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Spectrum Paddle

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Home / Hardware - Spectrum Paddle

Spectrum Paddle

From Terry Kepner's review in the (inaugural) March 1983 issue of The Color Computer Magazine:

SPECTRUM PROJECTS has released a game control paddle for the Color Computer. Game paddles are similar to joysticks except that they control one axis (horizontal) instead of two (horizontal and vertical). The Color Computer joysticks use the JOYSTK(O) and JOYSTK(1) commands to read horizontal and vertical axes of the right joystick port, respectively. When plugged into the right joystick port, the Spectrum Paddle is read by JOYSTK(O).

The advantages to using a paddle instead of a joystick are subtle, but important. Many games require back and forth movement in only one axis (Clowns, Popcorn, and Pong, to name a few), so you don't need the full directional control of a joystick. In fact, it can be a handicap. Joysticks give more freedom of hand movement than you might want, which makes it easy to lose control of the game. In addition, the joystick handle is more difficult to position precisely since it is restricted to a turning arc of only 90 degrees, a bit more than one degree of arc for each of the 64 number values generated by the joystick. In this way, a slight movement can result in a large on-screen movement. By comparison, the paddle controls can be turned a full 270 degrees, over four degrees of arc per number generated. This gives you more precise control with the paddle. Also, when using the paddle, you can't pick up the control incorrectly and use the wrong directional to control screen movement (I've lost more than one Pong game by trying to move my screen paddle vertically instead of horizontally).

If you have small children and want to teach them better hand-eye coordination, the paddle is a better choice than the joystick. Turn left, the object on the screen moves left, turn right, it moves to the right. With the joystick, you can move left by pushing the handle up to the left. Right movement can be initiated with a down and to the right positioning of the joystick handle. More than a little confusing for hand-eye training.

The unit itself is well-constructed, with a cable almost 5½ feet long. Just below the large control knob is the fire control button, which gives a good solid feel with solid spring action.

If you have games, or write games that don't need the full X-Y axis control of a joystick, get the Spectrum Paddle.