Razer Tarantula, 10-key rollover, and the secret code

Sun, 2009-11-01 17:42 by FD · Forum/category:

I recently got myself a new keyboard, the fairly expensive Razer Tarantula. One of the key features of this keyboard is its so called Anti-Ghosting, which is more precisely described as 10-key rollover over USB. (k-key rollover denotes the ability of keyboards to correctly handle a situation in which k keys are pressed simultaneously, independent of the combination pressed) However, to use it, you need to know the secret code!

The interesting part about the Tarantula is that all other keyboards I know of are either limited to PS/2 connectors or to 6 or less simultaneous key presses, as the default USB keyboard driver has a hard limit at 6 keys. (It should be added that most keyboards already fail at registering 3 keys if an inconvenient combination is pressed, but that is a different issue.)

After plugging in the Tarantula and installing the driver and loading the newest firmware, I tested the 10-key rollover, but was stuck at the USB-driver-limited 6-key rollover. Searching the internet, I found out that many people had the same problem, and many claimed that the Tarantula is actually not capable of more than 6-key rollover. I also had a look at the manual; a friend of mine checked out the online manual, there was no explanation. After a while, I changed my search fom "10-key rollover" to "Anti-Ghosting", and an archived post in some forum popped up that told about a key combination to switch off "legacy mode".

Press and hold the profile key (but don't hold it for too long, factory reset is at 10 seconds!), press the razer (3 snakes) key (just a quick push-and-release), release the profile key. This will toggle legacy mode.

So for me this meant: TATAH! Legacy mode is off and the 10-key rollover works perfectly. And I was already thinking about suing Razer. lol

What I wonder: who goes through all that hassle of circumventing the USB problem and constructing a keyboard with 10-key rollover, only to not properly tell the customers how to activate the feature? If this is in the manual, it was too well hidden for not only me, but also a friend of mine, an Amazon reviewer and quite a few other people on the net.

Edit: I found a description of the feature. It's in the driver's help function, at the very bottom of one page, behind trivial usage examples. The corresponding page in the manual omitted the explanation of "Legacy/Turbo Mode", but otherwise has the identical text.

Moreover, why didn't the driver automatically activate the better operating mode after being loaded? It should clearly be able to determine that legacy mode is not currently necessary!

On the Tarantula in general:

As so often nowadays, great hardware with mediocre software. The driver is showing me an English layout for my German keyboard. Also, I'm finding it hard to swap two keys, as the moment I change a key's meaning, the changes are applied, rendering me unable to use the key to assign it to some other place. I have to perform weird cycling operations. Also, unlike for Razer's mice, there's no way to switch off the lighting of the keyboard, which is annoying if it's used in a room that sometimes has to be dark.

Still, the hardware is superior to anything I've used so far. I love the feel of the keys, it's pretty much a compromise between the intuitive "feel" of desktop keyboards and the responsiveness of laptop keyboards.

If you stumbled upon this article without owning a Tarantula: I can recommend it if you're stuck to Windows. You'll get a great keyboard with nice extras such as 10 macro keys and another set of function buttons for media player control and things like that. Just don't expect the driver to be user friendly, and always remember to manually turn off legacy mode if you need the 10-key rollover.

If you're from Razer: Please redo the drivers, if possible as open source, otherwise with a lot more effort than before. With a high-quality cross-platform driver, the Tarantula could be the world's best keyboard—the current situation is a real waste.