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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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Comfort And Usability

First and foremost, the S.T.R.I.K.E 7 is a keyboard. I use my computer for much more than gaming, and thus any keyboard I use has to be comfortable for everyday typing. I’m partial to mechanical keyboards, and anything with membrane keys is going to be a hard sell for me. However, I will say that Mad Catz did an excellent job with the keys. They are the most comfortable membrane keys I’ve typed on, and the closest thing to a mechanical feel you can get, without actually going to a mechanical keyboard. Were this just a regular keyboard with a very attractive price, this is something I’d recommend to people who don’t have the cash to pony up for something with Cherry MX switches.

For everyday use, I don’t really like the special wrist rest with the extra button and side scrollwheel. So it stays below my number pad. In fact, when I would switch it out for gaming, I never really found myself getting used to it. You have to move your entire hand backward, just to take advantage of the extra features. The only thing that’s nice about it is the ability to adjust the angle. I just never found it to be worthwhile enough to swap out every time I played a game.

The Function Strip is interesting, mostly because of how they chose to shape the keys. The bottom two share the same height as the Ctrl and Shift keys that they are next to. The next one up is as tall as your Caps Lock and Tab keys, and the last one spans from your Tilde to the Escape. I like the two larger buttons, as they’re easy to hit quickly and accurately. I don’t really like how far away the extra keys are from everything else. They’re roughly ¾ of an inch from the edge of your outer keys, and two inches from the A key. That’s a lot of travel distance to move comfortably. I really only found myself comfortably using the largest key, as it was the easiest to hit in a split-second, and still get my fingers right back on WASD where they should be.

The biggest selling point of this device is the fact that it has a touchscreen, with a wide variety of uses. I already outlined what I thought of most of the functions in an earlier section, but I figured this was a better place to talk about the macros, and specifically, why I found them completely useless.

First, if you’re playing a game and you need to take your eyes off the screen, you’re doing something wrong. This is a touchscreen, which means you don’t have any tactile feedback. It doesn’t matter how much you use it and develop muscle memory, there’s always going to be the risk that you’ll hit the wrong button, messing everything up. But that’s not my only complaint. In order to take advantage of the screen’s macro buttons, you have to move your entire hand to do so. The closest one to hit is three full inches away from where your middle finger rests on the W key. If you’re wanting to reach the furthest one away, you’re looking at a 4-inch stretch. In order to do that, my palm needs to be resting on the Ctrl+Windows+Alt keys. No, I didn’t ever find myself accidentally pressing down on these, but that gives you an idea of the level of discomfort you’ll experience when trying to press a macro key on the screen. There’s always that fear that you’ll hit a button that you don’t want, while trying to hit the screen. Also, I should note that I have rather large hands, so some people might find their hands resting on the first row of letters.

You’ll also note that the screen is resistive. This means it’s depending on the pressure of an object to register a touch. For comparison, your smartphone is going to use a capacitive screen, which only needs something conductive to make contact in order to register. The difference between the two is night and day. You don’t really have to push hard to get your touch to register, but it’s a little less responsive. And when you’re gaming, every split-second counts.

The control unit does also have a few extra buttons on it for audio. The mute and mic mute buttons work great. The volume rocker feels really spongy, which I’m not a fan of, but it still works just fine.

 

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