Price: Rp.2,830,000

A gaming lapdesk (or lapboard, or whatever else you want to call it) is a solution in search of a problem. Do you have a PC in your living room? Maybe. Do you have a good way to control that PC? You might think you do, probably through some dinky wireless setup you don't even bother trying to game on.

The ROCCAT SOVA gaming lapboard is part of a wave of new deivces (compare and contrast with the Corsair LAPDOG and RAZER Turret) designed to deliver high-level PC gaming performance to your couch, recliner, or other non-traditional seating arrangement. It connects to your PC via an extra-long cord and comes with a built-in keyboard. Add any USB mouse and you're ready to go, all set to game without having to hunch over your coffee table or trying to figure out a way to get standard peripheral cords to reach across your living room. 

The SOVA is available with either mechanical key switches or membrane switches, with the membrane version currently coming in at $50 less. As of this writing, there's a promotion running on Newegg which allows you to get a free KOVA mouse with your purchase of the SOVA, but the deal is for a limited time. This review will focus on the performance of the mechanical version of the SOVA, though there are no substantive differences between the two versions other than the switch type. 

Design And Features

The SOVA is a surprisingly light and agile board, which makes it a breeze to use. The fact that the keyboard is built-in means you can't remove it to use for normal PC gaming, but it also ensures that the SOVA remains sturdy during use, with no weak seams or loose screws. 

There isn't a lot that's flashy about the SOVA, but with a lapboard "flashy" might not be what you want. Still, it's a bit of a shame that there's no RGB lighting available (the keyboard has per-key blue lighting you can control via ROCCAT's software), especially since you can do some amazing lighting tricks with the K70 keyboard line compatible with Corsair's LAPDOG. 

Aside from the lighting, though, the design of the SOVA is pretty slick. I'm a huge fan of the extra-large, lightly textured mouse and wristpad, which both feature ROCCAT's logo. If you have a problem with their stylized cat head design you might not want that on your mousepad (especially if you're going to be using a mouse from a different company that won't match), but that's a pretty minor quibble. It looks cool enough overall, and strikes a nice balance between gaming aesthetics while still being something you could use for media or general computing use in your living room without it seeming out of place. 

The extra features of the SOVA feel a bit unimpressive for the $200 price tag. It comes with one extra USB port on the board (perfect for a gaming headset) and a mouse bungee to wrangle you cord (though this won't be enough cable management for some people).

Since lapdesks as a thing are so new it's hard to say what else one of them should offer you in terms of features, but the vague possibility of swapping out the mousepad for one with a different surface (currently just a hypothetical feature, as no alternate SOVA mousepads are available for sale) isn't particularly exciting. 

Comfort And Performance 

I already used the words "light" and "agile" to refer to the SOVA, but I'm going to use them again because once you've used a dedicated gaming lapdesk you realize how important these qualities are. So the SOVA is light and agile. It's sturdy without feeling like a brick on your legs, and it's easy to pick up, put down, and even hand off to a friend sitting next ot you. Switching from a gaming posture to something more typing-focused is a snap. The SOVA always feels like an asset, never a burden. 

The generous wrist support under the keyboard is a huge plus on the SOVA, and one of the main comfort features that sets it apart from Corsair's LAPDOG, which was surprisingly deficient in that area. Lapdesk ergonomics are tricky because of the wide variety of positions that people might use them in (take a moment to imagine the difference in position between sitting with your feet flat on the floor vs. propped up on footstool, or laying on a couch propped up with some pillows) and the SOVA can't be ideal for every position, but it does about a good a job as you can reasonably expect a lapdesk to do. 

As was the case with the LAPDOG, I found myself wishing that the cushions on the underside of the SOVA were angled in such a way as to elevate the back of the keyboard, because with my feet flat on the floor I had a tendency to stand on my toes to tilt the board a bit to get it into the optimal position. This issue was fixed if I propped my feet up, of course, but that's not usually how I want to game. 

The mechanical SOVA's TTC switches are good middle-of-the-road options that will give you a generic mechanical feel without too much noise (they feel most like Cherry MX browns to me, but are distinctly different). It's fair to say that TTC switches are a step down from your ideal higher-end mechanicals, but since you're playing a game on a TV in your living room using a lapdesk you probably shouldn't be competing for the League of Legends championship or anything anyway. The switches on the SOVA work just fine for keyboard-intensive gaming, and if you need to step up your performance you'll need to go sit at your desk like always. 

The membrane SOVA keys feel expectedly mushy compared to the mechanical versions, but if you're only interested in a lapdesk for non-competitive gaming you'll probably be fine with this version of the experience, and can save a few bucks in the process. For casual gaming, simple typing, or experiences where tactile keyboard feedback isn't essential, the membrane SOVA gets the job done. 

Finally, the SOVA's expansive mouse surface is a very nice feature when it comes to gaming performance. While you'll likely use only a small fraction of the surface for gaming unless you're doing some fancy pro-strat sensitivity tricks, the generous mousepad gives your wrist plenty of support and allows you to place your hand in a position that's most comfortable for you.



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