Keypads have added multitudes more ’standard’ keys since their introduction 15 years ago and their main appeal is that they offer a more comfortable, configurable alternative to typing-optimised keyboards, putting lots of keys and controls in positions that are easy to use one-handed.
Belkin long-ago handed its Nostromo design over to Razer and it lives on in the latter’s products.
The Tartarus Chroma is Razer’s recently-upgraded entry-level option, which is meant to cover the basics.
There are three rows of main keys (15 in total) plus a thumb control area with HAT switch and two buttons.
Those main keys aren’t mechanical, using rubber membrane switches that are, physically, a little resistant and bouncy when pressed — to us, the Orbweaver’s mechanical switches were far more comfortable and still had enough tension behind them that you can rest your fingertips on them.
Actually, the Tartarus’ main problem is one of design rather than quality: there just aren’t enough standard keyboard keys.
Most modern MMOs and even FPSs are control-intensive, needing 20+ keys. Having only three rows of five keys means you’re constantly short, and unless you remap the HAT (which is a little hard to use reliably, requiring you to stretch your thumb), you’ll subsequently have to reach across to your normal keyboard to tap a button you didn’t have room for on the pad, which defeats half the purpose.
If you’re going to splurge on a gaming keypad, you might as well get one with enough buttons to do the job properly.
Verdict: It works, but really needs more keys to tackle today’s control-intensive games.