Can the tried and true combination of a mouse and keyboard truly be improved upon for PC gaming? Cooler Master thinks so, and it's attempting to make the experience better with the ControlPad, a dedicated 24-key pad with built-in Aimpad support for more precise movement.
This is not a shipping product. Instead, Cooler Master is going the crowdfunding route in hopes of raising $50,000 on Kickstarter. It's already raised a few grand, and we suspect it will meet and surpass its goal before it ends in 44 days.
The ControlPad harbors 24 mechanical keys, with users being able to choose between Cherry MX Red or Gateron Red switches. Red switch types lack a tactile bump and are generally recommended for gamers looking for fast action with minimal resistance (see our guide on key switches for more information). Mechanical keyboards and keypads are pretty common these days, but Cooler Master hopes to set its ControlPad apart with integrated Aimpad technology.
Aimpad technology aims to provide the same precision input as found on devices such as aviation joysticks, steering wheels, and gaming controllers by enabling analog control in digital inputs. Unlike a traditional mechanical keyboards and keypads, Aimpad is a pressure-sensitive technology. Here's a video that demonstrates what that entails:
This is dependent on games supporting this type of input, though Cooler Master says any game that ships with controller support will "most likely work with ControlPad." Likewise, some games might offer partial support, Cooler Master says (we take that to mean the keys will register as any normal keyboard, but they won't react to different pressure levels).
It's an interesting concept, and while gaming presents an obvious market for this sort of thing, it's not the only one. Cooler Master also sees this benefiting creative professionals who use programs like Photoshop and Final Cut, and even doctors who specialize in radiology.
We'll be interested in testing the ControlPad if and when it comes out. For those who are willing to try their luck on Kickstarter, the Early Bird pledge price is set at $75. Should this make it to market, it's not clear what the MSRP will be.