Razer Orbweaver review: elite gaming, at a price

Razer Orbweaver

Razer Orbweaver

The Orbweaver is the latest gaming pad released by Razer. It is a specialised piece of gaming equipment that I suspect will only attract a select few of the most hardcore gamers. With all the specialised gaming gear available presently, I think many gamers would see this as an unnecessary addition to their collection, especially at a pricey US$129. But for that elite cult of game gear fanatics, the Orbweaver might just be what they’re looking for.

At first glance, the Orbweaver is one awkward looking gadget. That might intimidate you and make you question its level of comfort. But trust me; comfort will never be a problem. It consists of a 20 button keypad; a soft touch hand and wrist-rest; and thumb module. All of these, except the keypad, can be adjusted to find that perfect fit for your hand. The thumb module features three buttons: a hyper response thumb key; an 8-directional thumb pad and thumb trigger. All of these buttons can be mapped to your choosing. Keep in mind that you will need to download the Razer Synapse 2.0 software to do so. The result is an ergonomic gaming control system that provides you with endless customisable freedom.

The keypad buttons needs a mere 50 grams of force to trigger and has a throw distance of only 2mm, ideal for the serious gamer. It has a green backlight (typical Razer green) but, unlike most Razer products, the colour scheme can unfortunately not be altered. The Orbweaver is connected to a PC (and PC only) by means of a reasonably long wired USB connection. Although the Orbweaver is marketed as a “one-handed” command system it is best to use it in conjunction with a mouse. This is so that you free up some keys that would be otherwise be dedicated to movement control.

No love for southpaws

The Orbweaver was clearly designed with only right-hand users in mind. You cannot adjust the gadget to comfortably fit your right hand. This will be a problem for anyone using their left had for to control the mouse, a major pitfall by Razer in my opinion. An important thing to note is that, presently, it is hard to get your hands on an Orbweaver, especially on short notice. After talking to some computer related shops and local suppliers, I realised that Orbweaver isn’t stocked anywhere. It can only be obtained by order and it would take about two weeks. But this is a minor wall to climb if you are serious about getting this gadget.

In terms of gaming, The Orbweaver shows its true magic in real-time strategy (RTS) games that are compatible with its add-on software. This is a stage that is still in its infancy as, currently, only World of Warcraft supports this add-on. But, in time, more add-ons will be released for other games and then the Orbweaver will become a lot more appealing. When using the Orbweaver and add-on software together, an in-game hotkey interface is displayed. It represents the 20 keys on the Orbweaver, meaning you can now easily map your buttons to your chosen skills, sells and potions in-game. With this add-on, World of Warcraft becomes even more immersive than it already is.

When it comes to other gaming genres, such as first/third person shooters, the Orbweaver becomes a bit more of a luxury than anything else ( I tested  it with Deus Ex, Resident Evil and Modern Warfare. It doesn’t provide you with much more than a gaming keyboard except for comfort. There are a few alluring aspects. You can set a few different key mappings sets which you can easily switch between in-game, using the mode select button located on the thumb pad. The layout of the buttons is also easy to memorise, meaning you’ll spend less time looking at your keys and keep your focus on the game.  Nevertheless, is it worth the price?

Verdict: After spending some time playing around with the Orbweaver, I must admit it grows on you. The welcoming textures fitted my hand like a glove. Also, after spending a good few hours gaming with it, my hand didn’t even notice it was being used. If you are looking for something that allows optimal control over your gaming, combined with an excellent standard of comfort then the Razer Orbweaver is for you. Pity it costs so much.

Score: 8/10

Wiehahn Diederichs


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