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Product: SideWinder Strategic Commander
Company: Microsoft
Website: http://www.microsoft.com/sidewinder
Estimated Street Price: $64.95
Review By: Julien JAY

Introduction

Table Of Contents
1: Introduction
2: Buttons, Navigation, Drivers & Game Tests
3: Conclusion

Itís now a ritual: at each yearís end Microsoft releases new gaming devices that fall perfectly in time with the Christmas season. This year, Microsoft obeyed to the rule once more and was even very prolific since they launched several SideWinder devices. Between them the SideWinder Strategic Commander is probably the most innovative (with the GameVoice) and revolutionary as itís designed specifically for gamers that play with strategic games (iím sure you have already guessed) like Age of Empires, Command & Conquer, SimCity, etc. This device is in fact a secondary mouse for users with eleven totally customizable buttons to perform various actions in order to win easily. Frankly I donít know where Microsoft pick up all their ideas to design such great gaming devices since I would never dare to dream about such a device to ease my gaming experience with the final objective to make me win more often. Indeed the innovative map movement and customizable commands at your fingertips, are a real shortcut to absolute victory.

Features List

Here are the key features of the futuristic SideWinder Strategic Commander unit: 
   

  • Program up to 72 commands: From simple to advanced competitive profiles, Strategic Commander can accommodate all styles of game play
  • Unprecedented Versatility: With record-on-the-fly, program what you need without ever leaving the game!
  • Custom Game Profiles: Try one of over 30 pre-programmed profiles for your favorite strategy games or create, edit, and share your own.
  • Rotating Axis Control: Intuitive map control that makes even 3D games a breeze to navigate.
  • Award Winning SideWinder Controller Software to tweak your device fingers in the nose.
  • USB connection for fast & easy setup.

 

Setup

Installing the SideWinder Strategic Commander on your PC is a breeze. Personally I placed it to the left of my keyboard and plugged it to the USB port of my Microsoft Natural Keyboard Pro. The device was instantly recognized by Windows Me. Then I inserted the drivers CD to enjoy the benefits of the high quality Microsoft drivers. The setup program of the drivers looks like the one of the SideWinder GameVoice and is built around the Microsoft Windows Installer Technology. Each step is clearly explained and the full driver set is installed in two minutes. At the end of the setup a small video is launched in order to present you this device thatíll change the way youíre playing strategic games. When the setup is finished youíll notice a new SideWinder Strategic Commander icon on your desktop. This icon is obviously intended to launch the SideWinder Strategic Commander configuration application weíll review later.

Design

The Strategic Commander unit is in fact composed of two parts: the stationery bottom one is the base where the moving pad is attached. The base features two buttons: the slider lets you select up to three different game profiles while the rec button is intended to record on the fly actions shortcuts without leaving your games. The second part is obviously the moving pad. The padís exclusive design will perfectly hug the form of your hand and youíll be able to rest your hand comfortably on it. When you put your hand on it the little finger rests on a dedicated curve, the ring, major and index fingers reach the six programmable buttons  (that are near to the Zoom ones) while the thumb commands the third shift buttons located on the right part of the pad that allow to change actual combination.


Microsoft SideWinder Strategic Commander Profile view (c) Julien JAY 2000

          
  

Buttons, Navigation, Drivers & Game Tests -->

 

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