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SpaceExplorer

3D-controller from 3DConnexion
 
Author: Jani 'Japala' Pönkkö
Published: 17.07.2008
Manufacturer: 3DConnexion
Product Group: Input
In English In English
Suomeksi Suomeksi

Intro

Last year we reviewed a 3D controller from 3DConnexion that was an entry level device - the SpaceNavigator PE. This time we will take a look at bit more higher end model that still offers the same intuitive 3D control that can be found on the more basic SpaceNavigator.

The SpaceExplorer offers more function buttons and installs the 3D Control Cap on to a wider base. Everything seems more "professional" but how does it compare to its little brother in the end?

3D Navigation

 

3DConnexion SpaceExplorer
 

3D Navigation, like the name says, adds a new dimension to the regular 2D navigation. With a mouse, one can pan but that is pretty much it. With an input device that allows 3D navigation, user gets more intuitive control over the objects and items on the screen. For example, if you have a game where you can control the camera. Usually you need to press for example the scroll wheel down and then pan the mouse to move the camera. With 3D controller you just rotate, pan, zoom and tilt the camera like you were holding it in your hand. Better yet, all this happens simultaneously.

When I was trying to get my wife to master the SpaceExplorer, I found that the best analog was to make her think that she were holding a spherical webcam on her hand. When one pushes the "camera" towards the table, the virtual camera on the screen goes closer to the ground. Rotate the "camera" and the view on the screen rotates. Easy and intuitive for most users but for others like her, 3D may feel bit confusing at first.

SpaceExplorer

 

3DConnexion SpaceExplorer
 

Yes, it is a box...

Bundle

 

3DConnexion SpaceExplorer
 

...that contains the SpaceExplorer 3D Controller, two brief quick start guides and a driver CD. Interestingly the SpaceExplorer is supported by Windows, Mac OS X, Linux and Unix. Most of these specialized controllers have very limited cross-platform support but 3DConnexion stepped up and even offers free SDKs for their products so that one can build-in the support for these controllers inside their own programs.

Currently there are tons of programs that have cerified support for the 3D Controllers from 3DConnexion. List can be seen on the Supported Applications page.




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