With the complexity of todayís PC games, players are finding it more and more difficult to master all of the many features that these games provide. Not only do most games require either a gamepad or joystick controller, but they also utilize the PC keyboard so that players have access to the multitude of gaming options. Memorizing those keyboard combinations can be tedious to say the least, but without them, the gaming experience just doesnít provide the same impact. Enter the Nostromo n50 SpeedPad from Belkin.
The SpeedPad is a new game controller that combines an eight-way directional pad, throttle wheel, and keyboard into one device. The product is ergonomically designed to fit a gamerís left hand so that the right hand remains free for maneuvering a mouse. The directional pad is accessible with the left thumb and the throttle wheel with the left index finger, leaving the remaining three fingers to operate the keyboard (although you can also access the keyboard with your index finger, but youíll need to move your hand a bit and forgo control of the throttle wheel).
Personally, I found the SpeedPad to be quite comfortable. It provides a nice hand rest, which can be removed to make room for different hand sizes. The non-stick feet on the bottom of the Pad do a good job of making sure it wonít slide around on your desktop in the heat of the moment while youíre waging battle against bad guys. The directional pad provides good responsiveness, and the throttle wheel adjusts smoothly. I also like the fact that the SpeedPad is a USB device, so installation was quick and painless. Most of all, however, I really like the level of programmability that the product provides.
Included with the SpeedPad is the Nostromo Array Programming Software. With this application, you can create and edit your own profiles, which are saved button configurations for the SpeedPad. This means that you can customize the SpeedPad to work with any of the games you have for your PC. You can program up to 8 functions for the directional pad, and the keyboard provides 10 programmable buttons. Additionally, you can designate up to three shift states for the keyboard. This means, for example, that if you program the directional pad to control the shift state of the keyboard, you can have up to 30 programmable functions assigned to the keyboard! Very nice. And not only can you assign single key combinations to each button, but multiple key combinations as well, which are called macros.
With its high level of programmability, the SpeedPad provides a lot of power for a mere game controller. I really enjoyed playing with it. But I also enjoyed using it with other applications such as my graphics and music sequencing programs. The programmable keyboard makes access to software functions (even other than games) much easier than using a standard computer keyboard. Whether for gaming or other tasks, the SpeedPad has found a permanent place on my computer desktop.