Putting aside arguments over platform exclusives, graphical output and the convenience of gaming from the couch, one element separates console and PC gamers more than any other: control. Those parked in front of a television have an all-in-one gamepad with analog nubs, clicky buttons and smooth triggers, while those who bask in the glow of a monitor boast wield a high-accuracy mouse and and full QWERTY keyboard. While trying to jump from one platform to the other, inventor Chris Zhao-Holland found the differences frustrating. Sure, games on the PC benefited from mouse control, but the stiff inputs of the keyboard lost the built-in sensitivity of the console's dual-analog joysticks. It didn't take long for him to cook up the idea for Sinister, a modular PC keypad that hopes to take the best from both worlds.
Zhao-Holland dropped by Engadget's West Coast office with an early prototype, presenting us with a 3D-printed palm-rest adorned with Xbox 360 buttons and a single analog nub. These buttons are modular, and can be rearranged mid-game without forgetting their function. The contraption looks a little like a mash up between one of Razer's keypad peripherals and a Splitfish controller, and oddly, functions like both. A pair of switches on the unit's side decide if the PC will recognize it as an Xinput device (like an Xbox 360 controller), a mouse and DirectInput device (with keys that need to be assigned through a companion program) or a mixture of both. These disparate modes give lend the device compatibility, but each comes with its own caveats.