Sooooo, should I buy the thing?
That question isn’t quite as easy to answer. Right now a TrackIR 3-Pro and the Vector Expansion will set you back around 200 bucks-after shipping. No, that is not cheap, especially when you think about the relative cost of other flight sim gear.
The big question of course is if the extra cost of the expansion (49 bucks) is worth it for most of the flight sims currently in production. If there were a ton of games that supported the vector expansion I probably would give a higher “yes” vote but for anyone on a strict budget it probably isn’t. I am sure some folks would be surprised by my statement, especially after I talked the device up. But right now the games that support 6DoF is fairly small and unless you are a dedicated player of one of those games the best features of the Vector Expansion is probably wasted.
Who would I recommend this device to? Well, anyone who is a dedicated flier of Aces High or CFS3 would recommend it to in a heartbeat. Like the TrackIR in general, it is nice for FS2004 but not life critical. For other folks, the answer is harder. It does seem to make visual control more precise in games like Pacific Fighters but overall there isn’t a major improvement in this game (and I suspect others) with the expansion.
Even if you don’t get the expansion now, keep an eye on it for the future. I fully anticipate that most new simulations will support this feature. Just like the TrackIR 1; the vector expansion is a revolutionary device that will take some time before it gained universal support. If judging from the quick support for Vector Expansion in new sims like Aces High II is any indication, then games like the upcoming Battle of Britain based sims shouldhave Vector Expansion as standard.
So how would I recommend this? If you are getting the TrackIR 3 and had planned on buying a NaturalPoint hat ($20) to go with it (something I recommend anyway) you might as well get Vector Expansion. I suspect there will be a packaged special very soon that will give an additional discount. NaturalPoint is very good at marketing specials so keep your eyes open.
Unless you are a CFS3 or Aces High flier you may not use it quite yet, but that will change. Currently there are plans to model 6DoF support in Battle of Britain 2: Wings of Victory, Oleg’s version of Battle of Britain,Lock-on: Flaming Cliffs and others. It isn’t mainstream quite yet, but give it some time, it probably will be.
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Test System Specs
- Dell Dimension 4600
- Pentium 4, 2.8 GHz (HT)
- 1GB 400MHz DDR RAM
- 80 GB Ultra ATA 100 HD
- Radeon 9800 Pro
- Creative Audigy 2 sound card
- Broadband cable connection for online play