There were no installation problems with the Merc in my experience. The USB connection quickly recognized the standard keyboard layout. However in order to get the full use of the Merc you will have to install the ZEngine special drivers. We recommend going to the Zboard web site to download and install the latest drivers they have available. The ZEngine also activates the Mercís MOD files that when installed will fully use the left ďgamingĒ side of the Merc. (Thereís also an icon that appears on your Windows tray tool for this purpose) Currently, the Merc has over 100 different games that you can get specific keyboard set ups and more are being added regularly (sadly no Prey support as of this writing). As an example, if you want to play Americaís Army with the Merc you go to the ZEngine tool, open up the Mod directory, head to the Action category and then click on Americaís Army. You can then see what keys are matched to what functions in the game. Then you actually go and play Americaís Army with the Mercís keyboard now set up to play the game.
Unfortunately, most of these mods support games that have only been released in the last few years. There are exceptions like the original Half-Life but itís a shame that games like Quake III Arena and Tribes 1 and 2 donít have mod files for the Merc. Also, none of the mods for the Merc are for RTS games which is something that the Zboard does have support for thanks to its interchangeable keys for games like Age of Empires III or the recently released Battle For Middle Earth II. The good news is that Ideazon is currently holding an open beta test for a new version of ZEngine that adds programmable keyboard support for all of its products. For the purposes of this review of the Merc we will not include our opinions on this upcoming feature since it is still under development, but if you purchase a Merc and want to try out the beta version you can download the drivers at the Zboard community web site. We will have a full review of this new feature when it comes out of beta.
So how is it actually playing games with the Merc compared to a typical keyboard? As one might expect it is different and there is a little bit of a learning curve. However once that brief time period is over it was a treat to use the keyboard in playing titles that the Merc supports for its mod files. From wiping out opponents in Half-Life 2: Deathmatch to vanquishing super villains in City of Heroes to going back to older games like Painkiller, we found that the Merc gaming layout to be very much an improvement over the original Zboard designs. In other words, we got a lot more kills, we move faster in the games and overall had an enjoyable experience.
So was there anything that was lacking in the Merc? We mentioned the fact that older games are not supported for the most part and there are no RTS games supported at all but we hope the upcoming programmable drivers will solve that problem. We missed the fact that the Merc lacked the two on board USB ports that the original Zboard has. Again, some people might be upset that the number and Home/End keys have been merged on the right side. Other than that there is not a lot to complain about.