Game Daze: Fanatec Headshot Controller, Sandio Game O' Six Degrees of Freedom 3D Gaming Mouse
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Fanatec Headshot Controller
So you're finally getting around to peeling the shrink wrap off those PC titles you received over the holidays. Perhaps you finally treated yourself to that Alienware high-performance gaming computer you'd coveted for so long.
Or maybe you're merely determined to outfit yourself in style before devoting, say, the next decade to the new glories of "World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade." New games. New year. Surely you don't want to take them on with out-of-date gear?
PC gamers will relish the sleek good looks and comfy, nigh-effortless gameplay delivered by Fanatec's sexy "Headshot" laser gaming controller set ($99) that requires its own clear briefcase to tote all of the goodies it delivers. You'll yearn to deck out your desk with this baby, if only because of the so-cool way it lights up the darkness with its neon-hued mouse and cable arch that spans the width of its unusually roomy mouse pad.
The PC geek in our household nearly passed out when he saw this beauty and his enthusiasm didn't wane after he powered it up. The rest of us could hardly stop staring at the illuminated components that give this package the look of a space station gadget.
But this kit is not out to merely win a beauty pageant or wow the competition at a gaming party. It delivers a laser mouse that ensures no-mess-up, precision control and a high-speed USB hub that allows you to plug in and keep your favorite joystick or gaming peripherals close by.
The high-resolution mouse is shiny and wider than usual, providing more of a perch for your hand and preventing your pinky finger from dragging and slowing down your game. It's also oddly shaped, with triangular fins jutting from its bottom that suggest a miniature Stealth bomber. Screws on the bottom allow you to extend or retract those fins to make the mouse nestle comfortably in petite or oversized paws. A rubber sheath and tiny molded bumps provide a steady, non-slip grip. Tiny stick-on "feet" eliminate friction underneath.
A half-dozen buttons encircle the scroll wheel to provide plenty of options for gameplay functions and to permit mid-game adjustments of mouse resolution and sensitivity -- a most welcome perk. Old habits had us pressing the wrong spots on the "Headshot" mouse at first, but we quickly made the mental shift and learned to press the tips instead. The mouse connects to an extra-large pad with a clear coiled cord that is thick and sturdy enough to withstand accidents but flexible enough to stretch. Too bad the cord isn't a little longer, though. Then there's that distinctive "Aura" -- the clear plastic arch over the front of the pad that clips the cord up and out of your way and shimmers from adjustable LED lights hidden within. More lights glimmer through the seams of the mouse, giving the whole shebang an otherworldly look.
The "Headshot" also professes to stand in as a joystick. But we found this use to be awkward and not worth the bother, particularly since gamers who are serious enough to pick up this set are likely to already own a joystick.
Is the "Headshot" worth its relatively high price tag? For sure, there are other snazzy, high-end gaming mice that function very well. But if you value form as much as function, you'll find it hard to resist this combo.
Sandio Game O' Six Degrees of Freedom 3D Gaming Mouse
No, it doesn't glow in the dark or travel with its own luggage. But looks can be deceptive. This simple gray-trimmed gaming mouse from Sandio Technology Corp. ($79.99) may eschew the "Headshot's" flashier trappings, but it has its own perquisites for heavy-duty gamers who crave a truly 3D experience.
Sandio has turned its "6DOF" laser mouse into a near equivalent of a console controller by arming it with a trio of buttons that function as tiny joysticks and eliminate the need for many keyboard controls. No longer must you sit and peck out letters on your keyboard to make your character move forward, backward or to the side. Now you use the joysticks to shift control to the mouse, allowing for more intuitive, non-linear moves and camera angles that follow the direction of your mouse hand. This, in turn, frees up your other hand to perform other tasks. Bind weapons or other functions to keys that are easily reached by your free hand and see how quickly you overpower competitors in multi-player contests.
There's a considerable learning curve before you retrain yourself to move by joystick and forget about typing traditional W, A, S and D movement keys. But it's well worth the effort, once you discover the joys of making your character juke and crouch in a first-person shooter, or execute spins and loops in a flight sim.
Don't just dive in without first taking advantage of the helpful practice program. As with the "Headshot," the buttons on the side of the "6DOF" allow you to tailor its sensitivity to your preference. About the only thing we didn't like was its chunky, bulbous shape that felt odd under our hand. But we warmed to it after simply sliding off its hand grip extension.
First Published February 1, 2007 12:00 am