The Tartarus Chroma gaming keypad from Razer offers an additional accessory for players who feel their keyboard isn’t sufficient, or who want to create a more tailored gaming experience.  Each of the 25 keys can be set to any macro or keypress setting the user wants, giving a great deal of flexibility and customization.  However, there are some features that aren’t optimal for gamers and the layout has some questionable design.

Quality/Durability: 5/5

One high point of the Tartarus, as with most Razer products, is the quality of the components and manufacturing.  The parts are solid, durable, and appear to be made with high quality components.  Nothing feels flimsy.  The USB cable has a braided/wrapped cover, offering superior protection in comparison to simple rubber coated wiring.  They keys are responsive and solid, without requiring excess force to depress them.

Functionality/Customization: 5/5

Here is where the unit definitely shines, and for gamers who find it fitting, will offer a great deal of usefulness.  As I mentioned previously, each of the 25 available keys can be mapped to whatever function or keypress the user desires.  The thumb keys have some default settings to be used for scrolling or as alternative mouse button controls, but these are also completely customizable.  The thumb area alone has 6 buttons available.

In addition to the functional custom options, you can also change the backlight settings in the unit.  This is typical of a lot of Razer components, and if you already have one you’re like using the Razer Synapse program (which also controls this unit).  You’ll need the program to take advantage of pretty much any use of this accessory.  Without it, the Tartarus is pretty much useless.  The hand rest has a nice ergonomic shape, with 2 options for positioning.

Layout/Design/Use: 3.5/5
If quality and customization are where this unit shines, the design and actual use is what casts a cloud on that sunny outlook.  The layout of the keys lacks a natural design, and of course the design itself makes using it with your right hand impossible.  The biggest problem is the inability to easily reach most of the keys without taking some time to look over at the unit while you’re playing.  If you’re doing something that requires quick reactions and key presses, that’s not something you want.

r2The hand rest, while offering 2 options for distance from the keys, doesn’t really make using the keys comfortable in either.  In the closest setting, I found that I could reach the far keys with my fingers, though moving my hand from side to side was still annoyingly necessary.  But when I wanted to use the closest row of keys, I had to almost completely curl my finger to press them.  Similarly with the hand rest extended, the furthest keys were a stretch to reach, though the closer ones required a less awkward positioning.
Final Score: 4/55 Star RatingOverall, the Razer Tartarus Chroma does offer usefulness and style in a quality package, but only for the right kind of gamer.  I think most would find it a bit off-putting, and the usefulness for their gaming purposes to be limited.  Such was the case with me, and I found myself uninterested in its continued use, instead preferring to return to my keyboard (also a Razer product) as my sole key press device.  Were the layout a bit more intuitive, or my gameplay habits more geared toward macroing, I may have wanted to continue using the device.

Razer Tartarus Chroma Gaming Pad: $72.99 Amazon.com

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