|Min OS X: Any Version Requires: USB Port|
The Saitek P3000 Wireless 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 P3000 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 P3000 is similar in size and weight to many of the third-party PSone/PS2 controllers commonly available (even considering the wireless components and the removable battery pack). Roughly boomerang-shaped, the P3000 is black in color with silver accents used for the front-face buttons, D-Pad, and descriptive lettering. The grips (molded in a lighter grey tone) 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. A small LCD screen in the center of the controller's face indicates the battery charge level, the current channel setting ("A" and "B" settings allow simultaneous wireless play for a gaming duo team), and the digital/analog toggle setting for the thumbsticks (which may not be properly supported, due to the lack of first-party Mac driver software).The docking station (modeled in black and silver, roughly the size of a baseball) is the "wired" part of the wireless controller, which plugs into your Mac's USB port. The dock serves as the RF receiver for your P3000 gamepad when in use, a convenient storage rack for the pad when not in use, and a charger for the two (2) proprietary nickel hydride rechargeable battery packs included with the controller (drawing power right from the USB bus, which means the packs likely won't charge whilst your Mac is asleep or shut down). One fully-charged pack is rated by the manufacturer to last for eight (8) hours of gameplay, and swapping is easily done using the slot between the shoulder buttons (see the next section for more details about all the pad's buttons).
For navigation purposes, the P3000 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 thirteen (13) 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 below the LCD screen
- one (1) RF channel toggle key, dead-center on the front face below the LCD screen next to the digital/analog toggle
- the final two (2) buttons are the analog thumbsticks previously mentioned, both of which are clickable
(It is worth noting that while the 'Shift', digital/analog toggle, and channel selection 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.)