Thermaltake Flare Board -
Page 3 - Shutter release key
Photo Shoot Shutter release key
The Flare Board is a sizable chunk of plastic. Its also got some heft which makes it feel quite solid.
The pattern is basically radial, with the index finger getting the keys on the right, and the pinky finger getting the keys on the left. The WASD keys in the middle, like youd expect. The thumb does what it always does best, thump the space bar. In this case the space bar is somewhat trapezoidal.
The number row is broken into two rows, which I actually like a lot. Since I am a trained typist (it was either typing or French for my elective), the numbers beyond 6 are totally lost in FPS, or even WoW. The Flare Board brings those weapon choices back into play, which makes for a far more flexible play style.
The Flare Board does bend a bit with the wrist wrest (it's on hinges), but it doesn't stick to allow for inclined hand positions. If you've got some sort of RSI, different hand positions can help.
Thermaltake is clear to warn you about RSI, though. If you do experience pain or numbness in the wrist or fingers, stop and take a break. I will also add go outside, get some air, go play in the park, go do something else, it will help.
Voiding the warranty, I discover that its held together with no less than 8 screws.
Let the dissection begin!
One can learn a lot by taking things apart. It is a gift, really.
The LED side lights are the little black squares on the brown BCB. Check out the big chunk 'o metal on the bottom. Metal heavy, weight big. Followed by...
There is a misprint on the box of the Flare Board, it doesnt just have an LED light, it has three of them. One to tell you its on, and the other two to light up, all in tres chic blue.
Theyre pretty weak, in truth. If Thermaltake had gone to task with the lighting situation, perhaps with a big red Luxeon Star for example, then the Flare Board would emanate serious flare. Instead, we get this:
Press the switch on the side, and they light up. These LEDs are a strange color of blue, almost blue-green, and they dont put out all that much light. Oh, how I pray to Solder and Resistor for better lights!
Press A or B to start
I spent several hours playing several games. Ok, several weeks playing games. If youre used to WASD, and arent prone to remapping keys, then the Flare Board has a very easy learning curve. My hands mastered it in about an hours worth of play.
With Team Fortress 2, the Flare Board really reached its stride. It doesnt have all the chat keys, v key for instance, but at least you can get a quick, gg in at the end.
For games that have more chat and less action, like World of Warcraft, the Flare Board quickly becomes a hindrance. Unless you have some form of RSI (repetitive strain injury) in your wrist or hand, I just found it too slow and cumbersome to use the Flare Board when playing and then regular keyboard for chat. Just using the regular keyboard worked best.
The Flare Board obviously can't work perfect with all games because of different control schemes, but the games that use the standard Doom layout (WASD) work pretty darn well.
Thermaltake's take on a gaming keybpad results in the Flare Board, a 44-Key, USB plug & play, keypad with a comfortable layout tailored for games. It's easy to use, but it feels a little mushy and we wish the LED's lit more of the keypad and less of the desk.
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