Pros:Durable, pleasant to hold.
Cons:Throttle and some buttons hardly usable, detection problems.
The Bottom Line: A decent joystick with a couple of bugs. But if you crave for one, this is the way to go.
With this joystick, Logitech proves again that it is the leader in ergonomics and durability. This time, however, the functionality is lacking a bit; enough to decrease my rating for this product. In the following paragraphs I will present the basic description of the joystick and its software, the problems I ran into and why I still consider it better than its force feedback version.
The stick itself
The joystick features 7 buttons, throttle control and a small blue funky knob thatís supposed to work as an additional 8 buttons, but which I found quite inaccurate and useless. In addition, the joystick has a twisting handle (which, fortunately, you can block) and a very smooth movement in eight directions.
In addition, the joystick is formed really well, allowing not only a good grip, but also a small resting surface for your hand without the need to let the joystick go. In fact, you will feel like the joystick is an extension of your hand.
The joystick is connected to the computer through a USB port; something I find quite useless, as it does not appear to receive any feedback from the computer. In addition, this port does not allow me to connect it to my (rather old) notebook.
The software package that comes with the joystick is impressive. The two main components are: diagnostics and button programming. Diagnostics is simply a testing interface that shows whether the joystick reacts properly. As you will see later, this piece of software is extremely important. The button programming software, while very impressive, is useless. Many games (even DOS games) managed to detect the buttons on the joystick and use them in a very efficient way (or was it the joystick software? Who knows...).
Even though this is one of the best joysticks I have ever owned, it has enough problems to award it only an average rating. These are the three main problems:
1. Detection problems. Connecting to the joystick to a running computer will not allow the computer to detect the joystick. In addition, a few times even when I restarted the computer, the joystick was detected but did not react at all (thatís why the diagnostic software is so important). I actually had to shut down the computer, disconnect the joystick, reconnect it and then it ran smoothly. This problem is unacceptable for a piece of hardware I want to have connected at all times.
2. Ergonomics problems. I mentioned that the joystick sits in the hand really well. However, it was one of the very few joysticks I tried that still needed some adjustment. The bottom of the handle, where you rest your hand, has rather sharp edges, and I cut myself when trying to avoid a couple of X-Wings. The solution was to put Band-Aid all around the edges, but the aesthetic result was terrible.
3. Functionality problems. The joystick comes with a great idea, which, however, renders almost half of it useless. I really loved the throttle function. However, that function, as well as the two buttons on the bottom, need you to have the joystick in front of you and hold the bottom with your left hand. In that position, youíd be able to move the throttle handle comfortably with your thumb. The problem here is that few games require only seven buttons and the throttle; most of the times youíll hale the joystick on the right of your keyboard and use your other hand for keyboard control. For this reason, the throttle control and two of the seven buttons is virtually unusable.
Force feedback or not?
It depends on you, but here are two reasons why Iíd advise against the force feedback, apart from the slightly higher price:
1. Force feedback can get pretty annoying sometimes, or confusing when you are hit by something you donít see. Also, DOS games tend to wreak havoc when it comes to sending appropriate force feedback signals.
2. For some reason, I found the force feedback stick much stiffer with much lesser freedom of movement.
Overall, this is a very decent joystick, fully worth its price. While several bugs brought my rating down considerably, it is still one of the best budget joysticks you can get, and thatís why I am recommending it.
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Amount Paid (US$): 39.95