Peripheral gizmos and gadgets seem to be a natural fit for gamers, most of whom would sooner die than part with their favorite mouse or gamepad. The latest toys for computer games include egonomic input devices, 3D glasses, and precision mouse pads. These accessories can dramatically improve the way we interact with games and, in some cases, make us more competitive.
Shooter fans are known to demand the utmost precision and reliability from their pointing device. Logitech has answered the call with a series of high performance gaming mice, with the G9x Laser Mouse leading the way. The G9x is almost identical to the earlier G9, except the maximum resolution has been bumped up to 5000 dpi. This mouse features interchangeable grips of different widths and stores up to 5 custom profiles in onboard memory. It has a good variety of buttons, and you can customize the weight by adding or removing metal weights from a cartridge that slides in the back.
Microsoft resurrected it's SideWinder brand, once associated with their joysticks, by releasing a series of SideWinder mice. The X8 is the third iteration of the SideWinder gaming mouse and the first to feature a wireless connection. Gamers don't like having the battery in their mouse die in the middle of firefight, so the X8 has a recharging cable that can be plugged in while the mouse is in use, and spools neatly around the wireless transceiver.
The G13 Advanced Gameboard is a relatively recent addition to Logitech's G-series of peripherals, designed to give you a left hand controller that surpasses the traditional keyboard. Gaming keypads have been around for a long time, but this is the first one we've seen from Logitech. It's very egonomic, has 25 programmable keys, a small stick for your thumb, and it even sports an integrated GamePanel LCD. Be prepared for the price tag though, as it costs more than many full size keyboards.
The Ergodex is a customizable keypad that is unlike anything on the market. It comes with a pad and 25 keys which can actually be arranged in whatever layout the user is most comfortable with. The keys are stuck to the pad with a reusable adhesive, making it easy to adjust them to fit your hand and your gaming style. A very clever alternative to a standard keyboard, although it is a bit pricey.
You may remember the Merc from before SteelSeries acquired Ideazon, and it's still the same product under a slightly different brand name. The Merc combines a conventional keyboard with a gaming keypad, providing over 30 dedicated gaming keys on the left side of the device. The pad has a nice layout, with large movement keys and 11 convenient shortcut buttons. It's also capable of registering up to 7 simultaneous keystrokes, and you can get a backlit version called the Merc Stealth.
Belkin's n52 is the better of two relatively affordable Nostromo SpeedPad devices that combine a miniature keyboard with an assortment of gamepad like functions, including a throttle wheel, for use with the left hand. They are highly programmable and sure to prove a worthy addition to any in-game arsenal.
The Zboard is a customizable keyboard that features an interchangeable "keyset" which can be swapped out depending on the game you're playing. Each keyset is designed for a particular game, giving you quick access to game controls that are intuitively layed out, sized, and labelled. There are also special keysets for business applications, if you're into that sort of thing. The downside to this approach is that the cost of the keysets will start to add up if you play a lot of different games.
Most of us are relatively casual about arcade games, but like everything else, there are always those who take the hobby very seriously. This unique control panel is designed to emulate the stick and buttons found on the classic coin-operated arcade game machines. It supports many different game platforms and comes with a lifetime warranty.
Reliable sources tell me that these actually work, and that the effect is incredible. There is some fascinating science behind them which involves blocking the image going to each eye in synchronization with the monitor's refresh rate, and apparently they now work with LCD monitors as well as CRTs. They make 3D games look sort of like a hologram behind a sheet of glass. They're probably more appropriate for RPGs than FPSes, but they've been getting good reviews.
Gamers tend to expect a little more from a mouse pad than typical computer users. Mouse pads designed for gaming are larger than regular mouse pads so you have more room to swing around. They also typically use low-resistance surfaces for action that is quick and smooth. Razer's mouse pads are a common sight at LAN parties and pro game competitions.