Design and Features
Microsoft has recently expanded its SideWinder gaming range to incorporate a cut down version of its original SideWinder mouse, the X5, a new version, the X8 (due next year), and a keyboard, the X6. The keyboard inherits the aggressive angular styling of the family, and yet in this case it pays off, creating quite the impression.
The first thing of note is the swappable numpad, which can be placed on the right, left, or removed altogether via a strong magnetic system. Along with the dedicated bank of six keys down the left, the numpad can be used for an additional 18 keys within which to store macros that can either be recorded live through the keyboard by pressing the macro record key, created and edited through Microsoft's Intellitype software, or a combination of the two. A shift key below the six macro keys on the left switches them to allow another six macros to be stored, and up to three banks worth of macros can be created and switched between using a button at the top of the keyboard, giving way to a possible 72 macros. Those counting will be thinking "you've gotten that wrong — that should be 90 macros" — but in bank 1 mode, the numpad is always the numpad, even if Microsoft's software allows you to add macros to the unusable keys.
The software also allows you to disable the Windows, Caps Lock and Application key, should they prove to be an annoyance in-game, and can set per application key settings, so when a program is launched, the macro keys change with it — it's not just customisable macros either, as the keys can be used to run commands, or launch applications as well.
Some players will also find the Cruise Control button a boon — by holding down the Cruise Control button, then pressing up to a combination of four buttons and releasing, the keyboard will then act as if those four keys have been held down continuously until the Cruise Control button is pressed again. If, for example, you wanted to continuously run forward in an FPS, you'd hold down the Cruise Control button, press W, then release both, and your character would indefinitely run forward.