• Review: TrackIR 5

    Review: TrackIR 5

    By Justin Cogo

    TrackIR 5

    The TrackIR line of headsets have been in the market of gaming hardware for the past few years, gaining in popularity and have become a mainstay of the gaming and simulator communities. My personal history with gaming hardware has left me owning many different pieces of hardware like yokes, joysticks, rudder pedals, mice, keyboards, etc.; your normal computer hardware, but I've never been able to afford the likes of a home cockpit or head-tracking device before. In the past couple of years while watching YouTube videos of my favorite flight simulator and other games I've noticed many people have head-tracking devices. In Flight Simulator I've become accustomed to using my keyboard and joystick hat for view control, but I've always thought it would be so nice to have a head-tracking device for controlling viewing. The folks over at Natural Point, the makers of the popular TrackIR line of headsets and other optical tracking equipment have graciously allowed me to test their newest head-tracking device, the TrackIR 5 and I couldn't be more excited!

    Natural Point

    Natural Point, located in Corvallis, Oregon, are one of the leading companies specializing in optical tracking technology. They have created different types of optical tracking hardware like the TrackIR, OptiTrack, Gears Golf and Smart Nav. In this review I will be reviewing the latest in the line of TrackIR head-tracking technology and its accessories:

    • TrackIR 5
    • TrackClip
    • TrackClip Pro
    • TrackIR Hat - Black

    First Impressions

    Initially receiving the TrackIR 5 Headset and accessories I find it to be a smaller box than I expected but I open it up and find everything you need to begin your head tracking experience.

    TrackIR 5

    TrackIR 5

    The TrackIR 5 is the latest in the leading line of TrackIR optical head tracking equipment.

    TrackIR 5 Sensor

    The main piece of the TrackIR equipment is the sensor, which picks up LED lights and light-reflections from reflective tape on TrackClip's the user wears. This is processed to track head-movements, to be used in simulation software, computer programs and games. The sensor is mounted atop a computer monitor, or can sit on top of a flat surface and has adjustable legs for mounting and plugs easily into a USB port.

    TrackIR 5     TrackIR 5
    TrackIR 5 (left) and TrackIR 5 is mounted atop a computer monitor (right)

    TrackClip

    The TrackClip is the part of the TrackIR hardware that allows the sensor to pick up the movements of the head of the user. The TrackClip is small, light-weight, and clips easily onto a hat or headphone. On the TrackClip are reflective pieces of tape which the TrackIR sensor picks up and processes which results in optical tracking of the head.

    TrackIR 5     TrackIR 5
    Shown is the TrackClip, on the right the reflective tape is shining


    28 Comments
    1. Barkingside's Avatar
      Barkingside -
      "The TrackIR 5 is the latest in the leading line of TrackIR optical head tracking equipment."

      No it is not. I've had mine going on 8 years, prior to that I had TrackIR 3 which was almost identical. The software for V dates back to at least 01/2014 which is when I downloaded it. Also there are newer alternatives, notably Trackhat which in my opinion is a superior device.

      The stand for the receiver is flimsy and easily broken. The clip is clunky and easily damaged also.
      Another drawback is any light source behind the user can and does interfere with the receiver.

      It is a good device and was first in the marketplace, but it needs a rethink in light of its competitors.
    1. tweedy's Avatar
      tweedy -
      Quote Originally Posted by Barkingside View Post
      "The TrackIR 5 is the latest in the leading line of TrackIR optical head tracking equipment."

      No it is not. I've had mine going on 8 years, prior to that I had TrackIR 3 which was almost identical. The software for V dates back to at least 01/2014 which is when I downloaded it. Also there are newer alternatives, notably Trackhat which in my opinion is a superior device.

      The stand for the receiver is flimsy and easily broken. The clip is clunky and easily damaged also.
      Another drawback is any light source behind the user can and does interfere with the receiver.

      It is a good device and was first in the marketplace, but it needs a rethink in light of its competitors.
      Define 'latest'! I underscore Barkingside's comments. My pro clip is presently held together with a paperclip and insulating tape and very fragile. Also modified for wireless with a duracelle on the go charger which interacts with the camera and avoids wires getting in the way. I use it a lot.
    1. jbob101's Avatar
      jbob101 -
      Quote Originally Posted by tweedy View Post
      Define 'latest'! I underscore Barkingside's comments. My pro clip is presently held together with a paperclip and insulating tape and very fragile. Also modified for wireless with a duracelle on the go charger which interacts with the camera and avoids wires getting in the way. I use it a lot.
      Oh yes I see where you're coming from. What I said was it is the newest of the Natural Point "Track IR Line" of Head Tracking Devices, not of any head tracking device. In reality yes there are other "newer" solutions for head tracking devices of course, but I found the Track IR to be very interesting!
    1. MrUnSavory's Avatar
      MrUnSavory -
      I bought my TrackiR in 2009. It is in perfect condition. Works wonderfully even in full daylight with windows open. Never had a problem with it and it still beats anything out there. I recommend it often to people.
    1. jbob101's Avatar
      jbob101 -
      Quote Originally Posted by MrUnSavory View Post
      I bought my TrackiR in 2009. It is in perfect condition. Works wonderfully even in full daylight with windows open. Never had a problem with it and it still beats anything out there. I recommend it often to people.
      Good to hear that it's working great for you!
    1. lilratty's Avatar
      lilratty -
      I agree with Barkingside. My Track Clip Pro is held together with many layers of tape. It is far to flimsy in construction and I believe for the price should have been more strongly manufactured, as in metal! I have contacted the manufacturers about my issues, but it seems that they continue with the weak construction. After all my problems though it still works. I have seen comments somewhere that the hat clip is better as it is not as flimsy!
    1. jbob101's Avatar
      jbob101 -
      Quote Originally Posted by lilratty View Post
      I agree with Barkingside. My Track Clip Pro is held together with many layers of tape. It is far to flimsy in construction and I believe for the price should have been more strongly manufactured, as in metal! I have contacted the manufacturers about my issues, but it seems that they continue with the weak construction. After all my problems though it still works. I have seen comments somewhere that the hat clip is better as it is not as flimsy!
      I found that both the Track Clip Pro and the Track Clip are fairly light and fragile, but I just treat them very carefully and haven't had any problems. I think the TrackClip Pro is better because you can adjust it up and down. Sometimes when using the TrackClip you end up going out of range when tilting your head so that's why I like the TrackClip Pro better.
    1. iflygary's Avatar
      iflygary -
      Wow I must admit I'm somewhat surprised by the comments regarding it having to be held together by tape. Mine sits where it always has for years on the top of my computer monitor. I don't move it since there is no need to. It's worked perfectly and I can't fly without it. I love it!! True it's not the latest and greatest thing but at the time it came out many years ago, it blew me away and I still feel the same way about it. It's pretty awesome

      Gary
    1. jbob101's Avatar
      jbob101 -
      Quote Originally Posted by iflygary View Post
      Wow I must admit I'm somewhat surprised by the comments regarding it having to be held together by tape. Mine sits where it always has for years on the top of my computer monitor. I don't move it since there is no need to. It's worked perfectly and I can't fly without it. I love it!! True it's not the latest and greatest thing but at the time it came out many years ago, it blew me away and I still feel the same way about it. It's pretty awesome

      Gary
      Yes it is unfortunate that some are having problems with its durability but it really works well for me. I'm just going to make sure I treat it very well, and yes flying is not the same without it!
    1. tweedy's Avatar
      tweedy -
      We are talking about the track clip pro......the piece that is attached to your headset, not the sensor.....just so that everyone is on the same page! Never had any issues with the sensor which has served well for the past umteem years. There has been many many comments on various flight sim forums about the overall design of the kit and most have been positive in as much as the added realism it gives to flying. The problem for quite a few users is the plastic 'lugs' which hold the pro clip pick up arms in place being so delicate and snap quite easily. I take the point about being careful but accidents do happen and particularly when your headsets may get caught up in other wiring and fall to the floor .....that's happened to me on occasions. If I were to suggest a mod for the designers it would be to strenghten those 'lugs' and go wireless. The latter has been suggested by many users in the past....most external hardware is these days. I for one would be prepared to pay a bit more if this came about.
    1. lilratty's Avatar
      lilratty -
      Quote Originally Posted by tweedy View Post
      We are talking about the track clip pro......the piece that is attached to your headset, not the sensor.....just so that everyone is on the same page! Never had any issues with the sensor which has served well for the past umteem years. There has been many many comments on various flight sim forums about the overall design of the kit and most have been positive in as much as the added realism it gives to flying. The problem for quite a few users is the plastic 'lugs' which hold the pro clip pick up arms in place being so delicate and snap quite easily. I take the point about being careful but accidents do happen and particularly when your headsets may get caught up in other wiring and fall to the floor .....that's happened to me on occasions. If I were to suggest a mod for the designers it would be to strenghten those 'lugs' and go wireless. The latter has been suggested by many users in the past....most external hardware is these days. I for one would be prepared to pay a bit more if this came about.
      I agree totally. It is the clip that I was referring to and not the sensor, which has given no problems at all.
    1. iflygary's Avatar
      iflygary -
      Quote Originally Posted by lilratty View Post
      I agree totally. It is the clip that I was referring to and not the sensor, which has given no problems at all.
      Ahhh,

      Got it. My apologies then. I only use the metal clip on a sun visor. So yes I agree that would be very frustrating.

      Gary
    1. MrUnSavory's Avatar
      MrUnSavory -
      I totally agree it is made flimsy. You have to be very careful with the Track Clip Pro. You don't want to have it in an environment where there is a possibility of it getting hit or even bumped too hard. I keep mine up high hanging on a hook. If it comes off my head it goes to the hook where I can't do something stupid to it. LOL
    1. jbob101's Avatar
      jbob101 -
      Quote Originally Posted by MrUnSavory View Post
      I totally agree it is made flimsy. You have to be very careful with the Track Clip Pro. You don't want to have it in an environment where there is a possibility of it getting hit or even bumped too hard. I keep mine up high hanging on a hook. If it comes off my head it goes to the hook where I can't do something stupid to it. LOL
      When I first got it I made a safe space for it up on a desk that I could put it, definitely not on the ground. I figured this out right away :-).
    1. jonahbird's Avatar
      jonahbird -
      The higher it is, the farther it has to fall. It only needs to do that once :-(

      Some years ago an inventive guy published a way to repair this flimsy unit. He used a cut off from the conical spout of an old glue dispenser.
    1. Roger Wensley's Avatar
      Roger Wensley -
      i have a question, based upon my total ignorance of this products existance. If you turn your head to the left how do you still look at your monitor to see what is to the left? Or do you move your head in small increments and the screen view changes by a much larger degree?
    1. Nels_Anderson's Avatar
      Nels_Anderson -
      Roger, you have it exactly correct. The amount of actual head movement you need to do is not all that much, so it's always quite possible to turn your eyes towards the screen.
    1. Roger Wensley's Avatar
      Roger Wensley -
      Well until the virtual reality headset comes along for flight sim that sounds like the next best thing. I will investigate this further.
    1. Daniel.T's Avatar
      Daniel.T -
      Roger, you can adjust the sensibility at your will.
      Say you move 10 degree, the view can be 45 or 90 or whatever you set.
      I use TIR 5 since 2009 and can't fly whitout it.
      Very fluid and accurate.

      dat
    1. evm's Avatar
      evm -
      IMHO, where the TIR really shines is with a multi monitor setup. I am using three 24" side by side and slightly behind each other (to halve the bezel), with NVIDIA Surround. When I turn my head with the TIR, everything before my eyes is always sharp. I dont have to strain to glance at the screen, I just look straight ahead. It feels very natural, I hardly ever notice that I am only looking at screens and that my "window" is only a fraction of the flightdeck (zoom at 1.00 - 1.15). The screens alway cover my full FOV. Takes some tweaking though to get the axis ratios exactly right.
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