|Min OS X: Any Version Requires: USB Port
|Nostromo SpeedPad n52
January 12, 2004 | Greg Gant
Unlike the original n50, the n52 has a small learning curve. At first the n52 feels a bit clumsy with all the additional buttons. It took me a few days to adapt to having three rows of keys rather than two. I found I preferred the feel of the n50 to the n52, but I welcomed the new features. Personally, I couldnít think of any way to add more buttons without cluttering the pad, nor do I think Belkinís engineers could either. I do, however, have a minor gripe about the two thumb buttons that are adjacent to the D-pad. Neither of them are terribly useful for anything besides shift states.
Uses Beyond ShootersThe n52 is still primarily targeted towards first and third person shooters, but the additional buttons allows it to be configured for games that use many shortcut keys, like Warcraft 3. I did manage to configure the original n50 for WarCraft 3 with a relatively low degree of success. The n52ís additional buttons makes a world of difference. Itís actually a legitimate keyboard substitute for real time strategy games.
It's also possible to use the n52 with productivity applications. I tried experimenting with the n50 with only mild success, so I decided to try again with the n52. I made a profile for Photoshop with various short cuts and key commands, but unfortunately, old habits die-hard. After hours of playing with the pad, my left hand slowly migrated back to the keyboard. Un-learning eight years of Photoshop key commands would take more time than what I have allotted for this review. Still, itís an interesting possibility. If ever I consider getting back into film editing, I have a feeling that the n52 would mesh well with Final Cut Pro.
Conclusion Owners of the n50 probably donít have a strong need to buy the n52 unless theyíre at war with the pad for lack of buttons. The only thing holding the n52 back is the $50 MSRP, a $15 price hike over the original. The n52 feels like a much more complete product but gamers have to evaluate the games they play. Favorites of mine like Max Payne and Medal of Honor are very playable on the n50, but the n52 really expands the horizons of the pad to a whole world of new games such as real time strategies.
Even more functionality for games beyond first and third person shooters
ConsSlightly clunky compared to the n50
Costs significantly more than the n50