Joysticks and Wheels: The Winter 2002 Collection

Just Plug It In And It Works

Installing it is child's play. Although you don't have to, if you like, you can use the generic Logitech driver which works perfectly with all the devices and in any operating system. If you do, you can access the Profiler where you can allocate buttons according to the game and control the range of analog movements. Now, back to the installation. You insert three LR6 batteries in the joystick, plug the receiver into a USB port, hit any button on the joystick and it's ready to be used immediately. They claim a battery life of about 50 hours and our tests found pretty much the same. There is a downside to the cordless system that we may as well mention straight off, and that is the way in which the saver mode cuts in fast, after about one or two minutes idling, upon which you have to hit a button to reactivate the joystick. This can be annoying in flight simulation. If you are on automatic pilot, you have to remember to reactivate the joystick before cutting the autopilot. Still, as handicaps go, there are worse.

A Real Looker

The Freedom is really good-looking and brings out all its restraint-free qualities. To move it around, you just grab it by one of the three handles. The materials are well-chosen and give it a touch of the deluxe. The stick fits nicely in the hand, at least if you're right-handed, and the triggers and buttons are easy to handle. Three rubber feet set it solidly on the desktop. The stick's travel is long and resistant, perhaps a bit too much, though it does loosen up with use. It also has an axis-rotation rudder function. The throttle is firm and precise and travels quite a long way too, not something you come across that often. The main trigger is convenient for the thumb and the second is located, rather unusually, on the left, where it can be operated by the ball of the thumb. After a few unexpected triggers, this actually turns out to be quite handy. The buttons on the stick are easy to reach and so is the direction hat, though this is a bit awkward. The four buttons on the base are also within easy reach. A colored light indicates the power status: orange, meaning powered but not connected; flashing green, meaning it is looking for a connection; or green, meaning it is connected.