Logitech today unveiled the ChillStream, a PC gaming controller with a built-in fan to cool players' hands. At first glance, the controller looks to be almost a dead ringer for Microsoft's. It has two analog sticks, a four-way D-pad, two sets of front trigger controls, and nearly the exact same button layout on the front face. The A, B, X, Y, Start, Back, and Guide keys are all straight out of the 360 playbook, but the ChillStream is strictly a PC-only controller. As such, the "ring of light" player indicator and Logitech-branded Guide button are pitched as Vista-friendly gaming features, at least for now. (The likely reason: PC accessories don't require third-party manufacturers to pay a licensing fee, but Xbox 360 add-ons are "taxed" by Microsoft.) A dedicated button on the controller's face sets the fan to one of two speeds or switches it off entirely.
Of course, fan-cooled gamepads aren't new: Nyko pioneered the idea with its AirFlo line of controllers a few years ago, and the company has since released some wireless models. The ChillStream, by contrast, is a corded USB controller, but it offers a more refined look and feel than the Nyko offerings. The ChillStream will be available in September for $40. Look for a hands-on review at CNET as soon as it becomes available.