Gaming on the Death Star: Microsoft Sidewinder X6 Keyboard With Switchable Keypad and X5 Mouse

I don't know who's designing Microsoft's gaming hardware after their brief hiatus from the market, but they're insane, in the best possible way—they've actually got some inspired, unique form factors, besides a huge Vader hard-on. The first Sidewinder keyboard ever, the X6, has a macro/numberpad that'll dock on either side and takes the number of macros up to 90, plus it has gaming usuals like adjustable backlighting. The X5 mouse is a slightly less swank version of the previous Sidewinder.

Overall, a pretty impressive showing of gaming hardware, especially the keyboard—the dials for volume and lighting add to the whole Death Star control panel quality. I'm definitely planning on getting my hands on it. The X6 and X5 will hit next month for US$80 and US$60 respectively, and will be up for pre-order on Amazon shortly.

Tip: You can buy the original Sidewinder mouse now for just US$38, and it has adjustable weights and an LCD that the X5 doesn't.

Transform With Microsoft's New SideWinder X6 Keyboard; Industry's First Switchable Key Pad Moves From Work to Play

SideWinder line expands with first-ever keyboard and new SideWinder X5 Mouse.

LEIPZIG, Germany ─ Aug. 20, 2008 ─ Today at the Games Convention in Leipzig, Germany, Microsoft Hardware debuted the SideWinder X6 Keyboard — the most versatile gaming keyboard on the market with the first-ever switchable key pad that can be attached to the left or right side of the keyboard for ultimate flexibility. To round out the SideWinder line, the Hardware team is also announcing the SideWinder X5 Mouse, a fast, powerful gaming mouse designed to give mainstream gamers a competitive edge.

The switchable key pad makes the SideWinder X6 Keyboard ideal for gaming as well as productivity, as the key pad functions as a standard num pad in normal keyboard mode, but becomes a programmable macro pad in game mode. Complementing the unique versatility of the keyboard are features specifically designed for gaming, including the capacity to store up to 90 macros per game and backlighting that helps users get immersed in the game.

"We know that consumers don't want to pull out and set up a second keyboard for a gaming session, so we created a device that was perfect for both gaming and regular computer use," said Kevin Flick, user researcher for Microsoft Hardware. "With the switchable key pad, gamers will have a fantastic, customizable experience whether they're playing their favourite game or creating Microsoft Office PowerPoint presentations."

Powerful Versatility

The SideWinder X6 Keyboard's switchable key pad allows gamers to program up to 90 macros per game with the help of a set of dedicated macro keys as well as a fully programmable key pad. With mode switching, gamers can instantly go from Microsoft Office Excel to their favourite game — and place the macro pad on whichever side they prefer for gaming. The X6 also offers the following features to take advantage of its adaptability:

o Mode switching lets gamers manually toggle the keyboard from standard mode to either of two gaming modes. LEDs show the selected mode.
o Automatic profile switching detects the application that is running and applies the custom profile.

Designed for Gaming

The SideWinder X6 Keyboard is more than a standard keyboard with a few extra bells and whistles — it was built from the ground up with gamers in mind, to give them an edge up on their competition. To complement its versatility, the keyboard has the following additional features to produce the ultimate gaming package:

o New Cruise Control feature continues an action without having to hold down the key or keys assigned to the action. Gamers can use Cruise Control with up to four keys at a time.1
o In-game macro record button lets gamers record any sequence of keystrokes — even standard chat messages. Macros are stored on the PC hard drive and can be easily shared.
o WASD gaming keys, the most commonly used keys for gamers, have front-face lighting for enhanced visibility.
o Quick-Launch key gives one-touch access to Windows Vista Games Explorer, allowing gamers to quickly see the games in their PC's game library.2

Get Immersed

Gamers enjoy a heightened experience when adsorbed in the gaming world. Research shows many gamers like to dim the lights, and the X6's two-colour adjustable backlighting helps set the mood to achieve total immersion. The red backlighting indicates standard keys that are not programmable, while the amber colour indicates custom-programmable macro keys in game mode that can be tuned to the gamers' preference. The X6 also includes full media keys and volume and backlighting control dials to fine-tune the gaming experience.

SideWinder X5 Mouse

Today, Microsoft also announced the SideWinder X5 Mouse, a fast, powerful gaming mouse designed to give mainstream gamers a competitive edge. The nine-button gaming mouse is designed for handling with vertical side buttons, adjustable sensitivity switching up to 2,000 DPI, five customizable buttons, and a Quick-Launch button that instantly launches the Windows Vista Games Explorer.

SideWinder: It's Only the Beginning

The SideWinder X6 Keyboard is the first keyboard to join the popular SideWinder family of gaming products. Established in 1995 and revived in 2007, the SideWinder line is known for its top-notch PC gaming peripherals, including mice, game pads, joysticks and steering wheels.

Pricing and Availability

The SideWinder X6 Keyboard and SideWinder X5 Mouse will be widely available in September 2008 for an estimated retail price of $79.95 (U.S.) and $59.95 (U.S.), respectively.3 The products are available now for pre-sale on and will ship in September when they are widely released. The SideWinder X6 Keyboard and SideWinder X5 Mouse will be backed by a worldwide three-year limited hardware warranty from Microsoft Corp. More information about these and other Microsoft Hardware products can be found at


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