The Trifecta of Flight Sim Peripherals: Part 1

by Guest Writer Frank “BA_Dart” Giger

Hands-On Stick and Throttle (HOTAS), TrackIR, and a set of rudder pedals. This, IMHO, is the trinity of flight sim goodness that adds far more enjoyment to our little hobby than the sum of its parts.

“Dart,” a reader asks, “what is the best set of controllers one can get at a reasonable price?” Okay, so maybe they didn’t ask me, but it’s a common question on the forums. Since the folks at SimHQ seem to actually publish my missives, I’m going to write about what I think are two of the three indispensable legs of the simulation stool one sits on to perform well:

The first two legs are the HOTAS and rudder pedals.

The third, the NaturalPoint TrackIR4 PRO (review link) with TrackClip PRO (review link), has already been spoken for, so I’ll just review the X52 PRO and Pedals.

I’ll be reviewing the Saitek X52 PRO HOTAS and the Saitek Rudder Pedals, pictured below.

Review: Saitek X52 PRO HOTAS and the Saitek Rudder Pedals

Bottom Line Up Front

The Saitek pedals are good. Very good. Excellent. Somewhat better than the CHPro pedals.

The X52 PRO is great, with the potential of becoming stellar and the new standard in HOTAS production.

First Up – The Saitek Rudder Pedals

I took the plunge and bought a set of the new Saitek rudder pedals a couple of months ago, placing my CHPro ones into reserve.

Why? Well, the CHPro pedals are good, but I was intrigued by the wider pedals and the adjustable tension of the Saitek pedals. That there was a 20 USD coupon from GoGamer.com and I had incredibly won 100 USD on one of those “scratch off” lotto tickets (bought on a fluke, it seemed an awful lot like divine will, especially since I was chanting “rudder pedals, rudder pedals” while working the dime feverously over the paper).

The Competition

CHPro pedals are a fine product by any criteria.

They didn’t want to play nice with my “old” Saitek X52 (SimHQ review link), however, and insisted on taking the ID1 spot in Windows XP no matter what I did. Even though the X52 was the preferred device, I had to remap every control in IL-2/PF to see it properly; the HOTAS was “ID2 for every sim and game.

This presented me with a nightmare of control issues in Aces High II that I never fully resolved, for example. With a pure Saitek rig, everything straightened itself out.

I found the pedals on the CHPro’s too light on the feet; if I was sitting even slightly askew I’d wind up applying slight rudder one way or the other simply by the weight of my feet.

Don’t get me wrong — they’re a fine set of pedals, and my irritations with them are minor and probably unique to my very strange ways.

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