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Razers Reinvented the Wheel And Itself

first_img Razer’s been around for quite some time, but they’ve always had this broad stigma attached to it. At least in many of the circles that I run with. There’s something of a snapback against products that are too… gamer-y. I mean think about it: gamers, and especially the products that are, rightly or not, tied to that identity are on the aggressive end. Think Mountain Dew: an EXTREME DRINK for EXTREME GAMERS. It’s almost iridescent. As a whole, gaming accessories and products designed “for gamers” are gaudy and ostentatious.And I say this as someone who has spent… we’ll say a good chunk of change on geeky memorabilia. It’s just that as I’ve grown when I invite friends and colleagues over for a movie or a board game night, I don’t need a dozen different accessories that glow in all the colors of the rainbow. I appreciate subtlety.For better or worse, Razer’s been on the wrong end of that for quite a while. Many of their early products were over-built and obnoxious. Sharp industrial angles would have them feel at home in a neon-coated cyberpunk dystopia, but not in my home. But starting this past year, I’ve noticed my tune shifting a bit. The company and its products have found a place in the more relaxed stages of my adulthood. And that’s a weird thing to say about the company that’s currently working on a monstrous gaming laptop that sports three 4K screens dubbed “Project Valerie.”What’s made the difference for me, I’ve noticed is that as Razer has grown, so to has its eye for industrial design. For the most part, one high-end mechanical keyboard is the same as any other. And in my own testing, I’ve found that unless you’re using a really low-end mouse, you won’t be able to detect any substantive difference between a Razer Deathadder and a Logitech G502. But where the latter seems to have doubled down on the gamer aesthetic, with harsh lines and sharper edges (a clear evolution from their older, more balanced product lines), Razer has, for most of its devices, gone in the opposite direction.There are a few outliers, Razer’s Ouroboros Mouse, for example, looks like it might slice my hand. But the majority of their product lines have grown up. I recall the 2013 edition of the BlackWidow, Razer’s premier mechanical keyboard. Its keys were recessed into the base of the board, meaning that it could be difficult to clean. And while the keys were backlit, they came in one color: radioactive green. The chassis was also a soft plastic-y material that was prone to showing scratches and grime. Since then, Razer’s updated the line, pulling the keys out so that they sit above an all-aluminum base. The effect is subtle but beautiful. Against my black glass desk, the gently rotating color palette of the LED lighting is almost serene. Add to that the immediate presence that a hefty metal base commands and Razer’s recent offerings would feel just as welcome in an office as they would at an all-night LAN.It might not mean much to some, but that flexibility matters to me. I don’t want my devices and accessories to just the best “gaming” thing I can get. I want them to the best thing I can reasonably afford. And there’s a solid case to be made for almost every one of Razer’s products these days.As I said, the latest BlackWidow keyboards are a delight to look at, but they offer some genuine quality of life improvements, too. If you’re not using a mechanical keyboard and you work on the computer for most of the day, you owe it to yourself to invest in a mechanical keyboard. They’re much easier on the hands in the long run, and they offer a more direct, tactile sensation to typing, boosting accuracy for most. Razer’s DeathAdder mouse is just as sophisticated. It works well as an all-purpose tool, great for everyone from web developers to video editors.From my read, Razer’s picked up on the idea that while pretty much 100% of their customer base plays games, not all of them are gaming all the time. People have a life outside of games, and Razer’s been moving to be the brand that gamers take with them when they step away from the screen. The Nabu fitness tracker/smartwatch, while underwhelming, is a testament to this new philosophy. You can see this shift most clearly, though, in Razer’s laptops.Where the company was once ridiculed for the insane, overbuilt Razer SwitchBlade, they’ve since launched smaller, more utilitarian companions. The Blade and the Blade Stealth are now capable machines selling for reasonable prices. Both are light, portable powerhouses that often compare favorably with similar offerings from other companies like Dell. But these machines are built to last. All-aluminum chassis and stellar attention to detail give the Blade and its little cousin, the Stealth, an air of prestige to them. They aren’t just portable gaming machines; they’re powerful tools of business that can also game.I never thought I’d let go of my Logitech G710+. I never thought I’d replace my (super old) Logitech G7 either. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a casual fan of Razer’s more ridiculous tech (like the aforementioned triple-screened laptop), but I didn’t think I’d genuinely appreciate Razer’s approach to design and construction as much as I do now. Which isn’t to say that everything the company designs is golden. But that its products are continually evolving and growing and for the first time I can say they’re a good fit for me. Stay on target Finally, Razer Is Making a Gamer ToasterGeek Pick: Razer Blade Stealth Is an Ultraportable Dream Gaming PC last_img read more

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