Laminar Research’s X-Plane 9

by Chris “BeachAV8R” Frishmuth

X-Plane 9The X-Plane 9 beta was released in late 2007 giving us a good look at what to expect with X-Plane 9. After the official release in 2008 X-Plane has evolved as Austin Meyers has tirelessly worked on improving his creation. The list of changes, additions, improvements, and bug-fixes would span many pages but it is clear to see that Austin is never content to rest when he sees areas that can be improved upon.

Many of the X-Plane 9 features remain the same as those we reviewed in the exhaustive 3-part X-Plane 8 review SimHQ published in the summer of 2005, so we won’t be covering old ground this time around. You can read that 3-part review here (Part 1Part 2Part 3).

Continuing with the trend of moving SimHQ to more immersive and demonstrative content, I’ll be reviewing X-Plane 9 via video footage with my narrative comments thrown in. While I don’t cover every single component and feature of X-Plane 9 I think the overall impression you’ll get from the video review is representative of what I would have written in a text article. As the old cliché goes — “a picture tells a thousand words”, so certainly a video must be even exponentially greater!

Much of content of the video was captured over a year ago, when I originally intended to do the X-Plane 9 review, but life reared its ugly head and I’ve had to put the project on hold for far too long. In that time X-Plane 9 has matured and the number and quality of free and payware add-ons has been ever increasing. I’ve supplemented the video with more recent footage and have included scenes of both default and user-created aircraft and scenery to give you the feeling of what X-Plane 9 is all about.

I’m often asked which flight sim someone should purchase: X-Plane or Microsoft Flight Simulator? The easy answer is — BOTH! Since both programs excel in different areas I am comfortable straddling the fence and utilizing each piece of software to meet whatever I’m looking for at the moment. The nice thing about X-Plane 9 is that you can download the free demo and experience the sim for yourself without obligation. Flight time is limited to 10 minutes at which time you’ll have to exit and reload the program to gain back the use of your controls. Using the demo you can freely add any add-ons you want to download and try them out as well.

The X-Plane 9 user community is a growing resource for user created aircraft, scenery, add-ons, and plug-ins. User creations range from incredibly complex and accurate to the bizarre and inane. Quality varies, but there are many user created add-ons that could be considered payware quality. Additionally, as you’ll see in the video review, there are payware scenery and aircraft packages that are pushing X-Plane 9 into realms that directly compete with add-ons for Microsoft Flight Simulator. The future of X-Plane add-ons looks bright indeed.

There is no doubt that Austin Meyers will continue to update and add features to X-Plane 9. The commercial success of X-Plane 9includes utilization in real FAA approved flight simulators and in research and development for actual aircraft manufacturers. X-Plane is now firmly entrenched in the flight simulation community and we can’t wait to see what future holds for Laminar Research.

X-Plane 9

Reviewer’s System Specs

  • Processor – Intel Core 2 Quad Q6700
  • Motherboard – ASUS P5N32-E SLI LGA 775 NVIDIA nForce 680i SLI ATX
  • Memory – Crucial Ballistix 4GB DDR2 6400
  • Video RAM – BFG 9800 GX2 1GB PCIe 2.0
  • Hard Drive – Western Digital Raptor X 150GB

 


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