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Microsoft Sidewinder Game Pad Pro

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    4 Reviews
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      25.01.2008 18:52
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      Decent controller

      If I'm honest I'm not a massive PC gamer but these days if I want to play computer games its best if I play them on my PC since I can't really afford to forking out money for the latest consoles. When I do play games on my PC though I do miss the good old console controllers as certain games, particularly sports games can be hard to play using the keyboard.

      I'm a big football fan and love to play the latest Fifa release and usually do so on my mates consoles but I decided that if I was going to master theses games I should really get them on my PC so I have bought the games for my PC and decided to purchase a PC compatible controller.

      I opted for the Microsoft sidewinder as I had heard great things about it from various sites and magazines. I currently use if for Fifa, Madden and Top Spin Tennis

      The controller itself is pretty big and on first impressions it looks as though it may be a little large but once you hold it its clear that it's a good size and shape and the buttons seem reasonably accessible.

      The controller has two trigger buttons on the back, similar to those on an Xbox controller, a D Pad on the left hand side of the controller, a start button and six circular buttons on the right hand side of the pad. The circular buttons are labelled X Y Z on the top row and A B C on the bottom row. So far so good it looks like the real deal.

      To connect the controller up to the PC is really easy as it is USB compatible and all you need to do is install the CD and follow the configuration instructions and off you pop.

      I bought the controller for Fifa and unfortunately I was a little disappointed. It soon became obvious that due to the lay out of the controller certain aspects of the game became particularly difficult to execute. For example sprinting with the ball, passing and running at the same time soon become very difficult. In my opinion for it to worked effectively there should be shoulder buttons replacing the Z and C buttons. This is because no matter how you configure the controller in the FiFA menu you are nearly always needing to use two of the buttons from the right hand section of the controller which is near impossible. I experienced similar problems with Madden as well so fro these games I would either stick with playing them on consoles of buy a USB adapter for a PS2 or Xbox controller which means you can use console controllers on a PC.

      Although I have had a negative experience with this controller for Madden and FIFA it works fairly well with Top Spin Tennis so the problem may just be that it doesn't work very well with EA sports games. Unfortunately these are the games I tend to play most of the time so it's a big problem.

      Despite my problems I can see that this is a good controller and imagine its particularly useful for racing games and shoot 'em ups.

      So back to the controller itself. It looks pretty cool and is definitely a comfortable piece of kit when your holding it and the buttons are pretty accessible if you aren't having to use to many at once. One problem that crops up in most of the games I've used it for is the D pad. Unfortunately it is pretty stiff and doesn't give a great range of movement but I guess you get used to it.

      One thing I don't quite understand though is why Microsoft didn't just bring out an Xbox controller that could be used for the PC. This to me would have made a lot of sense as it's a well known design and they make them anyway so why design a brand new controller when they have a great design already.

      This controller isn't cheap either and at about £30 it may just be worth while buying an adapter for a console controller of buying a PC compatible controller based on a PS2 controller or Xbox.
      All in all its ok and does a job but I feel that there are better options out there.

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      • More +
        20.06.2001 21:23
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        This is one of Microsoft’s later game pads, and comes with USB connection only. It is a two handed design similar to most pads and is silver in colour. It has one D-pad, a shift button next to the D-pad and six buttons on its upper facing and left and right trigger buttons. The pad is very comfortable to hold and all of the buttons are placed well for the average hand. Each button gives a firm and precise feel when pushed. The D-pad is a combination of both digital and analogue controller allowing only one mode to be used at once. Software is supplied on cd-rom and installs easily. Set-up takes no more than a minute or two and offers full configuration adjustment. Controller configurations for individual games can be entered and saved, then recalled from the settings screen when required. To switch from analogue to digital mode for the D-pad and vice-versa has to be done from the set-up screen in the software. There are no buttons on the pad for this. The D-pad is the problem, being both analogue and digital; it feels squashy and imprecise in digital mode and in analogue the flat with centre indent D-pad lacks precision. When trying to control a car in a racing game, or an aircraft or space vehicle that benefits from precision control, it is more like using a soggy digital pad than a precision analogue one. At £30 this is no cheap pad, and despite its quality feel it fails to offer good D-pad control in either mode. As other game pads offer separate digital and analogue D-pads in the same pad, these generally offer the best of both worlds, rather than pads that try to make one D-pad multifunctional.

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        15.01.2001 08:45
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        Here we have what must be one of the most advanced gamepads of it's generation. This is the perfect accompaniment for any game and game player enabling more advanced things to be done during a game without having to remember complicated key combinations! The Microsoft sidewinder pad is a very nice pad to use, it is of good construction and very easy to install, with Windows detecting it, you sticking the drivers in and it's ok after a restart. I have been using mine for over a year now and have no complaints whatsoever apart from the shape taking a bit of time to get used to although don't let this put you off, it doesn't take long. The software supplied is very easy to use, even if games don’t directly support the game you can program the keys in. It has a nice long lead to connect the pad to the PC, and the weight of the unit is just right in my opinion. The only problem I found was that it can be quite easy to knock the pad out of programmed mode in a moment of excitement when playing a game.

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          16.12.2000 09:57
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          Just like me, Microsoft joysticks just keep on coming. And just like me, they’ve been coming for quite a while now. In fact the first MS Joystick and joypads came out in the summer of 1996. That’s when they were heralded as the dawning of a new age in controllers for the PC – good enough to rival those of the well-established consoles. And to Microsoft’s credit, their original black Sidewinder Gamepad pretty much delivered. It certainly took off in a bigger way than the Gravis Gamepad. So much so that reputable and famous companied such as Capcom have actually put “Sidewinder Gamepad recommended” in the “Recommended System” section of games like Resident Evil 2, 3 and Dino Crisis. The merits of the original Gamepad are highlighted in my opinion “So good it’s venomous – The MS Sidewinder” [ >>spam!<< ;-) ]. But this current opinion your eyes have laid upon is about its newer stable mate, the silver/gold USB Gamepad Pro – useful if you are considering buying a PC Gamepad. In the official Sidewinder product range pamphlet, Microsoft says (in inverted commas): “Take sports, action and racing games to the next level. Program unique manoeuvres. Superior comfort and control, makes this an irresistible USB gaming device. Now features the best of both worlds in one D-pad! Features · Full 360 degree precision · Fast digital control · Program unique manoeuvres · 8-way d-pad for added precision and control · 6 action buttons · 2 easy reach triggers.” Certainly a pad, of any description, would be ideal for sports and arcade/console games, and they are not too bad for racing games. But one thing that is NOT immediately obvious is the fact that the Gamepad Pro has more in common with the analogue joysticks of the Playstation Dual Shock and N64 pad’s thumbstick. You can tell, because i
          n Windows 98’s game controller window, whereas the original (black) Gamepad moves the cursor only to the eight extremes of the square, the (silver-gold) Pro, with some of the boasted ‘precision’, can position the cursor virtually anywhere in the square. In other words, the d-pad is effectively analogue, and is thus better suited to racing games and flight Sims than the original pad. So, as the pamphlet says, you DO get 360 precision, and the controls are fast enough to also play footie games effectively. Judging by the info on the pamphlet, you’d naturally assume there are 8 buttons. But in fact there are nine; there’s a rather long button just below the d-pad that is effectively a ninth button. [Incidentally, Microsoft’s pamphlet also suggests there are only eight buttons on the original Gamepad, when in actual fact there are eleven! It also neglects to mention the fact that it has a built-in game controller port – not available on the USB Gamepad Pro.] The buttons themselves (on both pads in fact) are fairly standard. The six on the topside happen to be all the same size on the Gamepad Pro (on the original Gamepad, the top three are about half the size of the lower ones). The ‘trigger’ buttons, as they are referred to, are just that. More akin to a Luger handgun’s trigger than the ‘flat-as-a-pancake’ shoulder buttons found on Super NES or Playstation pads. Again, this applies to both the old and new-stylee pads. All that said, what do I think of the MS Gamepad Pro? Well. I reckon I am in a pretty decent position to give an opinion on the pad seeing as currently I have examples of both the original and Pro versions. There are certain important things to take into consideration. Just because the Pro is newer, don’t automatically assume that it is better. It’s much bulkier, and less comfortable to hold than
          the original Gamepad. Needlessly so, because the two versions weigh the same, and it feels like the Pro is rather hollow. The Pro’s cable is thinner (good) but slightly shorter (bad). <<Nit-picking>> The buttons on the Pro are more spread out, and harder to reach quickly compared to the original. I also prefer the size differential in upper buttons compared to lower ones in the original pad – it means that you don’t have to lift your thumb off one of the lower buttons to satisfactorily activate the smaller upper buttons – something that becomes obvious if you have both pads, or compare the two hands-on in PC World. A superficially cosmetic feature also causes some concern. On the original black Sidewinder, the buttons and d-pad are smooth to the touch and the black case is slightly rough. On the Pro, the reverse is true. The smoothness of the case makes it VERY easy to pick up and retain grease and gunk – very irritating if you share the pad with mates. Also, if your hands sweat profusely (Mr ‘Sisko’!!), you’re liable to lose grip of the Pro, something that doesn’t happen with the original black. One thing that MS never fail to do is produce buttons on their sticks, pads and wheels that ‘feel’ good to touch and depress, and despite the location of the Pro’s ones, they still feel good. Though the shoulder triggers do annoyingly click – a feature (not regrettably) missing form the original black. You can’t say so about the d-pad though. The original black has a pure digital d-pad, and as such has a definite (and satisfying) click when you depress it – but it’s not one that you can hear – you FEEEEL it. The Pro’s d-pad is to all intents and purposes, analogue. You can’t get the sense of where your pressing ends – there’s no click. It’s the same in whatever direction you press. It&
          #8217;s familiar I’m sure to all those that are accustomed to using real analogue joysticks, where movements in all directions mean something, and you have to concentrate hard on maintaining pressure in a particular direction, and changes in direction are rather gradual. This is a far cry from what I was brought up on – Commodore 64 and Amiga digital joysticks, where nothing but digital would do (or was indeed available) for joystick waggling games like Aquatic Games, California Games, and other less dramatic joystick-dependant games. The main reasons for me buying three original black Sidewinders, particularly the third when the Pro was available, are as follows. The on-board game controller. It meant that I could daisy chain up to four Original Gamepads for multiplayer action with my friends. In many ways, it’s better than online gaming. You can SEE the look on your 2 opponents when you and your partner combine to set up the winning goal in Actua Soccer 3. It’s just the tonic before and after the during-match Sky Sports booze up on Sunday afternoons. During such times, facts like whether a pad is digital or analogue are thrown out the window (along with my BEER MUG – I want a replacement, boyeee – You know who you are!). You wonder how the original black pad could contain the few extras (including the not-so-small matter of an on-board game controller port) in a more compact unit. You also wonder what exactly is taking up SO much space within the Pro’s case – said before they weigh the same. The only thing that could justify such a volume are force-feedback motors, which the Pro sadly lacks, but could so easily have incorporated. Especially bearing in mind the advances Microsoft have made with their second-generation analogue joysticks and steering wheels, both of which have stunning feedback forces. I guess that if you are really determined, you could replicate this multi-pl
          ayer-dom with 4 Pros and an extra USB hub (since most modern computers only come with 2 USB ports as standard), but extra hubs (4 USB) cost about 40 quid – the same as 2 original black pads. I am in a privileged position in that I can have 4 original blacks ALONG with 2 USB Pros, to allow 6-player action in FIFA 2000. Here’s where the game profiler comes in handy; either the Pros or the originals can completely replicate keyboard strokes – so no one has to play on keyboard. Bringing up the accompanying software. I don’t want anyone to buy the Pro purely because it is USB and ‘promises’ true plug ‘n play connectivity. That’s not to say it isn’t P ‘n p. The original black Gamepad is JUST as P ‘n p!! You can connect it to your sound card’s midi port (aka game controller port) while the computaa’s on and, provided Direct X is installed, your computer WILL detect it – EASY! Just the same as the Pro. In fact, it will be VERY rare that you positively NEED to install the respected gamepad’s game profiler. If you buy a MS Gamepad, one assumes you play PC games. And if you play modern PC games, then chances are you use Direct X – this guaran-damn-tees that either pad will work on your computer straight away. [The odd cases where the game profiler may be useful is where a games doesn’t automatically use a Gamepad. You can program EVERY button and direction to be a keystroke. As I said before, I found it useful in taking over the keyboard commands in Actua 3 / FIFA 2000 in multiplayer – believe me 6-player soccer is wild – especially when three quarters of you are pissed! (;-\ ] Notice that you need Direct X – it means that it necessitates a Windows environment – MS Sidewinder products unsurprisingly only work in Windows, and not DOS for example. The MS Gamepad Pro is all right! It&#
          8217;s entirely up to you which pad you’d prefer. The multiplayer potential of a number of Original Gamepads (along with its use as a joystick extension cable!). Or the USB and analogue-esque attributes of the silver/gold Pro. To be fair, there’s little else different (bar 2 extra buttons on the black) to the undiscerning eye. As final points, I’d like to emphasise that you ought to make sure that you get your Gamepads for the right price. The original pad goes for an absolute maximum acceptable price of 20 quid when sold on it’s own. Crap shops sell it for more – save yo money and try Jungle.com. Jungle and Gameplay sell the Pro in bundles with games, as does PC World on occasions. Of these three bundles, Gameplay sells the Pro at closest to the original retail price. PC World generally saves you a fiver on a game and the pad in Holiday offers (Xmas, Bank Hol’s, etc.). Jungle sells the Pro for £19.99 when bought with Metal Gear Solid on PCCDROM – the best bundle. Order online for free delivery. >>spam!<< The important thing is that whichever pad you purchase, they will be able to play all games (even first-person shooters if you want :-/ ) and do so RIGHT OUT OF THE BOX! [You read all of that just to get to the main point – The Last Sentence! Ha! ;-) ] Spam or BE Spammed! { Whoa ….. PROfound(!) }

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        • Product Details

          SideWinder Game Pad Pro is the latest evolution of gamepad design, color and functionality. In addition to the classic SideWinder gamepad functionality of 6 buttons, and two triggers, the SideWinder Game Pad Pro has revolutionized the control provided with a dual precision D-pad, which features both proportional and digital control. The Digital control, similar to the SideWinder Game Pad, is unbeatable for sports and fighting games that require the fastest response. Proportional control is perfect for racing games and advanced, next generation sports games.

          Technical Data

          Product Description: Microsoft SideWinder Game Pad Pro - game pad - wired
          Product Type: Game pad
          Connectivity Technology: Wired
          Buttons Qty: 6
          Controls: 8-way cross keypad, trigger
          Colour: White
          Microsoft Certification: Certified for Windows Vista
          Manufacturer Warranty: 1 year warranty
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