All charged up and ready to go.
To some, using a keyboard for gaming is as out there as a
license to use the Internet
. Unfortunately, there aren't many credible alternatives
available to those who still think of their $3000 PCs as giant consoles on really
small televisions. Most attempts at capturing the ease of console gaming have
been awkward and others are straight-up
, though every now and then we come across something worth
Not one to be outdone by the competition, Saitek has returned with another
well-made peripheral in the P3000 Wireless Pad & Docking Station.
This wireless, rechargeable USB PC game controller may just be your ticket to
out of the gate the P3000 has a vast lead over the competition
- virtually no wires. Well, there is one that runs from the recharging unit
to your USB port, but the controller itself is completely wireless. The recharging
unit acts as a nifty little display stand for the controller. The package also
comes with two little rechargeable batteries; plug one into the top of your
controller like an oversized memory card and plug the other into the recharging
unit. While one is being used, the other is getting some rest, so you'll have
sufficient power 24/7. And much like any decent new cell phone, the easy-to-read
LCD screen displays the remaining battery life so the controller won't conk
out on you in the middle of level 7.
Comfort and design were clearly high priorities. The P3000
sports a friendly six-button layout with a single set of left/right shoulder
buttons. This is a common, comfortable layout and makes all functions easy to
reach. It also comes with the now standard dual analog sticks, which can be
pressed in as buttons themselves for added functionality, as well as an 8-way
D-pad. There's also a 'Shift' button which effectively doubles the
number of functions.
In addition, what would normally be used as "Start" on a PS2 controller is
used here as a toggle to switch between analog and digital control. The latter
sets your D-pad function as the main directional control, while the analog sticks
operate as POV hat switches. Switch to analog and the scheme is reversed - analog
sticks control your movement and the D-pad becomes the hat switch. No matter
how you play, the P3000 has you covered.
Moreover, it doesn't matter what you play either. I went rogue in Neverwinter
Nights, ripped it up in Tony Hawk 4, laid
siege to a dungeon or two in Microsoft's RPG hit, and even threw a few fires
in the hole. All performed well, yet the biggest controller hurdle was offered
by the great Mafia, an excellent game riddled
with varied, tough controls. Happily, the P3000 passed with
nearly flying colors.
Really the only performance issue I faced was with the analog stick. While
driving and skating, I found that the analog control veered slightly to the
left, just enough to annoy. I found two good ways to deal with this concern:
either switch to digital and use the D-pad or utilize Saitek's programming software.
The software allows you to change the buttons to take on keyboard functions.
With a click of a button using the programming software, I set the directions
of the left analog stick to operate as WASD on my keyboard, which seemed to
alleviate the alignment issue.
The $39.95 MSRP is a little steep for what amounts to just a control pad,
but when you consider what you're getting for the money – wireless, rechargeable,
solid layout – it makes sense. Saitek's P3000 is a great way
to make hassle-free gaming your new reality, no matter how or what you play.