Razer's been busy. The erstwhile peripheral maker took some time away from tinkering with mice and keyboards to create gaming laptops and Windows 8 tablets, and now they're dabbling in the VOIP space with Razer Comms. Comms has a very simple premise: tear down the walled gardens that keep PC gamers from communicating easily and effectively, without requiring them to Alt + Tab out of the action every time someone wants to send them an instant message or give them a call. Razer Comms entered public beta yesterday, but has already proven to be a well-polished stab at the competitive VOIP space. The beta is a free download (though you'll need to create a free Razer account if you don't already have one) and only available for Windows machines.
Razer Comms overlays most contemporary PC games.
The Comms app window consists of four tabs for your friends, groups, games, and notifications. The app will automatically pull together a list of games that are installed on your PC, and while it isn't perfect--my copy of Planetside 2 was listed as DC Universe Online, a game I've never played--it's ostensibly a convenient way to get launchers for all of your games in on place. Steam already does this very well, but if you'd like another option that isn't tied to that digital marketplace then, well, here you go. You can hide individual entries in your games list should it prove a bit unwieldy, select favorites that will appear in their own private section, and toggle support for the Comms' raison d'être, the in-game overlay.
The overlay will place chat windows directly conversations and the like directly over your game when summoned (the default shortcut is Ctrl + Tab), allowing you to keep tabs on your buddy list or start conversations and VOIP calls without leaving your game. The overlay will only steal focus from your game when you click on it, so you can keep chat windows up while you play, or simply open and close it at your leisure --optional notifications will let you know when someone's trying to get a hold of you.
Of particular interest are Razer Comms' groups. If you've used an established VOIP platform like Ventrilo or Teamspeak, you've probably already familiar with connecting to a particular clan or guild's server, hopping into the right channel, and then chatting with your friends. Razer Comms works much the same way, though there are no servers. Just create a public or private group and you'll be able to create individual chat channels (for particular games or raid groups, for example), have voice and text conversations, or create administrators with moderation privileges. The feature list and interface isn't quite as robust as something like Teamspeak, but it gets the job done at a palatable price (free).
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