Suncom Icontroller. (joystick)(includes related article) (evaluation)
by Robert Bixby
This tiny, wedge-shaped joystick works as an alternative mouse and is primarily intended for laptops.
The ICONtroller is more than a joystick, though, despite appearances. It plugs into the serial port and mimics mouse movement. But it's more than a mouse, too. It's festooned with buttons that make adjustments, such as the speed of cursor movement and the kind of mouse emulation. The ICONtroller provides pixel-by-pixel movement when the joystick is deflected less than 20 degrees.
Suncom had located the mouse buttons about where you would expect to find the fire buttons on a normal joystick. There's even a "thumb button" at the top of the joystick. Holding the joystick between my thumb and second finger, I operated this button with my index finger as if it were my left mouse button. It was an intuitive positioning that I adjusted to instantly.
Although you can attach this unit to the side of your keyboard with Velcro patches, I found it more natural to operate it two-handed, with the base in my left hand and the joystick in my right. I came to appreciate the advantages of joysticks: no more desk space sacrificed to the mouse pad and no more fights with desktop clutter for control of the mouse cord, to name but two.
Don't try to draw with the ICONtroller. Technically, it's completely proportional, but my experience was that the cursor wanted to move in one of eight directions (N, NE, E, SE, S, SW, W, or NW). Therefore, it's better used as a general pointing device than as a complete mouse substitute, and in this role it was a success.
The ICONtroller was the simplest to install of all nonmouse mice I've tried and the friendliest to Windows and GeoWorks Ensemble.