Gaming products designed to replace the good old keyboard for better game handling and reducing wrist injuries have been around for ages. Although many of these radical input devices are able to offer tangible benefits for gamers, most are more willing to spend good money on better mice, keyboards and mouse pads rather than purposefully built game pads. Due to their slow adoption rate, many such products are swiftly relegated to the background and even pulled off the shelves as a result of lackluster sales figures. Yet, in spite of the upgrade attitude of gamers that is clearly more inclined towards other inputs devices, Saitek has decided that gamers could fare better in virtual arenas when equipped with their latest product, the Pro Gamer Command Unit.
Loaded With Buttons
On the physical attributes of the game pad, there are more than 21 buttons and a 4-way track point available at your disposal. But at the flick of a mode slider, Saitek claims the Pro Gamer Command Unit is well capable of up to 144 programmable commands. How any gamer could possibly remember all 144 keys is beyond our imagination, but at least Saitek is giving that headroom for you. The upside here is that the keys are quiet, spacious and nicely cushioned, hence finger fatigue will only set in after extended usage.
It Glows In The Dark
Given the mass of buttons, the busy looking Pro Gamer Command Unit can appear somewhat daunting at first glance. However, the calm glow of its backlight and a cool projection of the Saitek brand should easily coax users into giving all the buttons a good workout.
The shape of the Pro Gamer Command Unit was ergonomically arched to allow your left palm, fingers and thumb to rest naturally so as to reduce the risks of wrist injuries. The gap separating the keys and the palm wrist however was a little too far apart for our liking, and while the two metal rails sitting in the divide seem to suggest adjustability, both the palm rest and keypad module are actually fixed. What is extensible to suit different users is the thumb piece, which is home to the 4-way track point and two buttons. Alas, because it is permanently fixed to the right profile of the game pad, left-handed mouse users might just find it hard to discover any good use for the buttons and controls located on the thumb piece.
Thankfully, installation of the Pro Gamer Command Unit was effortless, involving nothing more than a couple of mouse clicks after inserting the bundled driver CD and hooking up the game pad to an unoccupied USB port. The game pad was immediately detected and configurable in games such Quake 3, Quake 4, Need For Speed Underground and Unreal Tournament 2004.
Slapped with a price tag of just USD$44, Saitek has at least set the price in the right bracket, going for less than what most gaming mice are retailing today. Together with the excellent ergonomics, cool illumination and up to 144 programmable commands, there is not much to dislike about the Pro Gamer Command Unit from Saitek other than your personal preference of mouse/mouse pad/keyboard combo over the game pad of course.