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    CombatAce.com NaturalPoint TrackIR 4 Pro Review
    By Skater,
      NaturalPoint TrackIR 4 Pro Review Ed “Skater” Lynch skater@combatace.com   The Natural Edge   “The TrackIR 4 Pro provides instant, intuitive, situational awareness. It is a clear advantage than cannot be dismissed easily…”   The TrackIR 4 Pro from NaturalPoint is figuratively and literally a revolution in gaming technology. It provides the user with seamless and effortless view progression. Use of it is quite intuitive, and much simpler than in-game button accessed views. Using it will quickly become a MUST and you will find yourself relying on its use in much the same way you rely on using a mouse or a joystick. It soon becomes an input device that you could play without if you had to, but you would not WANT to. If I forget to initialize my TrackIR, or find that for some reason it is not responding, I will stop what I am doing to correct the issue. I simply WILL NOT fly without the use of my TrackIR if I can help it. In practice, the TrackIR provide a distinct edge against players who are NOT using one. In an online furball, you can actually pick out the sucke… umm… players, who are not using one.   Those players will quickly become cannon fodder unless they are in possession of extraordinary skills. Some players with sour grapes (and they all DO NOT have a TrackIR 4 Pro) may even accuse you of cheating because you use a TrackIR 4 Pro. I chuckle at those times. The TrackIR 4 Pro provides instant, intuitive, situational awareness. It is a clear advantage that simply cannot be dismissed easily.             Installation     “In less than 3 minutes, you will have your TrackIR 4 Pro up and running…”   The TrackIR 4 Pro comes in one of those frustrating blister packs, however, I found this one to be the easiest blister pack I have ever opened. In fact, it popped right open with ease after breaking a couple of the “spot welds” that hold the package closed. This was comforting, as I REALLY hate opening blister packs. As in loathe, despise, and hold utter contempt for… The contents of the package are as minimal as can possibly be. Inside you will find only the TrackIR 4 Pro unit (with USB connection cable), a Track Clip for the 3D Vector Expansion, a quick installation guide (only useful if you are completely retarded), and a driver CD-ROM. My test unit also arrived with a cool-looking white Track Hat. I also had the older style black Track Hat from when I purchased a TrackIR 2 Pro some years back. That hat came with a build in reflector tab on the edge of the bill and another reflector tab on the back strap. However, the old style Track Hat is only useful when using the TrackIR 4 Pro with games or sims that do not support the 3D Vector Expansion. Falcon 4.0 Allied Force is one such sim. For games or sims that DO support the Vector Expansion, you will need to use the Track Clip provided in the box, or the newer Track Clip Pro. Installation of the unit is as simple as the package contents. The unit has an ingenious mounting base that is capable of being manipulated in several axis’ so as to make mounting to many different, and disparate, surfaces an easy task to accomplish. Simply mount the unit on the top of your monitor or flat panel, plug in the USB connector cable, and install the drivers from the included CD-ROM or download the latest driver package from the NaturalPoint website. That’s it! In less than 3 minutes, you will have your TrackIR 4 Pro up and running.         Details     “Installing and using the TrackIR 4 Pro is so simple a caveman could do it…”   Specifications: Head Position Tracked: 6 Axis/6 Degrees
    Field of View: 46 Degrees
    Sample Rate: 120fps
    Response Time: 25% faster than other models
    Resolution: 716 x 290
    Unit Size (w/o base):
    o 0.5" deep
    o 1.7" wide
    o 1.1" high
    Flat Panel Monitor Attachment
    Connection: USB
    USB Cable Thickness: 2.5mm
    The rear of the TrackIR 4 Pro is covered in clear plastic, offering unobstructed visibility to the inner workings, processor, and PCB. A very cool added feature, even if it does not do anything except look cool. The included Track Clip has three reflective strips for positional tracking. The clip has a low profile design and is very light, allowing for easy placement without encumbering you. Our test unit came with a cool white Track Hat. The track clip is installed/positioned on the Track Hat but can work on any hat with a bill or baseball cap, or even on a set of headphones (except for those that are behind the neck models). Both methods of installation work pretty well. The included driver CD-ROM and the Quick Installation Guide make installing and using the TrackIR 4 Pro so simple a caveman could do it™.       Software     “It just works so perfectly…”   The TrackIR application allows TrackIR users to create and edit custom profiles as well as assign profiles that are specific to certain games. The TrackIR 4 Pro is most useful in simulations (flight, racing, space, etc.), but first person shooter titles like Armed Assault are beginning to catch the TrackIR wave as well. The TrackIR looks to become a revolution in that genre of gaming as well. The TrackIR 4 Pro software has a built-in calibration tools that allow the user to fine tune the TrackIR unit to his specific responsiveness likes and dislikes on a per game basis. The effect is one of having a head and motion tracking system perfectly adjusted to the user. When properly done, it provides a custom fit and feel that has to be experienced to be believed. Changing views in game, especially in flight and racing sims can be done almost at the speed of thought. It’s a very natural, almost organic feeling. You basically learn to just move your head slightly, without even thinking about it, to keep your Mk I eyeball on the bandit. Your view changes instantaneously and the combined effect is perfectly seamless. You can tell that a lot of R&D went into designing this thing. It just works so perfectly.       Game Testing   "If a flight sim is released without TrackIR support today, I won’t buy it…"   I play tested the TrackIR 4 Pro with a number of flight and racing sims before deciding completely that NaturalPoint was never getting this thing back. Never! They will have to pull it from my cold, dead, fingers. I’m not even joking… Just try and get it back NP!   When play tested with GTR and rFactor, I found that the TrackIR 4 Pro integration was completely seamless. As long as the TrackIR software is running, the unit is detected by the games and immediately available for use. Jumping into the cars after making sure that the TrackIR was selected for use in the garage menus, a quick look around confirmed that the TrackIR was working perfectly. In game, the unit is even more impressive. In GTR and rFactor, it was a simple, and slight movement of the head that produced perfect looks in all directions, virtually eliminating any blind spots, and giving a complete awareness of the drivers around me, and the closeness of their vehicles to mine. It was actually unnerving at first, but with practice, I don’t think that I could drive without the TrackIR now. It is just that good for racing. You will never want to race without it after a few hours using it. Saying that the TrackIR will make you a better driver may sound like an overstatement, but in reality, you WILL driver better while using it, because you will have a better feel for what is all around you vehicle while using it. No more guessing while racing!   With flight sims, the TrackIR is a whole new ball game. This thing provides an instant and real advantage against any human-controlled adversary that is not using one. It provides complete and total visual range SA in an instant. Simply moving your head toward the bandit you see will keep him in view. It is seamless and perfectly intuitive. Spotting ground targets is a breeze. Keeping them in view while turning towards them is easy as pie. Keeping an inbound missile in view while maneuvering to defeat it is second nature. It also allows you to snap your view back and forth between cockpit/avionics and the bandit with complete ease. The TrackIR was MADE for flight sims. It is so perfect as to make one wonder how you could have flown without in the past. I simply cannot imagine doing so now. If I can’t use my TrackIR when I fly, then I won’t fly. It’s at the point that if a simulation is released without TrackIR support today, I won’t buy it, at least not until TrackIR support is added in a patch. I’ll settle for 2D support, like what Falcon 4.0 Allied Force features, but I would much rather prefer 3D Vector support.   I tested the TrackIR 4 Pro with Falcon 4.0 Allied Force v1.09, Lock-On Flaming Cliffs v1.2a, Flight Simulator X, Starshatter The Gathering Storm, First Eagles the Great Air War 1918, Wings over Vietnam/Wings over Europe, and even the Armed Assault Demo (which I really need a lot of practice with before I can even comment). The TrackIR 4 Pro worked flawlessly with almost all of them. I had a few minor issues with First Eagles and Starshatter, but with a little tweaking of the TrackIR software, those issues were quickly resolved.       Game Videos   Lock On 1.2: Black Shark - 6DOF Demo by Matt Wagner 1:01 large   rFactor - Demo using TrackIR 4 3:06 huge large   GT Legends - Demo using TrackIR 4 3:00 huge large   Aces High II - dslyecxi.com, Part 2 by Dslyecxi 7:59 large   Armed Assault - dslyecxi.com by Dslyecxi 6:04 large   Armed Assault using TrackClip PRO - dslyecxi.com by Dslyecxi 6:26 large   FSX and TrackIR 4:PRO, Part 2 by Chris 'BeachAV8R' Frishmuth 3:41 large   FSX and TrackIR 4:PRO, Part 1 by Chris 'BeachAV8R' Frishmuth 3:14 large       Parting Shots   "The TrackIR 4 Pro is simply a revolution for gaming…"   I don’t even know what else I can say about the TrackIR 4 Pro. I can only reiterate what other reviewers and tens of thousands of users are saying about it… The TrackIR 4 Pro is simply a revolution for gaming. It is no less than a quantum leap in gaming technology. It renders those without one no more than lambs for the slaughter in online flight sims and racing sims. Soon, it will revolutionize and completely take over the hard core FPS world, if what it can do in Armed Assault is any indication.   I just can’t say enough in support of this product. NaturalPoint has really hit a home run with this version of the TrackIR. It is so easy to setup and use and so intuitive in its use. For example, my 4 year old daughter mastered it in less than an hour. That’s faster than it took her daddy to do that, a veteran of over 20 years of PC gaming and simulations, and a previous owner of a TrackIR 2 Pro. If that does not scream easy and intuitive, I do not know what does.   In short, get a TrackIR 4 Pro TODAY. For gaming, it is like a mouse, or a joystick. You simply cannot, and should not, be gaming without one.     Pros:   * High degree of usability - The perfect addition to any flight sim, race sim, and (soon) FPS junkie * Ease of use - Very intuitive and strikingly simple * Ease of installation - Could not be easier to install     Cons:   * Price - At roughly $180, the TrackIR 4 Pro is not a cheap peripheral by any stretch of the imagination     Conclusions:   The NaturalPoint TrackIR 4 Pro is a MUST GET/MUST HAVE peripheral for anyone who is serious about gaming. I’m giving it a 9.5 out of a possible 10 points.   www.trackir.com   www.naturalpoint.com  

    January 2007 Calendars
    By Fates,
    We...back at it. There's three new calendars available for everyone. You can get them HERE:   CALENDAR GALLERY  

    The Mighty Kfir is Coming!
    By Dave,
    Click on the link to see preview of the Mirage Factories latest masterpiece.   http://forum.combatace.com/index.php?showtopic=16377

    America's Army 2.8 Coalition
    By Fates,
    There's a new version of America's Army available. AAO 2.8: Coalition. The new version includes a new map creator, mission editor, and a pair of tutorial maps, and incorporates a number of bug fixes and other improvements. There is a patch to update version 2.7   I think that everyone here who enjoys modding may love to take a look at the Map Editor. It's a very useful tool and you will soon see custom maps on AAO Servers.   Cheers ~ Fates

    PT Boat: KOTS Interview Part II
    By Fates,
    Dagger has mustered up another interview with Yuri at Akella about the new PT-Boats: Knights of the Sea Sim. Be sure to make your way over to the Naval CIC Forum and check it out...   It can be found.....PT-Boats: Knights of the Sea Interview:PART 2   Visit the PT Boats:Knights of the Sea website: http://www.pt-boats.net/  

    CH Products Multi Function Panel Review
    By Dave,
    Being a recent convert from the Thrustmaster Cougar all CH Products set up I was very excited to hear about the upcoming Multi Function Panel. (MFP from here on out) I got into contact with good folks at CH and soon had an MFP heading my way.   About a week later I received a knock at my door and there it was, in all its splendor and glory. It came in a nice little white box. I opened the box and there in its packing was the answer to my prayers in flight sim “avionics” programming. It came with a little box holding 25 little push buttons and a Control Manager install disk. The MFP itself is a black, flat, looking panel. It has a clear hard plastic cover that goes over the panel. This is where you will place those 25 little buttons. Speaking of those 25 buttons, each one is black and they are numbered. They stick to the clear cover by an adhesive. Some people might be alarmed by this, don’t be. What ever this stuff is made from it stays sticky. Just one catch, when you decide you want to move the buttons, DO NOT I repeat DO NOT try to just pull them off. You need to TWIST them off. You do it that way and they will virtually work forever. I only had one problem setting it up and that was button 25. I placed it on the panel and then I decided I wanted it in another place, but when I went to twist it off, the adhesive stayed on the surface of the clear panel. So I put the button back on tried it again. It came off on the second try. That was the only button that did that. Well a friend of mine showed me some background templates you can print out to put under the clear plastic cover. This serves a few purposes. 1. It gives you a reference on where you might want to place the buttons. 2. It enhances the overall look of the MFP. 3. And finally gives the end user the ability to personalize it. I made mine look like the MFD of an F-15E. I chose that because I am combat flight simmer. But if you are a Microsoft Flight Simmer, you can make something to go with that. It’s up to you, but let’s get back to the buttons. The technology behind these things is amazing. As I said, they sit on the clear plastic cover and never touch the actual surface of the MFP. Yet when you press a button the MFP knows it. It gets better; say you have button number 5. You can place it anywhere and it knows that it is button number 5. Like I said, it’s amazing. So I got it the way I wanted to look. Now to the install.   Installation was easy. I plugged the MFP into one of my USB ports and dropped the install CD in to the tray. The whole process took less than a minute. No problems there.   Ok now what? I need something to program into it. Oh my god, I have too many flight sims installed, where do I start? Which sim do I use? AHHHHHHHHHHH. “THUD” After passing out from sensory overload I awoken to a bright light. I heard someone in a loud booming voice “Dave…..Dave….DAVE…. GET UP! I jumped up startled. “Yes”. “Dave, go to the CH Hanger and get a CMC file to program your MFP.” “But which one oh simming god?” “Why LOMAC or Strike Fighters you twit.” Then he slapped me in the back of the head. And with that the light went away. Was I dreaming? Was that the Overlord of Simming? Did I maybe just have too much to drink? The jury is still out on that one. So I headed to the CH Hanger and got me a couple of CMC files to begin the mapping process. I decided to program my install of Strike Fighters. I am not going to get into the particulars of how to program it because you do that just like any other CH Product. It is extremely easy. I learned in one hour how to program it. “But Dave what did you program into it?” Well, I am glad you asked Timmy. I programmed the ability to turn my radar on and off, increase and decrease the radar range and the search, boresight and ground modes. Then I added the ECM selection. I also added weapon selection options. Separate buttons for A2A and A2G weps. From there I programmed the weapon release spacing for bombs and the ripple fire options for the rockets. Waypoints selection was added to another set of buttons. Next was the map key. To keep track of what you programmed there is a large set of dry rub decals that came with the MFP you can put on the buttons. There is a ton of them so you should be able to find what you need. I didn’t add any as I have a good memory. By the time I got done programming the MFP, the Pro Throttle, and the Fighterstick. I could now fly entirely independent of the key board. I jumped into the sim and it was amazing that I didn’t need to use the keyboard for the first time. Now that is immersion!   But don’t think you can only use it simming. You can use it for just about any game you have. Right now I am working on a map for Age of Empires III. I am also going to make one to use with Photoshop for when I am skinning aircraft. The usefulness of the MFP can not be understated. With about 12,800 key combinations the possibilities are endless. I just can not tell you enough how great the MFP is. It was the answer to something I was missing in my 22 years of combat flight simming. It’s easy to use, program and takes up very little space. It is a must for every simmer. Even if you are not a simmer the usefulness of the CH Multi Function Panel crosses over to many other applications. I have done many reviews for Avsim and other sites. I have reviewed sims, games, hardware and aircraft but this review was by far the most fun. I would like to thank CH for giving me this opportunity to review the MFP. It was thoroughly enjoyable.   You can get the MFP from http://www.provantage.com/ch~110CHPU.htm or http://www.chproducts.com/shop/usb.html#23  

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