Hard-core Gaming Hardware

Even though PC and console compatible hardware dominated the show floors at this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, there were a few exciting products for Mac users as well.

Gravis ( http://www.gravis.com ) showed its USB GamePadPro, which is virtually identical to Sony's Playstation controllers. Priced at $35, it features 10 buttons and a thumbpad that accepts a mini joystick handle. Other Gravis controllers on display were the Xterminator and Stinger, which could make their Mac debut in the coming months.

Two controllers from Rockfire ( http://www.rockfire.com.tw ), the Sky Shuttle keypad and Sparta Fighter, also boast Mac compatibility via USB. The Sky Shuttle is a gamepad which includes a whopping 14 buttons, all of which can be easily mapped through an intuitive control panel. The Sparta Fighter is a massive joystick controller with a twist handgrip, 12 buttons, and a rotary control system. Both controllers will be available within the next few months. No pricing available yet.

Saitek ( http://www.saitek.com ) showed their popular USB Cyborg 3D Stick. This fully programmable controller provides gamers with six buttons on the stick itself (trigger, 8-way hat, and three fire buttons) and a throttle control on its base. The Cyborg's biggest feature is that it is easily adjustable to fit a gamer's hand for maximum comfort. The Cyborg 3D stick is available now for $70. In addition, Saitek hopes to make more of their USB controllers Mac compatible in the very near future.

Notable, but not yet Mac compatible, are the Reflex line of controllers from Thrustmaster ( http://www.thrustmaster.com ). The Reflex USB 3D Joystick is their top of the line model with 16 buttons, twist action rudder control, and a base-mounted throttle. A more economical version is available, with only 12 buttons, no rudder control and no throttle. The third controller is a USB gamepad with 4 front mounted trigger buttons and 6 top mounted ones. The thumbpad also accepts a plug-in control stick for precision control.

For the ultimate gaming experience, Benwin ( http://www.benwin.com ) announced the new EX-4 flat panel speaker system. Available in mid-July for $129.99, the sleek looking system includes a powerful subwoofer and slim, arch-shaped satellite speakers.

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