Fanatec HeadShot Controller

Admin - 2007-04-26 17:41:23 in Input Devices
Category: Input Devices
Reviewed by: Admin   
Reviewed on: April 29, 2007
Price: $99.99 USD


Germaneering. That’s a nice little play on words that Fanatec has copywrited to describe what they feel is the level of quality that they put into developing their products. We all know that over the years there have been some exceptionally well engineered products coming out of Germany such as the world famous Beamers (BMW for those not in the know).

Fanatec makes what they call: "Professional input devices for serious gamers, including handheld controllers, steering wheel/pedal kits and mouse/mouse pad kits." Personally, I have never heard of them before, but from what I hear, they make a very popular steering wheel for the Playstation. But today, one of their products has made its way to my desk, so I guess I can give it a little test drive. The product in question is the Fanatec head$h0t controller. At first look, it appears to be your standard fare mouse and mouse pad combination. I am thinking to myself here, a mouse is a mouse is a mouse, right? Well, as I found out, looks can indeed be deceiving. My mission here is to see if they meet their goal of a well engineered product.

Closer Look:

What I have before me is what looks like a small clear suitcase, which they call the weapons case, containing the mouse, mouse pad, driver CD, a quick install guide, a power adapter for the built-in USB hub, a USB cord, and the cable support arch. Seeing as it comes in this case, it will be quite handy for the individuals whom like to go to lan parties and take their secret “weapons” with them.


The mouse itself has a coiled cord on it with the USB interface and uses the latest generation hi-grade precision laser sensor to give you precise control (up to 4000 dpi). It also has six buttons (Nine if you count the three position clicks of the center wheel) and a five way scroll wheel. Seven of these buttons can be mapped with extended functions, or macros. That gives you a total of 32 possible button mappings! That sounds like an awful lot to try to remember, to me. With the cord being so short, it may be difficult to use this in a different setup unless you are willing to use a USB extension cable with it. Also included in the package is what they call PlasmaGlyde mouse feet that attach to the bottom of the mouse to make it slide on the pad more easily. The mouse is also adjustable in its width which is great for my wide hands. To adjust the width, just flip the mouse over and loosen the two screws with a coin or screwdriver, then spread the mouse apart to fit your hand, and re-tighten the screws. That means no more cramps from trying to grip my mouse during long gaming sessions.


The mouse pad itself, called the aURa mouse pad, has several non-slip high-injection mold TPR rubber grip pads on its bottom side to keep the pad stationary on your desk. I know this is helpful because I have been in situations where I get carried away during a firefight and have had my pad move around on me. On the back of the pad there is a high speed USB 2.0 hub built and attached to the top, is an illuminated cable arch to provide strain relief for the mouse cord. This arch is attached to the pad by a simple plastic twist lock. Simply connect the USB plug on the mouse to port number 1 on the back of the pad, connect the included USB cord to the port marked “USB”, and connect the power adapter to the 5 volt jack. Ports 2 and 3 are there for you to connect any USB device of your choice such as an mp3 player or flash drive. The mouse cord connects to the top center of the arch.




To install this setup onto your PC, you plug the appropriate cable into a USB slot on your computer while it is powered down. After you start your computer up, Windows should recognize it as a HID (Human Interface Device), and start installing its generic drivers so that you are able to use the mouse.


After this process has completed and you have restarted your computer, you can then confirm its installation by looking in “Device Manager” on your computer. My method of getting to “Device Manager” is to right-click on “My Computer” and then selecting “Manage” from the pop-up window. Of course, if you are not using Windows XP, this will not work for you.

With this completed, we can now install the drivers from the CD that came with this package. Speaking of CD, I was amused to find that this CD which can normally hold 650 MB of data, has only the one file on it which is only around 1.5 MB in size and not a user manual with it. I found this rather disturbing. Myself, I much prefer to have a text file at the least, or better yet an Adobe Acrobat file that I could open and read in case I was not clear on something. They had all that room on the CD, surely a text file of directions would have fit! The user manual I did receive was not in the package itself, but on a separate CD and 7.70 MB in size (yes, it would have fit). You can also download the user manual from their website.

I think they are really trying too hard with this Germaneering thing. I mean, the user manual is a totally interactive interface which works extremely well, looks very nice, and is useful. What don’t I like? The darn thing maximizes itself on your screen without an option to minimize at all so you cannot refer to it as you are actually working with the drivers to set up your mouse buttons and other things unless you alt-tab back and forth. That, to me, is not very good engineering.

With the CD in and the drivers installing, you will be greeted with the normal windows installation screens guiding you along the way and at one point warning you that it is possible to make macros to delete data and format drives since it will emulate ANY mouse key or combination of keys. It would be wise to be careful.

This software even checks for updates by itself, so in my case, it went through the install process twice.



Now that the drivers are in, we can check the mouse properties and see that a separate tab has been added. At the top of the tab there is a drop-down box where you can select from three different choices, which are: LEDs and Resolution, Macro settings, and Edit profiles.

LEDs and Resolution:

One of those choices is to control how you want the LEDs to appear in color, intensity and pulsating or not. You can even have more than one color led on at a time on the pad itself. The mouse and mouse pad are separately adjustable. You can set these to whatever color scheme suites your fancy. These LEDs serve another function other than for looks, such as when making macros, the LEDs will flash or switch on or off depending on what you are doing at the time. Also on this tab, you can adjust the resolution from 400 dpi all the way to 4000 dpi. It is also adjustable on-the-fly, even while gaming by using the buttons on the mouse. Then, below this, you can adjust the sensitivity of the joystick emulation. In order to use the mouse as a joystick, you press the Ctrl key on your keyboard and the mouse button number five.

Macro settings:

This is split up into two sections: Recording, and Button Mapping. Under Recording you can adjust the loop click time as well as the double click and parallel click speed.

Button Mapping

In this section, buttons three to nine as well as the mouse wheel (in certain Windows functions) can be mapped. Either select the button of your choice in the list, or click on it in the image on the right. You can then select the function you would like mapped to that particular button.

Edit profiles:

Profiles are created once you map buttons to functions or keys or combinations or them. Say, for instance, you were playing a game and bound button three to throwing a grenade. Now, every time you launch this game, the correct profile will be loaded for that game so your key bind will always work. In the edit profiles section here, well, you guessed it, didn’t you? Yes, you can edit those profiles. You can also back them up, delete them, restore a profile, and even export them.



Test Setup:

Well, what better way to test a mouse than to use it? I decided that for the betterment of the community, I would subject myself to countless hours and sleepless nights of playing games. First, I played World of Warcraft, because when I get in there, it's guaranteed hours of play time, so I can get a very good feel for the comfort of the mouse. It was very comfortable since I could make it wider for my hand. The mouse glided effortlessly over the pad. The only thing that bothered me was the cord on the mouse. With the cord being curled like that, it acts like a spring and wants to pull on the mouse at times.


Second, I wanted to play a FPS game so I could judge the accuracy. I chose one of my newer games, S.T.A.L.K.E.R.. Being this mouse has the adjustable on-the-fly sensitivity, I thought an ideal way to test this would to take an elevated position and use a sniper rifle. For the up close urban fighting, a higher resolution would work well, yet, if you are sniping, a lower resolution will give a more precise aim. It was extremely nice to be able to change the resolution without going into option menus or anything. As you can see in these shots, the results were positive.




Well, it was a long journey testing this mouse. With all of the options that are available, I have concluded that it is great for some of us, but not all. To hit on the good points first, at least to me, it was a very smooth mouse and pad combination to use. The buttons were well defined in the “feel” they fed back to you as you pressed them. I have used some in the past that were way too easy to click, not these, and not too hard either. Its width adjustment fit my hand nicely so I had no problems with my hand cramping while trying to grip the mouse. The included USB hub was a nice touch. I like having extra ports available that are easy to get too. It was definitely an accurate mouse to use, I had no problem sniping from very far away in the games I played, and I really liked the adjustable sensitivity on-the-fly.

As for the not-so-good points, I personally don’t normally use a mouse pad. To me, it was taking up too much desktop space. The cable arch served its purpose in holding the mouse cable up so it did not get snagged on anything but I prefer a cordless mouse to solve that problem. The lights in the arch were just a lightshow gimmick as far as I am concerned. Sure they informed you when you were making the correct moves to set macros, but, most games have some sort of system built into them for doing much the same thing. Also the cord being wound like a spring, pulled on the mouse.