ControlZone Interactive has been making gaming keyboard covers since 1997. After perusing their site for a bit, I found that they're tackling more than just the gaming genre. Some development for PhotoShop, Excel2000 and Word Perfect are in the works. I will surely be looking for the PhotoShop keycover ... I am a keystroke-junky when it comes to making graphics in PS5.
The product that we reviewed was a cover for the Gunship! sim by Microprose. After pulling it out of the box, I noticed that the product was constructed of a strong, flexible plastic that seemed to stick to everything it came into contact with. The artwork on this covering is tastefully done to give the player the feeling of the game. After swapping out my beloved ergo-keyboard for my standard Microsoft keyboard, I was in business.
Before I even got a chance to try it out, the cover was stress tested by the toughest customer Control Zone could have picked ... My 5 year old daughter, who thought the cover was a cool addition to dad's toys and began banging away at it, pretending to shoot and fly. After a quick "rolling-of-the-eyes" from the wife-unit from behind my back, I sat down to fire-up some Gunship! To my surprise, The cover didn't move a muscle from its original position, before "mini-Lionpride" had her fun.
After playing Gunship! for a few hours, I found that the Control Cover was a welcome addition to my arsenal. Gunship! itself isn't the toughest of sims to get use to when learning the keys, but when you fly as many helicopter sims as we at HeloSim.Com, you get a new appreciation for this type of product. I didn't have to do the ole' "keycard stuck under the keyboard shuffle" that usually happens at the worst times. The Control Cover gave me back my desktop space that I've been missing when I have to use the keycards for the sims that I haven't played in a while.
You can easily tell, out of the box, that this product would be a welcome site to anyone just starting off with a new software product, game or office application alike. You could say that the male stereotypical, "I don't read the directions before I play" guy would definitely benefit from this. Losing your manual would no longer be such a bad thing. The "seasoned" player or office "Ninja" may not be too impressed with their first impression of this product, but after a few days of use, I found that I literally took it for granted. Software publishers would do well to bundle this product with new software, cutting their manual writing process in half.
The only "down-side" I experienced with this cover, was the inability to see what letters I was typing during chat sessions between flights and in-game discussions. Someone like myself, who types often, would have little or no problem with this, but the awful truth is that simmers are not the best typists. The letters coinciding with the keys are tucked tightly on the cover next to the "action" keys. It took a while to get use to the narrow standard keyboard again. Changing between the ergo-keyboard and the standard got to be a bit tedious after a few days, but I look forward to Control Zone's later releases of covers to fit the ergo-keyboards.
A Definite MUST HAVE for the serious simmer who doesn't have the time or money to build a full blown cockpit replica!
We give this product a high-rating based on it's simplicity and it's well thought out design. Bravo-Zulu.