Desktop drivers;Hands on

12th November 1999 at 00:00
Love to push the pedal to the metal and devour the playground asphalt come home-time? Then what you need is Microsoft's SideWinder racing wheel, a bolt-on device that lets you do your driving at your desk.

This bit of kit lets you hit the high scores where pressing keys or using a joystick leaves you in the dust. It comes with a USB plug (a connector that often gives an easier ride with computer accessories); a pair of slip-resistant foot pedals to accelerate and brake complete the pictureI or nearly do. For a bit more dosh you could go for the Force Feedback edition. Take hold of this beauty and you feel the bumps and slides as your car tyres fight for grip. Hold on white-knuckled and the engine judder and pile-ups come through to the wheel. Oh yes, this is just the thing to leave the playground far, far behind.

A great bit of gear out now is Logitech's Wingman Force Feedback Mouse. The mouse is controlled as normal, but the base it is attached to provides physical feedback. Used for, say, a flight simulator, the controls wrestle as you move them, although it works for other games as most have shakes built into them. The spooky bit is that it also works with everyday software: menus are bumpy and you bounce across icons as if they were magnetic. Sure, it's all for fun, but I can't help wondering if there's a special need somewhere that this just might help.

Finally, rejoice all ye computer operators - the ball-less mouse is here! No more fights with a sticky mouse for Microsoft's Intellimouse Explorer has an "Intelli-Eye", an optical sensor that replaces the rolling ball by scanning the desk to log moves. It's too new to be cheap or ubiquitous, but it looks like the clatter of clogged mice being slammed on to desks is a thing of the past.

Roger Frost. Microsoft SideWinder Precision Racing Wheel. Price: pound;69.99 with foot pedals.

Microsoft SideWinder Force Feedback Wheel. Price: pound;99.99 with foot pedals.

Logitech Force Feedback Mouse. Price: pound;79.99. Microsoft's Intellimouse Explorer (USBSerial). Price: pound;49.99

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