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 simraceway.com.  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.
   http://steelseries.com/products/other/simraceway-s1-steering-wheel#videos

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!

    ReplyDelete