Novelty / Specialty PC Input Devices?

Belkin has the Nostromo, Thrustmaster has the TacticalBoard, CH Products has the Throttle Quadrant. At various times I’ve seen these appear in sidebar reviews of magazines like Computer Shopper, or Computer Games, or what have you. They’re interesting, and I got to wondering what else I can plug into my USB / PS2 port.

Anyone know of any web-sites that keep track of these ‘special-interest’ type input devices?

I remember some years ago mouse-pens (which were pen-shaped devices with a little mouse ball where the nib would be) were the rage. I bought one as a novelty and found it the most irritating and inaccurate input device I had ever used; even touchpads are better than these things. I have never known anybody who seriously used one of these things. One of them might be good for novelty value, but I wouldn’t pay more than 50 cents for one, myself.

Dating from the days of 8-bit computers, there’s the Koala Pad.

Well, there was the CueCat, which was a free promo thingy from Radio Shack. The CueCat was a barcode scanner shaped like a cat. The thing was, though, the CueCat used some proprietary semi-encryption to change the barcode into a hash which would be fed through the accompanying software, which would interpret the hash and take you to the website of the product that you scanned. The hash also included a unique serial number.

Of course, some intrepid hardware hackers found that if you did some slight modification to the innards of the CueCat (simply cutting a trace in one model, soldering a jumper wire in another), the CueCat would return the value of the barcode rather than the jumbled string of characters. There are also some software-based solutions to this (CueDog comes to mind). Of course, what you do with your own free barcode scanner is left as an excercise for the reader. I don’t know if the CueCats are still freely available, though.

On a different note, there was something called the “Sexy Mouse”. Basically, a mouse with tits. The company that made these seems to have gone tits-up (pun intended), but you can still get them on novelty websites.

I’m a sucker for cool looking custom controllers and input devices. If it has a lightgun, or an interesting steering mechanism or simulates a whole cockpit (ahhh, Steel Battalion, my preciousssssss) it has to be mine.

I’m really bad about it, too. I bought Gran Turismo III for the PS2 because I wanted to play with the Logitech force feedback steering wheel. Normally I’m not a racing game guy.

Lately I’ve come to terms with my addiction and have begun to look for review sites that cover things like this. It’s helped me avoid things like the P5 glove, which apparently doesn’t work very well. Or at all, depending on which review you read.

There’s , which looks like what you’re looking for, only it appears to be a ghost site, the last review is from more than a year ago.

You can find reviews of random input products at places like IGN or PCWorld, but they’re not really organized, just kind of crammed in with other reviews and they have big gaps in coverage.

I haven’t found a good site that has comprehensive coverage of things like this. I would be quite pleased if someone did come up with one, though.

Well, who can forget the “F-U, F-Me”? (SFW Google link with safe search off.)

And seriously, what about flight simulator yokes and rudder pedals?

I still have a few kaola pads.

AFAIK The cue cat is no longer made. I have one. But it is mine, all mine. While the appeal to advertisers was obvious, there was never really any reason for consumers to use the device. The public never saw an advantage in using the cue cat rather than just typing the name of a site or doing a web search. Parade magazine ran the special cue bar codes (OTTOMH the bars were thicker than in normal bar codes, and were slanted) for a few months. How the idea was ever approved for production is beyond me.

Back before touchpads were common, there was the unmouse. This was just a touchpad and a few programmable buttons on the end of a serial cable.

Chorded keyboards.
I’m surprised these didn’t gain a following. A chorded keyboard fits nicely in the palm of your hand. There is one button each for the fingers, and three for the thumb. The function of each button changes depending on what other keys are also pressed. It sounds more complicated than it is. I saw one of these demonstrated at a lecture on VR, the miniaturization of computers and their movement into everyday life.

:eek: That thing is too cool for words. Should I buy an X-Box, then hunt down this game to have the controller? I’m tempted…

Alas, you’re right - it’s exactly what I’m looking for, if it were still active.

BTW, my interest was sparked when I saw a review for an odd combination of mech+fishing game with a big-ass controller included in a sidebar review. I couldn’t remember the name until your post: Steelhead Battalion. Looks like wacky good stuff

Three words: dot com era.

Pile up truckloads of cash in one spot, douse with kerosene and light on fire? Sounds like a great business model to me!

Anyway, back to the thread, I learned my lesson about novelty input devices after my first trackball. After several years, it’s finally found a use as a portable input device for my laptop (I hate glidepads), as it’s reasonably usable (not as good as a mouse, obviously) and (more importantly) takes up little space when in use.

5.25"? Thank goodness I’m slightly below average.

Ars Technica recently reviewed the Tracker IR

You use your head to rotate the point of view in the game



Some of us remember the 8" version :smiley:

As an avid railfan, I have Microsoft Train Simulator on my machine. I use the keyboard, but some of the diehards actually have locomotive controls hooked up to their computers. Originally, these were homemade, but I think now there are commercial units.

Was that a floppy measurement?