Griffin Technology's PowerMate

Griffin Technology's PowerMate

Written by Charlie Sinhaseni on 4/7/2003 for PC  

Are you a control freak? Do you like shiny objects? Does the thought of having a pulsating blue light attached to your PC appeal to you? Then you just might be a candidate for Griffin Technology's PowerMate. We live in a society based on needs and wants. There are things that we need and there are things that we want. Well I’m here to tell you that if you WANT to have the coolest rig in town, you absolutely NEED the Griffin Technology's PowerMate.

What the hell is the PowerMate exactly? Well it just might be the coolest device that you’ve never heard about. In terms of style this thing ranks far off of the charts and probes into uber-cool territory. When the creators are touting its pulsating base as opposed to its supposed functionality, you know you’re in for a real techno treat. Yes it’s a volume knob, but it’s not just any volume knob. It’s a volume knob capable of scrolling pages in Internet Explorer, advancing movies frame-by-frame and perhaps most importantly, lending an authentic feel to the MAME versions of Breakout and Tempest.

While Griffin Technology markets predominantly Macintosh-compatible products, it had the foresight to provide multi-platform synchronicity for the PowerMate and as a result, everyone wins. To get it up and running all you have to do is plug the device into an empty USB port, install the included software and you’re set. Also included in the package is an extension that adds a few more feet just in case you want to place the device away from your PC. It requires no external power and runs entirely on your PC’s juice.

Let’s face it the star of the show is the look and design of the unit itself. The stainless steel finish is just the beginning of this product’s appeal. Touching it lends that nice metallic feel that really enhances the product. As an unexpected bonus, the product seamlessly matches the finish of my Logitech MX700 and the dark plastic finish of my Logitech Z-680s control unit. To make the package even more attractive, the color of the glowing light in the base of the unit is the same color as the backlit LED of the Z-680s. That’s right; this puppy comes fully equipped with a glowing base.
An awful lot of thought must have been put into the base because it actually comprises a large portion of the online manual. What’s nice is that it dims and brightens accordingly with the volume of your PC. As you turn the volume up you’ll see the light get brighter. Turning it down will dim the light and muting the volume (by suppressing the unit) will turn off the light entirely. If that’s not your bag, you can set the light to pulse at varying rates. These settings range from soothingly slow to seizure-inducing madness.

All of these settings can be adjusted via the included software application. In it, you can assign various functions to the unit in regards to various programs. You can assign single keystrokes, macros or other pre-sets such as scroll-up, scroll-down or cursor up. In all you can assign up to six different functions, turn left, turn right, click, long click, click and turn right and click and turn left. While it’s definitely not practical for use with games that require quick inputs, it comes in handy in regards to strategy games. In Command & Conquer Generals, I set it so that the unit controlled the rotation and zoom on my perspective. Was it necessary? Not really. But was it cool? You bet.

While all of this might sound silly I will admit that I got more usage out of the device than I thought I would. I found myself using it as my primary means for controlling my system’s audio. I would only touch the audio setting on my Logitech Z-680 set when I needed to really crank up the tunes, other than that I would refer to my handy PowerMate. I also liked the feel of the unit on my skin as the steel really gave a cold and satisfying feeling when touched. If you want that nice feeling against your skin then I suggest you head on over to Griffin Technology's website to check out the product for yourself.

All of this comes at a price though. The device is being sold for $45 at retail value. It’s a little pricey for a volume knob but if you’re trying to build the most stylish rig in town you can afford to splurge a little extra on this puppy. If you’ve got a bachelor pad, or you live in your mother’s basement and would like to think you have a bachelor’s pad, you simply must own the PowerMate. Even if you can’t score with the ladies, the pulsating light will keep you entertained for hours.
There’s an interesting mantra that unfurls as follows: five years ago you didn’t know you needed a DVD player. Two years ago you didn’t know you needed a HDTV and 10 seconds ago, you didn’t know that you needed Griffin Technology’s PowerMate. See how this works?

Rating: 8.4 Good

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.


About Author

Gaming has been a part of my life for as long as I could remember. I can still recall many a lost nights spent playing Gyromite with that stupid robot contraption for the old NES. While I'm not as old as the rest of the crew around these parts, I still have a solid understanding of the heritage and the history of the video gaming industry.

It's funny, when I see other people reference games like Doom as "old-school" I almost begin to cringe. I bet that half of these supposed "old-school" gamers don't even remember classic games like Rise of the Triad and Commander Keen. How about Halloween Harry? Does anyone even remember the term "shareware" anymore? If you want to know "old-school" just talk to John. He'll tell you all about his favorite Atari game, Custer's Revenge.

It's okay though, ignorance is bliss and what the kids don't know won't hurt them. I'll just simply smile and nod the next time someone tells me that the best entry in the Final Fantasy franchise was Final Fantasy VII.

When I'm not playing games I'm usually busy sleeping through classes at a boring college in Southern Oregon. My current hobbies are: writing songs for punk rock bands that never quite make it, and teasing Bart about... well just teasing Bart in general. I swear the material writes itself when you're around this guy. He gives new meaning to the term "moving punching bag."

As for games, I enjoy all types except those long-winded turn-based strategy games. I send those games to my good pal Tyler, I hear he has a thing for those games that none of us actually have the time to play.

When I'm not busy plowing through a massive pile of video games I spend all of my time trying to keep my cute little girl fed. She eats a ton but damn she's so hot. Does anyone understand the Asian girl weight principal? Like they'll clean out your fridge yet still weigh less than 110 pounds.

Currently I'm playing: THUG, True Crime, Prince of Persia, Project Gotham 2 and Beyond Good & Evil. View Profile

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