It has only been March 2009 but Microsoft has already released their flagship Sidewinder series of desktop accessories. The Sidewinder X8 is the latest mouse in the series and the X6 is the latest keyboard. If the design is any indication, they are going to blow the competition clear out of the water.
First off, the X8 Gaming Mouse is an expensive behemoth of a mouse priced at $US99, and for that you get a mouse that uses Bluetrack technology (only two other mouse have it so far), which is a newfangled way of saying it uses some nifty blue-colored LEDs over traditional red LED or laser tracking of older mice. The advantages? An impressive 4000dpi and up to 13,000 frames-per-second capture speed gives you far superior tracking technology for lightning-fast actions and fine control, although to be honest I don’t think there is any benefits for mouse to run above 3000dpi. Too much is simply an overkill. 🙂
The sensitivity can be varied from 250dpi all the way to 4000dpi. The mouse also comes with 2.4-Ghz wireless technology, supposedly optimized for lag-free gameplay and a power cable can be connected to recharge the mouse without giving up your ability to play. The cable-free wireless capabilities are a welcome addition although some pro gamers are quick to criticize wireless mouse due to a perceived lag compared to their wired counterparts. However, one caveat is that Asian hands might not like the size of the X8.
The Microsoft X6 Gaming Keyboard continues the hard, edgy looks of the X8 mouse offering two huge dials that adjusts the backlights. So, if you thought it’s not enough to have just one knob to adjust the backlighting, they now give you two knobs for this feature. The price tag for this one is $US80.
The switchable numeric keypad is the main attraction here, and can be snapped either to the right (traditionally) or to the left, depending on your needs. It is suitable as lefties can finally use the numeric keyboard with their natural writing hand, or more appropriately, gamers can use the numeric features with their keyboard hand without having to reach over anymore.
The macro keys that come accompanied with this keyboard further shows the gaming pedigree that this keyboard is built on. The bundled software makes it easy to program your own macros to execute killer moves in game, stringing together button combinations that rain death and disaster on your opponents.
The list continues with the keyboard offering two extra “gaming keyboard” modes on top of the normal keyboard mode. Supposedly it tunes the keyboard to be more sensitive when in gaming mode and react faster to your button presses. Cruise Control allows you to tap on a button and the keyboard will continue that action without you having to hold down the key. Finally, on-the-fly macro gives you the ability to program your macros without having to leave the game, although you might find it a rare feature given the 30 macro keys available for your use means you’ll hardly run out.