Saitek Cyborg Gamepad Review

nismozcar - 2007-10-20 00:09:56 in Input Devices
Category: Input Devices
Reviewed by: nismozcar   
Reviewed on: October 23, 2007
Price: $36.99


When most PC gamers reach for the controls they grab a keyboard and mouse. This is, and has been, the preferred method of manipulation for PC gamers for a long time. But with the ever increasing power of PCs and their games, many have made the switch from consoles to computers. However, some of us haven’t quite committed 100% and still prefer the feel of a gamepad over a mouse and keyboard. When selecting a controller, we usually look for something that looks and feels familiar, but what might be familiar to one person could be alien to another. Saitek has released a product that follows along that line, a Cyborg that is capable of bringing familiarity to both gamers. The Cyborg Rumble Gamepad has done its best to incorporate the styles of both Playstation and Xbox controllers to the PC gamer. This innovative device has the ability to transform itself between both classic layouts and still provide shockingly familiar rumble effects. But how does this gamepad compare to the reigning king, the Microsoft Xbox 360 PC controller? Let’s find out.


"Founded in 1979, Saitek was the first to use microcontrollers to create chess playing games – a market it has dominated ever since. In 1993 Saitek entered the PC games controllers market and since then has grown to become the 2nd largest brand worldwide. All these products are designed by gamers for gamers, to help them get the best out of their favourite PC games." "Continuing innovation and dedication to the needs of our customers has resulted in a product range today which includes Saitek mice, keyboards, headsets, PC gaming controllers loudspeakers and many other PC peripherals. Saitek leads the world with high performance products for PC gamers and stunningly designed peripherals for all PC users."


Closer Look:

The front of the Cyborg Rumble box displays a large picture of the gamepad face up. The “Cyborg” feature is shown underneath; this feature allows the user to swap the positions of the d-pad and left analog stick to their preference. The Cyborg’s compatibility with Windows Vista and XP is listed in the bottom corner box. The back contains a dark silhouette of the gamepad and details the key features of the device in a few different languages.



Each end of the box shows the unique design of the reversible left controls. Notice that the patent for this feature is pending, so it’s unlikely this feature will be seen from other manufacturers.



The top features a photo of the Cyborg Rumble from the top with its name scrolled across the lower edge. The bottom informs users who don’t speak the five common languages that instructions for installation can be found in the package.



Closer Look:

The contents of the box are laid out in the first photo. The controller comes wrapped in bubble packing to ensure that no harm comes to the gamepad's exterior finish. Included in the box are the drivers for Vista and XP, along with a quick install guide written in many international languages.





The face of the Cyborg will be very familiar for most gamers. Those who moved from an Xbox or Playstation to the PC will feel right at home with this gamepad. The layout is a combination of Sony’s Dual-Shock and Microsoft’s Xbox 360 controllers. The topside houses the trigger and bumper buttons that are quite similar to the Xbox 360 controller.



Unique to the Cyborg Rumble is the FPS (First Person Shooter) button located in the center of the controller. When pressed, a preset layout mapped to most newly released FPS games is enabled. This removes the need to configure a layout and saves lots of time and energy. On the bottom of the controller is where the release button for the left controls is located. Simply press and the controls will pull out from the gamepad.



The first position is styled toward those who are comfortable with Playstation controllers. The two analog sticks are centered in the middle of the gamepad, placing the d-pad toward the shoulder. The second mirrors the Xbox 360 controller exactly. The left analog stick is on the outer edge with the d-pad in the center. One drawback to this configuration is that the left analog button no longer functions, a definite drawback if more commands are necessary.




To install the Cyborg Rumble, plug the USB connector into any available USB 2.0 port. Windows will recognize the device and install basic drivers for the gamepad. To get all the features of the device, it is necessary to install the drivers on the provided disc.




Upon inserting the disc, a window will pop up and welcome you to the Saitek Setup Wizard. The first screen lists all the steps that will be carried out during installation. The next screen is the companies’ disclaimer for using its product; check the box to continue.




The next page is the driver setup screen. Plug the Cyborg Rumble in if you haven’t already and the installation will begin. After completing, the setup will take you to the Properties screen to test to make sure the device is functioning properly.



The first tab of this window allows you to test the axes and buttons on the Cyborg Rumble. Take a moment to check the functionality of each button and analog stick. The rumble effects can be tested at the same time by leaving the Test Rumble Effects box checked. The Force tab allows you to adjust the gain or strength of the rumble effects during gaming to your liking. A link to information regarding the TouchSense technology used by the Cyborg is listed at the bottom.



The Deadzones tab can be used to adjust the settings for both analog sticks, as well as the triggers. Increasing the deadzone will help reduce and slow pitching in either direction by creating a zone of limited sensitivity. The next tab allows you to configure Precision Mode for either of analog stick’s axes. When set, you can dynamically reduce the sensitivity of the axis and help smooth the movement when aiming a sniper’s rifle during gameplay.



Most games being released are shipped with support for Microsoft’s Xbox 360 controllers. The X-Mode Mapping option in the Analog Buttons tab allows the Cyborg to mirror the Xbox 360 controller and function the same way in these games. The last tab in the list the driver version and includes a link to the SST Programming software, although the software is included on the disc.




After exiting the Properties window, you will be prompted to install the SST Programming Software. A set of security alert message will pop up after choosing to install, informing you that the software has been signed but not by Microsoft. Choose yes for each message and the software will install.






Once the install has been completed, you will be prompted to register. Finally, the setup is finished and you can continue on to the Profile Editor.



The Profile Editor is fairly straightforward, notice that the FPS profile is already configured in the center column. To create your own, add the keyboard commands to the buttons you wish. Simply left click into the box and add the key by pressing it. To use mouse keys, press the red record button and press the mouse key you desire.



After you have selected your key, press the green check mark and you will be prompted to name the command. Press enter to register the name and the command will be completed.



Continue the process for all of the buttons and then save the profile. To activate this profile, click on the gamepad icon in your taskbar, select the profile at the top and you are all set to play.




Cyborg Rumble
Windows XP (32/64bit)
Windows Vista (All versions)





In order to test the Cyborg Rumble, it is necessary to use it in a couple of game scenarios. I wanted to test the FPS button layout against the default configuration of a newer FPS game and see how accurate and time-saving this feature is. I also wanted to test out the sensitivity and control using a configured profile. The games I chose to use in my tests were Medal of Honor: Airborne and Combat Flight Simulator 3. Since there are a limited number of First Person Shooters that support force feedback, I decided to test the rumble feature of the gamepad while flying around the skies dog fighting with enemy combatants. I will be testing the Saitek P3200 Rumble and Microsoft Xbox 360 PC controller alongside the Cyborg to see how it does against other similar gamepads. I will rate the gamepads in four categories. The first is Sensitivity: how accurate and smooth the gameplay is using the controller. The second is Adjustability: this includes all options to adjust and maximize functionality as well as its profiling. The third is Layout: this is more opinion based but each will be scrutinized on the location of their buttons and analog sticks. The last category is Comfort: after playing through a few levels with each gamepad I will rate them on how they felt. Whether they caused any discomfort and any pleasing attributes about their design that made them comfortable to hold and use for extended periods of time. They will be rated on a scale from 1-100.


Testing Setup:


All of the gamepads scored well in the Sensitivity category. The Cyborg Rumble performed excellent in both games providing seamlessly smooth changes in direction and pitch. Using the FPS button’s layout, I was able to successfully navigate the menus for MoH: Airborne and most buttons were correctly laid out during gameplay. The Cyborg got the edge in this category because of its Precision Mode. I set the right analog stick to be less sensitive when I depressed the left analog button. I used this feature while firing a sniper rifle and it helped steady my aim tremendously. The rumble forces were a big upside when playing Combat Flight Simulator 3 using all of the gamepads. They all accurately portrayed my plane's engine vibrations as I dipped and banked to avoid enemy fire. It really kicked in when firing upon enemy planes and while pulling extreme Gs in tight turns and manuevers. In the Adjustability category, I gave both Saitek controllers the upper hand due to the fact that they come with profilers. Using the profiler, I was able to dial in the Cyborg exactly as I wanted, producing a very fluid and realistic feel. The Xbox 360 PC gamepad requires the purchase of an aftermarket profiler such as Pinnacle’s or playing games that fully support the Xbox 360 PC controller.



The layout for all the controllers is excellent. The buttons and analog sticks are located within easy reach of your thumbs. The trigger and bumper buttons are placed perfectly and require no strain or shifting of the controller to access. The Cyborg once again wins with its ability to swap the location of the left controls. This makes it easy for those who prefer Playstation’s layout over Microsoft’s to switch to a more comfortable and familiar layout. This feature also helped bump up the score in the Comfort category for the Cyborg Rumble as the option to swap controls made it slightly more comfortable than the P3200. The lead ultimately went to the Xbox 360. The shapes of the controllers are nearly identical, but the Xbox360 is less bulking and more streamlined, though none of the gamepads became uncomfortable after an extended period of use. Cord length played another part in the score; both Saiteks have five foot cables while the Xbox 360 PC is wireless.




It feels good as a long time console gamer to get a controller back in my hands. It would be hard for any gamepad to match the precision and accuracy of a mouse and keyboard, but the Saitek Cyborg Rumble gets about as close as you can get. It gives you that nostalgic feel no matter what system you came from, and helps the transition from console to PC.

The Cyborg Rumble proved to be a great and very innovative gamepad. It dethroned the Microsoft Xbox 360 PC controller in nearly all categories. It demonstrated very precise handling and smooth effortless control in many scenarios. The “Cyborg” ability to swap the location of the left controls is fantastic. The only downside to that feature is the loss of the left analog button when swapped into the Xbox 360 layout, but a possible driver fix might solve that problem. I really enjoyed using Precision Mode; this made sniping my enemies smooth and easy. The Saitek profiler included works very well and is easily configured. The FPS button really cuts down on configuring most new releases, but keep in mind that it’s not perfect. The Cyborg is slightly bulky when compared to the Xbox 360 PC, this could be a positive for those whith large hands, but the Cyborg also has a short five-foot cable that can cause problems for those of us who don’t game at a desk. The rumble forces felt great and added a much needed dimension to Combat Flight Simulator 3 during flight and dog fightining. It’s very refreshing to have a product that is completely compatible with Windows XP and Vista (both 32 and 64 bit), and including them all in one disc along with the software is a huge plus. The Cyborg Rumble is a very cool device and an extremely unique gamepad; it will undoubtedly transform your gaming into an incredible interactive experience.