TrackIR

Review

posted 4/25/2005 by Dave Gamble
other articles by Dave Gamble
One Page Platforms: PC
Installation is a natural topic to start with. The installation itself is quite easy. The first step is, as usual, to install the drivers provided on a CD-ROM. The physical installation is as simple as plugging the device into an open USB port, placing the reflector on the included baseball cap, and running the configuration program. A note of warning here: the default settings may not be to your liking, so please take the time to learn how to re-configure the settings to your taste. The problem I had was that the default settings were far too responsive. If you think about it, it's obvious that in order to provide a wide field of view, the device is going to have to magnify your head movements. For example, in the default settings moving my head about 20 degrees to the side results in a virtual head movement of 180 degrees. Until you train yourself to be very cognizant of every head movement, you will probably find this to be quite disconcerting. It is a simple matter, however, so re-configure the device to make much smaller movements. I've found that limiting my side-to-side movement (this is the "yaw" axis in the configuration tool) to 90 degrees each way has made the movement feel much more natural and easier to manage. Note that the included documentation didn't really help me with learning this, but the FAQs in the support area on NaturalPoint's web site were a great help. I found that I was by no means alone in wanting to restrict the movements to a more manageable level, so it was easy to find the explanations I needed.

Once installed and configured, it's simply a matter of launching the game/sim you want to use. No configuration will be required within the game. It just works. You will want to become acquainted with the re-center key, though. Through time and extreme head movements, the device and/or game can become confused as to where the center is. The corrective action is to simply look straight at the monitor and press the re-center key, which by default is F12.

During the course of my familiarization with the TrackIR, I tried all facets of flight simulation. I tried small general aviation planes and found great improvement in my ability to 'see' my surroundings. I tried heavy metal commercial flight, and found that the benefits gained from the TrackIR were mostly came from my increased ability to scan the instrument panel while still monitoring the outside world. These were both awesome improvements to the sim world, but nothing compared to what I found when I knocked an inch of dust off of Combat Flight Sim 3 and booted it up. I have always been frustrated by combat sims because it's just too darned hard to keep a bogey in sight. Not anymore! Padlock views, fake radar, enemy location indicators: all a thing of the past! Update your TrackIR configurations to give yourself 120 degrees or so on either side and you will now be able to lock on to your target and keep him in view as you twist and turn through the sky trying to get a shot at him. I'm not exaggerating when I say that using the TrackIR will make any air combat sim an order of magnitude better.
Page 2 of 3