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The Gamer's Claw

Bristol-based peripheral boffins Saitek have announced that they’ve launched the latest in their range of moulded-plastic control devices. Now we don’t usually cover hardware here on RPS, but Saitek have a special place in hearts – not least because we once had a drink with one of their designers, who told us wild tales of all their weird prototypes that lay in their basements, rejected and dust-laden. Oh how we lamented the lack loss of those unloved experiments. Some made it through however, such as the optimistically-named CYBORG CONTROLLER.

Disappointingly, it doesn’t allow you to control cyborgs, and is instead an FPS-angled half-keyboard thing:

These designs seem to surface every few years and I always wonder who buys them. The first one of these I saw was THE CLAW, which gave you no leverage room for the buttons, meaning you had to keep your hand still and spasm the tips to get any use out of it.

Later came the Belkin Nostromo n52 Speedpad, which I believe is what happens when a gamepad and a keypad have special feelings for each other:

The Speedpad had rather stiff keys, and made my thumb hurt. It did have impressive keymapping software though, which was nice. The only one of these keyboard replacing mutants that I can ever remember getting on with was the terrifying Strategic Commander from Microsoft, which looked like it ought to be aboard a functioning spaceship:

It was actually pretty good, but don’t expect to use one of these in an officer environment (even a games-magazine office environment) without heavy mockery. Finally I was disappointed not to be able to find a picture of the “5D Mouse”. I’ve searched for it on the internet many times, but it is gone. It was a mouse on a joystick, basically, with all kinds of unusual lateral movement, meaning that in an FPS you moved, aimed and shot with one hand. The 5D Mouse was a mouse and keyboard combined, meaning your left hand was freed up to… do stuff. Ah, I wish I’d kept that review version.

What ludicrous devices have you bought for your hands, readers?

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Jim Rossignol

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