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CombatAce.com NaturalPoint TrackIR 4 Pro Review

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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™.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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Game Videos

 

gallery__60_17675.jpg Lock On 1.2: Black Shark - 6DOF Demo by Matt Wagner 1:01 large

 

gallery__60_3946.jpgrFactor - Demo using TrackIR 4 3:06 huge large

 

gallery__60_2324.jpgGT Legends - Demo using TrackIR 4 3:00 huge large

 

gallery__60_2675.jpgAces High II - dslyecxi.com, Part 2 by Dslyecxi 7:59 large

 

gallery__60_1573.jpgArmed Assault - dslyecxi.com by Dslyecxi 6:04 large

 

gallery__60_4399.jpgArmed Assault using TrackClip PRO - dslyecxi.com by Dslyecxi 6:26 large

 

gallery__60_176.jpgFSX and TrackIR 4:PRO, Part 2 by Chris 'BeachAV8R' Frishmuth 3:41 large

 

gallery__60_2684.jpgFSX 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.

 

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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

 

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Recommended then?? im lookin at getting this as i play the ArmedAssault and LOMAC and F4. Plus im tryin to find the game controllers forum on here but cant! help any1.

Stevo

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It's invaluable for flight sims. Some people have trouble using it with ArmA (can't get used to it) but others also swear by it.

 

If you can afford it, it is recommended highly!

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Ye ive always had the problems with flight sims of following ppl once they eave my feild of view. i try to use the hat switch but its akward and not very accurate. Ive invested in the TrackIR4 PRO now, £80. Few weeks ill b lookin at gettin online. Cheers for the advice Jedi Master.

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I enjoy mine in Racing Sims, and they now have support in America's Army and more. The supported games list is growing all the time. Very Recommended.

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I have been offered a TrackIR 3. How does that differ from the versions 4 and 5? I am definitely going to get it anyway. Is it an angle of vision thing?

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The TIR3 didn't come with the Vector Expansion out of the box like 4 and 5 do. Other than that, yes, it's an FOV thing. That's why I'm not upgrading my 4 to a 5 now, because the 5 doesn't offer me enough improvement over my perfectly functioning 4 to bother.

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