Nostromo SpeedPad n52
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The Belkin Nostromo SpeedPad n52 is a USB computer gaming peripheral designed for gamers by Belkin. It is likely named after the fictional starship Nostromo from the 1979 film Alien[original research?], which was in turn named after the 1904 novel Nostromo.
It can be considered a keyboard/joystick/mouse hybrid, which allows for a more convenient control method for many video games. It can also be used outside of games, for example to support cartographic software. It is the followup to the older SpeedPad n50, and is also intended to replace the keyboard during gaming.
The device is currently supported under Windows 98, 2000, ME, XP (both 32- and 64-bit versions), and Vista (both 32- and 64-bit versions). Additionally, the Windows Vista driver can be used to install the device on a Windows 7 system and retain all functionality.
It is also supported under Mac OS 9.04 or later, and Mac OS X v10.1.2 up to 10.4.8. The programming software does work on Intel-based Macs. Intel Mac drivers are supplied. The n52 requires a Pentium 233 MHz or equivalent with 32MB RAM, as well as 30MB free hard drive space.
The n52 is made in a black and silver design with a few orange accents. It features a rubber-coated base, and is weighed down with a metal weight for stability. The user must place his left hand on the device to use it, as it was designed for right-handed people, who usually use a mouse with their right hands. The n52 has a movable hand rest which can be set to 2 locations or removed to create 3 different hand positions to better suit various hand sizes by means of lifting the rest off the unit.
A large space is used for a keyboard-like section with 14 keyboard keys, numbered 1 through 14, by default used to represent the WASD space on regular keyboards in the case of first-person shooters, one of the intended target audiences of the n52. These keys can be controlled with the users second to fifth fingers. Below where the thumb rests, there is a slightly wider keyboard-style button, labeled 15, similar in use to the shift key on regular keyboards.
On the right side of the device, there is a scroll-wheel, like those normally found on mice, which can be controlled with the index finger. To the right of that, there is a round button, as well as an 8-way D-pad normally found on gamepads, intended to be used with the thumb.
All of these controls can be programmed with the included "Nostromo Array Programming Software" to emulate any keyboard function or keyboard macro. They can also be programmed to change the device's "state". The n52 has 4 different color-coded states, indicated by 3 LEDs below the fifteenth button. If a user changes the state of the device from the normal one, the red, green, or blue LED lights up, and all other controls now represent a different function. The state-button can be set to act as a temporary shift button that works while it is pressed, a toggle button, or it can be set to work until it is pressed again. In total, this allows up to 104 different functions. The software can recognize games by their executable filenames, and automatically load the appropriate profile when that game is started. User-created profiles, which are technically single files, can be submitted to Belkin via e-mail, making them available for others to download.
The ability to add macros allows users to more easily work with data in spreadsheets and similar programs by creating a row of: Cut, Copy, Paste, and Enter keys, and by making the D-pad emulate the arrow keys.
Starting January 2008 (delayed from November 2007) an updated version called the Belkin n52te will be sold. This version does not feature the word "Nostromo", and has the additional "te", meaning "tournament edition". The device is black and has a blue backlit keypad and scroll wheel. The user can "hot-swap" player profiles, a capability supported by built-in memory. The device runs software created by Razer.
Since the n52te was released however, many fans of the original have voiced their concerns that the n52te is lacking several features that were present in the original n52, mostly within the profiling software produced by Razer which has been criticized by owners of the original as being significantly less sophisticated than the original Belkin software.
Examples of missing features are:
- The ability to rename keymaps to indicate their function, rather than just displaying the raw keystroke.
- The ability to convert old n52 profiles for use on the n52te. Many n52te purchasers got them to replace their original n52 controllers and were displeased when they learned they would have to redo all their carefully constructed profiles.
- Lack of a null, unswitched state for the keymaps, essentially reducing the mappable key count by 23 as the n52te only utilises the blue, green and red switch states for mapping.
- The ability to copy keymaps between switch states.
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