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First Look: Microsoft SideWinder X6 Keyboard

updated 04:00 pm EDT, Mon October 13, 2008

SideWinder X6 Keyboard

Video game consoles like the Xbox or PlayStation are easy to use because they offer special game controllers designed to play video games. Unfortunately, most computers are saddled with an ordinary keyboard designed for general use. If you prefer a specialized keyboard optimized for video game playing, consider Microsoft's SideWinder X6 Keyboard.

The most prominent feature of this product is its detachable numeric keypad that uses magnets to attach to the left or right side of the keyboard. Left-handed users who rely on typing numbers will find this feature alone worth the price.

The numeric keypad can attach to either side of the keyboard

The second most noticeable feature is its backlighting that makes the keys glow with a reddish hue in the dark. A knob on the top of the keyboard lets you adjust this backlighting so you can see all keys comfortably under various lighting. Turn the lights low, crank up the backlighting, and you'll be able to play your favorite video games in total darkness while still seeing your entire keyboard at the same time. For added convenience, you can twist a second knob that lets you adjust your computer's volume.

The SideWinder X6 offers backlighting

All of these features work with both Mac OS X and Windows XP/Vista. However, the most advanced features are reserved strictly for Windows users. First, there's a special Cruise Control button that lets you replicate the action of multiple keystrokes without holding those keys down.

For example, if you're playing a video game that forces you to type Ctrl+F4 to make a character in a game perform a certain move, you can assign this Ctrl+F4 keystroke to this Cruise Control button. Now you can press the Cruise Control button once and this mimics holding down the Ctrl+F4 keys for an extended period of time. Press the Cruise Control button a second time and you can stop this repetitive action.

More useful is the ability to record macros and assign them to one of thirty available keys or one of the twelve function keys. For non-game playing, this macro feature lets you record typed text and play it back again. For video game playing, macros let you record multiple keystrokes, such as a keystroke that makes a character on the screen move and a second set of keystrokes that make that same character shoot.

Instead of pressing two (or more) sets of separate keystrokes to make a character move and shoot, you could just assign this action to a single function key. Then before your opponent can react, tap this macro key and your character moves and shoots faster than you could make it by pressing so many individual keystrokes. Macros give you programmable shortcuts to playing all your favorite video games.

The SideWinder provides buttons for recording macros

With thirty separate programmable function keys, you should have plenty of keys to assign your favorite video game moves. Since you may have several favorite video games, this product offers a switchable mode that creates three separate programmable banks.

Switching to bank 1 lets you program all thirty function keys for playing a game like Call of Duty. Switching to bank 2 lets you assign completely different functions to those same thirty function keys, except geared for playing another game like Civilization. Switching to bank 3 lets you assign still more functions for playing a third game like Spore. By letting you switch between three completely different programmable keyboard layouts, this product gives you the ultimate flexibility in assigning shortcut keys for playing any type of game.

The SideWinder X6 keyboard is the type of product that hardcore gamers will appreciate to play their favorite games faster and easier than ever before. The product's $79.95 price tag makes it affordable to the average user who may want to create shortcuts for using common applications, or who just may want the keyboard for its detachable numeric keypad. If you're tired of using an ordinary keyboard to play games, the SideWinder X6 may be the gaming keyboard for you.

By Electronista Staff


  1. njfuzzy

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Apr 2001



    I found this article on the front page of MacNN. How is this Mac news?

  1. hexor

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Aug 2003



    Because some people actually use non Apple keyboards with their macs.

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001


    Re: MacNN

    I found this comment on Electronista, but it was about MacNN. How is this an Electronista concern?

    And it works with a mac. Maybe that's why.

  1. Constable Odo

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Aug 2007


    More advanced features...

    will always be for Windows users because in Microsoft's eyes, Macs and Mac users amount to nothing. Thanks a lot MS guys. Well, I guess it doesn't matter since Macs are considered gaming machines, anyway.

  1. aSevie

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Mar 2001


    Nice job Macnn

    The picture links above are missing a 't' in http, the shots in the image links are also the same images used as the preview. How about a little bit bigger of a picture so we can see the deets. Lame.

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