Mechanical keyboards used to cater to an audience even more niche than the hardcore PC gamer. Those days are gone. With the introduction of the Das Keyboard, among others, mechanical keyboards have quickly proliferated the PC gaming scene.
The Razer BlackWidow is just one of many new mechanical keyboards to hit the market and specifically cater to a gaming audience, and it does so with aplomb.
I've spent a couple of months with a Razer BlackWidow Ultimate Stealth Edition keyboard and I've found it to be a worthy gaming device. Highly tactile and actually fun to type on, it offers the same features as any other mechanical keyboard you might find, but it sees the addition of five macro keys and a blue backlight. Not unlike the keyboard you might find on a Macbook, the backlight makes it ideal for typing in the dark. It's not too big a deal for touch typists, but the backlight is undeniably helpful. It also comes with five levels of lighting and can be turned off entirely if you want to keep a low profile.
I'll admit that I haven't found any use for the macro keys, which are located somewhat inconveniently to the left of the standard keys. Their odd placement is something you'll have to get used to if you type by touch, because there's no gap between the macro keys and the left end column. I personally pulled out the macro keys finding no use for them and covered the whole area with electrical tape. I consider the placement of the macro keys to be a design oversight, but it's not too big a deal.
That said, players of MMOs like World of Warcraft might find some use out of the macros, which are easy to record thanks to the keyboard's built in macro recording functions.
In addition to the macro keys and backlight, the keyboard is also equipped with a USB port, a headphone input, and a microphone input so you won't have to dig behind the back of your computer to plug in a pair of headphones.
Beyond the BlackWidow Stealth's special functions, typing on it is a charm. The keyboard is equipped with Cherry MX Brown mechanical switches, which provide tactile feedback minus the noisy squeak that comes from the regular BlackWidow keys, which use Cherry MX Blue switches. Technicalities aside, mechanical keyboards are fun to type on, and the BlackWidow Stealth is as good as they come.
If you've been using regular keyboards all your life and you're looking to make the jump to a mechanical keyboard, you can't go wrong with a Razer BlackWidow Ultimate Stealth Edition. It's sturdy, and it's competitively priced with other mechanical keyboards. Thanks to the mechanical switches, it'll also last you a whole lot longer than other gaming keyboards. Consider it a worthy investment.
Games tested: Diablo 3, Battlefield 3, other games too numerous to mention.