The USB Advantage

As mentioned before, the SideWinder Game Pad Pro supports USB exclusively. That means some really nice functionality and convenience. Firstly, the pad is completely hot swappable, like most other USB devices. After you are finished gaming and it's time to go back to work, just pull the SideWinder out of the USB port and plug your USB printer (or scanner, or whatever) back in and away you go. No reboot, no fooling around in device manager, nothing. Also, the pad installs ridiculously easily. Simply plug the Gamepad Pro into a USB port and Windows 98 or 2000 will immediately detect it and prompt for drivers. Point it to the included CD and you're off and running. Further, the port size and versatility of the Universal Serial Bus has prompted most laptop vendors to include it on their products, meaning that you can now use the SideWinder on most new laptops. This was much appreciated on a recent trans-Atlantic plane trip ;) It's no secret that USB is the way the market is going, and the SideWinder Pro is a good illustration of why.

The Software

The drivers installed without incident on both Windows 98 and 2000, exactly as advertised, without requiring a reboot (which, in itself, is something to cheer about). Also included on the CD is Game Controller Software v.4.0, which contains, among other things, an online user's guide, a link to the MSN Gaming Zone, and schemes and a scheme editor. When installing on Windows 2000 the software warns that it might not work correctly as it is meant for Windows 98, but there weren't any apparent limitations or malfunctions once it was installed. Everything went very smoothly. The scheme editor can take advantage of the shift button, allowing you to place keystrokes, macros (several combination, or often-used, button presses or keystrokes bound together to produce a certain function in a game) or combinations of both on any gamepad button, in shifted mode or not. There are many well-made schemes included with the software, in case you don't feel like creating your own, and the fully customizable scheme editor allows you to make changes even to these. You can even run two macros simultaneously. Suffice it to say, if you are into schemes and macros, the Game Control Software v.4.0 won't disappoint you. The button testing and configuring utility included with version 4.0 is pretty standard, but it is worth mentioning that it works well. The entire software package, in fact, is easy to find things and navigate around in. There is even an extensive troubleshooting section in the user guide, but it is hard to imagine anyone having difficulty installing and configuring the SideWinder Game Pad Pro.

The Hardware Conclusion
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