TrackIR 4 Pro Review

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In this review I will cover the TrackIR 4 Pro by Naturalpoint. This review will go over several tests in several different games.

To start with, TrackIR is a piece of hardware that allows you to move your head and your view in game moves with it. The method the hardware uses to detect the motion is by you using ether the included clip that you but on the bill of a hat or by using the additional Trackclip Pro that you can buy separately which you can attach to over-the-head headsets.. The hardware detects motion on all 6 degrees of freedom, and moves your view in game in up to 6 degrees of freedom based on the support for it in the game you are playing. An example of a 6dof game is FSX, where an example of say a 2dof game is Falcon 4.0 Allied Force. Now on to the actual review.

Reviewer's hardware: CPU: Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 at 2.4 ghz on 4 64bit cores GPU: Nvidia Geforce 8500gt 512 megs of ram RAM: 2 gigs of 800mhz corsair memory in dual channel configuration Motherboard: XFX Nforce 680i lt SLI Sound card: On board Realtek HD Audio Hard drive: 750 gigs on 3 hard drives OS: Windows Vista Ultimate x86 (32 bit) Monitor: 20.1 inch LCD Joystick: Microsoft Precision Pro Mouse: Razer Lachesis Speakers: 5.1 surround sound Wheel: Logitech NASCAR Racing Wheel

The setup: I unboxed the TrackIR and immediately noticed that I had one problem, my desk has a beam that goes right over the monitor, and as the TrackIR was designed to sit on or clip on to the monitor, I had a problem. I later resolved this problem by using Velcro to attach the TrackIR to the beam. I noticed before I did this though that if the TrackIR is not in correct position, the view will be jumpy at best as it will loose track of the LEDs on the Trackclip when you turn your head. I also was amazed by how small the TrackIR was, It's less than 2 inches tall and 3 inches wide.

FSX portion of review: Where do I even begin. I took the Bell 206B up for a spin over Las Vegas while testing TrackIR, and I was amazed by how well it tracked my head movement. I could move my view in any direction just by moving my head. I noticed that this had an incredible effect in the VC when i was able to zoom in on gauges and read them much easier. I was also able to notice that looking in on areas i was flying over, i was able to keep my view locked on a specific point by keeping my head aimed at it as I turned. I thought FSX was realistic as it was without the TrackIR, but once I tried it using the TrackIR it blew me away at how much of an improvement in realism there was. One important thing to note though is that the TrackIR is practically useless in the 2d pit. I did however notice using the standard Trackclip that sometimes the brim of the hat would get in the way of the screen. One downside though was that some freeware add on aircraft would have issues with things not being fully rendered when you moved your head in a certain way, for instance a refueling probe not being all there and it would show when you moved your head up.

rFactor portion of review: I got a copy of rFactor bundled with my TrackIR because I got the ultra bundle which also included Battle of Britain 2: Wings of Victory and the Trackclip Pro. The first thing I would like to note was that by default, the profile it used was a little screwy, as when you rolled your head, your view would move in the opposite direction. I fixed this by creating a new profile and using that with the game. The first thing I noticed was when I moved my head, I would tend to turn that direction, which I guess is just natural because that tends to be how it is in real life. The one down side was that the field of view was a bit restricted, and you couldn't turn your head as much as I wanted to. It still was 6dof though so that part made me happy. Once I got my profile up and running, it was smooth sailing.

IL-2 portion of review: There was one initial disappointment with IL-2 when I first tried it, that was that it was restricted to just 2dof, or looking up and down and left and right, but I remembered about a mods site for IL-2 and sure enough they had a mod to make IL-2 6dof. Once I installed the mod, I started off by getting in a dogfight server. The first thing I noticed was that my situational awareness shot up in a hurry. Now I was able to determine where the enemy was and keep my sight on him as I turned in to him. When I was using the hat switch I had a very hard time keeping my view on an enemy, and now it was easy as pie with the TrackIR. I immediately noticed an improvement in my kill ratio with the TrackIR.

ArmA portion of review: ArmA is a FPS designed for maximum realism, think battlefield but with 1 shot kills and military grade realism. The key factor with ArmA is being able to look around using your head to keep up situational awareness. This allows you to move your head but not your body. It also requires you have some skill in aiming because not only does your gun rotate before you move your body, but also you must match where you are looking with where you are aiming. This makes it extremely challenging. This is also true for when you are looking down your iron sights, as when you are doing that if you move your head, your head in game will move too while not moving the iron sights. ArmA allows you 4dof. You can look up and down, along with left and right. You can also zoom in by moving forward, or zoom out by moving back. Finally you can lean left and right by leaning left and right in your chair.

Summary: All in all TrackIR is a very worthwhile investment. It is something that while you may replace your computer, you won't likely replace this. It also vastly improves the realism of game play. The only disadvantages are that it does not have Linux or Mac support, and it is a bit expensive. The only real other problem is that sometimes you have to recenter the view by pressing F12 because your view can sometimes go haywire.

Pros:

  • 6 Degrees of Freedom movement vastly improves realism
  • Drivers and software are easy to configure
  • Easy to use
  • No extreme head movements required, you just need to make minor head movements to check your six
  • Regular driver and games list updates
  • Easy Setup

Cons:

  • Not supported by all games
  • Some games don't support 6dof
  • Expensive
  • Takes some time to get used to
  • Once you are used to it you may start to try to move your head the way you would with TrackIR in real life
  • Beginners have a tendency to sometimes get motion sickness from using the TrackIR
  • Light sources can interfere with the detection of the LEDs.
  • No Linux or Mac support
  • It gets really hot after a little bit of use and will sting to the touch, but it will not be blistering hot, at least not in my experience

*disclamer: The reviewer has absolutely no affiliation with Naturalpoint or TrackIR except for being a very happy customer.

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