TrackIR 5, a new (at least new to this player) concept in maneuverability for Gamers by Natural Point.
Natural Point’s TrackIR 5 is an updated version of their past system the original TrackIR 3. Natural Point states that there are “improved specs on several points over previous models”. There is also another variant of this system, TrackIR PRO which is not covered in this report. The use of TrackIR in writing this review was my first experience ever with this type of hardware. This hardware literally makes using your head to get into the GAME by linking your actual head movements in 3 Dimensional space to your in game view.
My first impressions and adjustment to using TrackIR was conducted using my copy of Microsoft’s Flight Simulator X and FSX expansion pack as the testing platform.
The TrackerIR arrived via the U.S. Postal Service and upon opening, I was impressed with the packing of the product. Attractive eye catching graphics, yet simple and elegant.
The Package Includes: TrackIR 5 device with six feet of USB cable, The Black TrackClip (reflective tracking clip, TrackIR software (via download), and a User’s Manual (.pdf) and a paper quick start guide.
The Tracking device itself is surprisingly small, three inches square overall. Below it can be seen mounted on my monitor next to my video camera for a size comparison.
The Black TrackClip is a simple piece of spring steel that mounts onto a baseball hat bill for ease of use.
You will notice that the clip has three concave points mounted with reflective tape. It is this tape that reflects the Infrared light projected by the TrackIR and read by the sensors within.
Set up was simple. Open the package, inventory the parts, mount the Track head on top of the monitor, plug in the USB cable, find a suitable baseball hat, mount the TrackClip, boot up the website, download the software and run a test.
The TrackIR 5 software is new compared to the earlier versions. This version of software is much more precise with a completely different calibration menu from the original. You now get a spherical axis that shows you exactly how fast you are panning. As you adjust, you can see how fast your adjustments work. It takes quite a few sessions of in and out of the cockpit environment to get used to the speed of where you want your head/vision to look, but the software makes the precision adjustment easy. The graphics observed as tested can only compare to the performance of the graphics card you have loaded in your system. Clearly if you have a high speed graphics card, this will only enhance your experience.
As seen on my monitor.
So how does it work?? The software is written so when you move your head, ie looking right, left, up or down, your view on the screen changes. You no longer have to toggle view on your key binds!! Just look in the direction you need to and bam! Your view is projected on your video monitor.
Natural Point uses something called Six Degrees of Freedom. It is best explained from their website directly. “There are only 6 ways you can move around in 3D space. There are 3 ways to lean, and 3 ways to rotate. The technical term for all of these movements is “6 Degrees of Freedom” (or “6DOF”).
True 6DOF support is one of the main things that puts TrackIR well ahead of any other input device.”
After the inital set up, I was ready to test this out!!! As stated under CONCEPT, I first used the
TrackIR 5 system with my main flying sim Microsoft FSX. Instead of going through a full detail of selecting the airport and aircraft, weather and such, I at first allowed the game to default to the Ultra light aircraft and original launch area under FSX. I was AMAZED to say the least. After several thousand hours of flight sim along with several hundred hours of actual flight both inside and outside the aircraft, The realism of flight was right on point for me! When looking around with the TrackIR 5 system, you get the feel of actually flying. The graphics are complimented by the choice of graphics card you may have in your system. The ability to just look where you want without having to use a hand or finger to control a mouse to look around makes the flying simulations for me, more enjoyable.
What is also great about this system is that it is currently compatabile with over 110 game titles. Full coverage of the game titles can be found here.
The TrackIR is well put together, simple to use, and I am more impressed the more I use it. Natural Point takes pride in its design of product and it’s software and it shows.
As always, Value is in the eye of the beholder. At $149.95 (excluding taxes and shipping), the overall value may seem steep to some, cheap to others. But, this purchase can be easily justified by enhancing your level of play and overall gaming expectations. So if you love race cars, fly jets, drive tanks or like me, a predominate flyer and moderate first person shooter, I say to you, this is a MUST HAVE for your gaming experience!
The point of TrackIR is to make controlling your game’s view completely seamless and natural. You will forget you have TrackIR setup at all, because looking at your monitor will be like looking through a window into a 3D world.
Blue Skies and Long Swoops,