Saitek Cyborg Command Unit Review

jammin - 2008-05-09 18:50:59 in Input Devices
Category: Input Devices
Reviewed by: jammin   
Reviewed on: May 19, 2008
Price: $39.99 USD


For many years now, one of the most popular gaming hardware devices has been the game pad. A game pad is similar to a keyboard, and it houses the most important keys that gamers use. On almost all game pads, you’ll find the W, A, S, and D keys.  In almost every game, that’s how gamers move their characters on the screen. Most gamers, myself included, are hooked on keyboards for gaming, because we’ve been using them for so long. Can the new Saitek Cyborg Command Unit change the way that I game for the better? Will it be easier to use than the average keyboard? Let’s see how this Cyborg Command Unit from Saitek does in my favorite games that span over a wide spectrum of genres.

Saitek has been one of the elite companies in the gaming peripheral scene for quite some time now. Personally, I have always been drawn to their keyboards because of the stylish looks, bright LED backlights, and a perfect feel to the keys. Will this Cyborg Command Unit be any different? All Saitek products that I have ever owned have been very easy to use and very customizable. The first feature that jumped out at me with this Cyborg Command Unit is ability for the user to change the backlight on the pad - much like other popular Saitek products. Without further adieu, let's examine the Saitek Cyborg Command Unit to see if it is worthy of carrying the "Cyborg" moniker.


Closer Look:

The Saitek Cyborg Command Unit comes in a box that proudly displays the whole pad to the customer so that the customer knows exactly what they are getting. Also, the back of the box outlines the key features of the product.



Included with the Saitek Cyborg Command Unit is only a driver CD that includes the software required to make profiles, set macros and completely configure the unit.


Now let's take a look at the Saitek Cyborg Command Unit outside of the box!

Closer Look:

The Saitek Cyborg Command Unit is 8 inches tall, 5 1/2 inches wide, and stands roughly 1 1/2 inches off of the ground. There are a total of 21 buttons on this unit - 20 of which are programmable. You'll also notice a mini joystick on the right side of the unit. The bottom of the pad has an ergonomic wrist rest so that you aren't stressing your wrist while you're using the command unit. On the back of the device, you'll find rubber material used to keep the unit in place during intense use. One thing that I noticed right off the bat is that the USB cable is extremely short. To have the unit sitting on the left side of my keyboard, and having the cable stretch from the unit to my computer on the right side of my desk makes the USB cable taught. That is definitely a con for me, and some users may have to shift around their keyboard or computer to make the Saitek Command Unit fit comfortably.








When you take a closer look at the command unit, you can see that the top four buttons are "F1" through "F4" and directly next to the "F" buttons is an LED backlight switch that allows you to either have red, green or yellow as your backlight color. Unfortunately, the red LED line on the bottom of the unit stays red no matter which setting you have the LED backlight on. The keys are very easy to push, almost too easy. Right above the joystick is a screw that you can tighten or loosen to keep the joystick in place, because Saitek allows you to move the joystick further or closer to your hand. I have big hands, so for me, the best setting was furthest away from my palm.



Here is what the Cyborg command unit looks like with each of the three LED backlight settings turned on.



Now that we've examined the Saitek Cyborg Command Unit, let's get the software configured and test the game pad!


The software for the Saitek Cyborg Command Unit is extremely easy to use. You can do a variety of things including, setting up profiles, changing the LED brightness on the unit, and configuring the mini-joystick. You can set macros that are extremely long because there is no limit with the software. Be sure that you save your profiles after you are done creating them, because when you restart your computer, or unplug then plug in the command unit again, the profiles aren't automatically loaded.











Now that I've configured some profiles to meet my needs in specific games, let's test the unit!



-All features sourced from Saitek's website:


The absolute best way to test the Saitek Cyborg Command Unit is to play some of my favorite games for an extended period of time, and compare how I feel with this unit to a standard keyboard. I'll be playing Call of Duty 4, Counter-Strike: Source and World of Warcraft to see if this unit provides any benefit me in any of my favorite games.

Testing Setup:



The very first thing that I noticed when I set my hand on the Saitek Cyborg Command Unit is that the buttons face down. What I mean by that is that your fingers can rest freely on the keys without the keys pushing the tips upward. So it feels a little bit awkward not having them face you upright. The software was easy to use to get my binds all setup properly. The bottom line is that there isn't much difference between the keyboard and the command unit in first person shooter games, because both allow you to setup your own macros. The keys on the command unit took some time to get used to, but I cannot mark it down for that since learning how to play first person shooters on a standard keyboard wasn't very easy when I first started gaming. I still enjoy the click of the keys on the standard keyboard over the soft keys on the command unit. The click that I hear when I type on a standard keyboard is nice because it lets me know that my keystroke registered. If my keystrokes don't register, that could mean certain death for me in first person shooters, so hearing the clicks on the standard keyboard gives me one less thing to worry about when I play. Because of the command unit's keys being rather soft and not clicking after each keystroke, I'm going to annonce the winner to be the standard keyboard in this genre.


I tried setting up the joystick on the command unit in World of Warcraft to test and see if it was useful for looking around. It took a while to setup correctly and adjust to it but after a while, I was doing it smoothly. After a few hours of playing like that, I felt like it was easier for me to use the mouse instead of the joystick, but I did prefer the command unit over the standard keyboard for setting macros and binds.  In World of Warcraft I have a ton of binds and macros, so I was relieved that the software allows you to set macros to however long you want them to be. I liked how everything is consolidated onto the command unit - 20 programmable buttons that are very close to one another so you don't have to reach far to hit the key you need. In this genre, I felt like the Saitek Cyborg Command Unit was the better of the two.


Overall, I really felt like the Saitek Cyborg Command Unit was unnecessary for the styles of games that I play. In first person shooters, I performed the same on the standard keyboard and the Cyborg Command Unit, but that was after learning how to use the device first. The learning curve was fairly easy to get over, but the most awkward thing for me was how the keys sloped downward, whereas on the standard keyboard that I was using the keys slope upwards. The joystick works well, but I just found it unnecessary. If I need to use a joystick, I definitely want to use a full-sized joystick. The backlight of the command unit wasn't extremely bright, which is good, but I could barely see it at all from where I sit. The color options of green, red, or yellow are unique, but I was surprised that Saitek didn't implement a blue backlight option because blue is one of the most popular LED colors these days. The red LED line that goes down the bottom half of the command unit does not ever switch from being red, no matter what LED backlight you have selected. One of things that baffles me about this unit is the fact that the USB cable is so short! If your computer sits on the floor or on the opposite side of the desk, it's going to be a really long stretch for the command unit. Saitek really needs to add at least two more feet on the USB cable. The software was a breeze to use and I really enjoyed the fact that you can make your macros as long as you desire. The only downside to this software is that whenever you restart your computer or unplug the Cyborg Command Unit and plug it back in, the profiles and binds are reset. How lame is that? I believe that there should be an option for loading certain profiles by default. I cannot recommend this unit unless you really feel like your keyboard just isn't good enough, and you need something that is very identical to a keyboard but has a LED backlights, a tiny joystick and really soft keys.