I’ll be the first one to admit when I saw the press release for the Mad Catz Cyborg S.T.R.I.K.E. 7 Gaming keyboard I had two very distinct reactions. The first one was of slight shock because with the exception of the R.A.T. series mouse I’ve never seen anything that slightly resembles the S7. The second reaction was laughter. I thought to myself, “who honestly would buy a keyboard like that?” In that regard Mad Catz has presented themselves with a major problem with this keyboard. Regardless of what the keyboard is capable of or how well it performs people are going to look at the S7 and have the same reaction I had. Needless to say as a manufacturer that is not a reaction you strive for.
This reaction was solely based off appearance…then Bob says, “Hey Nik, we’re getting that S.T.R.I.K.E. 7 keyboard in to review so have fun”. Now, if you’ve ever read any of my previous reviews you know I try to stay as unbiased as I can about things I’m going to review but as humans we always base our first impression off of appearance and with the S7 I didn’t make any exceptions.
To say it bluntly, my first impression was completely off base. The S7 is one hell of a keyboard. If you took the best Saitek keyboard back in the day, added a more stable key base and added a bunch of bells and whistles you would have the S.T.R.I.K.E. 7. Mad Catz is one of the best peripheral companies to acquire other peripheral companies and keep up with the reputation the previous company built. Saitek was no slouch in the PC input device market and IMHO is the reason illuminated gaming keyboards exist in such prominence today. The first local LAN I ever attended, I sat next to a kid using an illuminated Saitek keyboard and I was in awe. I get the same awe feeling after using the S.T.R.I.K.E. 7.
In a world of awesome illuminated-mechanical-gaming-keyboards how does a MEMBRANE keyboard stand out? I’ll tell you. First you make the membrane so reactive you can’t tell it’s a membrane style board. Second, add illumination with lighting that’s consistent the entire way across the keyboard to the point that it looks like individual LED key-switch lighting. Third, construct the unit so it looks like it could be runs over by a bulldozer and you’d still be WASD-ing moments after. Forth, add an interactive touch screen that makes the S.T.R.I.K.E. 7 the most customizable keyboard I’ve ever seen. Fifth and lastly, make it modular so you can position macro keys and keyboard segments however you want them. The S.T.R.I.K.E. 7 stands out. I mean, REALLY stands out.
The biggest aspect of the S.T.R.I.K.E. 7 that makes me enjoy its creation is the ‘profile’ function of the keyboard. Days after I received the S7 to review I found a forum (http://strike7.proboards.com/index.cgi) that really intrigued me. If you watch the software video you’ll see how in-depth the profile function can be and the fact that a community forum popped up around a device so fast was quite impressive. That action means I wasn’t the only person to recognize the potential of the S.T.R.I.K.E. 7. It inspired me so much that I spent an hour making a profile for a game that I play WAY too much.
I always like to close a review out on a positive not but this is factor alone is going to be the reason any of you decide to buy the S7 or not. The S7 retails for $299. Now you may ask, “Who in their right-mind would pay $299 for a keyboard?” My answer to that question is sadly going to be, not many. Core PC gamers don’t exist in a financial class that allows that extravagant of a purchase on something as “simple” as a keyboard. People who do justify the S.T.R.I.K.E. 7 purchase are people that don’t care about price or figure that this will be the last keyboard they buy before they die. I’ve read a lot of people in other reviews say the S.T.R.I.K.E. 7 is not a $300 keyboard. Well then, what is??? If I would ever classify a keyboard worth a price tag of $300 I would say the S.T.R.I.K.E. 7 fits that bill. In my eyes it’s not justifying the cost of the S.T.R.I.K.E. 7 it’s trying to justify the cost of a keyboard. If the S.T.R.I.K.E. 7 was $199 we wouldn’t be having this conversation. It’s amazing what $100 can do to perception. If it wasn’t for this very specific issue the Madcatz S.T.R.I.K.E 7 Gaming Keyboard would have garnered the illusive 10 out of 10 on ThinkComputers rating system. Overall ThinkComputers awards the Cyborg S.T.R.I.K.E. 7 Gaming Keyboard a 9 out of 10 score and our Editor’s Choice Award!