What is Ghosting?
When a number of keys are pressed simultaneously, some keys do not respond. This problem is generally referred to as “ghosting”. Most keyboards have many 3-key combinations that simply fail to report the third key. A deeper discussion of keyboard ghosting is detailed in Keyboard Ghosting Explained. Many people are unaware of this issue, and often blame the missed keys on their own lack of skill.
Are All Anti-Ghosting Keyboards the Same?
No. When a keyboard is marketed as “Anti-Ghosting” it may just refer to a particular subset of keys on the keyboard working well together. This does not necessarily guarantee that members of this set of keys avoid ghosting when combined with other keys on the keyboard. It is common to see claims that a keyboard will accept “up to” some large number of simultaneous key presses, even when there are many combinations of three or more keys which do not work correctly.
Does Ghosting Have One Cause?
No. Ghosting has three common causes:
- The internal electronics cannot uniquely determine which keys are pressed.
- The communications protocol limits the number of keys that can be reported.
- Software on the computer may fail to properly handle large numbers of simultaneously pressed keys, even if they are properly reported by the keyboard.
How Does the SideWinder X4 Keyboard Address the Different Causes?
The internal electronics on the SideWinder X4 use a variant of resistive multitouch technology. Each key has a screen printed resistor in series with its switch. This allows the internal electronics to read the state of each key switch independently for very large multiple-key combinations.
Although the keyboard can see large numbers of simultaneous key strokes, it is limited in the number that it can report via its USB interface. These limits are discussed below.
Not all software is designed to handle large numbers of reported keys. Different programs and operating systems will introduce their own limitations. Preliminary testing seems to indicate that many Windows programs have issues when 12 or more keys are reported simultaneously. In order to take full advantage of the capabilities of the SideWinder X4 keyboard, Windows 7 SP1 or later is required.
How Many Simultaneous Keys Can Be Accurately Reported by X4?
The maximum number of simultaneous key presses that can be accurately reported by X4 is 26. However, the structure of the USB protocol used puts some restrictions on which keys can be pressed to reach this number. SideWinder X4 has four classes of reportable keys:
Alphanumeric and Navigation Keys
- Traditional text input keys (A-Z, 0-9, Punctuation, Spacebar, Enter, Tab, Backspace)
- Navigation and Editing keys:
- F1-F12 keys
- Arrows, Page Up, Page Down, Home, End, Delete, Insert
- Numeric Pad keys
- Caps Lock, Scroll Lock, Num Lock, Pause, Print Screen
- Application Menu key
- Korean control keys:
- 한/옝 (Hangul/English mode key [lit. Han/Yong])
- 한자 (Hanja Conversion key)
- Japanese control keys:
- 半/全 (Hankaku/Zenkaku key)
- 無変換 (Muhenkan [no kanji convert] key)
- カタカナ/ひらがな/ローマ字 (Katakana/Hiragana/Romaji mode key)
- 前候補/変換 (次候補)/全候補 (Henkan/Zenkouho key [Next Kanji/Prev Kanji/All Kanji])
- Control (left, right)
- Shift (left, right)
- Alt (left, right)
- (Windows Key)
Media Control Keys
- Next Track
- Previous Track
- Volume Up
- Volume Down
- Macro Record
- Macro Bank Switch
SideWinder Gaming Macro Keys
- S1, S2, ..., S6
(The Brightness Level key on the X4 is not reported to the PC)
The SideWinder X4 keyboard can simultaneously report:
- Any combination of up to 17 Alphanumeric and Navigation keys,
- + Any combination of the 7 Modifier keys,
- + One Media Control Key ,
- + One SideWinder Gaming Macro key.