Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
Microsoft Sidewinder X6
Gaming keyboard with 90 programmable macro keys and a detachable number pad.
- Detachable number pad, 90 programmable macro keys, media controls, short keys make for a fast typing experience, cool cruise control system
- No USB ports, no stands on the base
A pretty impressive gaming keyboard; for macro freaks, the 90 programmable keys should prove very enticing and the host of controls combined with the detachable number pad make for a very flexible unit.
Price$ 149.95 (AUD)
Microsoft’s X6 keyboard is a flashy, games-oriented keyboard. While not featuring some of the more advanced features we’ve seen before, such as an LCD screen, it does provide a slew of macro keys, a red backlight and a fairly interesting detachable number pad.
Attaching via a very cool magnet system, the number pad can be moved to either the left or right side of the main keyboard. Since its keys also double as macro keys, this allows you to have all your controls at hand. It connects to the keyboard via a proprietary port and the magnets make connecting it extremely simple.
There is also a strip of seven macro keys down the side of the main unit, making for a total of 30 buttons. Add in the fact that you can switch between three ‘bays’ of keys and you have a massive 90 macro spots at your disposal. That is a huge amount of flexibility and while we can’t see everyone taking advantage of it (players of first-person shooters, for example), some MMO players will definitely see the appeal.
Everything is very easy to program. You’ve got two options; you can either record macros in-game or create them in the Intellipoint software. There is a macro key on the top of the unit that activates the record function and from there you can assign a key and go to town. Doing it through the software is slightly less speedy but no less intuitive; either way, the macros work smoothly and efficiently.
Another feature of the X6 is a red backlight for all those late night frag fests. It can be turned up or down by a knob on the top right, which is also accompanied by a volume control. Media playback buttons are present, along with a nifty cruise control function that will indefinitely repeat any key until you tell it to stop. For games where you increase your skills via repetition this will be very handy.
One interesting thing about the X6’s design is the lack of legs on the base to raise it up. This will take some getting used to for many users.
We found the unit quite comfortable to type on. The layout is perhaps slightly different to what we’re used to, but we adjusted after a little time. The keys are a bit shorter than on a regular keyboard; this makes them extra speedy, which gamers will love. The overall tactility was good and we found the X6 performed well for all manner of games.
Aesthetically, this is one of the better keyboards on the market. It is a bit busy for our tastes, with all manner of buttons, LEDs and knobs scattered about, but the simple black colour scheme with the red backlight looks pretty smooth and we like the shape. One disappointment was the lack of USB ports; with an increasing number of gaming gadgets, what'sits and thingamajigs all connecting via USB, it would have been a pretty useful inclusion, particularly for users who have a hard time accessing ports on their cases.
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