Razer Tartarus v2 Pro Review - The Spacebar Placement | Razer Insider

Razer Tartarus v2 Pro Review - The Spacebar Placement

  • 11 September 2022
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For starters, I've been using the Tartarus v2 Pro for about half a year now, and before I've used the Orbweaver for a couple years and I enjoy using both of them. I use it mainly for games, but I can see myself using it for art/design programs for quick actions and a versatile alternative to art-specific one-handed devices like the Tourbox. Keep in mind that I pair the keypad with a mouse with multiple keys (currently the Logitech Hero) to make the most out of the experience and not have to rely on reaching to the keyboard for anything other than typing.

With the Orbweaver, the supposed spacebar was very flimsy and didn't feel good to use, so I opted to use the Esc/Alt key instead which ironically felt nicer to use as a spacebar although required a press inward opposed to the more natural tap down motion typical with regular keyboards along with not having immediate access to the joystick if needed. It was a fine alternative, but I was hoping Razer would reevaluate the ergonomics of the spacebar and place it in a more natural position.

Now the Orbweaver is consolidated into the Tartarus lineup to make the "best of both worlds" device, which is mostly features from the Orbweaver such as more keys, but did away with the adhesive rubber wrist pad and now includes a scrollwheel as the replacement for the 20th key. Even if it's very similar to the original keypad, the Tartarus v2 Pro is still an improvement as stated earlier. I don't use the scroll wheel too often but it's nice to have potentially 2 extra keys (scroll up/down along with the wheel click). The keys feel nice to press and not as loud as previous keys if you didn't pick up the "Stealth" variants, and the joystick feels better and robust to use, and as well the pad definitely lasted longer than the Orbweaver's. I'm indecisive about the intended Alt button, I'm not sure what sets me off about it versus the Orbweaver's variant, but it's not terribly offensive at the same time. My only, but definitely very detrimental, criticism about the keypad is the spacebar.

With the Orbweaver, the spacebar felt so bad to use that I replaced it with the Alt keybinding and didn't let it bother me. However, the spacebar on the Tartarus v2 Pro feels much better to use and is lighted. Not only does it have the same texture as the other keys, it has the same feel as regular keyboards when pressing it to mimic that natural feel. I specifically got the Pro to take advantage of it's double-action keys, where you could potentially walk slower in games like an FPS if you light press the key to mimic a controller's joystick (Unfortunately, due to the nature of the programming and that it emulates a controller when using the keys, it actually messes up a lot of games since it's switching rapidly between PC/Controller interfaces so it is not worth getting for this functionality). It's a nice improvement over the past iteration, which is why it bugs me more that I have to consider ignoring it again.

For those that don't use the keypad, when you see a picture of any of the Razer keypads including the Tartarus v1, it's always been an issue where the spacebar, which is more of a paddle in the past iterations, is way out to the right, causing those without really big hands to stretch their thumb out to make an "L" with their left hand. My hand position on a keyboard when playing games is a claw, so my fingers are curled into ASD and Shift, but my thumb is just naturally forward with no curling, resting on the spacebar with plenty of room to press the key. As well, my thumb is in the same vertical elevation as my other fingers.

With the Tartarus vs Pro, not only is my thumb stretching more to the right, it is also lowered down to reach the key, which makes my whole hand uncomfortable because if I want to keep my clawed hand position, I need to strain my thumb to reach the key, but if I want to make my thumb more comfortable, then I need to lay out my fingers to touch ASD (since the palm pad is forcing my hand to be at a elevated position) and can't easily press keys high than that row, and my pinky only able to reach Ctrl. If I want to press other keys, I have no choice but to lift up my hand and make some awkward hand position to keep my thumb on the spacebar (or just remove away from it if I'm not thinking about it), which doesn't bode well in longer sessions since I have my make my hand do alien acrobatics constantly to press other keys.

I tried to make it work for a long time, but it just never feels natural. Some people have difficulty transitioning from keyboard to keypad, but I got use to, and prefer, to use the keypad, but I always struggle to get use to the spacebar as part of my repertoire. As stated before, I outright ignored the paddle, but I am trying to use it for the Tartarus v2 Pro, but it seems to impact my performance, especially in fast-paced demanding games like Doom Eternal where I am definitely slower by trying to incorporate the spacebar.

Just a few days ago, I had an epiphany and thought about using the joystick as a spacebar. When you look at the top view of the keypad, you can see that the joystick sits above the spacebar. The current iteration of the joystick is much bigger that the past, and feels more precise when navigating it, so I thought about resting my thumb on the top of it, and it feels much more natural since not only is my thumb almost forward as it is on a keyboard, but it is nearly elevated to the keys, therefore emulating the positioning of a keyboard much better and therefore much more ergonomic than what the advertising suggests.

It's not perfect, but using my thumb to press down on the joystick similar to the action of pressing a keyboard (in this case rebinding the "RIGHT" key of the joystick as "SPACE") feels much better than forcing myself to use the intended spacebar. As well, I can keep my clawed hand position that I am so used to and press other keys other than WASD without as much trouble as before. If you currently have problems with the spacebar on the keypad, I highly suggest trying this method.

With this discovery, along with reconfirming my believes with other people on the Internet, I have to ask "Why isn't the spacebar placed where the joystick is?".

If I were to have a say in the next version of the Tartarus, my absolute suggestion would be to elevate and shift inward the spacebar to emulate the keyboard to promote natural usage, even more so than the position joystick. I do like the joystick, and if it had to stay, then I'd say to keep it how it's positioned currently, where the thumb is simultaneously resting on the joystick at the same time as the space bar, and maybe even give it an extra key mimicking a joystick press on the controller so that the ALT key doesn't have to be replaced (or just relocate the ALT key somewhere else, like below the spacebar).

I am absolutely no expert in product design nor the reality of this change, but I would say this is an absolute must in the next version, and I am definitely not the only one that has this problem. I genuinely adore Razer's keypads, but I don't see myself investing in any future versions if the spacebar placement remains where it is now.

TL;DR: I overall like the Tartarus v2 Pro, but the spacebar placement, as it was with previous versions, is not ergonomic and borderline useless despite feeling nice to use. The position of the joystick is just about where the spacebar needs to be and should be placed there, if not a little more inward and higher, in the next version of the keypad.

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