|Min OS X: Any Version Requires: USB Port|
The Saitek P880 Dual Analog Pad is a USB game controller primarily aimed at PC users, due to the lack of first-party custom Mac OS drivers (not for OS X nor any previous system version) beyond Jaguar's default Human Interface Device (HID) support. However, being a USB-based device an enterprising Mac OS X gamer armed with either Game Pad Companion or the latest release of USB-Overdrive (shareware utilities that allow generic HID-independent USB controller support for Macs) can make use of the P880 without too much trouble even if your game of choice doesn't support HID. It is important to note that HID support in games is *not* universal (especially for older games), so this review will be written assuming no HID support is available even if the specific games I playtested with do support HID.
The question remains, though, if this Saitek controller offers any features compelling enough for Mac gamers to go the extra mile to use this pad. Read on and see.
The P880 is similar in size and weight to many of the third-party PSone/PS2 controllers commonly available. Roughly boomerang-shaped, the P880 is dark blue in color with silver accents used for the front-face buttons, D-Pad, and descriptive lettering. The grips are rubberized from the front to the backside where your middle fingers normally grab for support, which will prevent the controller from becoming slippery if your hands become sweaty after extended hours of gameplay.
For navigation purposes, the P880 includes an 8-way D-Pad in the upper-left corner of the front face along with two (2) analog thumbsticks centered along the inside curve of the grips. The total number of possible buttons available is twelve (12) depending on your driver software of choice, which consist of:
- six (6) standard buttons in the upper-right corner of the front face
- two (2) oversized shoulder buttons along the top of the pad (triangular shaped, roughly 1" on a side)
- one (1) almond-shaped 'Shift' key centered above the six buttons in the upper-right corner
- one (1) digital/analog toggle key, dead-center on the front face
- the final two (2) buttons are the analog thumbsticks previously mentioned, both of which are clickable
(It is worth noting that while the 'Shift' and digital/analog toggle keys on the PC platform would likely not be configurable to take on true gameplay functions, generic USB device drivers like USB-Overdrive and game Pad Companion would be expected to treat these just like any other button.)
Since this is a hardware review, I will not go into any details regarding the installation or setup of the shareware drivers I have mentioned so far in this article. By way of summary, I recommend downloading the trial versions of both USB-Overdrive *and* Game Pad Companion to see which driver platform better supports your games of choice. I actually tried both myself in the process of reviewing this gamepad, and I found that each has their particular strengths and weaknesses depending upon the type of game being played (not to mention that each driver is regularly updated to fix bugs and add new features by their respective developers).