Monday, April 30, 2012

Finally, a Steering Wheel I Like - SRW-S1

I don't do a lot of hardware reviews.  In fact, I'm not really a hardware expert, I just know what I like.  As example, I love using the Windows version of the Xbox controller in MAME games (not as fun as normal arcade controls, but great for some specific games).

Anywho, I have tried for a while to get a steering wheel set-up I liked.  I have tried a few and returned them.  There was no great way to mount them, and/or I didn't like the responsiveness and/or I didn't like the separate pedals and/or I didn't like the ease of integration into the machine I play on.  I was very excited to try the Xbox wireless Speed Wheel when it came out last year (even though it lacked a lot of buttons/options) BUT, it requires Windows 7 and the set-up I play on is XP.

Enter the SRW-S1.  Can't even tell you how I first saw it, but I think it was a suggestion on Amazon.  Of course the great thing about buying this kind of crap on Amazon is no-hassle, no reason returns - so there's nothing to lose by giving it a try.

Just look at the thing!
It is a hand held (not mounted), rubber-gripped, racing steering wheel that connects via USB.  (It is NOT wireless - a small bummer, but in reality I didn't notice the wire at all after I plugged it in).

First, the quasi-tech stuff.  It's completely plug-n-play.  I plugged into an XP machine and a Win7 machine and in both cases it was immediately recognized and worked flawlessly.  That's it!

The front of the wheel has 15 buttons, an 8-way hat switch (aka a D-pad), a sensitivity-setting dial, and two other dial controls for game specific stuff.  On the back, it has 4 paddles.  Two are analog (default for acceleration and brake) and two are switches (gear up and down).

The wheel was designed specifically for the online racing game  But I haven't even played that.  It works perfectly with just about any PC racing game (check their list out).  I played Outrun 2006 with it and had a blast.

Most importantly, as you would imagine, all the analogs and buttons are programmable in MAME, so you can go crazy customizing the wheel for any racing (or other game).  I tried many (F1 games, Ground Effects, too many to name) and most were awesome.  I even tried it as a dial/spinner on some games and played Tac/Scan with it and it worked great there, too.

Keep in mind I am NOT a driving game expert and have never had an elaborate setup.  I can't compare it to more expensive stuff and I can't speak from expertise of long hours of racing.  All I can say is that as an amateur, kick-the-tires kind of player I had a crapload of fun with the wheel.  It was about $100.

There are some videos here...  You can watch folks steering the wheel and the effect on the games they are playing.

Nice to have this in my control arsenal.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, pricey, but looks awesome. I love my MAME but am missing games like Spy Hunter and Outrun, and this looks like a nice simple solution. I don't know how much I'd like the actual wheel being separate and not secured to the CP securely, but reviews and such don't make it seem like that's an issue. Neat!