Small hands need not apply.
If you want to play games on your computer while sitting on the couch, you’re in for a mixed time. While many games support gamepads (or the Steam Controller, which has been slowly growing on me again), you will inevitably run into a time when you absolutely need a keyboard and mouse – not to mention the fact that mice are infinitely superior to controllers for aiming (there’s no contest – fight me if you disagree!). Given that the KB+M is the default for most games, you might wonder why you just don’t carry that control setup into the living room.
In that respect, you have three options:
- Strap your existing KB+M to a piece of wood. This works but it’s inelegant.
- Buy one of those lapboards with a huge mouse pad attached. Works very well, but most of them are wired, huge, and look awful.
- The Razer Turret
Let’s look at the Razer Turret. For my purposes, I sit in a comfy wide arm chair with a leg rest. I actually have a gaming laptop that I regularly plug into my TV when I want to play VR or games on the big screen while lounging backwards. Will the Razer Turret do the job?
What is it?
It’s yet another KB+M combo from Razer, the company that keeps making all sorts of shite in the hope that we’ll buy it. Known for piano black, neon green and gaudy LEDs, Razer have been making PC gaming peripherals for quite a while now, and they make some pretty decent kit. It’s all overpriced, but it’s not bad. The Razer Turret is somewhat unique in that it’s targeted at PC couch gamers – a market significantly underserved by peripheral manufacturers, probably because software support is still pretty piss poor.
The Razer Turret is a keyboard (sans numpad) with a small mouse pad attached, with a tiny little mouse included. Operating on both the 2.4ghz or Bluetooth spectrum (depending on your preference – you can change it with a switch), the Razer Turret is a wireless setup that you place across your lap. If you are left handed, you’re shit out of luck – the mouse must be put on the right side of the keyboard.
Also in the box is a charging dock (the mouse-pad section folds under the keyboard for docking) to charge the keyboard and the mouse, a small USB dongle (concealed in the mouse) for 2.4ghz connections, and an extension cable for the 2.4ghz receiver in case the distance is too great. And that’s about it. It retails for about $190 AUD (depending on where you buy it – it isn’t a cheap piece of kit).
First off it’s good to see both Bluetooh and 2.4Ghz included in the same device, giving you the flexibility to choose. I went with Bluetooh because it’s built into my laptop and is slightly more convenient, but the 2.4Ghz dongle might provide better connection stability and range (with its extender). Switching it is easy – just flick the little switch on each device and bang, you’re away.
The docking unit is pretty nifty too, and it doesn’t look too awful when docked. If you don’t like gamer-geek aesthetics, it’s not something you’ll want to display, but it’s not totally awful to look at. On the plus side there are no LEDs (but this also means no backlit keyboard – if that matters to you), so at least it won’t be as ostentatious as some of the Razer product lines.
The keyboard itself feels pretty good. It’s a chichlet-style keyboard that feels good to type on. The entire keyboard-pad combo feels pretty weighty in the hand – not uncomfortable, but not flimsy either. It has just about the right amount of heft to it to feel solid. Razer suggests the keyboard supports up to 10-key anti-ghosting (I haven’t tested this) and will last about 4 months on its internal battery. It also has a few of the usual media keys for volume and track controls, but that’s about it.
The pad on the side is slightly magnetised to match the tiny mouse, to stop it from slipping off in regular use. Tilt the board up and the mouse will still slide right off, but minor movements will be less inclined to dislodge it. It feels fairly good to touch, but it is quite small vertically.
The mouse is… well, it’s a mouse. It’s easily the weakest part of the entire setup. It has a 3500 DPI sensor and will apparently last up to 40 hours on a single charge (not sure if I believe that), but it’s also tiny and feels kind of plastic-y. The scroll wheel and clicky buttons feel okay, and it has two buttons on each of the sides (for back/forward or whatever you want) but the outer shell just feels a bit off. The underside has a slightly fabricy outer ring that helps it glide over the lapboard pad, but if you try and use it on a conventional cloth mousepad it will just increase the resistance and feel like arse.
In actual use – well, it works fairly well, with a few caveats. Firstly the keyboard is fine, and the mouse is fine provided you can work with the small pad space. Basically, you’re going to have to increase the sensitivity. If you regularly play at higher sensitivities (such that you don’t move the mouse off the mat very often) you’ll be okay, but if you don’t then you’ll struggle. There’s plenty of horizontal space, but very little vertical space to take advantage of. So looking side to side is fine, but looking up and down? You might run into issues there. Otherwise it works fine. The biggest advantage is that it’s compact and wireless. If you aren’t too worried about competitive response times for high level MP play, then not having an unslightly wire running across your living room to a big, bulky lapboard might be an advantage that recommends the Turret.
The mouse is tiny. It’s something you’d hold in your fingertips moreso than your hand. If you like a big, chunky mouse to grip, you’re out of luck. If you have big hands, it’s probably going to be too small. I’m used to smaller mice so it wasn’t as much of an issue for me, but it might be for you.
The pad attached to the lapboard is bordering on too small in vertical space. It’s very short. Again, you can compensate for this by running a higher sensitivity, but for RTS games where there’s arguably much more vertical movement than in FPS games, you might run out of space more frequently than you’d like. Playing with higher sensitivities is pretty much mandatory on a unit like this – though I’d argue that adapting to higher sensitivities on a mouse is much easier than on a controller. For someone like myself who plays at high sensitivities anyway, this isn’t an issue. For others though it’s a problem.
The mouse itself feels pretty cheap in the hand, and the weird outer fabric ring is annoying. It works fine on the lapboard, but I have a cloth mousepad (also made by Razer) and trying to use it on that is practically impossible because of the increased resistance. If you want to use the Turret’s mouse on its own away from the lapboard (to avoid duplicating devices if you have a laptop like me) then you’re going to have to use a plastic mouse pad, or just the desk surface. Also it doesn’t track properly on glass surfaces, before you ask.
Another consideration is your seating position and whether or not it’ll be comfortable for you. Just about every single lapboard out there will require you to sit upright so that it can sit across your legs – and the Turret is even less tolerant of position due to its small size. With a controller, you can lounge around however you like – with a lapboard, you’re limited in how you can sit. For some, having the keyboard and mouse down low will be uncomfortable, and you’ll have to be careful of your wrist positions to avoid repetitive injury.
Finally, the price is a bit much for what it is. It’s a well built product (except for maybe the mouse) but at nearly $190 AUD, it’s a bit hard to recommend – especially if you’re happy to just tack your average KB+M to a piece of wood and call it a day. Some people (like myself) want something a bit more elegant than that, and the Turret does fill that gap… but it’s a big asking price.
The Turret isn’t perfect – it has issues inherent to the design. The thing is, trying to develop a decent lapboard is a problem. They’re either huge and bordering on impractical, or they’re small and also bordering on impractical. The Turret skirts the latter of the two extremes, and whether or not it’ll work for you will depend on how big your hands are, and how tolerant you are of higher sensitivities. If you’ve got smaller hands and can cope with higher sensitivity aiming, it works. If not – it might be best to give it a miss.