3DConnexion SpaceNavigator Personal Edition

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3DConnexion SpaceNavigator Personal Edition

Quick, call Maxwell Smart. We’ve identified a KAOS plot aimed at destroying American worker productivity. Now thanks to 3DConnexion, that evil plot to have 90 percent of Americans flying all over the globe using Google Earth—instead of working — just got easier, and thus more KAOtic.

Meet the SpaceNavigator Personal Edition, which works as a controller for 3D applications like Google Earth and NASA World Wind. The 3D knob on the device lets you effortlessly rotate, pan, tilt, or change altitude with simple wrist movements in some 3D applications. To gauge the performance of the SpaceNavigator PE, we staged several Google Earth races among the staff to see who could traverse the globe more quickly, going from Manhattan to Seattle or Mt. Everest to the Kremlin—without touching the keyboard. In the end, all we did was waste an afternoon calling out random locations and racing to them. After hours of serious testing, we found that the SpaceNavigator didn’t provide any advantage in our races.

The SpaceNavigator isn’t all about play, though. The bundled driver includes support for Maya, AutoCAD, 3ds Max, SolidWorks, and a dozen other apps. In 2D apps like Photoshop, the SpaceNavigator lets you slide an image around, zoom in, or change brush sizes by jiggling the knob. Unfortunately, the device doesn’t include support for gaming or the ability to program it for applications it doesn’t recognize. 3DConnexion said this is because the device’s driver is complex, doing more than simple key-presses, so it would be difficult to adapt it for games that expect you to mash WASD to move around.

That limitation is ultimately what really hurts the SpaceNavigator PE. While we appreciate the fact that this type of device cost $300 two years ago, a controller whose main commercial appeal is limited to Google Earth and a few other apps is of limited value. Don’t get us wrong though, it is effective and if we had $60 to burn and our second job was flying around on Google Earth, we’d buy one. However, the lack of programmability and extensibility really sticks in our craw.

Like A Record, Baby

Cheap, comes preconfigured for common multimedia apps, Google Earth.

Like An Eight Track

Not particularly useful for other apps; not programmable.

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Dark-Phreekquency

Ive owned the space pilot for almost a year now, i am a 3d/graphic designer that uses programs such as maya and photoshop consistently. All though i do agree that for the average consumer buying this tool to surf through google earth isnt a necessity but i must say i find this device very usefull. It cuts my productivity time down immensely. i am so accustomed to using it that it feels almost alien not to have it. Just wanted to give people another opinion. if you are in a design feild this is definatly worth checking out if even just for photoshop

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