reviews\ Nov 25, 2002 at 7:00 pm

P3000 Wireless Pad & Docking Station - PC - Review

Saitek’s P3000 Wireless Pad and Docking Station offers terrific options and freedom for PC gamers.

The phone sits across the room from the computer and decides to ring while you are embroiled in a crucial gaming moment. In the past, you could either ignore the phone, or break the ambience by putting the game on pause and answering it.

My, how far the world of gaming has come. Option three is now available, and that is continuing to play while walking across the room and answering the phone. This is the age of wireless and Saitek has come up with a handy little gamepad that not only gives players the freedom of distance from a computer, but has also incorporated a bit of a break from having to replace batteries.

The P3000 Wireless Pad and Docking Station is the ominous-sounding name of the device. But let’s break it down. This is a wireless gamepad with a holder. Not only does that holder serve to set the frequency of the unit, and uplink it to the USB port on your PC, but it also acts as a battery charger for the interchangeable and rechargeable nickel hybrid battery packs.

The device is a breeze to install. Consider it a four-step process: unpackage it, install the drivers, plug a battery into the front of the docking station and plug it into a USB port on your PC. All in all, a relatively quick process.

The battery charge is displayed by a red light on the docking station. When the battery pack is charged, the light goes off. Unclip and remove the charged pack and snap it into the gamepad, put the battery pack that needs charging into the docking station.

Of course, check to see if your system has found the gamepad in control panels, and test the system set-up.

From that point on, just launch a game and enjoy yourself.

The pad features six programmable buttons on the front and two shoulder buttons (also programmable). It also has a shift key, two thumbsticks and an eight-way D-pad. There is a LCD screen for a quick glance at battery life and keypad features. First problem, the LCD screen has an overlay that was on crooked and it rather hard to read in a dark room.

The pad itself is comfortable and the buttons are all within easy reach. You won’t be doing finger gymnastics to get around on this pad. To test the pad, two EASports titles, NHL 2003 and FIFA Soccer 2003. First out of the box was the hockey title.

The P3000 performed amazingly well. Even from 20 feet away, the reaction time was if not instantaneous, then close to it. The controls were easy to manage and the game played very well. FIFA Soccer was almost similar. The battery was starting to wear down (you can expect several hours of play from a charge), and occasionally the game would jump into the pause menu. Because the pad still was accepting commands though, it produced a humorous situation. The player-controlled defense had just stolen the ball from the CPU’s offense about 14 yards from the goalmouth. The fullback was looking in the direction of the goalkeeper. The game jumped into pause. Buttons were mashed in an effort to avoid crossing back over the PC to use the mouse to hit the ‘resume game’ button. Ah well, a short trip over to the computer ensued and ‘resume game’ was tabbed. Oh-oh, one of the buttons mashed during the pause was the shoot button, which was retained in the controller’s memory. Game unpaused. He shoots, he scores ­ an own goal.

The P3000 Wireless Pad and Docking Station is a comfortable control system that removes the wires. It is definitely a well-designed package that performs well in fast-paced gaming situations. Granted, the device does not have rumble or feedback, but it does give gamers the freedom that six feet of cable doesn’t allow.

Wireless makes a big difference when playing a game. You can sit back with your feet up and not have to worry about accidentally disconnecting at a pivotal moment. The controller feels good, and has a solid features package.

The LED display didn’t perform in a manner that was convenient or user-friendly.

Verdict: 9
The range and setup of this device is very good. The rechargeable battery packs are also an excellent idea that will make any game player’s day. The gamepad is comfortable and the buttons are all easily accessible. This is a very good gaming device.


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