First, let's begin with the design:
The Merc Gaming Keyboard is a USB based keyboard. It has no 3.5 or USB jacks on it. But it has a gaming pad that not only has your standard WASD setup in a comfortable ergonomic area, but it also has every key you would normally use for FPS, RTS, and MMO's right at your fingertips.
At the top of the keyboard you have the Z-Board logo, which launches the Z-Engine program which allows you to change the current mod of the keyboard, make macros, and change key definitions. Your volume up and down arrows, and your media keys which already work with windows media player. For winamp and other players it only takes a few seconds to download the correct plug-in and you have media control from your keyboard.
Perhaps the nicest feature of the added keys is the I II and III keys, which you can program to launch any program you choose, or you can use them as extra keys for your current game.
On the right hand side you have the numpad/ hot-key pad. it has your standard numpad but when numlock is off, you have special keys on top of your insert/home/end/page up keys. these include minimize, maximize, close, search, my computer, cut, paste, copy, shift left, and shift right. Now, perhaps the most annoying feature of this keyboard is the close key, because it is so close to the numlock you will end up hitting this more than once.
I do like how Ideazon (SteelSeries) has incorporated the insert/page up/end keys with the numpad to save space, otherwise this keyboard would be ridiculously huge. Some might not like this as it requires switching back and forth between the numpad and hot-key pad for everyday use. But honestly, every time I've used it in a game I've remapped them to special keys and macros for the game.
Now, For the software:
The Z-Engine program is a very nice piece of software which is very user friendly. It sits in the background without the user ever noticing it, but lets you know its working via a red light on the keyboard.
There are several preloaded "MODS" or preset key maps for specific games, which they are updated constantly. There is also a save function so that you can make your own custom mods and save them into memory.
The absolute best thing about the keyboard and software is that EVERY KEY is re mappable, even the windows key, this is all done via a nice keyboard on screen and by pressing the desired key, key sequence, or macro.
I have owned this keyboard for quite a while, obviously because it is the Ideazon Merc, which it used to be before SteelSeries bought Ideazon. I have never had an issue with keys, or software malfunctioning.
Usually, during an MMO You can remap FPS or RTS based keys to something more specific for your MMO. For instance the panic key on the game-pad can be used with a (ctrl-alt-shift 1) spell or such.
I'd give this keyboard a 10/10 for gaming, and a 10/10 for personal use. the design is timeless, the quality is great and the mod-ability is endless. i would most definitely recommend this keyboard to any serious gamer.
check out my video review on Youtube: Ideazon (SteelSeries) Merc Gaming Keyboard Review