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Mad Catz S.T.R.I.K.E. 5 OLED Gaming Keyboard E-mail
Reviews - Featured Reviews: Input Devices
Written by Joey Peng   
Wednesday, 14 November 2012
Table of Contents: Page Index
Mad Catz S.T.R.I.K.E. 5 OLED Gaming Keyboard
Closer Look: Mad Catz STRIKE 5
Mad Catz STRIKE 5 Detailed Features
Testing and Results
Gaming Keyboard Final Thoughts
Mad Catz STRIKE 5 Conclusion

Mad Catz STRIKE 5 Detailed Features

The Mad Catz STRIKE 5 comes with a nice panel, replacing the touchscreen with an array of physical buttons and the EYE OLED display. This fancy little panel actually has quite a bit going for it. It doesn't have a wide array of app support like the STRIKE 7, but it still has the essentials:

  • Time
  • Stopwatch
  • 3x Re-spawn Timers
  • Back-light brightness adjustment
  • Mic volume control
  • Volume control
  • Program Launcher (up to 12 programs)

The 4 buttons on the left are used to control the EYE OLED panel. The bottom set are used to toggle between apps. The top set are used for app controls. What's really fun is that the EYE OLED display itself is a dial that can be rotated to adjust things like volume and brightness. Unfortunately there are some usability issues with it. While the concept was perfect, in practice the dial was not particularly responsive, sometimes even ignoring turns. To get it to capture input correctly, we had to push the dial in using a bit of force and then turning.

Also, the OLED display that was shipped also seemed to have a row of dead pixels, causing there to be a black line straight across all app displays. This is a little unfortunate, and if it was an actual $200 purchase I would probably exchange for a new one. Toggling between apps is also a little tedious. While the transition animation is nice for a while, toggling from one app to another has no easy way to do it other than rotate slowly.

The visuals of the OLED panel itself is creative and elegant. It uses a series of animating rings to convey information. For example if the app was "time", then the blue ring would be the seconds, the outer ring symbolizes which app your on, and the inner content shows what app this is.

The rest of the panel works decently as well, profile toggles at the top are instantaneous. There are 9 programmable macro buttons, lighting on-off control, and windows button disable/enable button. This actually has a good number of usability enhancements from the VENOM display in the STRIKE 7. Honestly having to go into an app to turn on or off the windows button or access media buttons was a pain, not to mention the physical keys work much better for macros.

The EYE OLED Panel actually turned out much better than expected in terms of its design. Its highly usable and looks elegant. It was amazing how they fit all the essential information in a tiny circular display.

Mad_Catz_Strike5_EYE_OLED_Display.jpg

The back of the EYE OLED panel are 3.5mm audio/mic jacks. This is less interesting than the 2 USB ports available on the STRIKE 7, but at the same time the keyboard no longer requires a power supply to function correctly. That's a fairly big plus for me, and given most cases have plenty of USB ports, this was a good design change.

Mad_Catz_Strike5_OLED_Panel_Ports.jpg

The Mad Catz STRIKE 5 is quite a bit simpler to pick up and start using. The software is very similar to STRIKE 7's, with some UI improvements and simplifications. The same first-run experience is available for the STRIKE 5 as the STRIKE 7. Mad Catz provides some downloadable profiles for popular games and applications that come pre-programmed with functionality and icons. This list includes: Photoshop, Diablo III, Skyrim, League of Legends, Minecraft, Outlook, StarCraft II, SWTOR, and WoW. Note activating these profiles only loads the macro commands and settings. To assign them to a button still needs to be done manually. However this simplifies first run greatly.

The default screen shown is lighting options. Up to 3 colors can be chosen, 1 per profile. The STRIKE 5 supports 16 million RGB back-lighting.

Mad_Catz_Strike5_Software_Lighting.jpg

The Macro programming screen is almost identical to the STRIKE 7, except with the touchscreen area disabled. Below you can see that I've assigned all buttons to the pre-defined League of Legends profile pre-populated macros. They're actually particularly helpful as in game accidental settings toggling can always happen.

Mad_Catz_Strike5_Software_Macro.jpg

The STRIKE 5 retains the best of the STRIKE 7, which is its accurate macro time delay capture. It has virtually no upper limit on the number of key-presses allowed and extremely accurate (by the millisecond) on when the key-press occurs. Many macro keyboards these days have set delay times in between key presses, and a very strict upper limit of 20-40 key-presses. The STRIKE 5 blows the competition out of the water with their Macro capabilities.

Mad_Catz_Strike5_Software_Macro_Programmer.jpg

Last but not least, the included software allows for users to program their own set of application launchers. The top set of buttons are used to launch the app while the EYE OLED dial is used to switch between applications. Up to 12 apps can be added to the launcher.

Mad_Catz_Strike5_Software_Launcher.jpg

The STRIKE 5 provides the top macro programming capabilities similar to the STRIKE 7, with better macro usability as the touchscreen has become physical keys. However the EYE OLED dial itself can be improved further to get rid of quality issues. Overall keyboard functionality is good. While it lacks the touch screen it certainly doesn't lack in critical functionalities.



 

Comments 

 
# RE: Mad Catz S.T.R.I.K.E. 5 OLED Gaming KeyboardArgos 2012-12-16 23:47
Personally (yeah what else) I do not like the design, or should I say lack of design. To me it looks like a shambles.
But I would still buy this if it featured an FPS module resembling the Ideazon Fang or like the Steel Series Merc Stealth has on the left side of the board.
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As far as I am concerned this board (like most these days) does not really do anything for FPS gamers or FPS/RPG gamers who play games like Skyrim/Fallout3 etc.
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My old Fang is a gift from heaven. Because of its well thought out, practical layout I did not even have to get used to it. I wish a modernized backlit version of the Fang would be made by someone. I would love it as a module for this board or the modular Microsoft Sidewinder X6.
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I really use the Fang... every button on it, but I am sure with this Madcatz board most fancy stuff I would never use in an actual gaming situation.
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# RE: Mad Catz S.T.R.I.K.E. 5 OLED Gaming KeyboardDaryl Greene 2012-12-17 11:10
I agree with Argos. 99% of the "gaming" keyboards out there are just keyboards. None of them lend anything to playing RPG/FPS games at all.I cannon use the main keyboard to play. With the upward-left lean of the w a s d keys, it makes it very difficult to effectively move about in a game. It just doesn't fit with the design of my hand.
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# RE: RE: Mad Catz S.T.R.I.K.E. 5 OLED Gaming KeyboardArgos 2012-12-17 23:35
@Darysl Greene

In that case I would really recommend trying to acquire an Ideazon Fang or perhaps a Cybersnipa Gamepad. I use the Fang myself and have bought a Cybasnipa as a backup because the Fang is out of production since Steelseries took over.

Just like you I hate the way the WASD keys are lined out on a normal keyboard. The gamepads I mentioned are a world of difference and comfort when playing RPG/FPS games. Just look at their lay outs and you will see what I mean.

The problem with the Fang is that since Ideazon was taken over by Steelseries they stopped giving good driver support. The hardware works fine, but you might run into trouble when trying to use the programming software on Windows 7 and 8.

As far as the Steelseries MERC which has virtually the same lay-out as the Fang at the left side of the board... I would not recommend it. The problem with the MERC is on the right hand side of the board. The designers combined the keypad with the cursor keys and from experience I can tell you it is incredibly annoying. After using the board for a year I just could not stand it anymore.
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# CyberSnipa?MasterZoen 2012-12-20 10:15
I have had a CyberSnipa Gamepad v2 for more than 3 years and can honestly say it's one of the worst designs I've ever used. While the butterfly key layout with other keys surrounding it is a nice idea, it just wasn't implemented properly. I've had arthritis since I was a sophomore in high school, and have found that I can tell how well made and ergonomic a peripheral is by how quickly my hand begins to hurt, and I began to experience pain in my wrist and fingers after only 20 minutes of play with this pad.

The CyberSnipa Gamepad V2 appears at first glance to have been setup to be used by either hand, and this functionally crippled it. It becomes apparent upon first use that this is meant to be used by your left hand leaving you to wonder as to why it was designed to look ambidextrous. This gamepad was not made with ergonomics in mind. There is only a minor incline, perhaps 2 degrees, to the game pad, putting nearly all the keys at the same height. This makes trying to hit the number keys 1-3 and 8-0 very difficult. Also, trying to hit the keys that a person would normally try to with their left index finger is made difficult by these keys each being separated and fairly small, with exception for the x, c, and b keys positioned above the space key. The ctrl key cannot be hit reliably while using the qweasd butterfly, and the same holds true for the shift and z keys, the tab and h keys since these would all be pressed by the pinky. I suspect only a double jointed finger gymnast would be able to use these without shifting their hand. The spacing and postion of the shift key in relation to the space key makes a running jump extremely painful and prone to failure.

This board uses no drivers as it has the same hardware as an actual keyboard, so there isn't anyway to change the buttons that the device registers because it inputs actual letter keys, so you have to change the controls within the game thus making switching between gamepad and keyboard a real challenge.

I've been using a Logitech G13 for quite some time now, and I've found it to be very comfortable and easy to use and the on board memory makes taking it to LAN parties or gaming tournaments and keeping your profiles very simple. If the Fang is anything like the CyberSnipa Gamepad v2 I'm staying well away from it.
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# RE: CyberSnipa?Argos 2012-12-21 04:08
@MasterZoen

I have been using the Ideazon Fang for many years and I love it. It is the best and most useful FPS peripheral I ever bought. Never had ergonomic problems of any kind, but I do not suffer from arthritis like you. So perhaps it is not for you. But I dare say that people without arthritis will love it. Problem is that Steelseries let the product die after they took over Ideazon. I have been wanting to buy a second backup device for years, but I can not find it anywhere anymore.

I never had a problem to hit the number keys on the Fang, but I do use the Fang in combination with a versatile and programmable gaming mouse that takes over several important functions. For example I almost never have to use the number keys to select weapons.

I do like the looks of the G13, but it has no special WASD setup. The WASD layout is what I like more than anything on the Fang. It is a joy to play any FPS/3PS/RPG with it.

The only thing I do not like about the Fang is the way they put the jump and the p1 key on the side of the pad. That is very unpractical. But because the Fang is completely programmable this can be overcome. They should have done the jump and p1 key like they did it for their other product the Merc Stealth.

The Fang is by no means perfect. I would love to see a modernized and even more ergonomically shaped Fang. It should be easy, but Steelseries loves to churn out same ol same gaming keyboards at the moment instead of improving an already wonderful product.
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# Fang...MasterZoen 2012-12-22 19:43
I looked up some pictures of the Fang, and it doesn't look like it would be near as hard to hit the buttons as the CyberSnipa. The buttons are all much closer together and there are thumb buttons on the side. Although, I still think it would hurt my hands so I'll stick to recommending the Logitech G13.

I like the G13's analog thumbstick, as I have a number of games that recognize it as a controller, and the fact it can function as a 4-way hat switch. When you add in the ability to reprogram the buttons for a personalized layout, well, I can't be any more satisfied with it.

As they say, "To each, their own."
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# RE: Mad Catz S.T.R.I.K.E. 5 OLED Gaming KeyboardSkidmarks 2012-12-18 06:12
I don't suppose it's a bad keyboard & would probably appeal to a lot of people but you just can't beat a good mechanical keyboard. If this thing had mechanical key switches the price would be through the stratosphere. Although it's an interesting keyboard give me a mechanical keyboard with Cherry Blacks & without macro keys anyday.
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# Fang vs STRIKEMartin 2013-02-07 18:43
Hey folks. Personally I have both - Fang being hands down THE BEST gamepad out there, sadly as stated multiple times already, it's discontinued, they killed it instead of taking the design further...

I didn't see the value in STRIKE 7 and the touchscreen altho all the rest of it just screamed BUY MEEE :) recently I finally got myself STRIKE 5 keyboard and I have no regrets.

In recent years, I play primarily MMOs/FPS, but in either one communication is important, with Fang you still needed a keyboard to type, so it was Fang + Keyboard + Mouse. STRIKE does cover 2 of these functions, and it is quite useful once you're used to it.

All I can say don't knock it until you get to play on/with it. To me I loved the vertical placement of space on FANG and what I was sold on was the hand rest addition to STRIKE, brilliant. I'm using full keyboard atm but considering rearranging it to use the numerical keyboard with all the gadgets on it instead, may actually be a better option.

Combined with RAT MMO mouse from Cyborg, gaming is just brilliant, macros gallore, I don't lift my hands off the control to access the options, it's all bound and accessible in-game on the fly.
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