Belkin x Razer n52te Speed Pad PC Gaming Thingy

n52te2.jpg

Belkin and gaming peripherals company Razer have teamed up to release the “n52te SpeedPad,” one of those strange power-gamer devices created for the hard core PC gamer who never chats during the game to his friends. It’s got all the typical stuff, including programmable keys. It’ll be available next month for $70.

I’ve always found these things to be appealing in a way, but odd. I don’t find using a full-sized keyboard especially onerous when gaming, nor do I think that giving a slight ergonomic tweak to the position of the buttons and such really helps all that much. And again, while voice chat is becoming more common, supplanting typing mid-game, there are still plenty of times when I need to hit some strange key in a game to activate an uncommonly used function.

Does anybody use one of these type of controllers and love it? I’m actually sort of looking at these things, because I’m thinking about moving my gaming/media PC off my desk into a corner, ditching my office chair for a couch. Right now, my planned solution is craft something like the Phantom Lapboard to rest on my lap.

Product Page/Press Release [Belkin via Oh Gizmo!]

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14 Responses to Belkin x Razer n52te Speed Pad PC Gaming Thingy

  1. Anonymous says:

    I’ve got one of these (well, an older model than the one pictured) and I love it. The main reason is that yes, the the ergonomic aspect helps a ton. This is most helpful for first person games when your fingers are constantly over the same few keys.

    If I’m playing something that I can chat in the middle of, my hands aren’t going to get as strained since they are moving around more. In this case you’re right, it isn’t necessary.

    The other nice thing is the key mapping. For example, I used the D-pad to open all the odd menus in Oblivion. I never had to use a full keyboard for anything game-play related.

  2. bkofford says:

    I have both an n50 and an n52. They are both great. I don’t use all of the buttons and I find the wheel particularly useless, but I am able to program all of the keys I need so that I never have to use the keyboard in a game, except for chat.

    The thing that is not immediately obvious is that you can program shift keys, so each button can be programmed to do up to 4 different things, and any of those things can be a macro. The software will also automatically switch profiles to match the current active application, when set up correctly.

    As mentioned above, it is particularly useful when you aren’t at home, and are using a laptop for gaming, as it fits in most laptop bags, while full-sized keyboards don’t and laptop keypads suck for gaming, even if you love, WASD, which I don’t.

    The thing I like the most is that the keys aren’t crooked. I always used the number pad for FPSs until I got these, because I would mis-key often when trying to use WASD.

    I have also experimented with programming it for other applications, such as firefox, and it’s really handy for those as well.

  3. certron says:

    I have the Belkin Nostromo n50 and it was great for Tribes 2 and Quake 3. The D-pad was good for strafing, and the buttons easily map to things like jump, use item, etc. This is certainly cheaper than the zboard solution, and looks cooler, anyway.

    I was tempted to buy the n52, with some improvements, but I wasn’t playing FPS games as often when it came out. The no-skid feet on the bottom were good enough, and if I really needed to move it, I could easily just curl my fingers around the palm rest and pick it up.

    It appears as a regular 10-ish button joystick, I never used the included software to switch to a different profile, though. At some point, I was going to turn it into a chorded keyboard, but I decided playing games with it was more fun.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I have one of the previous models as well, and got it and loved it for one specific use: LAN parties. When you have limited table space, I found it mildly uncomfortable to use a full sized keyboard in my lap along with a mouse on the table. I saw one of these, tested it out, and found it to be perfect for putting on my knee, even under the table, incredibly comfortably.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I bought one of these (the normal n52) exclusively for WoW. I used it for the entire year I played WoW, and the only button that wore out was the thumb button. It was an incredible setup. I had the top row as spell keys, and the bottom two rows mapped to wasd, inventory, targeting, and other miscellany. The D-pad were my shift buttons. With that, I had instant access to 2 full spellbars (20 different spells). Oddly enough, I never used it for FPS games. I should have though, because after playing extended sessions of WoW I never had hand cramping, thanks to the Nostromo (the same can’t be said for HL2). I’m guessing this version can hold up to more abuse than the original n52, plus look a whole lot cooler while doing it.

  6. nex says:

    I’ve got the n52 and on the Mac it’s bliss, bliss, bliss. I guess under Windows it’s just as good; no idea about Linux support, though. Last time I checked there was no Linux driver available from Belkin, but maybe there’s some other way to make it useable. AFAICT, it shits all over the n50, too.

    When I saw the n52te here, I immediately thought, woot! (Want one of those!) However, considering the price, I’m underwhelmed by the upgrade. If you want to make your profiles portable, you can store them on any old flash drive as well. The only other significant upgrade is that it looks more badass. So, if you’re the kind of person who’s happy to pay an extra 100 bucks to get a black MacBook instead of a white one and need a Nostromo to match, the n52te might be for you; otherwise, the n52 is just fine as well. The latter is cheap enough that it pays for itself quickly even if you use it only for 2 or 3 apps.

    I’ll get myself an n52te once it drops under 30 euros.

  7. nex says:

    Oh, one more thing I forgot to mention: when can it be onerous to use a full-size keyboard? Leaving aside the fact that, for playing FPSs at least, there’s no affordable full-size keyboard available with a sensible key layout, it’s onerous when your keyboard is attached to your monitor, i.e. you’re using a notebook and no external monitor. Especially with a small notebook (think 13″), in order to sit in a non-awkward position, you’ll want to have your mouse hand to one side of the screen and your keyboard hand to the other side.

    Another plus of the Speedpads is ‘Nostromo Array’, the included tool that makes it easy to quickly set up per-application hotkeys. For example, I can consistently use the d-pad’s left/right triggers to go to the previous/next page in Preview, FFview, Xee, Safari, Camino, … Without the Nostromo, it’s much more complicated. For example, when I have OS X in German mode, Safari thoughtfully changes the relevant hotkeys to option-ö/option-ä, which just happen to be in exactly the same place where you’d expect them. However, as soon as I switch OS X into English mode, but retain the German keyboard layout (otherwise the keys would be labeled wrongly; I can cope with that, but mostly I don’t want to), this breaks completely and you can’t even press all of the hotkeys. (E.g. option-[ doesn’t really register correctly when the [ requires you to hold option in the first place.)

    Usually this would be very annoying, but with the Nostromo, you just take 10 seconds to get rid of the problem once and for ever. Even if you’re not from Foreignistan, some hotkeys are quite awkward to do one-handedly if you’re on a notebook and have no option key on the right side.

    Another neat thing I do is mapping potentially destructive shortcuts (e.g. command-delete) to the Nostromo’s red shift state. So, when I’m about to remove that layer or lob that grenade, I see this little light in the corner of my eye, asking me, “sure?”

  8. Anonymous says:

    I had pretty much the same setup as you want to have, and it’s mighty confortable for playing.
    My arms were both resting next to my body with my laptop on my lap (with this http://www.raindesigninc.com/ilap.html ), sitting/lying on a very confy sofa with loads of cushions.
    I recommend it !

  9. bkofford says:

    Update:

    I just got a Logitech G13. Bit more expensive, but so far, I like it much better than either of my Belkins.

  10. teflon says:

    As in the past, Belkin makes no accommodation for left-handed mousers. This sad fact forces most lefty gamers to use keyboards.

  11. devophill says:

    This is nice, but I don’t know how much of an improvement it is over the n52. They layout is identical, the only difference seems to be the backlighting, the memory and the “key responsiveness”. If the keys really are more responsive, I might get one when the price drops (and it will; I got my n50 for like $12).

  12. L. M. Lloyd says:

    I use one, not for games, but for Maya. It is really nice paired up with a tablet, so you don’t need to reach up to the keyboard to hit all your most used hotkeys.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I had an N52, and ended up buying another one because the keys were getting stuck(probably a bad build originally :( ). I tried a similar product from Saitek, but its key editor sucked and the actual keys were way too soft.

    An immediate advantage over standard keyboards is that standard keyboards tend to have a 3 key simultaneous press limit, which can cause problems if you’re running back and right, jumping, and changing weapons in a game, for example. I don’t believe the Nostromo has a keypress limit like this, or else it’s high enough to not matter.

    A previous commenter was right about the Nostromos not having angled keys(they’re straight), which allows you to hit keys more naturally and reliably. Some specialty keyboards are laid out like this to help avoid strain and increase typing accuracy.

    The shift states thing is huge – its major advantage over a standard keyboard is that you have access to 14 keys * [1+ Number of shift states], without having to search for a key or look down at the keyboard. This works great for FPS shooters, but only as an addition to a standard keyboard for MMORPGs, as you need to type messages to other players. This could also be useful for art programs, where a non-shifted state could give you viewing/movement control, and shifted buttons give you specific editing control/shortcuts. All without looking for specific keys, all customizable. Another geek gadget, the Ergodex, still refuses to include this function and I will not buy one because of this.

    I REALLY REALLY REALLY wanted to be able to program this as a halfsie keyboard, where a shift state would flip “hands”, so I could do one handed typing with my left hand and use my right hand on the mouse, but there’s not enough keys to support it. THAT would be an major upgrade in my opinion.

    Another thing that the N52 doesn’t have but this new one might is the ability to assign a keystroke/macro to a button on the fly, without having to use the profiler program. Some gizmos like the G15 keyboard and the old MS Strategic Commander had this feature, and it’s one of the weaknesses of the N52 in my opinion.

    Hey Joel – what do you want a Phantom Lapboard-alike for? If you just want a wireless mouse/keyboard together-in-one combo, there’s Logitech’s stuff and I got this one: http://www.btc.com.tw/english/2-7-21keyboard.htm, which isn’t bad at all.

    chef. http://www.sukimon.com (sorry, user reg isn’t sending me e-mail…)

  14. pork musket says:

    I don’t use one of these, but one of the other guys at the office does – he has binds all set for photoshop, illustrator, etc and will bust it out every once in a while if he wants some additional functionality. When I was more into online games, I knew several folks that used them, from counterstrike to WoW.

    They seem to be the type of device that will give back what you put into it – if you take the time to get used to the device, program all the keys, and tweak the controls as you learn, you’ll probably be rewarded.

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