For years only viable way to play your games on your sofa and big screen were game consoles. Then we got more and more options that include a steam link but still, all was built around controllers. Many tried with adapters and improvised setups to get that keyboard and mouse experience in their living room. But now the waiting is over, or is it not?
Meet Roccat Sova. Best gaming lapboard. At least that is expression they are using. It is on market for more than a year now and it is my personal choice from its release. I had many doubts so I waited for the review. And now here it is, Roccat Sova 1 year after the review.
First of all, there are two versions. Cheaper one, equipped with a membrane keyboard and more expensive, one we have, with mechanical keypads. Keypad is long 65 cm, 28 cm tall and 3.7 cm deep. Keyboard area is 30 cm x 12 cm and features advanced anti-ghosting with N-key rollover as well as blue LED back lighting. There is no hardware way to turn lightning on and off. Sometimes light would go off just about the time I need it. Than you just need to hit random keypad and wait about second to be automatically switched on. Not a big issue but it can be annoying. There is also no RGB but blue LED back lightning was done good. More about that in software paragraph.
Keys are readable and easy to use and everything still works like it was out of the box, even after 12 months of daily usage. Another thing you need to consider is the loudness of mechanical keys. And they are loud. Really loud. Compared with excellent Corsair K70 they are almost twice as loud and not that good. That don’t mean that keys are bad. They proved to be durable and ok but not the best on the market. Mouse area is 27.5 x 24 cm.
Just from this specifications, we see 2 major advantages of this lapboard.
First is that it comes with huge hand rest area below of keyboard which makes it super comfortable to use. It lacks numpad area but in my opinion it was a great compromise because of extended mouse area and natural mouse position. With that we come to second advantage and that is mouse space. It is perfect and because it comes with good cable management system using mouse is almost desk like experience. This is something you can’t find anywhere else. It is not wireless but it comes with 4 meters long cord that has clever breakaway system that prevents you to pull your computer to floor or someone to trip over the cord. I must say in may extended one year usage it worked like a charm. Cord just unplugs preventing any harm to your hardware or flatmates. You just connect it back and everything works. Cord comes with 2 USB 2.0 connectors that need to be plugged in for lapboard to work.
At the back side of lapboard are 2 USB 2.0 connectors, left and right from the main cord. You will use one for mouse and other one is free so you can plug in USB headphones, charge your mobile phone, plug in your USB memory stick or disk so you don’t have to go to the computer or any device that uses USB. Mouse is not coming with lapboard and that is in my opinion a big advantage. But more about that later.
Sova is build almost completely from plastic. Wrist rest area and mouse pad are both made from hard plastic and removable. They are held by magnets and to remove them you need to press on back side of lapboard. After one year they are still as new. Solid, not moving and looking like they are not removable parts. Reason for them to be removable is that Roccat will offers custom color, design and material versions in future. Here we come to first issue I had with this keyboard. Someone will prefer cloth or softer mouse pad but my issue was with optical sensors on my mouse and dust. Sometimes mouse just stop working and you need to lift it off and try again. It could be issue with my Razer Naga mouse. It isn’t a deal break or that often but it would happen occasionally and can be very annoying. Also, dust really like this black plastic. We just need to wait and see if Roccat will deliver with promised custom mouse pads.
Back side of Sova comes with four large foam pads that will rest on user legs. And you will need them because Sova is pretty large and heavy. They are really comfortable and replaceable but mine didn’t lose their shape or comfort after a year. Really good job Roccat. With them, you never fell discomfort so you can use it on your lap for long periods of time.
On a layout side, my biggest complaint is the position of backspace. It is big but there is a home button just beside of it. I understand they wanted to find the best space for home, page up/down and end but if you are used to standard keyboard layout you will hit that home button often. Big enter and clever position of arrows are a big plus in my eyes.
You can download the Roccat Swarm desktop application to make changes to your keyboard. It is a pretty standard application where you can customize blue LED back lightning with options to turn it off and on, change brightness, add effects like breathing, customize lighted keys, change sleep timer etc. You can also add macros, manage key assignment, update drivers and add a sound effect. With some additional options like Swarm, connect and AlienFx which allows you to match your lightning with your Alienware computer software part is actually pretty solid and easy to use.
One year usage, gaming and competition
As I mention above after one year of every day usage everything still seems like new and that is a great accomplishment from Roccat. Even the most used gaming keys like WASD and space are not showing their age. I pair it with Razer Naga mouse and had a blast playing games on a big screen from a sofa, creating videos, coding and writing articles. Over the year I played every game in that setup. From World of Warcraft, Witcher 3, Football manger 2018, Europa Universalis 4 to FPS games like Battlefield one and is well suited for all of them.
It can be used as regular keyboard and mouse on a desk but that can be a little messy because of cable length and height of keyboard and mouse pad. I tried it’s competitors Razer Turret and Corsair Lapdog but without any doubt, this is the only way to play from the sofa. Roccat Sova is a perfect size and really comfortable for that sofa gaming.
Razer Turret has several advantages on paper. It’s smaller, lighter, wireless, and comes with a mouse. But all those advantages are it’s own curse. Because it’s smaller there is not enough hand space to rest your wrist and type comfortable. Mouse area is also too small. It comes with it’s own mouse that is magnet based and that’s the only mouse suited for that surface so you are stuck with a mouse you don’t want and you don’t have much space to move it. It is still usable but in short periods and in specific cases.
Corsair Lapdog is a much closer competitor but it’s just an empty shell. You need to buy Corsair keyboard and mouse that are made for it so the overall price is higher. That setup then is larger, heavier and much less comfortable to use. On other hand, you can probably get a better keyboard or at least you have some choice in keyboard and you get numpad.
After using Roccat Sova for over a year we can finally say mouse and keyboard gaming is in our living room, on the sofa and large screen TV. Is it perfect? No, but in many ways is closest to perfection we have ever been. Perfect size, almost perfect layout, great comfort, great compromises, perfect weight and balance.
You still need to pair it with a good mouse but as I said before I think that is a big advantage. Most of us already have a mouse or have a preferred mouse so not being forced to use mouse we don’t want, like in Razer Turret case, is actually a great thing. Only way I would recommend Corsair Lapdog is if you already have Corsair keyboard and mouse. Than you can try a lapboard experience much cheaper then going for Roccat Sova.
Razer Turret is just to small and not for long usage so I wouldn’t consider it to be my only or main setup. Only issues we had with Roccat Sova are related to gaming on TV and not to a product itself.
Playing PC games on TV is not perfect because PC games are, mostly, not built for that purpose. For example, sometimes is hard to read text sitting that far away. Roccat Sova is not suited for left handed users. In any other cases, we can really strongly recommend it.