Review: Razer Nostromo Gaming Keypad

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About a week ago I purchased a Razer Nostromo Gaming Keypad. It turned out to be a great accessory but it comes with a multitude of software issues.

Physical Design:

Saying the Nostromo is comfortable is an understatement. Being a PC gamer on a laptop, using the laptop’s keyboard for more than an hour or two causes hand cramps. With the Nostromo, 5 hours in and I was still going strong. The finish on the hand rest and buttons is smooth, but creates enough friction to prevent your hand from sliding. The hand rest is adjustable for people with larger hands, but I did put mine to the larger setting because it just felt more comfortable and natural. This isn’t really a negative or a positive, but it just seemed strange for someone with smaller hands like myself. The keypad, after some remapping, could even replace your mouse. Not to mention it’s back-lit with beautiful blue LEDs.

My main design complaint about the keypad’s design is that it could use a few more buttons. The keypad only covers the immediate buttons around the left-hand home keys. This means no Ctrl button, and no T, Y, or V are easily available. The biggest thing that bothered me – no Esc key. This meant, at default, I had to move my hand over to my keyboard to pause the game. I know this sounds like a minor complaint, but as gamers we know how integral a few milliseconds can be. No one wants to get Game Over because they need to pause the game. These buttons can be remapped with the Razer Synapse software – but that’s a whole other battle. Another issue that I can see is that there is no “left handed” model. The keypad is meant for right-handed gamers: Keypad in left hand and mouse in right. While left-handed gamers are a smaller market, it would still be nice to have a left-handed model as a special order item.

Software:

As much as I love the design of the Nostromo, I hate the design of their software. First off it loads on start-up with a forced internet connection. Razer’s Synapse software saves your settings to their cloud system which forces you to create an account with them and be connected to the internet if you want to use your keypad. There is no way to turn off the cloud storage or the automatic start-up for the program.

When it comes to actually re-mapping the keys, the software is anything but user friendly. There is a limited number of profiles, which each have a seeming unlimited number of sub-profiles. Remapping an individual key is also more complicated than it should be. On a positive note, you can link a profile to a specific execution file but it’s impossible to create a single profile that works universally because of the limited number of keys. Remapping keys and creating a profile for each game are totally worth it, if you want to put countless amounts of time into it. The software still won’t function at all if there is not a Razer device plugged into the system.

Overall grade: 3/5

The hardware is great, the software is awful. I found a custom setting that was more universal than the default setting and it has been working quite well. The issues with the software are what kill this nifty piece of equipment. If you’re looking for a good, comfortable keypad the Nostromo is great. Be warned though: the software might make you want to throw it across the room.

Robert LaSure is a writer at Girl Gamer Vogue and PC/3DS Enthusiast.

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