With the ever-increasing popularity of online first-person shooters, the amount of gamers looking for a competitive edge is on the rise. As hacking is a complicated and obvious workaround to the problem, some have turned to hardware solutions. These hardware peripherals often fall in a moral grey area. Most are thoughtfully engineered controllers to reduce input time and added buttons, but they carry a hefty price tag.
One input method has always been regarded as superior to any controller. Enter the IOGEAR KeyMander, which allows players to use a keyboard and mouse with their home console instead of their controller. Is the added precision a matter of black and white?
For its size and purpose, the KeyMander is rather over-engineered. The exterior feels like it could survive a fragmentation grenade. The entirety of the case is a sturdy metal coated in a black semi-gloss finish. The top of the device has three indicator LEDs; one denotes power, one is for settings, uploading profiles and key mapping, and the third is to indicate either a turbo mode or keyboard mode.
Three USB ports on the device are for inputs from a keyboard, mouse and controller for easier navigation or gameplay when not playing a first person shooter.
Everything feels well-built and durable. There is no sign of movement when plugging in or unplugging devices. The only aspect that did not sit right during testing was the bolts that protrude from the front and rear of the casing. If it were flush or recessed further into the device, it would have given the outset USB ports some room for more bulky plugs, but we had no issues with our current equipment.
The default settings work very well, as anyone who has played a modern shooter on both PC and console will be familiar with the typical key mappings. All settings can be easily changed using the included software suite, and it also features the ability to create multiple profiles for different games or loadouts.
We did run into some issues with some hardware not being compatible with the KeyMander. Standard wired mice worked well, whereas wireless mice were hit or miss. Those who play FPS games on PC who are used to changing mouse DPI settings on the fly will have to dive into game menus to change sensitivity as most mice are not able to change DPI settings while plugged into the KeyMander.
The value proposition of the KeyMander is a personal one, not only for monetary factors but also moral ones. For those looking to gain more precision while playing shooter campaigns and either do not own a capable PC or prefer the console experience, the investment is $99.95. The only real benefit is the ability to choose a keyboard and mouse setup over a standard controller.
The other group is more likely the ones who prefer to play shooters online and seek out any advantages to dominate their peers. Those who are not very competitive or those who have a more relaxed attitude toward online multiplayer would most likely not be looking for a device like this. Even if these gamers were to seek the competitive edge, they would have to be at least as comfortable, if not more so, with a keyboard and mouse than with their controllers. And there’s also the moral implications of what could be referred to as cheating via hardware.
The decision is up to each individual player. While having a mouse to aim instead of an analog stick is nice, no real benefit was to be found in single-player gaming.
The IOGEAR KeyMander is an interesting product that is well designed and executed. It comes with a very useful software solution to map any keystroke to a controller button or movement. Using a device like this online can be viewed as cheating by some, but the added benefit of mouse precision and keyboard controls in single player more than justifies the price for anyone who is primarily a PC gamer.
While the KeyMander is a unique product with few contemporaries, it falls into a moral grey area of hardware that some gamers may take issue with, allowing those with deeper pockets to dominate online arenas without the others having the slightest idea.