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Posted by Chris Scott Barr on Feb 14, 2013

Review – Mad Catz S.T.R.I.K.E 7 Keyboard

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Hardware

The biggest hardware concern with keyboards is the technology behind the keys themselves. Since this is a $300 keyboard, one would immediately assume that you’ll find mechanical switches under the key caps. Unfortunately this is not the case. The S.T.R.I.K.E 7 does use membrane keys. They do feel more responsive than most membrane keys, but we’ll talk more about that later.

So what exactly can you customize on this keyboard? Obviously there are macro keys and a touchscreen box, but right now lets focus on physical customization. The obvious setup involves the number pad positioned to the right of the main keyboard, with the Function Strip to the left, and the screen on top. However, that is only one of several ways you can do things.

You could put the number pad on the left, with the screen on top of it. Or maybe you could completely detach the number pad, and use it without the main keyboard. Attach the Function Strip to the side, and the screen on top, with one of the wrist rests, and you’ve got yourself a dedicated gaming pad. You could also just use the main keyboard by itself, with just a USB cable, and no wrist rest. This is extremely portable, but would only be worth it if you were using the number pad like I described above. Otherwise, you just dropped $300 on a tiny membrane keyboard.

There are also three different wrist rests that are interchangeable. Two of them are nothing more than strips to rest your palms on, with only the shape and a fancy metal plate with S.T.R.I.K.E 7 written on it to differentiate them. On both you can adjust how closely they sit to the keyboard, which is nice, when you’re looking for comfort. This definitely feels reminiscent of the R.A.T. mice that we’ve reviewed in the past.

The third wrist rest is much different, in that it contains a thumb button, and a side-scrolling wheel. The wheel was also borrowed from the R.A.T. mice. In addition to adjusting the space between it and the keyboard, you can set the angle at which it sits. Because of the button and wheel, you’ll want this rest to sit wherever you plan on having your left hand the most. As such, it can only be placed on the left side of the main keyboard, below the number pad. There is no connection for it on the right side of the keyboard. The other two rests can be positioned in all three places.

The Function Strip can be positioned to the left side of either the main keyboard or number pad. This strip contains four macro keys. Oddly enough, these keys are labeled as if they were the Ctrl, Shift, Enter, and Backspace keys. They aren’t, however, set to those keys by default. I’m also not entirely sure why you’d want a Ctrl key next to your Ctrl key, and a Shift key next to your Shift key, but I guess sometimes you need to shift while you shift, dawg.

The last piece of the S.T.R.I.K.E 7 is the V.E.N.O.M. box. This can sit either above the left side of the main keyboard, or above the number pad. You’ll find buttons to mute your sound and mic, along with standard volume up/down buttons. There are three buttons to the right of the screen that allow you to switch between three different modes. This essentially allows you to triple the number of macros available to you, via the touchscreen. There is also a small “back” button, that lets you back out of on-screen menus. You’ll also find what appears to be a large button with the Mad Catz logo on it. However, this is nothing more than a piece of eye candy, which lights up.

The most interesting piece of this module is of course, the screen. The screen measures 3-inches, and is a resistive single-touch TFT LCD screen. We aren’t 100% sure on the resolution, however, the preview image in the software was roughly 480×320, which seems about right.

 

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