Microsoft Precision Wheel
The Microsoft range of wheels is by no means new, but it is still among the cream of the crop. The non-force Precision Wheel is now available for the attractive price of $65. But whatever you do, don't install its SideWinder 4.0 software in XP. Depending on the configuration, it either works or makes the whole system crash. And this is Microsoft... I really did see the comical side of the situation when I unpacked the brand new wheel with a CD proudly marked, "Designed for Windows 98"! It would be good to see a downloadable update in the near future, all the more so because the software programs that come with the paddles are not mutually compatible! It's high time for Microsoft to provide a common XP driver for all its USB SideWinder peripherals. That said, without a driver, the Precision Wheel works in XP on one axis.
So let's forget these glitches and get down to the goods. The wheel is very compact and won't require much storage space. The clamp is great. In one go, you adjust the thumb wheel to the thickness of your desk and fit the wheel with a lever in a flash; and it can all be detached just as quickly. Once in place, it doesn't budge. The fairly big pedal set sits well on a smooth surface, but if it is on a carpet, it will need a stop.
The ergonomics are excellent, evidently the work of specialists. Your hands will drop naturally into place and will never get tired. However the plastic is not too pleasant to the touch. If there were an improvement to make on this wheel, it would be a rubber grip. Behind the wheel are two buttons for shift changing and, in front, six for the main functions. The pedals are just as comfortable for the feet. The travel is long, and also firm enough for perfect precision, both in accelerating and in braking. The wheel is a wonder of precision. Due to its optical system, it never derails, never wears out, and self-sets with ease. Its centering is firm enough. For me, along with the Logitech MOMO, it is the most precise wheel on the market.
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