Saitek X-55 RHINO HOTAS Review

Programming

Quoting Saitek’s Review Notes: “The H.U.D. software has been redesigned from the ground up to be intuitive and user friendly. Experienced H.O.T.A.S. owners will be able to dive right in and set their curves and macros right away. For the novice H.O.T.A.S. owner, the smart new graphical interface will be a welcome sight compared to the more esoteric Saitek programming software of old.”

Let’s take a look at this new, H.U.D. software.

I’ll be comparing the similarities and differences between the “new” H.U.D. and its predecessor using my X-65 HOTAS.

let’s look at the Home page:

X55 HOME

X65 HOME

Now, the Programming tab:

X55 PROGRAMMING PAGE

X65 PROGRAMMING PAGE

Here you’ll note that you can select a device (stick or throttle quadrant) to program simply by clicking on the device. In the case of the X-65 you also have the Mode (4) buttons, “SAFE” button, Toggles 1-4, and four force settings.

The Support page:

X55 SUPPORT PAGE

X65 SUPPORT PAGE

Looks different, same type information provided.

Next,  the Settings page. This is where the X-55’s new H.U.D. begins to shine.

X55 SETTINGS PAGE

And the X-65, well not so much:

X65 SETTINGS PAGE

You will note that for the X-55 in the H.U.D. you can chose to increase or decrease the LED brightness. You can also select a device to manipulate the devices response settings. Let’s select the stick and see how much trouble we can get into.

STICK AXIS SETTINGS

On the settings page for either your stick or throttle you can now adjust your axis attributes, deadband, curvature, or, select a predetermined set of curve profiles for each axis on each device. This is new!

Okay, now that we’ve clicked through the tabs taking a cursory look at the software, let’s dig a little deeper…

I was going to illustrate programming a button using both the H.U.D and SST software’s. However, the programming capabilities have not changed between the H.U.D. and SST. So for the rest of this portion of the review I’ll be using the H.U.D. software (for this you will need a list of key commands/macros in the game)…

For the purpose of this portion I’ll pull the trigger to program:

X55 TRIGGER 1

Nothing too crazy to begin with just a simple key press:

To program the Trigger, or any other button for that matter, press the button you’d like to program, click in the (I’ll call it the programming rectangle) to the right and press the key for the command in the game you are programming.

GUN TRIGGER

Once the key or macro is pressed you’ll want to name the action. Simply click the green check (not seen here) and you’ll be able to name the button/action.
It’s a good idea to save your work as you go…

X55 SAVE AS

X55 SAVE AS 2

X55 SAVE AS 3

X55 LOADED

Once saved, your profile will appear to be loaded. Don’t let this fool you. Your profile is not yet loaded for use in your simulation it is however loaded for programming. You’ll have to actually press the Profile button before your profile can be used in your simulation…

X55 PROFILE BUTTON

Now your profile is loaded.

Those are the basics. As you experienced Saitek SST users can see not a lot has changed in the programming aspects. For you not so experienced, believe it or not, it’s not all that difficult and you aren’t going to break anything trying. Have some fun!

Overall Impressions

Good:

Both the stick and throttle quadrant have a nice F.E.E.L. to them and with the rubberized coating, even better. Ergonomically, I found that each HAT, button, and axis easy to get to and manipulate on both the stick and throttle handles.

The amount of switches, toggles, rotaries, buttons, and HATs, oh my!

Price point; you’d be hard pressed to find a HOTAS of this caliber that include both the stick AND throttle quadrant for any less than the manufacturer’s suggested retail price ($199.99 USD).

The ability to increase or decrease the stick centering tension is I F.E.E.L. a step in the right direction. The ability to increase or decrease (on the fly) the throttle tension without having to turn the throttle quadrant over is a plus as well.

Plans to incorporate other Saitek ProFlight peripherals (Yoke, Switch Panel, Multi Panel, and Radio Panel) into the H.U.D. software making each of them programmable for other simulations is definitely a good thing.

Could Be Better:

Initially, calibration! Using the Windows Calibration “Wizard” for a multi axis throttle quadrant to calibrate, in my opinion, is not a wise choice. For the new user of a HOTAS the Windows Calibration “Wizard” is not all that intuitive or easy to follow as there are little to no visual references to indicate what axis you are calibrating on a multi axis throttle quadrant.

This is however being worked on (as I’m told) and an update to the H.U.D. software will include a calibration application.

Although the H.U.D. software looks new, the programming capabilities are actually the same as the previous software (SST) I use/d on my X-65. Nothing really “new” added to its capabilities.

For instance, if I wanted to push a button, flip a switch, or position a HAT multiple times in the same direction in the same mode (1, 2 or 3) and have that button, switch or HAT position do multiple things, I can’t. I have to switch modes to do this. Take the start sequence for oh, the DCS A10 (A or C) or Falcon 4. There are multiple switches and buttons to push to start the engine, far more than what are available in a single hardware mode.

In Closing

I hope you’ve found this review an educational and enjoyable one.  The X-55 is available for pre-order on Amazon for $199 and is set to ship out early April, 2014.   Any further questions you may have I can answer in the forum post for this article.

Gallery

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