Razer Ornata Chroma Gaming Keyboard: Hybrid Mechanical Key Switches – Customizable Chroma RGB Lighting – Individually Backlit Keys – Detachable Plush Wrist Rest – Programmable Macro Functionality
The Razer Ornata Chroma features the all-new Razer Mecha-Membrane that combines the best of both membrane rubber domes and mechanical switches to deliver a typing experience unlike anything before. While traditional rubber dome keyboards are known for their soft cushioned touch, they fail to...
Top half of this review is an overall performance overview. Bottom half is an update about quality control and slow replacement issues that made me change this from a 4- to a 3-star review.I didn't purchase this keyboard for gaming, just straight typing. I work in transcription and have many of the same problems gamers do. I type faster when the keyboard gives me the right tactile feedback, it can't be too loud, the key spacing needs to be on-point, and even ghosting is a problem. The Ornata is one of the best keyboards I've ever used and has noticeably increased my productivity.Key Feel: I'm a heavy-handed typist, meaning membrane is generally easier for me to use. However, I love a good click. Having a 'tickity-tack' sensation with depression helps me stay 'in the zone' while I type. When I'm not working, I type fastest on my Macbook Pro keyboard. Macbook keyboards are a sort of membrane/mechanical hybrid like the Ornata, which is the biggest reason I went with it. You get that 'click' while still having gentler touch. The Ornata has a more aggressive 'click' than a Macbook keyboard, but it's still that hybrid sensation.Key Height: The Ornata advertises itself as a mid-profile key on the Razer website (I don't know why all the professional reviews call it 'low profile'; it definitely isn't even by gaming keyboard standards). I liked that idea. With low-profile keys (and especially full-on chiclets), it can be too easy to hit multiple keys at once when typing at max speed. However, the keys on the Ornata 'float' above the profile of the keyboard base. The end effect definitely isn't as dramatic as high profile keys, but it's still on the higher side. I expected something shorter. Key height can play a big role in hand fatigue, especially if you're a heavy-handed typist. If they set the keys even a little bit into the base of the keyboard, or make them just a touch shorter, it would be closer to 'mid-profile.' The trade-off you get for this key seating is easier cleaning (see Cleaning down below).Anti-Ghosting: When typing quickly, I often have a problem where I'm hitting the next key in a sequence before my finger has fully "disengaged" the previous key. On every other keyboard I've ever used, this means ghosting. I'd get 'thes' instead of 'these' and so forth. The Ornata prevents that, and it significantly improves my work efficiency. I spend less time correcting the 'thes' and 'tht' and 'thoug's I normally have to deal with.Key Volume: I'd rate this as a mid-volume key. It's much quieter 15-year-old, 'out of the box' desktop mechanicals that pretty much go "THUMPITY-WHACKITY," but it's nowhere near as quiet as my Macbook. I can still transcribe without the key volume making it hard to hear my files, but a friend of mine who works on the phone noted that their customers would absolutely be able to hear their typing. To me, the volume is too loud for a hybrid key. It seems like it's making an effort to make a sound. I think that's what bugs me the most about it. It's inorganic; it doesn't feel 'native' to the key feel. If it was even the same volume but less sharp of a sound, it would be great. If you're looking for a 'stealthy' keyboard, this definitely isn't it.Programability: TBA. I haven't messed with this yet, but I use a number of macros while I work. I'll update this review after I've fiddled with it. The one thing I will say is that the keyboard updates are a mild annoyance. Your keyboard will stop working until you restart your computer, which I found out the hard way.As an aside, the Synapse software frequently leaves a lot to be desired. I'm on the beta for the new version. It works better, but the "upgraded" main interface is enormous, slow loading, and ugly. Lots of negative space for no good reason. It also lacks the customization capabilities you would expect. Everything about the keyboard is customizable, but you can't customize the interface to only show the options you use. The Chroma (color-change) customization screen is still awkward to use, though it works much, much better than it used to.Color & Color Programming: Phenomenal. The color is just icing for me, but it makes my work day a lot more interesting. It's rich and lovely with a good color-to-color shift. There are a few problems with programming it. The first is that the software needs work, though the beta of the new Synapse works much better than the old one. I still have problems with the keyboard abruptly resetting the color cycle to default after updates.Cleaning: Someone asked a question about this and made me realize this keyboard is absurdly easy to clean. I have dogs that shed nonstop; fur tends to build up between keys in other keyboards. Because of the 'floating' set and spacing of the keys, I don't get as much fur between the keys, and what does get in is a cinch to get out. I can tease pretty much anything that falls between the keys out with just a napkin or my nails. It would be effortless to clean up with canned air or just a paintbrush. Even if something was stuck to the membrane, you could dampen a Q-tip or a stiff paintbrush and get it right off.Overall, definitely recommend for heavy-handed typists that have a need for speed and accuracy. I knocked off a star for it overcompensating on the click loudness and the keys being taller than they should be for true 'mid-height.'UPDATE, reduced from 4 to 3 stars:After having the keyboard for about eight months, the LEDs started glitching out. Razer customer service personnel is fantastic; I've dealt with them twice now, and they're great. I sent my original keyboard back to Razer for a replacement. I appreciated free shipping both ways, but it was ground. It took almost a month between shipping it to them and getting my replacement.Six months after I received my replacement, the black coating is starting to wear off the center of my space bar. I have a .5 inch section where it's totally worn off an a 2 inch section where it has a heavy gloss from wearing down and is about to wear off. I had a shoddy laptop keyboard's coating last a good five years longer than this. The weird thing is that this didn't even happen on my last Ornata after six months of an equal amount of use.I contacted Razer customer service. I got prompt, professional replies, and the agent checked with a particular department about my issue. Unfortunately, this is considered normal 'wear and tear,' and my warranty is considered to be from my original purchase date.Razer does offer replacement key caps, but they were out of stock when I contacted customer service.You'd think a gaming keyboard would have key coatings tough enough to withstand heavy, rapid key press abuse. Just six months is pretty pathetic. This could be a quality control flub, but if so, the Ornata definitely has QC issues; this marks the second time something has gone wrong with a brand new Ornata within less than a year.If this were a $30 keyboard, I wouldn't care so much. But you can't have a $100 MSRP on a keyboard and have quality issues like this, let alone replacement shipping that's as slow as it is.
Ok, it's a decent keyboard. I'm going to break down several elements.FUNTIONALITY: This is where I encountered issues. Never in my life have I ever had to lubricate a keyboard, and certainly not one practically new out of the box. I was breaking out the teflon spray on q-tip inside of 2 weeks. Like, come on razer... it's a $90 keyboard and you're cutting corners on lube? The stuff they used was way too high viscosity and the keys would stick. Works fantastically and smoother than new when you add a dab of teflon.RGB LIGHTING: VERY large selection of colors, just about any you can imagine you can select, and individual color coding is awesome for hotkeys across multiple games.SOFTWARE: ATROCIOUS. just plain BAD. Fine for basic color coding and whatnot, but advanced lighting effects interfere with each other. I tried stacking 2 wave effects in a relatively simple way, and it wouldn't adjust the speed for whichever was on the bottom layer, throwing off the sync.Other: the wrist rest is COMFY, but extremely delicate. In a few weeks the faux leather coating has already begun to deteriorate. However, I really like the cord management, there are 3 slots under the keyboard for you to direct the wire either left, right, or out the back.Conclusion: it's a decent keyboard, I like the tactile click despite the issues I've had with lubrication, and not as loud as traditional mechanical switches. That all being said, my next keyboard will be from Corsair. I've been a fan of Razer since they launched, and I've watched the quality of their products slowly but surely deteriorate over time. It's probably time for me to pick a new favorite gaming brand.
So far I have been very pleased with this keyboard. There is one annoying thing. The keys are "transposed" (best way to describe it). For example. If you want to look at the "?" key - Normally this key has a "?" above the "/", indicating a "Shift" is needed. On this keyboard all "Shift"ed keys are labeled BELOW the normal character.