The Razer Tartarus is a new trend in gaming peripherals popular with MMO gamers and some FPS gamers as depicted in RocketJump’s VGHS web-series. It is a fully customizable keypad of 17 buttons and an 8-way d-pad. After a week of continuously using it as a part of my setup I must say it’s a well-rounded product. Switching back and forth between the Tartarus and my keyboard I didn’t feel dependent on the Tartarus, however, it has helped my workflow a lot.
I mostly play First-person shooters like Left 4 Dead 2 or CS:GO and occasionally play DOTA 2 and Might Quest for Epic Loots. The Tartarus performed quite well since this is what it was made for.
Using it as a part of my work flow took some getting used to but it soon became natural. Having access to all my shortcuts without having to move my hands is the best feeling ever. Whether in Premiere, After Effects, or Photoshop, it just worked. It’s not something I would develop a dependency on either. I could still work without it when I’m in a coffee shop, which is exactly what I was looking for. The main thing is that I took my time to plan and map the keys to my liking. It does have its’ quirks but it’s just as useful a tool as a gaming peripheral.
Things that bug me/could have been better
These are thing that bother me personally. You may want to skip this part.
The main membrane keys
This really isn’t a complaint but the first day of using it was quite awkward. I come from mostly using really cheap basic keyboards and laptop keyboards that don’t come close to the feeling of deep press mechanical keys or at least that is emulated on the Tartarus. If you come from using mechanical keys ore deep press keys you’ll feel right at home.
The space key or what is supposed to be used as a space key is this thin piece of plastic that sticks out on the side of it. And contradicting the rest of the keys on the keypad, actually all the thumb keys for that matter are very shallow and feel fragile, although I’m pretty sure Razer made them strong enough to withstand a good key bashing. I’m still afraid I may one day break it during an intense gaming/work session. The positioning of the key is good if you have a large enough hand which I don’t have. I never thought of my hands being ‘small’ until I used the Tartarus. Even my thumb reaches the key fine, I still find it awkward to use since it’s not where my thumb would naturally rest when I place my hand on it. Luckily the unit is fully customizable so you can move the space-bar where ever you wish, most people have re-mapped the space bar to the second thumb key above the d-pad.
I’m not a big gamer and the only console I own is a Wii and I can say that the d-pad on this thing is probably the most frustrating d-pad that I’ve used to date. Like the ‘space’ key it’s very shallow. I doesn’t go very far before clicking. Even though ergonomically the mounting position is quite comfortable it’s difficult to figure which way is up, down, left, and right on the thing. The diagonal directions are also quite useless since its insanely difficult do get it to hit the direction you need without it being a combination of directions. I’ve somewhat gotten used to using it in 4-directions and for the most part it’s usable in that context. Other than that you’ll just end out frustrating yourself hence most reviewers hence myself included like to label it as 21 customizable keys instead of the advertised 25.
This one is really personal. Every thumb key makes a really annoying click no different from the mouse. Can I get used to it? – probably, but did they have to make the click so loud??
The Tartarus is not for everyone. It’s not a product that should straight out of the box and expected to work great despite being advertise as plug and play. It takes getting used to, learning your own preferences and customizing it to them. The drivers and Synapse software work great although I can see why people don’t like it very much. Whether to improve your workflow or control in gaming it works great. If 21 25 keys isn’t enough for you there’s still the orbweaver.