Earlier this week we reviewed Ideazonís recent PC gaming keyboard the Zboard Merc and gave it a favorable score. But what if you already have a keyboard that you like and donít want to get rid of? Or maybe the Mercís left side for gaming controls is not for you since you may control the mouse from the left hand side? Or maybe you own a powerful PC gaming laptop that you take to LANs? Letís face it; most laptops have keyboards that are not well suited for gaming.
Well, Ideazon has heard your calls and recently came up with their own solution, the Zboard Fang. This PC gamepad is based on the Mercís gaming side with some important differences; itís smaller of course (9 inches from top to bottom with the included hand-rest attachment and 6 inches in width) and itís designed as a supplement to your existing keyboard-laptop set-up.
As with the Merc, the Fangís keyboard set up is designed to surround your hand with all the buttons necessary for being able to swing your sword at monsters in World of Warcraft or shooting Apache helicopters down in Battlefield 2, among other games. The pad has 44 buttons total and contains the six large movement buttons as the Merc along with the 11 number/weapon buttons on top. Other buttons for run/walk, reload, crouch and more are similar in layout to the Merc and the Fang also shares the Mercís multimedia keys for opening and running music and movie files. The Fang does have some extra keys for escape, pause and options on the top left side that donít appear on the ďgamingĒ portion of the Merc.
Perhaps the biggest difference for the Fang is on the bottom. On either side of the pad in this section are two buttons, an oversized jump button and a P1 button. Because these buttons can be found on both sides on the pad it makes the Fang perfect for both rightie and leftie PC players.
The Fang gamepad shares the same ZEngine keyboard set ups as the Merc gamepad that we mentioned in our earlier review. Over 100 games have special ďmodsĒ that the Fang can use to create special keyboard layouts. As with the Merc, the Fangís game selections are updated regularly with new mods but if you are an RTS gamer or enjoy games older than a few years ago you may be out of luck. As we mentioned in our Merc review, Ideazon is beta testing new ZEngine drivers that will allow for all the keys on the Fang to be programmed to your tastes. You can download the beta drivers from the Ideazon web site but again we wonít be considering those drivers in this review of the Fang.
As with the Merc, the Fang was easy to install in our experience with the USB connection quickly recognizing the device. Again we downloaded the latest official ZEngine drivers to enable the special key layouts for the supported games. Our playtesting with the Fang with our laptop was pretty amazing. No more was there a need to move our fingers across a cramped laptop keyboard. The Fang enabled us to play games the way they were meant to be played with quick responses from our fingers to all the enabled keys. It also was comfortable to rest our hand on. The Fang has two feet that you can extend out to angle the gamepad even more upward if you need it.
The Fangís plastic casing is a little bit worrisome; while you should be careful with all your PC equipment we know that LAN players tend to be a little abusive with moving peripherals around from match to match so if you do get the Fang do be a little more careful with it. Donít lose that bottom attachment either for your hand rest. Thatís pretty much a quibble with the product, however.