Experiments With Adaptive Gaming: Does This Budget Manfrotto Arm Work the Same as the Manfrotto Variable Friction Arm?

What’s up TR Fans and welcome back for another blog here on Technology Reviews! In this blog I’m going to be looking at whether this budget Manfrotto arm I got works just as well as the Manfrotto Variable Friction Mounting Arm which I reviewed last year, and which is better for the price.

But first, thanks for 30 subscribers to the YouTube Channel, ‘Phoebs Does Technology Reviews’, and if you like what you’re seeing and would like to see more, then head on over and hit subscribe, and if you help me get up to my first milestone of 50 subscribers, I will let you have the choice of whether I do a gaming video of your choice, or if I do a ‘What I Have On My iPhone or iPad’ video.

So what you’ll have to get if you’d like to use a budget Manfrotto arm for gaming is:

  • The Manfrotto 196AB-2 Single Arm 2 Section – £39.95
  • A Manfrotto Super Clamp – between £26 – £34.95
  • Manfrotto Mounting Studs (the ones I got were £6 although prices vary) and;
  • A small or large rectangular mounting plate – £20 through Inclusive Technology

The studs I ordered however, took a bit of time arriving, and after they arrived, I had to get help putting it together, but all was good after.

When the arm is put together, you’ll want to have the clamp at the bottom of the arm, with the rectangular plate on the other end. To move the position of the plate, you’ll be using the clamp as well as the circular star-like control on the arm, but a warning that this has only worked with switches for me, and I haven’t tried it with a controller.

But what are my thoughts on this budget Manfrotto arm overall? Well, the good news is, it does definitely do the same job. After trying it with a couple of games, I found that the budget Manfrotto arm slipped a bit more compared to the Variable Friction Mounting Arm, but it wasn’t too noticeable, and it could have easily just been my position changing, as I do slide quite a lot. So yes, it might slide a lot, but for some people, would you notice?

But in relation to the question, how does this arm compare to the Manfrotto Variable Friction Mounting Arm, I think it depends on what all you are looking for. If you can afford something way over £100 and you want that actual sturdiness, then by all means, go for the Variable Friction Mounting Arm. But if you’re a disabled gamer who is on a budget, or you live with someone who is on a budget, this is still a good arm. You can even buy each of the pieces over a couple of months like I did, depending on when you have more money, and you definitely won’t be losing out.

Experiments with Adaptive Gaming: How Much Easier Does a Manfrotto Arm Make it to Press More Than One Button at the One Time?

Thanks to everyone who’s been viewing and enjoying all my recent blogs, vlogs and podcasts, even the unexpected blog and vlog from last night. More will be following on all three platforms this weekend and next, then for a few weekends then I will be focusing on getting more out on the blog and podcasts, at least until I can get a few more reviews out there and so I can bring forward some other stuff.

But in this blog _ which is actually planned _ I’m bringing you the last of my Experiments with Adaptive Gaming blogs, for now. If there’s any other bits of equipment you think I should think about trying out, please reach out to me over social media. Someone told me last week how they don’t like seeing the social media places I have on the top of the blog, but if you’d like to follow them, they’re in a couple of my previous blogs, and I mention them in my YouTube videos and podcasts, so if you’d like to follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Soundcloud, or follow Technology Reviews on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and subscribe to the Phoebs Does Technology Reviews YouTube Channel, all the information will be there.

Like the other Experiments with Adaptive Gaming blogs I’ve done, the Manfrotto arm _ and most of the other equipment you use with it _ was loaned to me by Special Effect, a UK charity helping to get disabled people of all ages back into gaming. The Xbox Elite Controller, the Xbox Adaptive Controller, and the yellow switch are the only bits of equipment I actually own.

As the gaming world gets bigger, and the controls in games get even more compiled, it becomes a lot harder for people with disabilities to play games. Many games require you to hold two or more buttons down at the one time, and although Toggle Options have been introduced to help with holding Lt down to act as Accelerate in Racing games, or to help with Aim in Shooters, there are still many games when you need to press one button for jumping, while you move forward with either the left or right stick (depending on what stick you’ve customised the sticks on your controller to act as your main).

This can obviously be difficult for people who can’t jump around their controller quick enough to do, and so this is another option for people to use.

The Arm I’ve been loaned is the Manfrotto Variable Friction Mounting arm _ which costs £114 _ and as well as this, you will need a small triangular plate _ costing £20 _ and a Super Clamp with Stud _ which costs £31. There are cheaper Manfrotto arms to consider on Amazon, and this blog will be updated in future if I find out they do the same thing.

You can stick any bit of gaming equipment to the Manfrotto arm that suits you, with velcro working with lighter bits of equipment like switches, and Dual Lock working with controllers or joysticks. You can then place the arm near any part of your body that you want to use it with, but for me, I found it easier placing it by my head, and using my eyebrow to click any time I wanted to use the switch.

As usual, I just put the switch I wanted to use into the 3mm jacks at the back of the Xbox Adaptive Controller, so your equipments attached, depending on what it is you can figure out where it goes on the controller.

So that I could just play around with it without feeling bad for dying, I tried it out with Crash Bandicoot N’Sane Trilogy _ a game I only tried once when I first got it with the Xbox One S for Christmas 2018 _ and hadn’t tried it again. But with the Manfrotto Variable Friction Mounting arm, I was able to play a lot easier. The clip below shows this.

Playing Crash Bandicoot N’Sane Trilogy with Your Head and Mouth Using the Xbox Elite Series 2, XAC and Manfrotto Arm with Switches.

Overall, I would say the Manfrotto Variable Friction Mounting arm is good, but it’s price gives it a disadvantage regarding class, because what percentage of disabled people come from high-earning households? I would like to order one so I can play other games with it, like Assassin’s Creed, but yeah, the price makes it the most expensive of the equipment I’ve tried _ without adding in the add-ons.

Experiments with Adaptive Gaming: How Much Easier Do Latchboxes Make it to Play Racing Games (Xbox)?

Experiments with Adaptive Gaming: How Much Easier do Latchboxes Make it to Play Racing Games (Xbox) now on YouTube! If you like it, make sure to subscribe to Phoebs Does Technology Reviews on YouTube, where you’ll get tech reviews, game reviews, top 10s, opinion pieces and more uploaded a couple of times a month!

Hi guys and welcome back to Technology Reviews, where today, I am posting another of my Experiments with Adaptive Gaming blogs, on how much easier latchboxes make it to play racing games. But first of all a massive apology for not posting this in the last few weeks like I was supposed to. I’ve recently started volunteer work as a Lead Reporter for Leonard Cheshire Disability’s Change Makers programme _ who I will be with until next year _ and the training we were doing this week meant I just couldn’t find the time. But also thanks to everyone who has been checking out my YouTube videos. Let’s see if we can keep this growing!

But as usual, before we get into this blog, here’s where you can follow me, Phoebs Lyle, on social media, and where you can also follow all the links I have for Technology Reviews! So if you like what you see here and you would like to see more about assistive and accessible technologies, as well as accessible game reviews, subscription platform reviews, opinion pieces and more _ you can do so by following this blog, technologyreviews.co.uk, and subscribing to the YouTube Channel, Phoebs Does Technology Reviews _ both of which are being updated most Sundays in a month! If you’d like to follow my personal Twitter, it is @Phoebslyle, and if you’d like to follow Technology Reviews on Twitter, it is @TechReviewsuk_. I’m also on Instagram, where you can follow at: therealphoebslyle, and Technology Reviews is also on there at: technologyreviewsuk! Lastly, I am also trying to set up a Podcast for Technology Reviews _ the Technology Reviews Accessible Technology Podcast _ which you can find by searching for Phoebs Lyle on Soundcloud _ and you can also like the Facebook page, Technology Reviews, where I am starting to share videos, photos and all these blogs _ well, at least through Instagram to Facebook.

But now, let’s get into this blog!

The Latchbox I’m talking about in this blog was another bit of the equipment loaned to me by the UK charity _ Special Effect _ which is a charity getting disabled people back into gaming. Although I’m using it on my Xbox One S to play racing games and others like Red Dead Redemption 2, there are other systems which can use it _ I think Playstation and Nintendo both support it _ and this particular one is by a website called OneSwitch. It costs £35 and you will have to email to check availability, also paying for your shipping.

When I originally asked to try the Latchbox out, my main intentions were to try it out with racing games, and not to try it with others that don’t have Latching options built in, although I’ve since tried it with Red Dead Redemption. (If anyone reading this doesn’t know what Latching options are, they are basically the ability to hold down a button once to carry out a particular action, instead of having to hold it down for a long time, which many disabled people _ including myself _ might find difficult. Many new games come with these options already built in, but there’s even been some released in the last few years and older games that don’t have these options _ so a Latchbox is one of the bits of equipment you would order for those games that don’t). When playing racing games, I have to play with switches behind my head for excelerate and break, while moving the right analog stick to steer (I’ve tried other options but they’re just too uncomfortable).

But thinking primarily about a using a Latchbox as a way of overcoming the restriction of not being able to play racing games, I’d say it’s not the latchbox that is the actual problem, but instead it’s the way racing games are designed and how they need to look further into Accessibility as a whole _ and talk to more people _ so they can truly include other accessibility options that could make gaming truly inclusive. Something I would advise is if developers of racers could include an Accessibility option like: Lift Finger to Break, which for me would translate to lift head to break, and which would automatically go into the RT, R2 or Zr button on either Xbox, PlayStation or Nintendo. This is something I’m thinking of talking about on another blog which I’m going to try writing soon, regarding accessibility options that would truly make gaming open to everyone, because although developers at Playground games behind the Forza series have become brilliant with their accessibility options in recent years _ both Forza Horizon 4 and Forza Motorsport being great examples _ they _ and other developers out there _ could do more to make their options more accessible!

But since this blog is about the need for a Latchbox and not to go on a rant about racing games _ although my title doesn’t mention them _ I’ll look at some games a Latchbox could be useful for.

A game I’ve mentioned already but haven’t been able to give my thoughts on yet, is Red Dead Redemption 2. Despite a slow start _ which would be my only bit of criticism because the amount I can hold the sticks down is still my only problem _ knowing I’ll be able to play it using a Latchbox as my option for aiming leaves me wanting to keep trying it until I get to that bit.

So overall, I would say a Latchbox is a good bit of equipment to have, but it’s the people behind making games that need to make them more accessible. If you can’t include latching in your game, please make sure you’re game has other options to make them more accessible! For the past few months, I’ve felt like it’s easier to try Latching in shooter games instead of racing _ even though I’m a fan of both!

Latchboxes can plug into the USB port on the Xbox Adaptive Controller, with your chosen switch plugged into the In option.

Experiments with Adaptive Gaming: How Much Easier Do Velcro Trays and Clamps Make It To Game?

Experiments with Adaptive Gaming: How Much Easier Do Velcro Trays and Clamps Make It To Game, now on YouTube! To view, search for Phoebs Does Technology Reviews, and make sure to like, comment and subscribe!

Thanks to everyone who’s viewed my last blog! When writing it, I honestly didn’t imagine it would get as many views as it has, so thank you to everyone who’s taken the time to read it and to share it!

As mentioned in the tweet I sent out after, I’m going to be spend much of the coming days blogging more about accessible gaming solutions, and as you can see in this title, this is something I’m continuing now.

At the minute, I’ve been loaned accessible gaming equipment by Special Effect _ which is a UK charity that helps people with disabilities get back into video games, and which I have massive respect for. Some of the equipment I’m trying is to help me hold the controller _ something that I, and a lot of other gamers, have difficulty with, especially if you can do everything in front of the controller but not at the back, and if you can’t physically hold it yourself.

But before I get started, here’s another reminder of where you can follow me on social media. You can follow my personal Twitter at: @Phoebslyle on Twitter, and you can also follow Technology Reviews at: @TechReviewsuk_. I am also on Instagram at: therealphoebslyle, and if you want to follow Technology Reviews, it’s: technologyreviewsuk. I’m also trying to set up a Podcast for Technology Reviews called the Accessible Technology Podcast where you can listen to previous episodes by searching for Phoebs Lyle and which I should be able to update soon. You can also subscribe to the YouTube Channel which has been updated to Phoebs Does Technology Reviews and which I will get round to updating soon (I had to double check I would be able to upload this today, and I was going to film the other week but then I had to take a week off all work last week because my Aunt sadly died). But as well as all the other places you can find me, you can also like the Facebook Page which is Technology Reviews, and which all these blog posts share to. In the next few weeks, I will hopefully have more of my other content sharing to the Facebook Page as well.

But now, let’s get into this accessible gaming solution blog.

So yes, I’ve been loaned this equipment I’m reviewing today by Special Effect, but it is actually sold by Inclusive Technology, and developed by a company called Maxess. Inclusive sell a range of accessible technology for all different abilities, including what we’re reviewing today, the Maxess Switch Tray and the Maxess Medium Switch Mount.

Developed in partnership with therapists and switch users, the Maxess Switch Tray enables switches to be securely positioned and moved around in any way that might be most efficient for the switch user. Cushioned for comfort, the switch tray holds switches and mounts securely in control, making it ideal for people facing many situations. There are 3 sizes of trays available _ the Maxess Switch Tray 540mm x 290mm, the 350mm x 350mm, and the 240mm x 350mm.

Many switch owners find it easier to hit a switch if a switch is at an angle, which is what the Maxess switch mounts make possible. Like the switch trays, they’re available in a small, medium and large size. Double sided with velcro, they give two alternative mounting positions of 55° and 85° _ depending on what side is easier for the user _ and stick to the tray. But you don’t just have to stick switches to the mount, because I use it to use my Xbox Elite Controller, with the tray holding my Adaptive Controller and any other switches. I really like the feel of the Elite when mounted because it doesn’t move around as much as it would when I would mount it against a box it _ where it would stay for a bit but then fall. But be aware that you might need to stick pieces of velcro to the handles of the controller if you have similar problems holding it and you’re using the tray and clamp for that, because the controller can still slip depending on how much pressure you’re using and how long you’ve been using it. You don’t want the controller to slip slowly away from you on those long gaming days.

The Maxess Switch tray can be bought for between £30-£40 depending on what size you get and the Switch mount can be bought for between £16-£21, again depending on the size. But overall, I’m happy with what you can use it for.