Hardware Reviews
World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade - Zboard Keyset Review

Whitney Butts | 26 Feb 2007 16:57
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In our second Zboard keyset review of the day, we look at Ideazon's offering for World of WarCraft: The Burning Crusade. Whitney Butts took this one for a spin and came back with a more mixed review then Sutich did for Guild Wars Factions.

You can also get a chance to win your own World of WarCraft: The Burning Crusade keyset and Zboard in a contest we're holding.

Now onto Whitney's review:



Review: The Burning Crusade ZBoard
Article by Whitney Butts

Your UI is immaculate, your game is set to maximum efficiency. Now, you just want to know how you can further improve on your World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade experience.

With your computer maxed out to perfection, it's time to work on the accessories. Alongside the launch of The Burning Crusade Ideazon launched its Burning Crusade custom keyset for the ZBoard Gaming Keyboard.

To use the keyset, you must have the Gaming Keyboard. If you already have the Gaming Keyboard, just pop out the current keyset and latch the Burning Crusade keyset into place. Upon enabling the ZBoard (if the drivers are installed) the ZBoard console will run a scan and update the keyset to the Burning Crusade keyset. Now, it's ready to go. Installation is quick and painless.

The keyset has buttons for emotes, PvP, raiding, chatting, rolling and even a button for voice. The functionality has grown since the original World of Warcraft version of the keyset which did not include any raiding functionality for raid warnings and ready checks. The Burning Crusade keyset has added in all of this new functionality to maximize your game experience.

The Bad
Unfortunately, the keyboard in general has some flaws that make it hard to use. The keysets are divided into sections to be folded up. Because of this, the "7" key sits right on a crease and doesn't sit like the other keys in the keyboard. It is depressed and extremely hard to press to get a reaction of. "7" just happens to be my key bind for Shadow Word: Death which made it difficult to initiate that ... death.

In addition, the overall functionality of the custom buttons seems cheap. They don't always work and there is a bit of delay. You press the button and in game you'll see your chat cursor activate. Once the cursor activates you will see the slash command for the action being entered in the chat window. At times, the delay was so long I likely could have typed the slash command faster than it took the keyboard to enter it in. Overall, the buttons seem like a glorified macro interface for slash commands that didn't quite work all of the time.

A few of the buttons are slightly off on placement. Your left shift key has been shortened and an additional button for */voice are located between the left shift and the Z button. Due to its placement, many of my sentences would like like "*iI think we should *AOE those birds down." Notice the random *'s in place whenever I needed to press the shift key. The space bar is also divided into two sections. My thumb had a tendency to sit right on the division so I wouldn't quite make it with the jumping or hitting space when I needed to. The combination of space and the added asterisk/voice key then made my sentences look like "*.Ithink weshould*ao*E those birdsdown." Needless to say, standard typing would certainly take some getting used to with the modified placements and changes for the keyset.

There is no assist button. Perhaps the most useful button the keyset should have is an assist button. How many times are raid and group leaders calling out "Assist XX"? "Make sure you have your assist macros ready!" It would be extremely useful to have a button already there and I was disappointed to see that the keyset does not include an assist button. Ideazon: put an assist button on the next one and I guarantee that button will at least see a lot of use.

The Good
Installation is quick and easy. Once the drivers are installed a quick non-intrusive tutorial opens up that explains how to use the drivers and make sure your custom keyset gets installed properly. This could be the first hardware tutorial I've ever clicked through.

They button choices have definitely improved. The addition of raiding commands will make the lives of raid leaders a bit easier and it's nice to see that as Blizzard is adding more features to the game that the ZBoard is starting to integrate them.

The keys have nice feedback and tension and typing is not difficult. In general the feel of the keyboard is very smooth minus the "7" button. I wouldn't mind using it for my default keyboard if it weren't for those minor issues with button placement here and there.

Overall
The Burning Crusade keyset isn't terrible, but it could use some more refining for efficiency. The key placement could use improvement and the foldable keysets would be much favorable if they were one piece. The way the keyboard interacts with the game is a huge downfall and is extremely inconsistent and slow. If looking to maximize your gaming experience, I wouldn't recommend the keyset at this time, however if you're looking to have more buttons and some easier access to many in game slash commands then the keyset is definitely something to invest in.

Pros and Cons

  • New and useful buttons over original
  • Tri-fold design means odd button placement
  • Wonderful tutorial
  • Lag between macro button and game
  • Easy to install and configure
  • No "assist" button



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