It’s a good bet that many of you reading this are A.) reading from home, B.) working from home, and C.) wishing you could make working from home feel a bit more professional since home is now your office. Thanks, pandemic. It’s interesting how the PC peripheral market has been so overwhelmingly and completely dominated by “gaming” product that it’s easy to forget that things like keyboards and mice were designed for doing actual work like document editing and spreadsheets, not fragging and unleashing zerg attacks.
Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of outstanding peripherals out there that can be used for non-gaming work, but often the “extreme” aesthetics might not convey the seriousness of what you’re working on. Anyone who’s ever scoured store shelves, both physical and digital, looking for professional grade PC accessories that didn’t look like glowing transforming spider toys. You know what I’m talking about. You’ve had to make due.
Razer wants to answer the call with their new Productivity Suite of non-gamer peripherals for more discriminating workers, partnering with Humanscale, an industry leader in ergonomic comfort and clean, futuristically sparse designs. The first offerings are the Pro Type Keyboard and Pro Click Mouse, easily the most elegant “office” computer peripherals we’ve ever seen. Think Jony Ive’s earlier design work crossed with an almost retro-styled minimalism. We hope you like white, because that’s all you’ll get.
So the real question is this: can the company best known for making some of the highest-quality gaming accessories also make high-quality productivity accessories? The answer is resoundingly yes, though such luxury comes at a cost, literally and figuratively.
Design: Futuristic Retro Minimalism
There’s going to be a lot of overlap between the reviews for both the Pro Type Keyboard and Pro Click Mouse, but read through both as there are key differences between them (when it matters). Generally, both over users exquisitely clean, attractive high-end devices that will look great at your workstation, both connect over Bluetooth and 2.4 GHz (via a USB dongle) wireless, both offer pairing up to 4 different profiles (3 via Bluetooth, 1 via USB), both can be used tethered to their USB charge cables and both can be moderately customized using Razer’s Synapse software.
The Pro Type Keyboard looks every bit the serious alternative to gaming keyboards that it is. Gone is any trace of additional buttons, keys, wheels, knobs, lighting arrays, USB passthrough ports or anything else that could possibly sully the “professional” aesthetic. The only additional items on the base are the USB Type-C charging / connection port and connection switcher for Bluetooth and 2.4 Ghz connections (which also doubles as the power button) on the upper right side.
This is a full-sized standard QWERTY mechanical keyboard + numberpad, and you’ll be able to put all of the 104 available keys to good use (even multiple uses when configured, but more on this later). All keys are raised slightly and feature “soft touch” coating for incredibly comfy keys. There is backlighting on every single key, though like everything else on the keyboard it’s white LED lighting only. Lighting is evenly distributed and can be dimmed / brightened using either hot key presses or through the Synapsis software.
With two extendable legs on the bottom offering two levels of slight elevation. At just less than 2lbs is also lightweight enough to move around, yet sturdy enough to stay put. Interestingly, on the bottom is also where you’ll find the mini USB dongle for 2.4 Ghz connections, magnetically attached and exposed to the world. The Pro Click mouse houses its USB dongle behind a safety cover, which I prefer, especially as both peripherals are designed for use on multiple platforms – and hence, multiple movements.
Speaking of mechanical keys, the Pro Type uses Razer’s proprietary “Orange” switches instead of the industry leader Cherry kind. Razer Orange translates to Cherry’s Brown”, which has long been considered the best compromise between super-quick and super-loud. If you’ve ever spent time clicking away on a brown-switched keyboard you’ll know what to expect here from both pressure comfort and sound, and the Pro Type doesn’t disappoint; this is a FANTASTIC keyboard for prolonged typing sessions.
Battery life is going to depend on how much you use the Pro Type – and how you’re using it. I’ve never been a fan of wireless keyboards for precisely this reason. Razer says you can expect up to 12 hours via both Bluetooth and 2.4 Ghz with backlighting on and up to 84 hours without backlighting via Bluetooth and 78 hours without lighting via 2.4 Ghz. Those are very subjective estimates, however, and you shouldn’t have to constantly calculate battery life when trying to get serious work done.
It’s not just battery life you’ll have to worry about when going wireless, however. Ask anyone who’s opted for a Bluetooth / wireless keyboard and they’ll tell tales of keys getting “stuck” or key presses seemingly “queued” before being spat out in succession. The Pro Type didn’t suffer from these issues often, but it still did occasionally… meaning not even Razer was able to solve the most dreaded connectivity issue facing even the highest quality wireless keyboard options.
My honest opinion is that you should probably keep the USB Type-C cable handy, and probably keep it plugged in while using the Pro Type. Battery life isn’t something a seriously productive person ever wants or should have to deal with, and you certainly don’t want to risk mistyping a document or chat, so transform this “wireless” keyboard into a wired one and you’ll never have to.
Synapse Software: Absolutely Necessary
As with most of Razer’s high-end gaming mice and keyboard you’ll need to download and install their Synapse software to get the most from both peripherals, allowing you to customize keys and buttons to your liking, finetune sensitivity settings and lighting effects (when applicable), and even save profiles between workstations to help speed up productivity. It’s also not optional, at least if you want to get the most from either peripheral.
Unlike some of the more egregious “necessary” software suites out there, Synapse is easy to use and manage, with a clean interface that helps make customizing your fancy new productivity tools relatively painless – if you’re an experienced gamer, that is. Synapse was clearly built for – and mostly serves – Razer’s gaming peripherals, so most of the more interesting features don’t apply to either the Pro Type Keyboard or Pro Click Mouse.
It would have been nice had Razer developed an “office” tier so that newer users unfamiliar or even uncomfortable with customizable software could have a quicker, less congested interface that matched the physical experience but this is a minor, easily fixable gripe.
Synapse allows you to customize virtually every key of the Pro Type Keyboard, allowing you to remap keys or “create” macro-style hotkeys with the unused function keys. There’s also options to employ Razer’s “hypershift” feature for key remaps, meaning you can effectively double the functionality of programmed keys if you’re willing to spend the time doing so. I’d caution against this, however, as the keyboard’s sparse design and lack of dedicated macro keys could result in a lot of misapplied keys and complicated finger-combinations for that “easy” access to hotkeys.
There are some lighting features to tinker with, some related to looks and others battery life. The only lighting effects are “static” and “breathing”, and the ability to program the keyboard to turn the lighting off entirely when the display is off or goes idle for a certain number of minutes.
Conflicting Formats: Less Synergistic
Both the Pro Type Keyboard and Pro Click Mouse have lots of connectivity in common, namely both can use Bluetooth and 2.4 GHz wireless (via USB dongles) to pair up to 4 different devices per peripheral, 3 via Bluetooth profiles and 1 directly via USB. This is an outstanding feature I wish more devices had, as many users often jump between different machines, platforms, etc. It just would’ve been nice if both peripherals played as nicely together as they do with different machines.
Unfortunately, Razer’s wireless world isn’t quite the unified utopia you wish it was. Those opting for 2.4 Ghz wireless connections will need two different USB dongles as each device pairs only with its proprietary dongle, lacking the unified accessibility of something like Logitech’s Unifying dongle.
Furthermore, both the keyboard and mouse recharge using entirely different USB cables; the Pro Type using newer Type-C and the Pro Click using older micro USB. While not a dealkiller, it’s a major missed opportunity to keep such basic compatibility clean and unified, especially as both peripherals can be used “wired” when connected – and charging – over USB. Worse, the Pro Click’s charge port is heavily recessed, meaning your cheap micro USB cable probably isn’t going to easily fit in there. Hang onto that included USB cable, as you’re going to need it.
The Elephant in the Office
As beautiful as both the Pro Type Keyboard and Pro Click Mouse are, as great as both perform their respective duties, and as much as we should applaud Razer for taking the initiative to move the industry forward from gaming-centric peripherals to great looking office peripherals, there’s no getting around one very important, very unavoidable fact. Apart from their very pretty, very professional aesthetics…neither don’t really do anything better or more efficiently than cheaper alternatives. In fact, in many ways they do a lot less, and less well at that.
The desire to remove all traces of “embarrassing” or childish gaming aesthetics or features may have led to an overcorrection in their design, cleaving away additional buttons or functions that might have proved useful in an actual work environment. In many ways, the ability to actually be productive seems to have taken a backseat entirely to looks, with form definitely taking the lead over function.
Yes, it’s possible to program every key and even add small macros, but actually utilizing them will require finger-twisting combo presses that defeat the purpose of having easy-access hotkeys and macros in the first place. Backlighting and the ability to have multiple Bluetooth profiles are both great features, but not premium dollar features.
When you consider the current asking price for both keyboard and mouse, adding both to your setup will run you close to $300 for the privilege. It’s obvious you’re paying a premium for great looking peripherals, and not for any true “productivity” features. For some, this visual declutter will be more than enough to finally rid their desks of sharper angled, boxy rainbow-lit monsters.
Conclusion: Get to Work, In Style
Both the Pro Type Keyboard and Pro Click Mouse achieve their primary goal of offering users a sophisticated suite of productivity-minded peripherals that look beautiful and perform beautifully. The Pro Type is a typist’s dream and the insane precision – and easy access – to the Pro Click’s DPI levels make this suite a match made in minimalist heaven. That beauty doesn’t come cheap, however, as both command premium pricing and the experience is marred just a smidge by their mixed USB ports. But there’s no denying they do their job and do it well, and while Razer’s first attempt at office perfection isn’t quite perfect, and those looking to escape the world of hardcore gaming peripherals should take a look.