One way Microsoft is distinguishing the Xbox One from other consoles is by embracing keyboard and mouse support. Peripheral maker Razer is trying to make a splash by offering its own set with the Turret keyboard and mouse combo built specifically for Xbox One, and we got our hands on it at CES 2019. It has plenty of ideal features we’d expect from high-end PC-gaming setups, though a few design choices may hold it back from being the best solution for the Xbox One.
To put it broadly, Razer Turret is a wireless lapboard intended to bring PC controls to the console while being comfortable to use in a couch or living room setting. Certain design decisions have made the Turret a sensible piece of hardware, like the tenkeyless layout–it seems you won’t be missing much functionality on the Xbox One by omitting the number pad. At roughly four pounds (or 1,800 grams), the unit itself doesn’t weigh much, helping avoid the feeling of something pressing upon your lap. To top it off, the wireless mouse that comes packaged closely resembles the Deathadder, Razer’s flagship mouse, which fits like a glove for right-handed folk. Both the keyboard and mouse conveniently connect through a single 2.4Ghz dongle, only occupying one USB port.
An important feature of the Turret is the use of Razer’s own green mechanical switch, which has that distinct clicky, tactile feel (similar to the Cherry MX Blue switch). For the uninitiated, mechanical switches offer a more tactile feel to keystrokes since each key operates on its own distinct switch–it makes for consistent, responsive inputs as opposed to the squishy feel of standard membrane keyboards. It also wouldn’t be a Razer product if it didn’t have RGB lighting; both the mouse and keyboard have full-range, 16.8 million colors for backlighting via the company’s Chroma system.
There’s also a dedicated Xbox dashboard key where the right CTRL key would be for easy access. One aspect you might expect is mouse cursor navigation in the dashboard, but getting through menus is relegated to directional keys, unfortunately. This isn’t any fault of Razer’s, just a current limitation a limitation on the Xbox One.
Where it falls short is in the built-in mouse pad. The surface itself is slick, similar to a good hard-surface mouse pad, and easily slides in and out of the right side of the keyboard. However, the surface and mouse are magnetic, and the push and pull of the magnets makes for an unnatural feel that can compromise the precision expected from PC-based controls. The magnetism helps keep the mouse in place when you take your hands off of it, and the top right corner of the pad is magnetized so strongly that it’ll hold the mouse even when the whole set is sitting vertically. But as as a result, you sacrifice the free flow of swiping and lifting the mouse (which you’ll do often since the mouse pad is on the smaller side) due to the resistance. Of course, you don’t have to use the built-in mouse pad, but it’s your only realistic option when the Turret is used as a lapboard in a living room-type setting.
Though we can’t speak to battery life ourselves, Razer states that the keyboard can last up to 43 hours without backlighting and 11 hours with the default backlight setting. The mouse is said to run for 50 hours without lighting, and 30 hours with it on, after a full charge. A USB-C port resides on the top right of the keyboard for charging.
As for parity in competitive games, the onus is on developers in how they want to implement keyboard and mouse controls. Some games could filter matchmaking based on control scheme, but can very well give players the option to match with anyone if they desire. As great as it is to have precision control and perhaps gain a slight advantage in games like Fortnite, Warframe, and would fit well for upcoming games such as Gears 5, the Turret’s price of $250 may be a tough sell. Pre-orders are open on the Microsoft Store and units are expected to be available on or around March 31 this year.
For more on CES 2019, be sure to check out our stories on everything gaming related from the show like AMD’s Radeon VII announcement, Nvidia’s RTX 2060 reveal, or Xbox boss Phil Spencer’s comments at AMD’s press conference–or go to our sister site CNET for wider CES coverage.