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MagicBox XPFS Review
>> Xbox-Scene has had the privilege of extensively reviewing 2 MagicBox XPFS units by Farmer Entertainment for the last 3 and a half weeks now. This device will allow you to hook up a keyboard and mouse for FPS gaming on the Xbox bridging the gap for hardcore PC based FPS players.
Product info: (from packaging)
- Used to connect a standard PS/2 Mouse and keyboard to your Xbox
- Designed for use with First Person Shooters.
- Supports full keyboard and mouse control including scroll-wheel.
- Built in memory card slot for compatible devices (incl. headsets)
- Works with any game, even those without native mouse and keyboard support.
- Pre-installed with configurations for most First Person Shooters.
- Compatible with all Xbox consoles (US, JPN, PAL).
- Works with most standard PS/2 Mice and Keyboards.
- Compatible with most standard USB Mice when used with a USB to PS/2 converter (not included)
- Compatible with most optical and wireless mice.
- Controller port with inline quick-release to help prevent costly console damage
There is a good reason I took the time to type out all of the product hype from the packaging. Despite a lot of time and effort and testing, we found the product lacking in some respects. Let me detail the process we used for testing. Iíve had the units for many weeks now, and did my own personal single player testing with it using a generic native PS/2 Keyboard and a generic $5 PS/2 optical mouse. The unit worked flawlessly as advertised. I was tempted to leave the testing at that level and be done with the review. (But here at Xbox-Scene we do try and actually TEST products submitted, which is one reason some of our reviews take so long to pump out.)
After all, I had successfully played single player with it using all three of itís built in pre-set configurations for the keyboard/mouse combo and found that with some time, and patience, I could and did become accustomed quickly enough to the presets keyboard layouts. I would have preferred a setup that allowed me full customized keyboard layouts though.
As you can see from the included manual, the 3 layouts have you restricted to their choice of keyboard layouts, which youíll either learn to live with or give up using this device and return to your Controller ĎSí pads. Switching Presets couldn't be any easier, just hold down the function key for the preset you want to use, and your choice will be indicated/confirmed by the center led on the XPFS. (Clip of the XPFS Switching modes)
So, at that point, I enjoyed the device and found it quite usable. During the last 2 years Iíve held local Xbox Lanís at least once per month, but had cut them off for the last few months. Since I had 2 of these units to review, I decided to throw it into the frying pan and see how well it fared amongst 2 groups of friends I had. One hardcore PC FPS group, and one hardcore Xbox Live/Kai(info) FPS group. The results were interesting, but shed a lot more light on the usefulness of this device in itís current state.
Weekend one, consisted of 7 (should have been 8) Xbox players. All of which brought with them a variety of Keyboards and Mice. USB, PS/2, and AT Keyboards, Mice. Mice of course came in various flavors including classic, optical, and trackball. Having only 2 units to review meant that the two using them were pitted against people using and accustomed to playing with Ďsí controllers. Games heavily used and tested included Halo 1&2, and Rainbow Six and Black Arrow, and Ghost Recon, Island Thunder, and GR 2.
Once the lan was prepped, we ran into some snags. Far too many keyboard and mice comboís were not working. We spent a good hour or so swapping parts in and out until we found hardware comboís they could use reliably. We found that many who were using mid to high cost USB Microsoft or Logitech Keyboards with included or third party USB to PS/2 adapters simply didnít work or were unreliable at best. Same or similar issues with USB Mice. It wasnít limited to any particular brand of mouse, or type like trackball, optical etc. Basically, we found that using USB to PS/2 adapters was so hit and miss that we simply removed all non native PS/2 connectable hardware. (keyboard and mice.. although USB mice did fare better then USB keyboards.. but nothing close to even 50%)
Iíll note here that at the time, we first suspected that the problems we were having with compatibility was with the Xbox units themselves. I had a variety of Xenium Ice Modded systems, X3 Pro Switch/XLCD Modded systems, and 3 non-modded in the test bed. The modded units were running the most current builds of their respective OS/Bios comboís. With some quick and dirty testing, we found that problems that occurred on the modded boxes, using the two leading modchips in the scene also occurred on the unmodded boxes. (which puts to bed issues reported by another reviewer on another site that modded boxes with quality chips caused the XPFS to croak)
Once we did so, and isolated ourselves to using PS/2 Native hardware with the XPFS it played like a dream. In every game we played, we had to alter look sensitivity, but that wasnít unexpected. (although it might have been nice to have been told to make those adjustments). Some people pounded their mice making two, three, or more movements to complete a full turn-around. (common movement in fps games)
The group noted the following, that once a break-in period to adjust to this device was endured (about 20 minutes to an hour) that their game play had improved, and in some cases, dramatically. Campers who were annoying as hell before were now untouchable as snipers now with the mouse/keyboard combo. Run and fraggers also noted improved targeting and frag counts. Happiness is a high frag count. An hour on Kai with this group of players, two of which armed with the XPFS against unsuspecting KAI players resulted in them eventually getting kicked from most games they joined. XPFS gave us an unfair advantage apparently, as those armed with it were Ďdeemedí to be cheating since their accuracy was uncanny.
Weekend two rolled around, and this time I catered a lan for 8 hardcore PC players who owned Xbox consoles but donít Ďlikeí them for FPS type games. Using what we learned from the previous weekend we didnít waste nearly as much time with USB devices. A few worked.. most didnít or were unreliable so we used their carry along PS/2 devices. (between the two weekends, not a single PS/2 Native device gave us grief.)
So, now with the PC group, I had 2 XPFS players and 6 Ďsí controllers players. The Ďsí controller players bitched and moaned as can be expected, as they were keyboard players at heart. The XPFS players quickly adapted to the presets of the XPFS and within minutes were decimating players who normally could hold their own in competition. The XPFS players though all said the same thing over and over, that they wished they could customize the keyboard configs. They all found one of the 3 presets usable, but wish they could remap the layout to something less painful on their fingers.
So, with person testing aside, and 2 teams of testers enjoying colas and many hours testing is there anything else that can be said about this product while we got it handy?
With the XPFS you get only one memory slot. For some, that is more than plenty. For others, who might want to have both their headset and a packed memory card with their favourite saves in the unit at the same time, you canít.
The product packaging did let us down, as we didnít see any quick release mechanism on this device, at least nothing similar to what Microsoft incudes on every controller. The way I see it, if you submit something for review, makes sure the packaging matches the product submitted.
The casing of the XPFS will be familiar to many, as FARMER isnít new to the business of making quality Xbox devices for our pleasure. Theyíve been around forever, and have a good rep for making stuff that works as advertised.
What I did notice though was that the plastic looks like itís been twisted off of other parts. What I meant by this is if you take something like a model plane kit, and twist the parts of the framing it ships on, youíll see Ďwhiteí plastic and itís a mess. That is what I see on the same spot of this device on both units. Itís picky, but cosmetically when I shop for something, Iíd like it to look professional. If that was on the rear of the device I might not have noticed, but with it on the front right near the connectors Iíll be looking at it forever.
- Brings Keyboard and Mouse functionality to Xbox FPS players
- Low Cost (MSRP 29.99)
- Works Perfectly with Native PS/2 Devices
- Blue Casing/LED combo
- Lack of customization of Presets
- Short Cord (approx 10 inches)
- Inconsistent compatibility with non-native PS/2 hardware via adapters)
- Missing advertised quick release feature
- Only one memory slot. Itís either memory card or headset, not both folks.)
Conclusion: The XPFS worked more or less as advertised. It worked extremely well (perfectly) with all major brands and generic native PS/2 Keyboards and Mice (ball, optical, or track). It fared poorly with native USB devices though. Everyone who used it enjoyed the improved game play and accuracy, but also whined and were annoyed about not being able to customize the keyboard layout. They also couldnít use some of the extra funky buttons on their mice theyíd been used to programming on PCís. The lack of the advertised quick-release feature was also annoying.
All things considered, Iíll continue to use it as I did get hooked on the accuracy provided by using it.
Wish list for future revisions? Full USB support, a Second Memory Slot, and a longer cord (minimum 4 feet) and possibly a switch that would allow us to switch from Game Compatible mode to standard USB keyboard mode so that we can use it as a fully compatible keyboard on alternative Dashboards and XBMC.
Official Sites magicxfps.com and farmerentertainment.com
Original Press Release Announcement: Press Release 2004
Promotional Video: Meet our mascot Timmie!
Review Discussion Thread, more photos, etc.: XS Forums
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