PC Racing: Much Easier With A Steering Wheel!

Saitek R220

Saitek renewed its range of products in 2001 to sport a decidedly UFO look, which applies equally to the wheels. You either like it or you don't. It's true it doesn't look much like a steering wheel of the 20th century. On the other hand, the pedals are pretty much what you get in a real vehicle.

The wheel is clamped to the table by a rather involved system, but once in place, it doesn't budge. It is pleasant enough to grip, due to its shape and trim, but the rearward-pointing spokes make for an odd position far from the axis. The finish doesn't really inspire confidence because the wheel has a lot of play in its axis; the two gear shifts at the back are definitely tacky and too far from your finger-ends for a natural feel in gear shifting. The wheel has four buttons for extra functions.

The pedal set, though logical when compared to a real car one, is not a model of ergonomics and your feet tire very quickly. Travel is long enough but a bit slack, though this is quite easy to control.

The wheel without a driver plugs into a USB port and is detected by the system, whether Millennium or XP, with no trouble. However, it is detected as a three-axis system, i.e., brake and gas pedals on separate axes. Some games do not manage this code, so you couldn't use the wheel with them.

The wheel turns out to be fairly precise in games, but centering is too slack and stops you from getting that real racing feeling. The pedals are also fairly precise, but there's a notch in the middle that is inconvenient for the feet when steering. It's better in rally driving because the movements are more clean-cut. In the end, this wheel gives somewhat mixed feelings. The outside finish and overall shape are not too good. Its overall ergonomics are good though not without drawbacks. Precision is respectable but spoiled by a slack return. The price is an honest $50.