The Chameleon X-1 Wireless Gamepad Mouse Gets It Half Right

It's a wireless mouse. It's a wireless gamepad. The Shogun Bros. Chameleon X-1 is both of these devices rolled into one. Are these two great tastes that taste great together?

Specs
Price: US$55
Platform: PC
What's in the box: Mouse/Gamepad Device, Instructions, Driver Disc, USB Wireless Dongle, 1 AA Battery.

Combining two or more devices with different functions into one product can be tricky business. One has to make sure the resulting product not only performs all of the tasks it needs, but performs them well. When all of the different elements come together perfectly the result can be something truly amazing. When they don't it goes a little something like this.

The Basics

The Chameleon X-1 is a mouse with a game pad on the bottom. By day it's a pretty standard seven-button, 2.4Ghz wireless pointing device. Turn it over and you've got a 14-button gamepad with all of the features of a standard PC gamepad, only flatter. The gamepad can also function as a remote control for Windows Media Player, as well as a wireless pointing device for PowerPoint presentations, which I'm sure many of our readers create on a regular basis.

Using It

Setting up the Chameleon X-1 was relatively painless. Simply install the drivers from the disk, plug in the USB wireless receiver, flip the power switch on the side of the mouse, and you're ready to surf the wild oceans of the internet, edit documents, or whatever else it is you kids do with mice these days. Four buttons on the right side handle going forward and backwards in your internet history and adjusting the mouse DPI (dots per inch) between 400 and 1600.

Turn the Chameleon over, hold down the start button for three seconds, and suddenly you're holding a fully functional PC gamepad in your hands, albeit one shaped strangely like an upside-down mouse. Everything you need is here, from dual analog sticks to shoulder buttons. A small switch on the top of the Chameleon locks the mouse buttons in gamepad mode to avoid random clicking sensations.

Holding down the select button for three seconds switches the mouse into media player remote / presenter mode, which I am sure is quite lovely.

What We Liked

The Chameleon X-1 is a rather fetching little pointing device with a sleek and sexy form factor. The housing is mainly comprised of plastic with a silky finish that is soft to the touch, accented with vacuumized metal. It looks good.

It also feels good, at least when used as a mouse. The hand rests easily atop it, and the thumb depression on the left side is nice and deep, making for a comfortable pointing and clicking experience. Plus the action is remarkably smooth for a mouse with so much extra baggage lurking beneath it.

Finally, I really appreciate the small size of the X-1's USB wireless dongle. It's a tiny little thing, not much more that a sliver of plastic attached to a USB plug. The small profile and the fact that the dongle fits snugly inside the mouse's battery compartment when not in use makes the Chameleon perfect for laptop use on the go.

What We Didn't Like

An upside-down and sideways mouse does not make for a particularly comfortable gamepad. I found myself constantly shifting the Chameleon around in my hands as I played, attempting to find a satisfying way to grip the device. I've been playing with it for two weeks and still that grip eludes me.

While the gamepad's buttons are responsive enough, the layout is something of a bother. The four buttons that comprise the directional pad are too far apart for fluid movements, leaving fighting game fans and other PC D-pad holdouts at the mercy of the PSP-like analog disc. The well-place navigation and DPI-switching buttons from mouse mode become ill-positioned shoulder buttons in gamepad mode, ridiculously difficult to reach even with my giant fingers. That proved a frustrating issue for games like DC Universe Online, which uses the shoulder buttons to execute characters' super powers.

The Chameleon X-1 is a mouse or a gamepad, but never both. As a multitasking PC gamer, having to switch between the two modes over and over is an inconvenient task that I'd rather do without.

The Bottom Line

The Chameleon X-1 combination mouse and gamepad is a product that tries to satisfy the need for two different pieces of equipment in one device. I was not satisfied. In fact, after spending two weeks with the device I've come to appreciate the fact that my regular mouse and gamepad are two separate entities, both doing a fine job of carrying out their respective tasks. It's a passable mouse, but even the cheapest Wal-Mart bargain aisle PC gamepad feels and performs better than this. If you've got absolutely no room in your laptop bag for an external mouse and a gamepad, spend the $55 the Chameleon X-1 costs on a bigger laptop bag.

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The Chameleon X-1 Wireless Gamepad Mouse is designed and manufactured by Shogun Bros. for the PC. Release set for Q1 2011 with a suggested retail price of $55. A unit was loaned to us by the manufacturer for reviewing purposes. Spent two weeks testing the device with everyday tasks, various Steam games, and a heaping helping of DC Universe Online.