Tuact Aimon PS Wireless Mouse and Grip for PS3 - Review
(I have my own set of pictures of this product, but I lost them in the sea of images in my external hard drive and was too lazy to take pictures again. Will change them eventually. Sorry!)
There are a variety of options for PlayStation 3 gamers who want to play first (or third) person shooters with a mouse. The Tuact Aimon PS is one them, and I got one last August to play with Battlefield Bad Company 2 and Battlefield 3 (I also tried using it to play Vanquish).
The Aimon PS is essentially a wireless mouse and wand (like a Wii nunchuck) controller created mainly for FPS gamers in mind. The system works for the PS3 and PC, and there is also a version for the Xbox 360 called the Aimon XB. And because it's wireless, these controllers are battery-powered – 2 AA batteries, one for the mouse, and one for the wand.
Here's what the back of the box says:
“AIMON PS is a high quality wireless laser mouse and WASD controller, compatible with all games for both PC and PS3 game systems.
Play PC style gaming on the PS3 – the AIMON PS is the best PS3/PC mouse controller in the world.
The AIMON PS allows you to customize the game experience to your play style. Includes a high precision mouse, rapid fire , personalize your button layout, firmware upgradeable all in a sleek ergonomic design fitted to your hands.
With AIMON PS, you get both a wireless PC mouse and grip for PC that includes full PS3 game support, all in one controller.
This controller makes you a better gamer!”
What's in the box
You get a mouse, a wand, a USB dongle, a manual, and some rubber attachments you can use to replace the rubber footing underneath the mouse should they wear off.
Mouse and wand attributes
The mouse has a good heft to it and feels like a real gaming mouse. It doesn't feel like some cheap toy. Tuact claims that its controllers are ergonomic, and probably is in the hands of many people, but the mouse isn't perfectly suited for my hand. It might have something to do with the way I hold the mouse, but whatever the reason might be, it's actually not too bad.
The same goes for the wand – it doesn't suit my hand too well. It's really nothing to complain about, and I've grown accustomed to them, though I admit that both mouse and wand were a little uncomfortable at first.
On the mouse side, you have, by default, the R1 mapped to the left click, and R2 on the right click. The face buttons (X,O,Triangle,Square) are on the left side of the mouse which are accessible to your right thumb. So if you handle mice left handed, you're out of luck.
There is also a mouse wheel middle button that can be pushed down, scrolled up and down, and clicked left and right, just like many PC mouse mouse wheel buttons. Near the middle of the mouse is a small circular button that is the START button (it also acts as the mouse's power button). And finally there is an “F” button on the left side of the mouse, just ahead of the face buttons. It's a button used to sync the controllers together, activate special functions, and adjust mouse movement properties.
For the wand, you've got a standard looking PS3 style left analog stick, above which you have the L1 and L2 buttons. The L2 button doesn't have a long slack like the Dual Shock 3 does, but I don't think it really matters. I never really understood what that slack is for anyway.
Below the analog stick, on the left and right, are the SELECT and PS buttons, respectively. The PS button also acts as the wand's power button. Lastly, we have the directional pad right in the middle of the wand.
The dongle is a simple device that looks like a memory stick. It has one button called a “binding button”. This is used for syncing, resetting the dongle, and linking to your PC for customization (or for PC use). The button also acts as a led light which lights up when it receives input from the wireless mouse and wand. To sync with your PC for customization, you need to hold down the binding button while inserting it to a USB port. And because the button is so tiny, it can be difficult to keep it held down while sticking it into a port. This can be very annoying, but thankfully once you've got your device setup, you don't need to do this often.
Aimon PS features
Aside obviously being able play PS3 FPS games with a wireless mouse and wand, here are the other features of the Aimon PS:
Compatible with PS3 and PC games
1750 DPI resolution
500Hz refresh rate
RF scan (to search for clear channels)
Set deadzone, mouse speed, and aim down sight speed (speed of movement while aiming)
Save settings to PC
Stick switch (switch left and right sticks)
10-speed adjustable turbo
Customizable left stick movement input (High, Normal, Digital)
Power saving feature (auto off)
Free firmware upgrades (we'll get to this later)
If you want to use the Aimon PS, you need a PC. You have to install a driver and a setup software in your PC, both of which are only available on the Tuact website (they're not included in the box). That means these controllers are not plug and play. They will not work properly without a PC and a connection to the internet. Oh and by the way, Tuact gives no Mac love.
Setting them up is probably the worst aspect of the Aimon PS. The process is not user-friendly, takes a lot of time, and there will be loads of trial and error figuring out the best settings for the game you want to play it with.
The idea people will try to sell you is that these controllers are for “hardcore gamers”. If you're hardcore, you'll spend time trying to figure them out. If not, then this product isn't for you. But I think that's not an excuse to make this device difficult to setup. More attention should have been put into developing “user experience”.
First of all, the paper manual that it comes with is extremely cryptic and incomplete. The manual is a tiny square sheet of paper with hardly any information written on it, and you cannot set up the controllers with the information that it does have. In fact, some details on the manual conflicts with that of the online manual found on Tuact's website. One very basic piece of info that isn't on the manual is how to sync the controllers together. You'll only find this info on the online manual, and even this online manual doesn't indicate that initial syncing is required upon first time use. Sure it may be common sense that you need to sync the controllers, but it's also common sense that you need to indicate that in a manual.
It also didn't help that Tuact Support usually doesn't respond in a timely manner. I eventually figured out how to set these things up on my own after a few days of digging through the Tuact community forums. Nevertheless, I don't want to bash Tuact's support. There were occasions when they were quick to respond. I think they just might be understaffed, or perhaps they don't have a proper system for quickly responding to inquiries.
Then there's the setup software. This software is what allows you to make customizations on your mouse. Some aspects of the software are good, but others are incomplete, buggy, and difficult to understand how to use. With the Aimon PS, I guarantee you that you will end up spending a lot of time on the forums asking for help. Fortunately, Tuact's online community is amazing. The members are very active and you can really sense the whole “gamers helping gamers” atmosphere.
One good point about the setup software is the drag and drop button mapping customization. It is intuitive and easy to use. And once you've configured your controller, you can save these settings to your PC. There is also an RF scan feature that lets you set the device's channel so that other wireless devices won't mess with its communications. This is absolutely important as the Aimon PS is extremely sensitive to RF interference, a major flaw in its design.
Aside from button remapping, you also need to find the right firmware in order for your Aimon PS to work effectively with your game. Tuact is pretty good at releasing free firmware for lots of major games shooter titles that give you a good base setting for the controllers. For example, there are firmware for games such as Battlefield 3, Battlefield Bad Company 2, Battlefield Bad Company, MAG, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and 2, Black Ops, Uncharted 2, and Killzone 3.
After installing the proper firmware for your game, you still need some tweaking to do. You can adjust the Aimon PS's deadzone, mouse speed sensitivity, and aim down sight speed, which are normally done in-game using the F-button. There are literally hundreds of different combinations, and some people say it takes them weeks to find the perfect settings. In my experience, it took me about 4 days to find the best settings for Bad Company 2. This is the last and most time consuming part of setting up the Aimon PS. And once everything is perfect, you can save these settings on your PC.
You can probably tell by now that you'll spend loads of time switching back and forth between PC and PS3. And yes, it IS a major hassle. But at the same time, it's the setup software on the PC that allows for all the magic to happen. And once you've got the thing properly setup and the magic starts to happen for you, you'll never go back to your regular pads.
In a nutshell, these controllers work, and they work quite well. They're not some kind of a gimmick. The Aimon PS may not emulate a PC feel perfectly, but they are to some extent superior to using the Dual Shock 3. It really helps you aim much faster. I could sense the improvement of my gameplay.
Horizontal and vertical movement for Bad Company 2 were slightly jagged, and turning was slow. But somehow, despite these negative effects on movement, I could still play much better than with regular controllers. What the Aimon PS really improved was aiming. It was very close to a PC feel, and I even noticed an increase in headshots.
As for Battlefield 3, my experience was the complete opposite. Good movement, not so good aiming. The Aimon PS with the latest BF3 firmware (v203) was better in the sense that horizontal, vertical, and diagonal movements were faster, smoother, and straighter. I could now make a full 180 degree turn quickly whereas it would take much longer on BFBC2. But the thing that got worse is aiming. Fast movements are slightly too fast, and slow movements are a little too slow. It's like there is some sort of acceleration issue. The result is that tracking a running opponent and aiming at a specific body part are a little more difficult to do than in BFBC2. However, because of the ability to aim faster in a general direction, these controllers are still much more effective than a Dual Shock 3. I can visibly see that my gameplay has improved through my Kill/Death ratio. While I had been trying to find the right settings, my K/D ratio dropped below .90. After finding the best settings, it climbed to 1.08 in a few days.
Using the Aimon PS for Vanquish was a disappointment. It didn't work too well. I should note, however, that Tuact never released a firmware for this game, and so it is possible that had they done so, this game might be more playable with the Aimon PS. Tuact claims that their controllers are compatible with every game, but the reality is that if there is no firmware built specifically for a particular game, it probably won't work well with it. I have tried almost all available firmware, and experimented with all the settings, and although it is playable, aiming is bad. When zoomed in with a sniper rifle, for example, you can noticeably see that the reticle skips several pixels while aiming. It is virtually impossible to snipe effectively with the Aimon PS on Vanquish unless you compensate your aiming with character movement.
And what about Black Ops and Modern Warfare 3? Many reviews say the Aimon PS works well with Call of Duty. So well that in fact that some reviewers have said that the device seems to have been built specifically for CoD. Unfortunately I can't verify this unless someone gives/lends me a copy of Black Ops or MW3, or if I can find a copy in the bargain bin because I'm pretty tired of CoD.
Note: mouse pads can make a huge difference in your gaming performance. When using the Aimon PS I used two gaming mouse pads – Steelseries QcK mini 63005 and Tuact Aimon FPS. These pads offer relatively the same tracking response, though the Aimon FPS is very minimally better.
Also, I wasn't able to record battery-life, but with my Sanyo Eneloop batteries, I didn't have to recharge them after almost a month. It must be noted though that I only played a few hours a day. Judging from this experience, I'd say these controllers are pretty conservative with power consumption.
Though I cannot compare it to its competitors (because I don't have them), which are mainly the FragFx Shark, Eagle Eye, and recently the Hori T.A.C.3, on its own the Aimon PS is a great FPS mouse system for the PS3, and I have noticed significant improvement in my performance in BFBC 2. That doesn't mean though that this works exactly like a mouse. Think of it as something in between analog sticks and a mouse. I also have to mention here that this is the cheapest of all the options mentioned above. Priced at around US$70.00 (PHP3,000.00), this probably is the best deal you're going to get for a mouse setup on the PS3.
Simple improvements such as making the device more user-friendly, providing more informative instructions, and better support would have done wonders for the Aimon PS. Unfortunately this doesn't seem to be a priority for Tuact, which I don't really take against them. I'm pretty sure they're just understaffed and probably more focused on making a working controller and providing frequent firmware updates, which is already a tough job as it is. However, it is exactly because of this lack of focus in user experience that the Aimon PS is not for all FPS gamers. You can only get this working properly if you are willing to spend a lot of time and effort to make it work. If you're expecting something like a plug and play device, you will be totally disappointed. But if you live and breathe console FPS games like I do, it's an absolute must have.
Build Quality – looks and feels sturdier than its more expensive direct competitor, the FragFX Shark.
Firmware support – Aimon PS has great support in terms of firmware updates. If there is a new major FPS game release, expect Tuact to publish FREE firmware for it.
Customizable buttons – All buttons (with the exception of the START, SELECT, and PS buttons) can be remapped
Settings can be saved – save your settings for multiple games on the PC
Active community – great online community that'll help you with any problems you may have with the Aimon PS
Most affordable – cheaper than the other viable alternatives at only US$70.00 (PHP3,000.00)
Build quality – wasn't this a pro? Yes it was, but certain aspects of it are poorly built, like the battery compartment (batteries kept getting loose), occasional loss of connection, and button sensitivity. The sensitivity of certain buttons wears off quickly. After only a few weeks, the L1, L2, Square and O buttons' internal pads wore out and now it needs to be pushed hard to register input.
Setting up the device – takes forever to do, and clear instructions aren't available.
Setup software – buggy, incomplete (has readouts for various settings, but no Aim Down Sight readout)
Manual – difficult to understand, incomplete, conflicting with online version of the manual
Extremely sensitive to RF interference – have something wireless near your PS3? Or are you using bluetooth device? It'll render your controllers worthless.
No Mac support - try bootcamp.
***** There is a new version called the AIMON PS ELITE. This was released last month, and is supposed to have even more settings that users can adjust. It also supposedly fixes the RF interference issue, and adds various new features.
Tuact Aimon PS Wireless Mouse and Grip for PS3 - Review Reviewed by JM Taylor on 12/06/2011 12:25:00 PM Rating: