Conclusion: The Present And The Future Of The HOTAS Cougar
There is absolutely no doubt that the HOTAS Cougar is a product of the highest quality as far its mechanical design is concerned. It is built to last, and many years will have to pass before a competitor dares to bring out a peripheral that offers this sort of value for money. On the other hand, the software suffers from a few teething problems. We were able to locate several bugs, the worst of which is that the commands for button S3 are the wrong way round, depending on whether it is pressed or not (arguments /I and /O).
Furthermore, on a test computer, the Cougar had problems recognizing the various axes and buttons in Windows mode, and the control panel frequently froze, as would the computer. To give Thrustmaster its due, a patch has already been issued to improve USB compatibility and correct the /I /O problem (available from the technical support site at http://www.thrustmaster.com/ ).
It is self-evident that Thrustmaster will continue to support the Cougar and will hasten to correct the latest software problems, both those involving the drivers and programs, and those affecting the Cougar’s internal logic, whose memory is easily "flashable" using Foxy.
Even on the hardware level, the future of the HOTAS Cougar seems assured. Thrustmaster intends to bring in a three-axis rudder control in the near future, which is currently the one serious omission in the Cougar. Without revealing too much, Guillaume Lelevé has told us that it ought to be as inexpensive as possible and offer greater travel and better ergonomics than the old Thrustmaster rudder control. Furthermore, new handles for the control column are likely to be introduced. In fact, the current Cougar handle can easily be removed, merely by unscrewing the metal ring on the base.
The first optional handle will be a faithful replica of the F/A-18 Hornet, but that might pose a few design problems. This type of handle would have to be made of plastic fibers if it is to imitate the real thing, but this could be taken the wrong way by the users of the Cougar, due to its original metal handle. Whatever happens, Cougar’s future seems more than promising. All it needs is a foot pedal worthy of the rest of the device - this will ensure that those lucky simulation fans that can afford it will be absolutely delighted.