First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
Microsoft SideWinder X4 gaming keyboard (preview)
Microsoft says the design nuances of the SideWinder X4 are the result of listening to customers
We'll post a more detailed review once we've given the hardware a longer examination, but first impressions from half an hour of gaming, typing and general messing about with Microsoft's SideWinder X4 gaming keyboard are favourable.
- Interesting collection of features
- We're yet to complete our full range of tests!
Our first impressions are that Microsoft's new SideWinder X4 gaming keyboard is a robust product with several interesting, useful gamer-oriented features. Watch this space for a more detailed review and scores.
Continuing the touchy-feely, customer-focused theme of the Windows 7 marketing push, Microsoft says the design nuances of the SideWinder X4 are the result of listening to the customer - specifically the gamers who bought the X4's higher-end predecessor, the Microsoft SideWinder X6.
The biggest concern, Microsoft says, was that multiple keystrokes were periodically failing to register, a particular issue for players of real-time strategy games with their notoriously numerous and complex hotkey shortcuts.
To combat this, the X4 features design enhancements to minimise 'ghosting' by incorporating resistive multitouch technology - the same technology used in the company's Surface computing venture - under the grid of keys. In theory, up to 26 keys can be pressed at once without causing problems.
There are six programmable keys, labelled S1-6, down the lefthand side of the keyboard; above these sits a 'bank' button, which toggles between three banks - standard, gaming 1 and gaming 2, for instance. Each bank has its own set of key programs, giving you in effect 18 programmable keys within easy reach.
The SideWinder X4 also features in-game macro recording, adjustable backlighting and a repetitive macro key.
The all-important typing action seems good once you get used to the relatively heavy feel to the keys - presumably in deference to the considerable demands of long gaming sessions. The keys are nicely spaced - this is a pretty hefty piece of kit, with a nicely robust feel. We did find the placement of the S keys somewhat distracting, frequently hitting these by accident when aiming for Shift, but again this is something you're likely to get used to after a while.
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