updated 03:00 am EDT, Wed August 20, 2008
MS SideWinder X5 and X6
Microsoft this morning used the advent of the Leipzig Games Convention to launch a second generation of its reborn SideWinder gaming and performance peripherals. The X6 Keyboard is completely new to the range and has extra game-specific touches such as a Cruise Control feature, which sustains a common action, and in-game macro recording. It also has more intuitive game-oriented controls such as large dials for screen brightness and volume, a breakaway number pad and a lit-up W/A/S/D key area for playing first-person shooters in the dark.
The USB peripheral should work with most computers but relies on Windows-specific software for its most advanced features, including a quick launch key that queues up Windows Vista's game browser to load a new title. Microsoft is readying the X6 for shipping in September at an $80 price.
In a more evolutionary upgrade, the X5 Mouse is a subtler refresh of the original SideWinder with an all-black trim and a new, high-grip scroll wheel. The five mouse buttons (including two vertically mounted side buttons) and quick launch button carry over almost directly from the year-ago edition. It ships simultaneously with the X6 and sells for $60.