Tech, Toys, and Tidbits

The short version:  If you can afford it, go get this wheel right now!

The long version: This wheel is simply amazing.  The whole driving game experience is completely enhanced by it, to the point where my fiance has become totally hooked on Test Drive Unlimited.  (I’m writing this to the sounds of her brand new Ferrari screaming down the highway)


The box contains the wheel, the pedals, the shifter, and the power supply.  The quality is simply amazing, with a very solid feel.  I should also mention the smell.  The wheel and shifter smell like new leather seats.  It’s a little distracting initially; I keep finding myself leaning forward to smell the wheel at the end of each race…

Getting everything hooked up was a snap, and the software installed easily.  I did have a small problem with it detecting the wheel initially, but it was solved simply by unplugging and re-plugging the wheel at the “Detected Game Controllers” screen, at which point the wheel appeared and allowed me to test/configure it.


The first thing you’ll notice about the wheel is the leather, followed closely by the brushed steel.  The main unit is heavy, and solidly built.  It clamps securely to your desk, and if it were just a tad bigger it would feel like a real steering wheel.  The dual force feedback motors provide excellent responsiveness, and provide a very strong effect.  This wheel really lets you know when you fall off the road!

The leather feels fantastic on your hands, even after a few solid hours of driving.  The paddle shifters are very solid, are perfectly sensitive, and don’t flex at all. 

The wheel also has 2 thumb buttons on it.  I would have preferred a few more thumb buttons, but that’s a tiny complaint – and also the only one I can think of for the entire rig.


The pedals are superb.  Logitech really nailed the feel for your feet.  The gas has light resistance, so it’s easy to hold the pedal at any position.  The brakes are heavy, so you really feel like you’re stomping on the brakes.  The clutch is somewhere in the middle, and felt a lot like my old VWs clutch.

The pedal unit has a nifty carpet grabbing bar on the bottom that held the unit very securely to my floor.  There are also LRFs (Little Rubber Feet) attached that, I expect, would do the same on hardwood or tile.


The shifter knob also has a lovely leather treatment.  The six speed H pattern makes it very easy to find the gear you’re looking for, and allows for fun tricks like skipping gears while shifting – something that no sequential setup can really match.  There is a sequential mode to the shifter, but if you’re going sequential you may as well use the paddles. 

There are also 8 other buttons on the shifter unit, plus an 8-way hat switch.  Loads of buttons for controlling whatever game you play – though again, I would have preferred if some of those buttons had been on the wheel itself.  Just a personal preference though.


I tested the wheel with three games.  In order of realism, they are:  Need For Speed Undercover, Test Drive Unlimited, and rFactor. 

I found Need For Speed a little too arcade focused for me.  It’s physics model (and plot) are too squarely aimed at console kiddies.  It’s not that the game is boring, or that it’s not fun.  It’s just weak compared to the other games I tested the wheel on.  The feedback effects were decent, but the realism of the wheel was hampered by the weak physics.  As a side note, I’m VERY glad EA is letting go of the NFS franchise.  Hopefully the new owners will drop all the cosmetic customization, leave the free roam, and otherwise return to the roots of the game.

rFactor, on the other hand, I found to be almost too realistic, though it did a great job of highlighting the strengths of the G25.  The force feedback effects were exquisite!  Hook up to a projector and you’d almost believe you were in the car!  I will admin, however, that I spent more time spinning out than I did driving. 

Test Drive Unlimited was just right.  A solid physics model about half way between arcade and simulation, and a HUGE variety of cars.  The wheel totally shines in this game.  You can immediately feel how a car handles.  You can feel if the steering is loose or tight.  You can feel how much traction your tires have, and (critically!) when they’re about to let go of the pavement.  I enjoyed the game so much, that I’m planning on writing a review of it in the near future.


If you have the means, get this wheel.  You will NOT regret it. 

Thanks for reading, and have a great day!