Logitech game wheel brings feel of racing to players...


March 28, 2002

Logitech game wheel brings feel of racing to players' hands

For driving-simulation fans, racing with a game console's standard controller just doesn't feel right. But when you take the cars out for a spin with Logitech's Driving Force steering wheel and pedals for the PlayStation 2, and the races get interesting.

The "force feedback" on the steering wheel of this gizmo allows players to feel the bumps in the road and the impact of the crashes. If you hit a wall, the wheel will jerk in the opposite direction, as in real life.

Setup is relatively easy. The PlayStation 2 instantly recognizes the wheel once it's plugged into the console's USB port. The crucial (and occasionally difficult) part is adjusting everything so that the wheels and pedals are stable and comfortable. The wheel can be clamped to a table for stability (which is best, as long as your table top is 1.5 inches thick or less), or you can use the lap adapter and hold the wheel between your legs.

Despite being weighted, the pedals tend to slide on carpet, so you might want to set the unit against a table leg or invest in some rubber stoppers.

Four action buttons and a directional pad on the wheel match those on a regular controller, but you'll also find two wheel-mounted paddles that can be used as gearshifters or gas and brake pedals.

The Driving Force device can take a while to get used to, but once you do, you're likely to find yourself racing better and enjoying yourself more. At $100 list (as low as $68 online), it's a bit pricey, and right now it's only compatible with 11 games, including Gran Turismo 3, Formula One 2001, Motor Mayhem, Nascar Heat and Test Drive. But if you love to drive, it's a great accessory.

Information: 800-231-7717 or www.logitech.com.

- Andria Yu

Portable mouse just too big for own good

Making mice portable has been the goal of a lot of companies producing small pointing devices. When you're on an airplane, you don't have much room to use a full-size mouse with a laptop computer.

Kensington has come up with its own portable mouse, the PocketMouse Pro ($40) that sports a retractable USB cable that fits snuggly inside the device. This optical mouse works with PCs running Windows 98 or later and Macintosh computers running Mac OS 8.5 or later. You can even program the buttons by downloading software from Kensington's Web site to automatically double-click, drag things and cut and paste.

The PocketMouse Pro has a small door on its left side where the USB connector is hidden. A small button on top of the mouse unhooks the door. When you want to use the mouse, you pull out the USB connection and cord and close the door.

The problem with the PocketMouse Pro is that it's still a little large for a portable mouse. At 3 1/2 inches long and 2 1/4 inches wide, it's nearly as big as the optical mouse I use with my desktop computers.

While your hands won't cramp from using a regular size mouse, the PocketMouse Pro seems oversized for the one place it would be most useful: in coach on an airliner.

Information: 650-572-2700 or www.kensington.com.

- Kevin Washington

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