SmartJoy Frag

Review

posted 11/12/2004 by John Yan
other articles by John Yan
Platforms: Xbox
Ever since the Xbox first came out with Halo as its premier launch title, I’ve wanted a keyboard and mouse setup to play the game with. The PlayStation 2 had a few titles where you could plug in a USB mouse and keyboard to use as controllers, but alas the Xbox had no options, until now. Lik-Sang was very kind enough to send me a product that should have Xbox FPS gamers jumping for joy as they have released a product to let you plug a PS/2 mouse and keyboard along with being able to program the keys on the fly.

The SmartJoy Frag is a product that allows you to use any PS/2 mouse and keyboard to play your favorite games on the Xbox. The tiny box has two PS/2 ports and one memory expansion slot on top. Gamers that want to use a headset will be able to plug it to the verticale expansion slot. I tried the slot out with the Logitech Cordless Headest and it worked flawlessly.

Yes, the SmartJoy Frag is marketed towards FPS gamers on the Xbox but it works with a few other types too. I know I enjoy games like Grand Theft Auto 3 a lot more with a keyboard/mouse configuration and this product lets me do this. I’m not limited to the type of game that I can use it but rather the limitation is what the game settings are available and how fine grain you can tune your controller so you can discover a setting that works well with it. The more options in-game, the better chance the SmartJoy Frag will give you a good experience.

There are several presets available for some of the popular Xbox games but you aren’t limited to them. Programming on the fly is pretty easy so you aren’t limited to what the default keyboard controllers are as well. You can even save your configurations to presets that are mapped from F1 to F8. You can easily set the unit back to the factory default in case you want to get it back to how it was originally configured. Having the ability to save configurations makes this product easily usable on multiple games as you won’t have to setup the controllers every time you play for games that you play often.

Another example of how flexible the unit is is that you can switch the move and look controls. In a normal setup, the left control stick usually dictates movement and it’s setup as the traditional WASD keys. The mouse is mapped to the right analog stick, usually made for aiming. Should a game switch this setup, a simple keyboard combination will swap the functions. There are a few other functions like the stick switch that are accessible at a touch of a keyboard combination. Some of my friends like the inverse mouse function while others don’t. Instead of changing in the game, we can press a keyboard combination to switch it on the fly.

If you’ve ever tried to use a racing wheel on a console, then you know how much of a hassle it is if you can’t setup the deadzone. The SmartJoy Frag lets you set the amount of deadzone for your mouse and fine tune it as necessary. . Using this in conjunction with any in game sensitivity control will help you greatly in setting up a control set that you can use.

I am curious as to why the company went with PS/2 instead of USB support. I had to scrounge around for some USB to PS/2 adapters to try the product out. Perhaps they are saving it for the next revision of the product but I really would’ve rather seen USB connectors.

As I said before, the unit’s usability does depend on the game and games like Halo 2 worked well. There were enough settings that you can find one that makes this product work well. Performance in Halo 2 was very impressive and I was very happy with how enjoyable the experience was with the product. Turning the sensitivity way up, you don’t know how happy I was to be able to spin around quickly and be accurate with a mouse. Since the keyboard is not an analog device, games that are dependent on how far you press the stick to determine movement speed will be hindered by this product. Also, the auto-aiming in some of the games does mess up the aiming a little bit. Overall, it’s not as smooth and fluid as a true keyboard/ mouse solution on the PC but it’s a good emulation of it. I will say if you are a big mouse and keyboard gamer, this product will really help you adjust to console FPS games.

A product that’s long overdue for the Xbox, the SmartJoy Frag works well for certain games. Playing Halo 2, I had a hard time going back to the Xbox controller when you experience the game as most PC gamers do. It does take some tweaking in each game and some won’t work well but it does have to fight the fact that these games aren’t developed with the keyboard and mouse in mind. It’s definitely worth the pickup if you play a lot of FPS games on the Xbox.



B
It's a good peripheral to have for the Xbox if you are into FPS games. The on-the-fly programming is a great feature. Only PS/2 mice and keyboard are supported so you'll need a convertor for your USB ones.


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