Tuesday, 02 February 2010 11:56

SideWinder X4: Microsoft's new gamer keyboard

If you've got 13 fingers on each hand, Microsoft's got the keyboard for you.

A headline feature of Microsoft's new SideWinder X4 keyboard is that it can cope with up to 26 keys being depressed at once.

For comparison, Microsoft's everyday Comfort Curve keyboard only registers four simultaneous depressions. That's enough for combinations such as Control-Alt-Shift-X, and enough to keep up with a fast typist who presses a second or even third key before the first has been released.

So why 26? Despite our opening comment, it's not for the benefit of people with an unusually high number of digits.

Like other SideWinder devices, the X4 keyboard is aimed at gamers, who (presumably) are adept at pressing multiple keys with one finger or who use a keyboard in tandem.

"We're always looking for new and novel ways to enhance people's interactions with their PCs," said Steven Bathiche, research manager of the applied sciences group at Microsoft.

"We know that ghosting [failing to detect keypresses] can be a problem for gamers, so we wanted to develop a way to eliminate this issue and improve the overall gaming experience, and we've succeeded with the new anti-ghosting technology in the SideWinder X4 Keyboard," he added.

Other features include macros (multiple keystrokes triggered by one button), adjustable backlighting, and mode and profile switching (to suit different games and users).

Shipping next month, the SideWinder X4 will cost $US59.95.


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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.



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