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And the Rest…

No, not Gilligan’s Island, the other simulations I mentioned.

I flew the TIR3 and TIR4 in Strike Fighters P1 (the Korean Campaign), Wings over Vietnam, Jane’s F/A-18, IL2/Pacific Fighters, and BoB2. Both units performed well. The biggest difference to me was the TIR4’s ability to keep the central viewpoint stationary and not always require re-centering. I should note that BoB2 has 6DOF built in and it does work really well. With the TIR3, the view got shifted off-center more often, requiring re-centering. For some reason, this particular problem is worse in BoB2 than the other sims mentioned.

As I pointed out earlier, if you use sims with two axis motion, not 6DOF, you will still see an improvement using either TIR3 with Vector, or TIR4. The reason is that without Vector, all your head motion gets translated as either up/down or side/side, even if it’s not. Vector does a better job of directly translating motion into those two axis. Don’t ask me how, it just does.

I have another HOTAS button setup to pause the TrackIR for such an occasion where I get lined up on a bogey’s six and I don’t want the view to get screwed up with any unnecessary fine motions. And that’s good, I just needed it less in TIR4 than TIR3.

Conclusions

So what is the final verdict?

First, let’s talk money, in round dollars. Meaning any price that ended in “.95” got rounded up to next dollar:

The TrackIR 3 Pro, without Vector Pro, but with everything you need for two axis motion tracking, and a mounting clip to attach the unit to a flat screen monitor retails for $120 USD. The Vector Pro, which includes the metal Vector tracking clip and the software activation codes to turn on 6DOF runs $30. The top of the line TrackIR 4 Pro, including everything except the hat, is $180. A TrackIR hat is $10.

What would I do if I owned a TrackIR 3 Pro, but no Vector Pro? It would depend on what my simulation needs were. If I only flew sims without 6DOF, and knew that I would not use any 6DOF sim in the near future, I might just stay with what I had, the Vector Pro added enhancement to two axis notwithstanding. But if I was flying any sims with 6DOF support, or had one in mind pretty soon, I would go for it. It does help with head motion transfer in the non-6DOF sims, and in the supported sims I just got so I appreciated the added functionality and wished that all sims had it. It’s $30, and I think it’s worth it.

If I had the TIR3 Pro with Vector Pro, what would I do? I think I’d stay put. The TIR3 Pro and Vector Pro is a terrific gaming combination, and worth every penny to a serious simmer. Honestly, I just couldn’t justify spending $180 when the TIR3 Pro does it’s job so very well. My caveats to that statement would be if: a). I had a change in my space requirements such that the smaller TIR4 was going to fit, but the larger TIR3 wouldn’t, or b). I had a ready buyer for a great price on my older TIR3 and the net cost to upgrade would be small enough to convince me, or c). I really wanted some increased performance and smoothness in a very small package, and I had to money to spend.

If I had a TIR2 or previous model, or if I didn’t have a TrackIR at all, I would go for the TrackIR 4 Pro. Figure that the TIR3 with Vector costs $150, and the newer TIR4 is $180, a $30 gap. For $30, I always go with the latest and greatest.

[Editor’s note: If you’re close to purchasing, check out the SimHQ front page ad for the time limited TrackIR 4 special from GoGamer.]

The difference between having a TrackIR and not having one? Well, one analogy I can give is the difference between having a dial-up modem and DSL or cable Internet service. If you don’t know what you’re missing, it’s OK, because you don’t know or haven’t experienced how much better things can be. But once you make the change, once you do know the difference, you can never go back. It’s like a new world has opened up for you.

We simmers enjoy a hobby that provides us hours of entertainment, and like many hobbies it can be expensive. Certainly, the most expensive part of it is the hardware. Keeping up with the latest developments all the time would drive most of us to the poor house, you just can’t do that. So, for most of us, it’s a case of justifying how much a piece of gear is going to help us enjoy our chosen leisure pursuit.

We’re really talking gaming peripherals, no different than a HOTAS, or a steering wheel and pedals. If you’ve been trying to fly Falcon 4:AF, or LOMAC, or IL-2/PF without a HOTAS, you’re just not getting the full benefit of what those sims can do. Likewise, if you are driving a racing sim using a keyboard, and then you get a MOMO or other steering wheel and pedals, you suddenly see the way the sim was meant to be played. And you can never go back.

That’s how it is with TrackIR 4. It helps you get the most out of the simulations you play and have the most fun. And that’s what this hobby is all about.

Reviewer’s System Specs

  • WindowsXP Home
  • Pentium 4 – 2.8GHz
  • Asus motherboard
  • 160GB Seagate HD SATA
  • Plextor 16 x DVD
  • ATI Radeon 9800 PRO (Catalyst 5.10 drivers)
  • DirectX9.0c
  • Dell 2001FP monitor
  • Audigy2 PCI sound card
  • 1GB Corsair DDRAM RAM
  • CH Products HOTAS: Fighterstick USB, Pro Throttle, Pro Pedals

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