Razer's new Lycosa gaming keyboard has several unique features. The rubber coating on the keys provides a soft, comfortable touch. You can switch between three backlight configurations via a touch-sensitive control pad. You can even use Razer's software to program each of the Lycosa's keys to work as a separate macro, either individually or in combination with one another. We're frustrated, though, by a few things left half-baked. None of the Lycosa's issues are bad enough to make us dislike it outright, and we'd recommend it--especially for confident touch-typing gamers. For $80, though, we expect Razer to follow through on the promises of its features.
Setting up the Lycosa is only a little convoluted. It requires two USB inputs, as well as separate audio inputs if you want to plug in your own headset and microphone. Because the Lycosa has a single spare USB 2.0 jack on its top edge, we understand why Razer relies on two USB outputs; presumably it wants to preserve the pristine data stream for the keyboard itself to ensure typing responsiveness. Fair enough. Razer still could have added a second USB input, though, since the current one has a dedicated data stream all to itself via the second USB cable.
The software is easy to set up, although hard to navigate because of small type and a less-than intuitive layout. If you don't plan on using macros, you might not even need it. The touch pad's media control and backlit profile button work without installing anything.
The Lycosa's backlighting is its biggest problem. With the blue LED turned off, you're left with an almost illegible keyboard, that's similar to the purposefully blank Das keyboard of a few years ago. If you're not secure in your touch-typing prowess, the reasonable thing to do would be to turn on the Lycosa's backlighting, which reveals the letters on the keys, along with the touch pad buttons. The problem is that the lighting is so faint that in a lit room, it gives you only a suggestion of which key is which. Unlike Saitek's Eclipse II keyboards, there's no way to adjust the brightness on the Lycosa's LED, let alone the color.
In a darkened room, however, the lighting is sufficiently bright. The only other option is a third profile that lights up the W, A, S, and D keys (with roughly twice the brightness of the standard lighting scheme), commonly used by PC gamers as direction controls, but keeps the rest of the board unlit.