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Benjamin

Hardware Interface -- Keyboards and Mice

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This may be a bit off topic, if so, feel free to delete the post.

While many people around this forum endlessly tweak their UI in-game to try to improve their performance, I feel that good input devices can have an equally significant impact on your game. Over the past few years of playing WoW, I found that the requirements for input devices are quite a bit different for WoW than they are for other genres like FPS; many "gaming" input devices simply aren't well suited to WoW.

What I'd like to see in this thread is what kind of input device setup people are using, as well as how it ties into your Warcraft UI. If you've been through some devices you didn't like, tell us your horror stories. If you've found some devices you couldn't play without, tell us why. If you're feeling imaginative, chalk up your own ideas for how an ideal input device would work -- if there's any place that hardware developers might look when trying to design hardware that caters to WoW players needs, its here, so let's try to get some ideas out there.

I suppose I'll go first, here's what I use for input, and what I like and don't like about the devices:

My Input Devices

Keyboard: Ideazon Fang

I'm one of those people that like to have -everything- bound to a key, I prefer not to even have actionbars shown on my UI. As such, I've endlessly tweaked my keybinds so as to ensure that every button I hit can be reached without having to move my hand away from WASD, and for almost every key I hit, I also have a function bound to Shift+Key, as well as Ctrl+Key. I used a G15 keyboard for most of my WoW career, but ultimately, I yearned to simply have more keys that were easily accessible without moving my fingers far from WASD, so I picked up a Fang, and I love it.

For those of you unfamiliar with what this device looks like:

ideazonfangall.jpg

Every button on the board is programmable -- so even the media keys at the top can be bound to whatever you want (I use these to open interface panes you wouldn't usually hit in combat, but still want handy -- character sheet, raid tab, professions, quest log, etc.).

The thing I like most about the board is the extra keys you have available without any extra reach. On a normal keyboard, I would bind buttons 1-5 (6 was a little too much of a stretch for my comfort), Z, X, C, F, G, R, and T. Moving to the Fang, I still have access to all these keys in their familiar locations, as well as access to an extra button on my thumb, 3 extra buttons with my pinkie, the 6 key, and the 7-8-9-10-11 keys, which are all close enough that I can actually bind them -- the F keys are normally in a somewhat similar location on a normal keyboard, but are too far away to reach for my tastes.

As for things I don't like about the device, the first on my list is that it's ambidextrous. This may be a plus for others, but I'd much rather have a design that's contoured for my left hand. The next is that there's even more room on the device to add extra buttons that wasn't really taken advantage of - I know that the number of buttons was one of the main things I -do- like about the device, but I think all WoW players can agree that the only time you can possibly have too many buttons is when you start making them difficult to distinguish between.

I should also mention that the thing is cheap -- $35 or so, which is a lot cheaper than a $100+ gaming keyboard like the G15 or Razer Tarantula.

Mouse: Logitech MX518

1543-2.jpg

There are two factors which are most important to me in a mouse that I play WoW with: the number of easily accessible buttons, and the precision of the movement tracking. The MX518 comes up somewhere in the middle in both of these categories for me.

Precision tracking is always the most advertised feature in gaming mice like the Logitech G5/G7 and the Razer Copperhead. I played FPS for many years before I started playing WoW, so I'm used to picking up a new mouse every year or so as the tracking precision gets better.

It's disappointing to me, however, that most of the new precision mice are pretty much designed solely with FPS in mind. They feature few if any extra buttons, usually in the form of inconveniently located buttons to adjust the mouse sensitivity -- hardly useful for me to bind to extra spells and abilities. It's a shame, because I really, really like having abilities bound on mouse buttons -- mainly because they're the easiest to hit while kiting someone and/or moving. I'm a shadow priest, and all of my most commonly used abilities are bound to mouse buttons -- Mindblast, Mindflay, SW:P, VT, SW:D, Psychic Scream, Dispel, and Mana Burn, some of course using shift and control modifieres.

The MX518 has 4 buttons that are easy to reach besides left/right click, plus the button from clicking the mousewheel (which I'm not a fan of using, as I use the mousewheel to tab-target). I would really love to switch to a G5, but even with the new revision that has two thumb buttons again, I would hate to lose two of the mouse buttons that I treasure. The tracking on the MX518 isn't bad, but it's not the best that's out there, either. I'd love to see a mouse with the precision of the G5, but with more buttons easily within reach, perhaps with a layout like Logitech's MX610 -- which has 10 buttons, but garbage for a sensor.

I've got my credit card ready if someone can suggest a mouse or keypad that would be a better solution for WoW -- throw me (and the rest of the EJ community) a bone if you've got a slick setup!

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I'm always kind of fascinated by the types of interface devices people use, particularly for MMO's where there are so many key options to map.

I've tried a few myself over the years (Nostromo, MS Commander, XKeys, and Devilpad) but I always found myself hating where some of the keys are placed or wish I had more keys (more rows, more in a row, more within thumb range, whatever) so I went and got an Ergodex where I can do my own key layouts.

hands_on.jpg

(you can google image search for "Ergodex" for more pics of layout examples)

It's biggest Pro is that you can move the keys around however you want. The sticky pads hold fast and don't slide around once stuck down and they don't seem to lose their stickiness even after multiple relocations as long as you wipe off the dust from the surface before sticking the key back down (I've completely redone the layout on my pad 7-8 times and none of the keys show any signs of losing their stickiness). And the software is easy to use and intuitive. And once you program a button, you can twist it off and move it wherever you want at any time... so for example if you're right in the middle of a boss fight and hate where you put a Cure button? Just twist it off and sticky it somewhere else.

It has a giant con though which is that it's a lot more expensive than other controllers. You can get lucky though and find them on sale from time to time for under $100 but it's rare.

But for someone that just likes to tweak their UI/control system from time to time to adjust to evolving playstyle (such as changing spec or changing class or changing games), it's been really nice to not be constrained static button placement.

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hands_on.jpg

(you can google image search for "Ergodex" for more pics of layout examples)

It's biggest Pro is that you can move the keys around however you want. The sticky pads hold fast and don't slide around once stuck down and they don't seem to lose their stickiness even after multiple relocations as long as you wipe off the dust from the surface before sticking the key back down (I've completely redone the layout on my pad 7-8 times and none of the keys show any signs of losing their stickiness). And the software is easy to use and intuitive. And once you program a button, you can twist it off and move it wherever you want at any time... so for example if you're right in the middle of a boss fight and hate where you put a Cure button? Just twist it off and sticky it somewhere else.

Wow, that's amazing. Like a keyboard editable UI. :) Wish I'd heard of it before I bought my Nostromo a few months ago. What's the response time like? I've found that the Nostromo can be a bit laggy for my liking.

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I'm always kind of fascinated by the types of interface devices people use, particularly for MMO's where there are so many key options to map.

I've tried a few myself over the years (Nostromo, MS Commander, XKeys, and Devilpad) but I always found myself hating where some of the keys are placed or wish I had more keys (more rows, more in a row, more within thumb range, whatever) so I went and got an Ergodex where I can do my own key layouts..

I have been tempted on and off to get an Ergodex for a year or two. I have not bothered since they do not support Mac OS X, and I do not feel like snooping USB traffic and writing a driver (which is just me being lazy, since when I bought a an Intel Mac I wrote a driver for my n52, since Belkin had took over a year to release one).

The thing that worries me about Ergodex is that they seem really small and sort of out of their league. They mentioned they were evaluating Mac OS X and Linux drivers years ago, and not a peep. Meanwhile they still have not managed to get their product to be Vista compatible either. Not only that, but occasionally their site has multiday outages, and their links to their current drivers are broken 8-(

They may make a really unique and great product, but I can't help but feel I would get it, fall in love with, become totally dependent on it, wear it out, and then be unable to replace it. Anyone who used a Fingerworks device and had to transition off it knows what I mean...

Wow, that's amazing. Like a keyboard editable UI. :) Wish I'd heard of it before I bought my Nostromo a few months ago. What's the response time like? I've found that the Nostromo can be a bit laggy for my liking.

As for the Nostromo being laggy, it is probably all in Belkin's software. Their drivers really suck (at least the Mac ones do). The Nostromo is literally just a normal USB HID class keyboard device with half the keys disconnected. Plug it in without a driver, and you can literally see it send normal keystrokes. If you use a third party keyboard driver that supports remapping and macros (people seem to like ControllerMate for Mac OS X, no idea if there is something like that for Windows) it may perform better.

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Not exactly related, but I use a Microsoft Natural and an Evoluent VerticalMouse, because WoW was giving me major arm and wrist pain on standard stuff. The two halves of the keyboard does make it a lot easier to hit 6 though.

The Natural:

Microsoft Natural keyboard - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I like it, it feels like my left hand is in a much better position. I always felt cramped before.

VerticalMouse:

Evoluent VerticalMouse, Vertical Mouse, ergonomic mouse, ergonomic computer mouse, computer mouse, optical mouse, carpal tunnel syndrome, repetitive stress disorder, RSI

This was a big change. I feel a lot more comfortable playing with a sideways mouse, and it doesn't take too long to get used to.

So if any of you are starting to feel the strain, you might want to look into ergonomic stuff like this.

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I use a Nostromo N52 with ControllerMate, and I've never suffered any lag, so there you go.

My setup: WZSC are bound to the center four keys on the keypad; the D-pad is modifier keys. I don't use the scroll wheel. The thumb key is tab. I'm short by a couple of keys, but if I get off my butt and tailor my macros a little more I can get around that.

I've been thinking about a Fang; it's cheap enough so that I could try it out happily.

My mouse is an old Microsoft five-button trackball. I'd love to find a replacement, since Microsoft doesn't make that model any more, but I haven't been able to find any in a bit of Internet hunting.

410QW4Q0WAL._AA280_.jpg

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The thing that worries me about Ergodex is that they seem really small and sort of out of their league. They mentioned they were evaluating Mac OS X and Linux drivers years ago, and not a peep. Meanwhile they still have not managed to get their product to be Vista compatible either. Not only that, but occasionally their site has multiday outages, and their links to their current drivers are broken 8-(

They may make a really unique and great product, but I can't help but feel I would get it, fall in love with, become totally dependent on it, wear it out, and then be unable to replace it. Anyone who used a Fingerworks device and had to transition off it knows what I mean...

This is definitely a valid concern... they are a very small, niche company so it's definitely hard to tell what their longevity is. And I think a lot of their focus has been soaked up by their work on the CH MFP and work on 1.4/Vista support has suffered because of it.

I really should have pointed out the current lack of Vista support in my little post... sorry about that and thanks for pointing it out.

Edit: I should check my own links haha... I knew about the CH MFP but I kept seeing concept pics of it with wheel controls and other junk on it and thought it was a more flight sim customized version of the Ergodex but it looks like it's pretty much the exact same thing.

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I really liked my nostromo for wow.

For general keyboarding, I've always been a fan of Mac keyboards. I just go the newest one, and typing on it is...fantastic!

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I have a n52. It has one major disadvantage, the keys are hard to press.

It is very good for fast stuff, like melee classes, where you have to move and use more than five skills often.

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I used a G15 keyboard for most of my WoW career, but ultimately, I yearned to simply have more keys that were easily accessible without moving my fingers far from WASD

I found a solution working for myself with G15 to have access to almost 40 keys with my left hand. I did this by mapping the WASD to my mouse buttons. I have a Logitech MX1000 mouse and it has tilt to left and right on it's mouse wheel. I bound 'q' and 'e' to have strafing and the small thumb button is 'w', large is 's'. I don't use 'a' or 'd' as those are imo inferior compared to turning with the mouse.

Using ctrl as a modifier key I can keep my left hand on the G-buttons of the G15, there are 18 as you know, with ctrl 36 in all. I can reach tab and the leftmost button of the highest row of keys (left to number 1). This has been enough keys for me. I use tab-key for jumping and mapped next/previous target to mouse wheel. Zooming is ctrl+mousewheel for me, friendly target is Lshift+mouse wheel. I could get 18 more keys using shift as another modifier but frankly I haven't seen the need for it yet - maybe when we get new spells in Wrath..

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Logitech G15 with a Razer Copperhead mouse. I have unusually strong and dextrous pinky fingers, apparently, so I can effectively use the off-side buttons on the Copperhead in my UI.

I still have everything bound on 1 through =, but all my stuff from 6 to = is uncommon stuff, whereas Ctrl/Alt/Shift 1-5 are more common.

My G keys on the g15 are setup as follows: First 6 are window pane toggles. This allows me to unbind keys around the WASD area (namely C) for use elsewhere. G7-12 are bound to various commands through the use of binding combinations of Alt/Ctrl/Shift and F7-F12.

G13-18 all change my UI completely. i mean like, completely. They are bound to keyboard macros on the G15 console which hit a series of keypresses using combinations of Alt/Ctrl/Shift + Num Pad buttons, and run macros to change over my profile in most of my addons. Being able to switch from a melee DPS ui to a tank UI to a healer UI to a PVP healer UI to a barebones UI really helps sometimes. Mostly for convenience.

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I broke my Razer mouse twice now, the right button doesnt react well to clicks anymore -- must be some fabrication error.

Anyone tried the G9 mouse from Logitech?

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I bought a Razor since it was about the only viable option for people who like a fifth mouse button on the other side of the mouse (basicly a 2 handed mouse). Having switched from an old mx310 which still had it I was baffled with the fact there those mouses are almost non existant. The Razor is still holding out for me, fortunately.

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I'm probably one of the few people who have an N52 but don't use it. When I used it, my hand was somehow cramped and aching after some hours of play.

What i can recommend though is the MX 518 from logitech, very nice, durable mouse. I also use a standard office keyboard from logitech which is enduring everything from coffee/tea/coke to my own way of whacking the keys without showing any signs of age. I really would like to get a G15 but at the moment the price is too prohibitive for me.

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I broke my Razer mouse twice now, the right button doesnt react well to clicks anymore -- must be some fabrication error.

I have the misfortune to use Microsoft Habu mouse which is basically also Razer. After about 2 months of use it developed a problem with right mouse button (sometimes registers one click as 2 rapid clicks) and also wheel is behaving erratically.

Together with flimsy build quality and initial problems with software (adjusting acceleration made the mouse unable to track small movements on one axis) it doesn't really encourage me to look at Razer mouses again.

I used to use Logitech MX1000 cordless mouse but constant worrying about charging was a bit too much. I would so much like a good corded mouse that offered as much buttons.

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I use the Logitech MX518 shown in the original post, and the N52, and though I like the combo, I can't figure out an intuitive place to access another shift state on the N52, so seemed limited on the amount of buttons I can have. Also, though my mouse has 8 buttons (including wheel click) I really wish it had 9/10, with two on the right side. Are there any good options for that?

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Anyone tried the G9 mouse from Logitech?

Wow, just checked it out. That is a very awkward looking mouse. I can see what they are doing with the design tho. Nifty. Anyone used it? I'm interested to hear if it is a good mouse or not.

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I have the misfortune to use Microsoft Habu mouse which is basically also Razer. After about 2 months of use it developed a problem with right mouse button (sometimes registers one click as 2 rapid clicks) and also wheel is behaving erratically.

Together with flimsy build quality and initial problems with software (adjusting acceleration made the mouse unable to track small movements on one axis) it doesn't really encourage me to look at Razer mouses again.

Yup, exactly the same here -- on two razer mice (yes, I bought a new one after the old one's mouse right-click broke)

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I use an IBM model M, and a microsoft optical mouse that's so old it's grey and brown, rather than white.

For those of you who don't know what the IBM model M is, I'll wait for you to google or wiki it.

Had a look? Want to know why I use such antiquated technology?

Because I'll never need to buy another keyboard. As long as there's a ps/2 port in the back of my computer, of course.

Model M's were built to last. solid steel frames, individually sprung microswitches for each key. And if you own the right kind of drivers and a soldering iron, you can do what I do, and cannibalize dodgy keyboards to keep one up and running. Sure it's ghetto-tech, but I really do like the feel of the keys.

Plus I can smack somebody with my keyboard and still retain at least a 50% chance of it working afterwards. Try that with your fancy new bubble dome switch plastic ones and get back to me. Hit someone with my keyboard and they'll know all about it. Hit someone with your keyboard and it'll rain keys.

I would like a new mouse though, I've had this one since 2000-2001.

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Keyboard: The venerable IBM Model M Keyboard.

I have a private stash of these keyboards, which I started collecting back in the early 90's. Working as a programmer for a company recently bought out by a bank I was initially attracted to them as I felt I could defend myself from small caliber weapons fire with their 1/4" metal backing plate, and then easily go on the offensive.

Actually, it was the removable keys tops (so easy to clean, or arrange in Dvorak) and the superb tactile feel that made me try them out.

If you ever see one of these for sale, I would recommend purchasing it. I shudder to think how many characters I've typed on my main keyboard in the last ~17 years, and how many times I've pounded the crap out of it while overexcited with coding, tanking or pvp. Not a single key failure, nor do I ever expect one.

I bought a Kinesis Advantage Pro a year or two ago, and although for coding I enjoy it, due to the way I use both the number pad, and a mouse for movement (so as to allow either hand to be used for other keyboard hotkeys) I can't tank or pvp worth a damn with it.

Mouse

I have an ancient logitech 5 button mouse that refuses to stop working, so I keep using it. I like the look of a few of the input devices people have linked here; might have to .. uh, drop my keboard on the mouse so I can justify replacing it!

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WTB ergonomic/split/"Natural"/whateveryouwanttocallit version of the G15 =/

Also, I realize the thread title says keyboards and mice, but I feel compelled to point out this headset while on the topic of peripherals, the plantronics cs50:

cs50.jpg

It's another pricey item but the sound quality is top notch and it has a 300 foot range so I can walk around untethethered even outside while "AFK" and still hear Ventrilo during raids. It has 8 hours of talk time which is more than enough for raiding but probably not enough for a full day pvp'ing but it charges fairly quickly. There's also a new version, the cs55, which has a couple more hours talk time (Edit: turns out the cs55 is for cabled up for phones while the cs50 is USB... so for voip, you want the 50 not the 55). The noise cancelling mic tech is great too. I run game sound via normal speakers (and/or have tv/music cranked up) and it doesn't translate through when speaking.

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