Gamers are always looking for new devices that will help them win their games. For computer gamers there are many options: Game Pads, Joysticks, Keyboard/Mouse combo and now the Pro Gamer Command Unit from Saitek.
- Backlit device for First Person Shooter (FPS) & Real Time Strategy (RTS) gaming
- Ergonomic keypad with laser etched keys so characters are visible in any lighting environment; ideal for late night gaming session and LAN parties
- 4-way analog hat switch
- 20 buttons including space, shift function and 3 mode states for up to 144 programmable commands
- Adjustable thumb control area has 2-way tilt mechanism, slides forwards and backwards, pivots up and down
Saitek has long been known as a premier maker of gaming controls. They make everything from joysticks down to gaming mice. More recently they announced a new device called the Pro Gamer Command Unit. This device is kind of like a mini keyboard with a joystick and mouse built in. The command Unit gives you everything you need to play most games in one device.
Like the Eclipse keyboard the keys on the Pro Gamer Command unit are laser etched so that the back light from under the keys shines through so you can play even in pitch black.
There is an adjustable thumb control area that has a 2 way tilt mechanism. This means it slides forwards and backwards, and pivots up and down. This is very useful especially because everyone has different sized hands. Unfortunately, this thumb control area cannot be moved to the other side, so it only can be used by the left hand. The joystick that I mentioned is actually a 4 way hat switch. So it is probably not precise enough to use in games that require precise aiming and such. You will probably want to use your mouse in addition to the Pro Gamer Command Unit for these kinds of games.
With twenty buttons, a shift button and 3 modes you can have up to 144 programmable options. This is obviously more than you will ever need for one game. You could use different modes for your favorite 3 games.
This is one compact unit and it packs in a lot for its size. As mentioned before there are 20 programmable keys, 3 modes and a shift button which all add up to 144 programmable options for your games. In addition to the keyboard keys this also includes two buttons on the thumb control area. The thumb control area is unique for Saitek devices because it is not ambidextrous. Saitek has normally tried very hard to make its devices useable for right and left handed people. Because the thumb control area cannot be moved to the other side it can only be used by the left hand. This is OK for right handed people who are used to using the keyboard with their left hand and mouse with their right hand. If you are left handed and switch the keyboard and mouse you may find this a little difficult to use. It would be nice if the wrist rest were also adjustable. If you have small hands like mine you may find the distance between the keys and the wrist rest a little uncomfortable.
The keyboard is exactly like the Eclipse keyboard, also by Saitek, so if you have one of those and you like the feel of it then you will also like the feel of this. The keys are silver with the numbers laser etched into the keys so that the light from the bottom of the keyboard can shine though. This makes it really great for gaming in the dark, especially if you have not memorized the position of the keys. Because the keys are numbered you will still have to remember what number corresponds to what action.
Keys 2, 5, 6 and 7 have W, A, S, D and arrows printed on them so they are easier to recognize and configure. It would have been really nice if there was a notch on key 8, this corresponds to the F key on a standard keyboard. This would make it much easier to locate the keys without having to look at the Command Unit.
The wrist rest has a blue LED in the top which lights up a blue plastic stripe which is in the center of it. This is also were the shift key is located and you press it with the palm of your hand. I found the shift key difficult to use because I am not used to using my palm to hit buttons. Once I got used to it I found that it was clever to put the shift key here because it leaves your fingers free to press the other buttons.
A pretty useless feature can be found in the palm rest, which is a Saitek logo which is projected on your desk in red. The problem is that it only works well in the dark, while your wrist ends up hiding it anyway. The logo is not very clear; left alone it is really hard to see. In order to make the logo a little clearer I had to lift the bottom of the device a little.
The mode switch does more than just change the function of the keys, it also changes the color that is behind the keys. There are color dots next to each mode name that indicates the color that will shine through the keys. The three colors that are available are Red, Green, and Blue. The three modes that are available are user defined, FPS (First Person Shooter), and RTS (Real Time Strategy) modes.
The thumb control unit is somewhat useful as a mouse replacement. There are two buttons and a 4-way hat switch. If you prefer to continue using a mouse then you will probably not use this very much. For most games you will probably want to use your mouse. A good mouse is not only more precise, but it also reduces the amount of stuff your left hand needs to do.
The Pro Gamer Command Unit is also ergonomically designed so the device is curved to fit your hand. This helped to reduce the amount of fatigue that I feel after playing games for a long time. Even though they have tried hard to make this comfortable you will feel a little cramped and over worked. There is only so much that your left hand can do.
The Pro Gamer Command Unit is really useful. Because of the compact design you don’t have to move your hand all over a keyboard to reach the keys. It will take some getting used to, but when you do, your gaming is sure to go up a notch. I personally find this very useful when playing multiplayer games on the computer. I can use this while the other person uses the keyboard and mouse.
Installation is not all that difficult. You need to run the install of the drivers first and it will prompt you to plug in the unit. After it is installed you can test the keys and install separate programming software. With the programming software, you are given the ability to program each key to your hearts content. The only downfall to using the Command Unit is having to re-assign all your computer games to the new layout and picking out the best location for each command. This process can take a long time to figure out the best placement. The process is made easier if you use the built in W, A, S, D lettering on the keys 2, 5, 6 and 7.
If you play a lot of games where you need to type, like chatting in games, then you will find this more annoying than anything. Having to switch back and forth between this and a keyboard is very frustrating, especially because a keyboard already does everything you need.
As with all of Saitek’s products there is a two year warranty on the Pro Gamer Command Unit. This is decent, but I keep hoping that more companies will offer lifetime warranties.
The Saitek Pro Gamer Command Unit is going to have a hard time finding a niche that it fits into because it is trying to do what a keyboard already does. If you travel with your computer a lot and you find your keyboard too big then this might work for you. If you find a place for the Command Unit in your gaming and are willing to take the time to program all the keys to fit your games then you will enjoy this. For only $39.95 you can add a lot to your gaming with out spending a lot.
|JusTech'n editors' rating|