Hands On: The Mad Catz S.T.R.I.K.E. M Keyboard

Mad Catz last month released the S.T.R.I.K.E. M, a mobile Bluetooth keyboard that works with Android, Mac and Windows devices. This keyboard focuses on gamers and media-consuming customers alike, providing shortcuts that make navigation and control easier for both. We took a hands-on approach to see what this keyboard has to offer.

For starters, this device is small, measuring nearly 11.5-inches wide, around 4.5-inches tall and 0.5-inches thick. PC and Mac gamers used to standard and mechanical keyboards may have a tough time getting used to the dense spacing of the keys. However, this device should be ideal for tablet and/or smartphone owners who want gaming on the go without being forced to carry a full-sized Bluetooth keyboard.

To say that the S.T.R.I.K.E. M is jam-packed full of features is an understatement. It has a cool OFN sensor that acts like a 3/8-inch trackpad, allowing users to move the mouse on the screen with just one finger. On one side of this sensor is a button emulating a mouse left-click button, and the other side is a right-click button. Are you a lefty? There are two mouse-click buttons on the left side of the device, as well.

Also mounted on the left side of the keyboard is a scroll barrel that allows the user to turn the connected device's volume up or down. There are also three media keys for rewind, forward and pause/play. Under these three keys is a visual panel showing which Bluetooth device the keyboard is connected to and the level of the battery.

That brings us to the actual Bluetooth connectivity. This device can pair with up to four Bluetooth devices simultaneously, meaning you can control/type on a desktop, smartphone and tablet in one sitting by merely hitting the Device Connection button. Above this is a brightness button, which controls the four levels of white backlighting behind the keys. This button will turn off the backlighting as well.

According to Mad Catz, this mobile keyboard uses P.U.L.S.E. scissor keys that activate at 60g of actuation force and have a 2 mm travel distance. The company has highlighted the W, A, S and D keys for first-person shooter gamers and has assigned a number of keys to offer smart device functions (Home, Back, Recent Apps), the Windows Start key and the Max OS X Command key.

Although this keyboard has a lot packed into a simple form factor, the overall shape of the S.T.R.I.K.E. M is rather strange, reminding me of North Carolina in the way that it's pointed on the east end and dips down into the south. With that in mind, the keys on the far right aren't square, and neither are the ones on the far left, including CTRL, SHIFT, CAPS LOCK and so on. Will this be a problem? Depends on the user, naturally. I really didn't have a problem with them when typing.

Don't get me wrong: I like this little keyboard. The device is extremely light, and it comes with its own travel pouch so it doesn't get damaged when not in use. There's a lot going on here that benefits the gamer as well as the casual user. However, for the latter group, I would suggest the Wedge Mobile Keyboard from Microsoft, which is a solid product that works with Windows and Android devices. The Wedge Mobile Keyboard doesn't sport weird key shapes, but it also doesn't include the mouse functions found on the S.T.R.I.K.E. M.

So, the bottom line is that if you're looking for a mobile gaming keyboard, the S.T.R.I.K.E. M should be an ideal solution. As stated, this keyboard can be paired with four devices simultaneously, and users can switch between them with the press of a button. Integrating a trackpad and mouse buttons is a superb idea, making it easy to manage media from the couch.

There's no question that this keyboard is designed for gamers; you can tell at just one glance. But the general consumer may find its set of media and mouse controls attractive enough to forgive the strange North Carolina shape.

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  • vagrantsoul
    eh, not my taste

    bad joke time:
    the 80s called, they're looking for a missing keytar...
  • rishiswaz
    Kinda tacky in my opinion. I would love for this to work out simply because this opens the door for some other players in the market but this product itself is a bit much, Android gaming really isn't based on mouse and keyboard, HTPC keyboards have been around with integrated trackpads for a while as well, my Logitech K400 is a great example. I know MSI gaming laptops have Steelseries keyboards integrated, ASUS and Razer also have pretty good keyboards from what I have heard as well, so really I don't see the market for this as that big. Maybe if android games get better mouse and keyboard support it would work out but as of now I think it is way too early.
  • soldier44
    The Last Starfighter called, wants his keypad back...1984 timeframe.
  • Cons29
    form over function... that is what i think.
  • cryoburner
    The side features seem useful, but the layout is something of a hideous abomination. Why is the Enter key in the top row of letters? Do gamers really want an Fn key nestled alongside Cmd and Windows keys between Ctrl and Alt? Why couldn't they have had added a row of miniature function keys (along with Esc) at the top? There's certainly room for them. Backslash is randomly stuck between Shift and Z, and the arrow keys are smushed into the righthand side of the keyboard at an awkward angle.

    I'd kind of expect a more usable layout from a $90 keyboard. There are a number of other mini Bluetooth keyboards that have better, more traditional layouts at a lower cost.
  • Drejeck
    Wow, horrible to say the least, also doesn't know pro ones use ESDF keys?
  • cypeq
    all I see is no function keys.... useless for most gamers what they were thinking ?