Thrustmaster T.Flight HOTAS X -- First Impressions

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Anyway, after struggling to use the keyboard and mouse to fly a plane in FlightGear and X-Plane (whose free demo I've been playing around with, but more on that in another post), I finally felt like I needed something better. I was originally looking at a $150 or so yoke with rudder paddles (kind of like the paddle shifters in some sports cars) as getting proper rudder pedals alone would cost around $150 on top of whatever yoke/joystick/etc., I purchase. However, I couldn't justify the cost at my current level of simming, so I did some shopping around and settled on the Thrustmaster T.Flight HOTAS X which I was able to purchase for about $33 from Amazon.com.

It certainly made a huge difference over the joystick in both of those games! Plenty of programmable buttons, rudder control by twisting the joystick (or optionally using the rocker button on the back of the throttle), and a separate throttle handle (also with lots of buttons) made things much more pleasant than the mouse and keyboard. Granted, for certain things I'll still need to use the mouse and keyboard (can't map everything to a button on the stick), but it's quite the improvement over what I had before. It also gets bonus points for being PlayStation 3-compatible, should I want to get any combat flight games for my console.

Now some people have complained about it having a relatively large "dead zone" in the middle as a side effect of being such an inexpesive joystick. While I did notice said dead zone, I didn't find it to be anywhere near as bad (yet...) as the folks who complained about it. Besides, it only cost me $33 -- if I wanted something better, I'd be pushing $100. This will more than do for the foreseeable future. Maybe one day I'll get a full yoke/rudder pedal combination, but not today.

Current rating: 4.5

Comments

Daryl Surat 7 years, 10 months ago

Cross-posted from the Google+ comments:

I don't consider myself that aggressive a controller handler, but PC flight sticks were my undoing back in my teenage years spent on Wing Commander, TIE Fighter, and later Freespace. I first had a CH Products Flightstick but its lack of buttons and general looseness inspired me to move to the Thrustmaster PFCS. That damn thing was so solid, moving it was HARD. Eventually the potentiometers gave out and perhaps a wire disconnected on the board which couldn't be resoldered, so I had to replace it with a F22 Pro. That was top of the line...and something inside of it died quite quickly. Pretty sure sticky pots hit me on that one too.

By then, the company had been bought out by Guillemot, and they opted to no longer send out replacement potentiometers. Build quality went to Hell, too. I opted to try out the Saitek X45. Great hardware...awful, AWFUL drivers. I think that ended up getting replaced by an X45 USB (neither of which played nicely with DOS, both of which would suffer from software bugs registering keys as stuck down that were not), and once I lost patience with those drivers--you know it's bad when the fan-made ones are better than the official--I gave up on the concept of PC flight sticks entirely. By this point I must have spent several hundred (if not more) dollars on joysticks--this despite not yet having a, y'know, JOB--that despite their rugged construction had faulty wiring or software, and my beloved space sim was a dead genre outside of completely inaccessible, Newtonian physics-based semi-independent releases. Probably because the damned controllers were so pricey and prone to failure.

...okay fine, I currently have a Saitek X52. And between DOSBOX and the new era XP/7 drivers, it does indeed WORK. I miss having a rudder underneath the throttle; never did get the hang of the twist axis. Too bad for me that I'm so behind on games I'll never actually get to replaying that stuff...

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Lou 7 years, 10 months ago

Cross posted as well from Google+ comments:

I've heard good things about Saitek's stuff -- especially their higher-end stuff. From what I've seen, the HOTAS X isn't the greatest out there, but for $33 it's pretty darned good. If/when I wear it out, I'll probably upgrade to a Saitek or CH device -- maybe even with rudder pedals. The way I see it, if I get a good year or two out of a $33 joystick, it's worth it. It's not like I'm using it for heavy duty fighter sims anyway -- more for flying Cessnas and other civilian aircraft, which probably is more gentle on the stick than dogfighting.

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