The Razer Nostromo Gaming Keypad is my new favorite Photoshop tool/gadget/accessory besides the Wacom Intuos4 graphics tablet. If you’re a keyboard junkie like me (and even if you aren’t), you’re going to love this little gadget.
Initially I was going to get a more traditional programmable keypad, but my artist friend and fellow digital art gadget geek Ray Frenden had recently picked up a Nostromo and loved it. When he told me there were per-app key configurations, that sold me.
It took me some trial and error to find a good set of key command assignments for Photoshop, but once those were in place and I used the device for about a week, I was hooked. Being a huge fan of the recent Spring-Loaded Keys feature in Photoshop, I was pleased to find that they worked perfectly with the Nostromo.
I did find the materials to have a bit of a cheap feel to them, and the key presses feel a bit hollow. But for a device at this price it’s easily overlooked. The configuration software works fine on my Mac running 10.8 Mountain Lion. And the software of course comes in a Windows version for you PC users out there.
I’ve configured mine to have easy access to my most-used tools. I primarily draw/sketch in Photoshop, so my key mapping reflects that. And another nice feature in the Nostromo configuration software is the ability to have multiple key mappings, for different task sets (which I have yet to use). The primary tools I access with the Nostromo are the Brush, Eraser, Rotate View Tool, the Drag-Resize brushes function, Hand (Spacebar), the Zoom tool, and the Step Backwards key command (for multiple Undo steps). You can download my Nostromo profile for Photoshop CS6 here.
I was a bit confused when assigning keys to the Nostromo’s D-pad, until I noticed the small white arrow on the D-pad and on the on-screen version in the configuration software. It’s rotated 90º clockwise from how it is oriented on the actual device. And I was not able to get the scroll wheel to work with Photoshop, even though it works in other apps like Safari.
Despite those minor complaints, I am very pleased with the purchase, and the Nostromo has become an integral tool/gadget in my digital art workflow. Highly recommended.