Microsoft's resurgence of the SideWinder brand last year, in the form of a mouse sharing the same name, didn't go quite as planned - at least if our review of the Sidewinder Gaming Mouse is anything to go by. Hopefully a few lessons have been learned by now, because two new SideWinder products have been announced, the SideWinder X6 keyboard and SideWinder X5 mouse.
Looking at the rodent first, the changes from its predecessor seem mainly superficial - primarily a stylish black trim. The scrollwheel looks a bit thinner, and has a rubberised coating improving grip, too. More notable is the omission of the adjustable weight chamber of the last year's SideWinder, although as the asking price is lower we doubt there'll be many complaints.
On the keyboard front, the X6 is a bit more of a departure from the Microsoft norm. The most standout features are provably the removable numpad, which can be attached either side of the keyboard and back-lit keys, with a dedicated knob and extra bright lighting in the WSAD cluster - a la the Razer Lycosa. A set of macro keys are also present, with such functionality as a 'cruise control' mode, allowing repeated button presses to be bound to a single key. There's even a dedicated button for launching Vista's Game browser - what more could you want from a gaming peripheral?
Price wise, the X5 and X6 sit at $60 (~£33) and $80 (~£43) respectively and will be available in America from next month. The UK will likely see a launch at a similar time, and we'll be getting a pair into the office for review as soon as we can.