Sunday, November 26, 2006

Microsoft XBOX 360 Wireless Racing Wheel

- $150 at best buy
- Getting the thing out of the box was like a puzzle (getting it back in was even harder).
- Wireless to the console. Still requires power from an outlet for force feedback. You can still use it with only rumble support on the 2XAA batteries (standard xbox 360 controller battery pack).
- Should work with the PC once the wireless PC adapter comes out.
- The pedals are well thought out including a place for your heel to keep it in place.
- Pedals are connected to the wheel with a single cable that looks like a standard phone cable (RJ11)
- Comes with the full version of Project Gotham Racing 3 which also contains the drivers. It reads your existing profile/save game if you already have the original PGR 3.
- Wheel is a bit light. Also the curved lap mount doesn't extend far enough. Mad catz had a last gen wheel (no force feedback) that had retractable wings that extended for a very solid lap mount. You can push your legs outward with a slight bit of pressure to keep the wheel steady in your lap. It was a pretty good design. In contrast the MS wheel just kind of sits on your lap and doesn't wrap around your legs far enough.
- I didn't bother trying the table mount. It only has a single bolt in the center. Compare this to the Logitech MOMO Racing wheel for the pc which uses two bolts.
- Force feedback effects felt pretty good in PGR 3 if a bit subtle for my tastes. I've already played this game to death so I didn't mess with it much.
- I've just started playing NFS Carbon which is fully supported by the wheel. The force effects are even more subtle here. The rumble effects are very pronounced (read exaggerated). The steering sensitivity seems way too high and the dead zone a bit too small. Too bad there is NO way to adjust any of this. I tried to get use to the wheel for several races but finally gave up. I went back to the game pad and did MUCH better. I played NFS most wanted on the PC with the MOMO and it was a MUCH better experience with the MOMO with much better force effects.
- Bottom line is I can't recommend this wheel at this time. At a $150 it's too expensive. It's too light, and the wings are too short for laptop use. The force effects are too subtle. NFS Carbon support is pretty poor. PGR 3 was more impressive IF you are still playing that game. I get better force effects and customization with the MOMO on the pc for as low as $50 when on sale. Overall, I think Logitech just makes better wheels. I'll probably wait until July when Logitech releases their wheel for the x360 (Logitech DriveFX) (UPDATE: seems the drivefx is released and after closer inspection it only has rumble feature (no real force feedback). That's an instant deal killer and definitely not worth $100)

Back to the store it goes.

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