Sitting in the USS Enterpoop
The first time I sat in a chair with the SimSit attached I got the impression that I was sitting in the Captains Chair of the USS Enterprise, or maybe Dr. Evil’s chair depending on your opinion of me. It is kind of cool to have it there and the design of the SimSit is generally sound. The placement of the joystick and throttle holders on the version of the SimSit that I received was both ergonomically and physically pleasing to me.
I have been frustrated by my past pathetic attempts to get joystick and throttle placements correct. Thinking of myself as some master carpenter I have tried various items that have had less than successful field tests. The amount of wood that I have wasted in the attempt to create the perfect HOTAS holder probably could keep Habitat for Humanity in business for at least three more years.
The SimSit really is a good device for the less than talented guy who wants something to hold his joystick and throttle. When placed in the chair you can easily get position on all buttons of the joystick and throttle without having to resort to leaning like I did in the past. Most computer desks have one or two writing pull outs which double as joystick and throttle holders for most gamers. While certainly acceptable for the use of a mouse they really do leave something to be desired for simming. Most of these pull outs are too high for most simmers, placing the arms at an ergonomically uncomfortable level.
The SimSit places the arms at the level of the armrest, a much more comfortable position. I find that I can reach all of the buttons much more easily and that I have to look at the joystick and throttles a lot less when gaming. Geoffrey said that he designed this primarily to be ergonomically comfortable and in general it is. In reality the placement is better than any device that I have seen to date. There are some bolt on items that I have looked at but many of these also place the wrists too high and create an uncomfortable feel for most joysticks. The SimSit actually places the joystick and throttle as a level that should be appropriate for their real world counterparts. I am no expert on F-15 and F-16 pits but I have looked in a few of them and one key I have found was that they have the pilot’s arms at a neutral position that enhances control and doesn’t fatigue the arms. The SimSit does this part very well.
There is one major problem with the SimSit, probably the one problem that I consider a potential show stopper for the device. The SimSit is a device that works best with chairs that have either no armrests or armrests that ‘float’ from the back of the chair. If you have a chair with armrests that attach toward the front you may find that the SimSit won’t work. Even chairs with armrest attachments that connect to the chair in the middle of the armrest may not work with the SimSit.
The major problem with this is that people can spend up to three hundred dollars for a decent office chair and are not likely to just throw it out for a SimSit. In a visit to the local Office Depot I found that roughly 2/3 of the chairs sold there would be incompatible with the SimSit. My 1920’s vintage office chair didn’t come close to being compatible. A chair that I bought, one that I thought would easily work with the SimSit in fact needed to have armrest ‘tweaking’ to work with the SimSit.
As much as I like the SimSit, and trust me I do, I understand that not everyone is going to be willing to dump their favorite office chair just to do some flying. Likewise I can’t see how the SimSit can be redesigned to accommodate other kinds of chairs. Moving the joystick holders out farther might do the trick (you could then probably make a groove to allow for most armrest attachments) but then I think you may risk having the joysticks too far out to the side.
So if the item goes up for retail sale it will be up to the individual to decide whether a chair change, as well as the SimSit are worth the overall cost. Since I suspect at least half of the potential buyers of the SimSit will have chairs that are not compatible with the SimSit I consider it possibly the only major show stopper for the device.