Product Type: Saitek game controllers
Newest Review: ... control system after all. I would not get the rather ugly looking flight yoke or over priced force sticks, though the pedals from Saitek ... more
A Fantastic Controller
Saitek X52 Pro Flight Control System
Member Name: RazorSharp1987
Saitek X52 Pro Flight Control System
Date: 17/10/10, updated on 18/10/10 (71 review reads)
Advantages: Compatible, Nice Feel, Fully Adaptable
Disadvantages: Bundled Software Needs (Asks you for) Development
I bought the Saitek x52 Pro flight control FCS as a little present for completing my 3rd year of an Aerospace Degree at university. As you can imagine, I'm a little more interested in flying and the science than most, but I'm by no means a pilot or a huge Flight Sim enthusiast.
The Pro version has better precision sensors, tighter stick force due to dual springs on the joystick, three LED colours (red, green and amber (red+green)), a tilted multifunction display (MFD) and comes in a more "professional looking" gunmetal black than the "toy" silver and blue LEDs of the standard version. I prefer the Blue LEDs though.
This Pro joystick has a plethora of hat switches, buttons, knobs and sliders - you wont need to go to the keyboard often if at all. The feel of the unit is very smooth and comfortable from the use of soft touch plastic. While it does feel like you're holding something substantial, the surface you contact is by all means a texture applied to plastic and not soft or hardwearing rubber as you may expect. There is some brushed black metal sheet on portions of the throttle lever and stick bases, but the rest is covered with your generic playstation controller like plastic - for so much money, thank god your hands rarely come into contact with the generic plastic parts.
The stick itself has a well lubricated and smooth metal cup, resulting in very smooth joystick movement, but bear in mind you will feel the occasional twang of the springs when moving the stick about. There is a variable hand rest for differing hand sizes, and the throttle lever has a side screw that adjusts the stiffness for the lever. Suction cups are provided to stick the unit to your desk, though the bases are heavy and only harsh movements will see you displace the controller when you're using it. For the paranoid or overly possessive, bolt holes are provided to secure the unit down just in case you let your drunk engineering friends come over to have a play and are worried about them stealing it (a better reason to bolt it to a desk would be if you use it in a school or training centre).
Coming to actually using the device, it works very well in FSX and IL2 Sturmovik 1942. You will definitely need to do some configuring though and devote a fair few minutes if not an hour or so for each application to adjust all the buttons to your comfort. As for the triple coloured LEDs, currently there only exists a software development kit (SDK) to change these colours in game - basically, don't expect flashing lights on an airflow stall warning in FSX if you haven't coded it in yourself - there may be others who have done this, but I haven't checked in the online community. Either way, for the case of the multicoloured LEDs and the slightly better viewing angle of the MFD, I would dismiss these from your reasoning for choosing this device over the standard and cheaper x52. The other points that separate the x52 pro from the x52 are more important - better stick accuracy and stiffness, and maybe the choice of colour.
In FSX I find using the stick and throttle to be great combination and more enjoyable than the keyboard, especially the throttle unit. However for very precise movements I feel the mouse yoke is better, but you can't really use a mouse in a plane. In IL2, you can actually shoot, and use the dual stage trigger button for something finally. Lots of fun, although there is a learning curve associated with IL2. I haven't played any other game with this controller; I don't think MS combat simulator 3 recognises the unit. I'm sure it would be fun in Tom Clancy's Hawx and other modern fighter games.
I flew a small plane a couple of times "just for a go" before getting this, and while its not like flying a plane, it does seem a more technical piece of kit than you would find in most small planes, barring the number panels and pedals (rudder and brakes) in a small plane. It is an electronic rather than mechanical control system after all. I would not get the rather ugly looking flight yoke or over priced force sticks, though the pedals from Saitek might be a future investment, especially if you play racing games on your PC. This unit has a twist-rudder control on the stick, which you can lock if using pedals.
The throttle unit has a mediocre mouse thumbstick, and click buttons to mimic mouse movement, so you don't need to move your hand to the mouse to use that. However, its not better than using a real mouse, and is quite slow in comparison. Pushing up the speed causes inaccuracy enough to have real problems clicking the start button in windows.
The MFD can display radio stack frequency settings and time/date/stopwatch as well as other in game data - but this looks like another "code in yourself" scenario with only real support for FSX.
Is it worth just over a hundred pounds, YES - if you have the cash to spare, is it £70 of improvement over lesser sticks, no - but they don't have a throttle unit.
Let me leave you with my real impressions of the unit:
I wouldn't trade it,
Summary: Go and Buy if you have a spare hundred pounds burning a hole in your pocket!
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