into the night hours and being able to see their keys without additional lighting is really useful. The G19 allows you to customize the colour of that back lighting which is a nice addition for those people who enjoy customizing their PCs appearance.

It naturally has USB docks built onto it’s back allowing you to plug your mouse or headset (where applicable) directly into the keyboard. Specially created grooved ridges underneath allow cables to be organised and kept tidy so you don’t have excess wires annoying you while you play.

This keyboard has a sloped, removable panel at the front which, as someone who suffers with wrist pains from excessive gaming, I find very useful. It raises the back of my hand enough so that the angle between my wrist and fingers isn’t so harsh to the structure of the wrist. Should you not like this, simply remove it.

Finally, it has all the media keys on board meaning you don’t have to fiddle around to adjust your volume.

With all these features, the keyboard sounds quite daunting but fear not, the software is excellent and extremely user friendly. Upon the delivery of mine, I did my usual and discarded the manual quite quickly. Never the less, I managed to set mine up with no real problem (including a couple of scripted macro keys) through nothing more than trial and error.

Gameboards

If the hefty price tag of the G19 isn’t quite within reach or you have a decent enough keyboard but still lack enough keys, a gameboard might be an option for you. These have another advantage in that they most commonly feature a thumb stick allowing character control exclusive of the mouse. For PvP play these can be godly but they can take some getting used to initially.

The only gameboard I have personal experience with is the Logitech G13, though again, there are a number of similar products on the market.

One awesome feature I loved about this product was the contoured wrist support. If, like many gamers, you suffer with wrist problems this is a definite product for you to consider.

Much like the other Logitech keyboards, it features their popular G Keys. The G13 offers 25 of these all with the same customizable back lighting of the G19.

The thumb stick allows for character control but in my experience, took some adjusting too.

Again, this product has an LCD screen that displays relevant information to what you’re playing. It also offers the same Ventrillo support so you can see who is speaking or when people join the channel or server.

A huge advantage of this is the portability. If you’re short on desk room, you can store this away when you’re not playing. If you frequent friends houses and wish to play, you can take it with you. Despite this portability, it’s very stable. It doesn’t move around on the desk at all (which is certainly something I was initially concerned about).

In closing, if a lack of keys is a problem for you, I’d strongly encourage you to consider a gaming specific keyboard or the slightly cheaper option of a game board. Being able to bind (and ultimately learn) all your hot keys will vastly improve your play as you’re better equipped to respond to any give situation hastily.

The second part of these articles will focus on gaming mice.

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Categories: Raiding and Hardware
  1. Rahana
    February 10, 2010 at 8:37 am | #1

    I am a huge Logitech peripherals fan myself, unfortunately the G-keyboards are too big for me and I can’t really place my hands on them and handle them quickly (intuitively if you will) so I had to look elsewhere. I found G13 keypad and bought it to try it out and I wouldn’t go back ever since. It provides you with anything and everything you might need to control your game – you can set up to three profiles in which you can bind keys in different way (I use one key-mapping for raiding and switch to another when soloing – who needs map, questlog, friendlist and such things accessible quickly in raids anyways, eh?). As for the practical use of the stick – I move by mouse so I found it to be very useful to bind those keys to bag-character-spells-talents for quick refference, reglyphing, item using. Anyways, can’t say anything else than huge recommendations for G13, it really helped my game.

  2. February 10, 2010 at 11:49 am | #2

    Thanks a lot for the feedback. I haven’t used the g13 loads and I didn’t have it long enough to truly adjust to it (it was borrowed until my g19 arrived). However, I’ve heard a lot of amazing things from people who do use them so it’s really nice to have this comment on the blog.

    As for Logitech, I can’t agree more. I use their g19 keyboard and up until recently, I was using their mouse too (although I switched to the new razer Naga mouse). Sooner or later I’m going to give in and buy their latest headset too.

    I can sympathise slightly with the size of the keyboards but my hand span seems just enough to manage my main key binds (all scattered around the first four number keys and then around the strafe areas) and hit the g keys with my little finger :)

    Thanks for your feedback!

    • Rahana
      February 10, 2010 at 12:28 pm | #3

      I have large hands myself and I guess it was more about not being used to the large keyboard – I was and still am mostly using notebooks for work and gaming so in order to stay mobile, I learned to play on the tight small notebook keyboards and whenever I got myself external keyboard, I always went for as slim and compact as possible. I must admit I played only G11 (I think it was) and well, it felt very strange. Too high keys, very spread keys, just couldn’t fit my hands on it. I believe that given a week of proper use, I’d be rocking the keyboard like no other, fully using the G potential it has. Then again, there is still this “what if” factor that prevents me from blowing so much money on keyboard (especially now with G13).

      As for mouse, I bought myself a Roccat Kone when it was absolute new thing and currently I am sporting my second one (scrolling mouse on first died, mouse replaced for free, yay!) and it’s by far the best mouse I’ve ever encountered. I believe the new Naga comes very close to that for what I read, but the way Kone fits my hand is great and till it dies I am not looking elsewhere.

      • February 12, 2010 at 12:48 am | #4

        It’s interesting that your mouse was replaced for free. I’ve had endless problems with Steelseries mice. (I went through three in a 13 month period and they all developed identical faults). I never heard anything back from Steelseries about this. When the WoW mouse launched, I really like the idea of it (though I also thought it looked pretty huge and again, I was worried about my hand span), but I refused to buy it on the principle. I was using a Logitech mouse for a few months and it was really nice but I did give in and replace it with the Naga when it launched.

        I wouldn’t touch Steelseries again though and funnily, I did some reading about the WoW mouse for the second part of these articles and some of the reviews are dire! The first batch appeared to have *gasp* button clicking issues (the exact thing I had with my Ikari mice) and some were actually shocking people! Steelseries issued a “fix” for the button issue which involved yanking both the left and right buttons up and then pressing them back down. (God forbid they have to replace the mice huh!)

  1. March 2, 2010 at 7:22 pm | #1
  2. July 26, 2010 at 10:45 am | #2

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