ACT-Labs PC USB Light Gun
In the Box
The ACT-Labs light gun comes as a one-piece affair: everything is permanently attached to everything else. The gun is attached to the control box via a 6' cord, which also has a short (but thick) video cable and a short USB cable attached as well. The gun comes with a CD that includes some brief online documentation and a test program for the gun. The CD also includes links to a number of online games, but quite a few of the links were dead.
Fit and Finish
The ACT-Labs gun is a mixed bag when it comes to quality: some parts are better than others. The control box is exemplary, with a high-quality video cable and good construction. The light gun, however, feels cheap - the plastic flexes and it just doesn't feel "solid."
Style-wise, the gun is also a mixed bag - the rubber grips on the handle are a nice touch, but the overall "ray gun" design didn't appeal much to me. The design is sparse but functional, and does include a second button on the left side of the gun that acts as a right-mouse button. On the right side of the gun is the very useful calibrate switch (more on this in a moment).
Performance-wise, the ACT-Labs gun takes home the trophy: it was far and away the most accurate gun in the lineup, thanks in no small part to the calibration feature that no other gun offered. To calibrate, you simply flick the calibrate switch on the side of the gun and wave the gun up/down and left/right in front of the screen. You can recalibrate at any time, even during a game.
The ability to re-calibrate the gun even during gameplay gave the ACT-Labs gun very good accuracy. To get the best results you do need to calibrate every time you start a game in MAME (basically, any time the monitor changes resolution), but it's a small price to pay for increased accuracy. The ACT-Labs gun features excellent video pass-through quality, with no visible signal degradation even at higher resolutions. It's supposed to be usable at resolutions up to 1600x1200.
One little problem with the ACT-Labs gun is that the "shoot offscreen to reload" technique used by games such as Area 51 and Maximum Force does not work, even with the latest .76 release of MAME. The Lik Sang Virtual gun handled the shoot offscreen trick without any problem at all, so it was disappointing to see that the ACT-Labs gun still has problems in this area.
The ACT-Labs gun was the best performing gun in this lineup, even if the styling of the gun is a matter of personal taste. The unique calibration feature ensures that the gun will always be as accurate as possible, no matter what resolution you're running.