When it comes to buying PC components, I’m of the belief that the hardest things to shop for are your keyboard and mouse. Sure, you want to make sure that you get the best bang for your buck on components, and a nice looking case is important to some people. However, you don’t actually touch any of those while you’re gaming. Your hands are always on your keyboard and mouse, which means that you not only have to shop for performance, but comfort as well.
There are many considerations to be made when looking at something like a keyboard. Mechanical, or membrane? Full layout, or tenkeyless? Backlighting? Macro keys? Physical customization isn’t really something that we’ve seen in the keyboard world, however, Mad Catz has changed all of that with their S.T.R.I.K.E. 7 keyboard.
The first impression I had when looking at this keyboard was “what a beast.” Well, actually, when it was still in the box, I thought “oh great, I have to assemble a keyboard.” As the name would have you believe, there are indeed seven parts to this keyboard, all of which are detachable. There are also four braided cables (they include a fifth one, but it simply replaces one of the shorter cables). Two of these are for connecting the different parts of the keyboard to each other, another goes to your PC, and the final one is for power, which plugs into the wall.
So how could a keyboard possibly break into seven parts? Well, the first is a very small keyboard (smaller than a tenkeyless, as it doesn’t even have arrow keys on it). The next is your number pad, arrow keys, and the other keys that are usually found above the arrows. You have three different wrist rests (yes, they all connect at the same time), and one set of four macro keys, which they dub the “Function Strip”. Finally, there is the V.E.N.O.M touchscreen, which is essentially the brains of the outfit.
[singlepic id=1288 w=600 h=279 float=]
Included in a separate box are four sets of key caps that you can swap out. Two are for WASD, and two are for your arrow keys. There’s also a key puller, a hex screwdriver, and some screws. The longer USB cable I mentioned earlier is also in the box.
One really nice thing you’ll find is that the underside of the keyboard and wrist rest pieces are covered with heavy metal plates. Personally, I like a keyboard with some weight, so I find this to be a positive feature. Of course, it’s really there to help keep all of the components together, but we’ll get into more of that later.