Gaming

Membrane keyboard that's just my type

Instead of full-height keycaps, the Ornata sports mid-height ones for a shorter actuation distance and, thus, faster typing.
Instead of full-height keycaps, the Ornata sports mid-height ones for a shorter actuation distance and, thus, faster typing.PHOTO: RAZER

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am an unapologetic keyboard snob. I have always shunned membrane keyboards, which are less reliable and slower to type on because a key needs to be pressed down all the way before it actuates. Membrane keyboards also tend to feel mushy and spongy, and lack the crispness of a mechanical keyboard.

So imagine my surprise when I fell giddily, head-over-heels in love with the Razer Ornata Chroma.

The Ornata is, for all intents and purposes, a membrane rubber dome keyboard. Prise off a key cap, and you can see the soft rubber dome and layered circuitry underneath.

Instead of full-height keycaps, the Ornata sports mid-height ones for a shorter actuation distance and, thus, faster typing. While my typing tends to slow down on most membrane keyboards, I found myself typing very quickly and accurately on the Ornata.

Razer also managed to mimic the distinctive "click" that is characteristic of some mechanical switches, such as the popular Cherry MX Blue. It has done so by putting a small, bent metal tab at the side of each key well, which clicks against the key cap when it is depressed. This provides both audio and tactile feedback as well as a reasonable amount of resistance.

While you still need to bottom out to actuate, the clicky feeling overrides the mushiness for an overall pleasant typing experience.

  • TECH SPECS

  • PRICE: $159.90

    SWITCHES: Mecha-membrane

    KEYCAPS: Mid-height

    OTHER FEATURES: 10-key roll over, ergonomic wrist rest, Razer Chrome lighting and Razer Synapse enabled

  • RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 5/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

    OVERALL: 5/5

One thing to note, though, is that because pressing down on the metal tab does not actually correspond to actuation, it is possible to hear and feel a click without activating the key.

While I love the switches for typing, I like them a little less for gaming. When typing, you usually press a key once, and let it go immediately. When gaming, you tend to hold keys down, and press them multiple times in quick succession.

The Ornata's stiff rubber dome and metal tab combine to snap the keycap back up the moment you let go of it, almost like the key is trying to throw you off.

This is fine when typing, as it allows you to reposition your hands faster for the next character. But for gaming, I want something a little calmer so that I can keep my hands comfortably poised in position.

Razer has also improved its packaging, with many of its products shipping with USB port covers and reusable rubber cable ties.

The Ornata takes this one step further, as it comes with a soft leatherette wrist rest - a must for me when I am typing - that attaches to the bottom edge of the keyboard magnetically. It certainly helped a lot with wrist strain, and I found myself typing for long hours very comfortably.

•Verdict: The Razer Ornata Chroma is an excellent keyboard for typing, as it has a crisp, snappy tactile feel. However, the keyboard is not as good for gaming, as its keys bounce back up too hard.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 14, 2016, with the headline 'Membrane keyboard that's just my type'. Print Edition | Subscribe