Something that has been uttered especially from PC gamers mouths is how they would like to see a keyboard and mouse for use on the Xbox. For me personally that always concerned me as if Microsoft actually make an official keyboard and mouse unit, it would be sure to give an unfair advantage to those gamers without especially on Xbox Live where people take the scoreboards and clan matches very seriously.
Microsoft have not come up with the goods, but someone else has seen the potential and gone for it. The Smart Joy FRAG allows you of course to use your PC keyboard and mouse (PS/2 connection) on your Xbox for First Person Shooters like Halo 2, Rainbow Six 3 and others of this genre. If you have a USB mouse and keyboard the likelihood is it came with a PS/2 converter for older PC systems so if you remember where you kept them safe you will be fine, or alternatively you can buy them online.
The unit itself is quite small with the two PS/2 connections for the keyboard and mouse and also a handy port on top for you to plug your Xbox Live headset or memory card into as well. This is where your first problem will arise!
By using the keyboard and mouse the first thing you desire is a flat surface you can sit at. Now when using a PC you do not use it on the floor, instead you require a desk. Now how many people have their Xbox through a PC monitor or portable TV which sits on a desk? Not many, and although you can buy devices that allow you to plug into PC monitors, this is another expense as simply trying to use the keyboard and mouse whilst say so far away from the TV just isn’t going to work how you would prefer.
Configuration of the keyboard is quite a headache. Certain keys like the number lock light show up to show you have a device connected, but included in the memory of the unit are game profiles. This means you can select the profile such as the Halo profile to configure your keyboard and mouse correctly to what they recommend for that title. Selecting the profile is quite simple. By pressing a couple of keys you activate the profile, however there is no clear and obvious indication which profile has been activated which will confuse you until you trust your device is actually accepting your commands within the game how they should. You can also create your own customized profile for games of your choice. Again not the simplest of methods by any means with no visual interface indicating your changes.
In the actual gaming itself you do notice that the device is far more accurate when aiming. This is why many PC gamers loath the Xbox controller, but not because the controller itself is a bad device, but just they are used to the accuracy of a mouse and the use of a keyboard to move around. Now this will give you a huge advantage when shooting and aiming, however this is only half the story. Remember Xbox games were optimized for use with a controller. So the way the character aims and moves around is optimized for the analogue sticks. No current product is optimized for Keyboard and Mouse and unless Microsoft bring out their own versions the likeliness of this happening is very low in future gaming titles. The other half of the story is moving, and this is something that really suffers by the lack of optimization from developers for this type of interface. It is no fault of the unit itself, but you will notice the sluggish movement, never more so in fast paces games like Halo 2 which require fast running around and shooting without little time to breath. This device fails here completely and soon the luxury of aiming so finely is only useful from a distance. Close combat you will more then likely be beaten or shot to a pulp before you have ever managed to turn around and shoot.
You do get a handy booklet showing you the suggested settings for the sensitivity in the games options, but this does not emulate the feel which a true PC game has to offer when using the keyboard and mouse properly optimized.
Aiming is greatly increased, however movement is sluggish and you will never get the same feel as a true PC game First Person Shooter due to the fact that no game currently is enhanced for this interface method.
Rating: 2 / 5