As I’ve previously documented in detail, I’m a big fan of mechanical keyboards. There’s nothing like the satisfying click of a cherry blue switch to make typing a pleasure. However, I’m not the only one who had this epiphany over the past few years. The enthusiast keyboard market has exploded, and the quality of the boards out there has skyrocketed. There’s everything from Bluetooth boards that emulate typewriters to boards that bathe your eyes in a crazy light show.
There were three main reasons why I told myself I needed a new board to get in on this new action: First, my old board didn’t have a number pad, which makes any number input a chore. I don’t know how I overlooked this when I first got it, as it’s fairly critical to my day job’s constant use of excel documents. Second, my keyboard wasn’t backlit, and the painted-on numbers were wearing off. My keyboard is also under my desk, which makes it impossible to read the keys when I needed to hit something in particular. Third, it didn’t come with a wrist rest, and the separate one I got was getting gross and grubby.
So I did my research online and then I went to Micro Center Mall to give a few a test drive. So which one made the cut? As a professed lover of Cherry blues, the answer surprised me – the new Razer Ornata Chroma.
The Razer Ornata Chroma is a ‘hybrid’ board, which uses a combination of mushy membranes along with Razer’s proprietary mechanical tech. The result is a board unlike pretty much anything else out there. It’s clicky, but not quite as noisy or deep as traditional Cherry blue (or Razer green for that matter). The keys are half height, coming in right between a full mechanical board and a laptop chiclet-style board.
So why did I go for this Frankenstein monster of a keyboard? At work I have a membrane Logitech keyboard made for Macs, and I regularly use the incredibly shallow modern Macbook keyboard. This makes for a tough adjustment for my hands when I get home and hop onto a full blown Cherry Blue switches. The ‘hybrid’ keyboard pulls the best from both worlds, still giving me the click I crave, plus making it a bit easier on my membrane-based muscle memory. It’s still more fatiguing than laptop keyboards, but it makes for a happy compromise.
I also have been growing increasing enamored with Razer’s current design language. As the company has grown, it’s shed some of the more ‘gamer’ stylings, but has kept up the badass LED lighting tech and sleek designs. The back lighting on the Ornata Chroma is amazing and hard to express properly in pictures. Using the Synapse software, you can make this thing do nearly anything your heart desires. Want it to look like a fireplace? Done. How about highlighting critical buttons for specific programs? Easy. Reactive waves rippling from pressed keys over a slowly rotating series of rainbow colors? Sure thing. It even syncs with other Razer accessories to create a light show worthy of your PC setup. I have my eyes on their Firefly mousepad next…
Finally, the board comes with a sleek black wrist rest that snaps on with magnets. Magnets! Razer really knows how to press my buttons. The wrist rest is comfortable, but it gets sticky with sweat quickly. The fake leather doesn’t breathe very well. My wrists would love for Razer to come out with a replacement wrist rest with a cloth or even plastic surface.
I’m still in the honeymoon phase with this keyboard at the moment, and I’m sure several years from now I’m going to have my eyes on some new hotness. However, for now, I am very happy with my new board. I’ve found myself looking for excuses to type on it, which is very good for my writing productivity.
Ultimately, that’s the whole point of these things right? Work is hard, but toys like this bring a bit of joy to the proceedings. Sure, you can get to work every day in a 1996 Toyota Corolla, but isn’t it more fun driving the newest Tesla in insane mode? I don’t need multi-colored glowing LEDs bathing my hands in light, but I sure as hell have a lot of fun with it while working on a boring draft of something or other.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some new light combinations I need to try out.